Looking for Tube Pre-Amp Recommendations

Just got a pair of Avalon Ascendants and have them mated with Sonic Frontiers Power 3 monoblocks and an old Conrad Johnson PV 12 pre-amp (will be upgrading my old Meridian 508 cd player too but want to settle on the pre-amp first).

Looking to upgrade the pre-amp as the Avalon's are either showing up the pre-amp and or it's just not a good fit (it worked well with my Thiel 6's). So, looking for a recommendation for a replacement tube pre-amp. I'm fine buying used. Don't want to spend more than $5,000.

Curious if anyone knows the newer CJ stuff? I liked their sound years ago and it worked with the Thiels but now curious if a better more recent CJ pre-amp (like the CT5) would mate well with the Avalon's? One person told me he didn't think it was a good fit (he thought the new CJ's were "pudgy" sounding and not quick and airy enough for the Avalon's).

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.
Based on the specs I am seeing online for the speaker, I think your bottleneck is the interface between the speakers and the amp. You are making the amp do a lot of work to drive the speakers to a reasonable volume. The speakers are 4 ohms, which increases distortion (in all amps, not just tube amps) and will also reduce power and bandwidth on account of the output transformer in the amp.

I think you would be a lot better off with a speaker that is more efficient and higher impedance. You can do that without sacrificing sound quality. A good example would be a set of Dreammaker 2s from Audiokinesis. They are 16 ohms, and about 95 db, meaning that you would need about 1/8th the power or so to make the same sound pressure, and the Dreammakers go just as low if not lower.

I would give this consideration. You can make incremental improvement by replacing the preamp, but you can have transformation by replacing the speakers. I am not saying the speakers are bad BTW, just that your amplifier does not match well with them.

If the OP gets the Audiokinesis you recommend at 95db, it opens up the door for some gain related hiss/noise due to the speakers being so efficient. Do you think it might be an issue in this case, with the OP's current gear? I have a pair of Wilsons rated at 94db, and had that problem until I found components that were a better match for the speakers.
It might be worth trying some Paul Speltz Zeros impedance matching autoformers before changing preamp, amp, or speakers. Naked versions are $550 and boxed are $1,200. You can find them used here occasionally

Here's some reviews:
6 moons.com / by Srajan Ebaen
Enjoy the Music.com / by Wayne Donnely
[url=http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/zero_autoformer_e.html]TNT-AUDIO / by Richard George[ /url]
Zd542, We've had that model of CJ preamp come through here for repair in the past. It was pretty quiet- I don't see noise as being an issue with Duke's speakers.
Just to share my experience, I also have a pair of Sonic Frontiers Power 3, and I believe it performs much better matching with a balanced preamp with balanced connection. I am getting good result using the Aesthetix Callisto, which you may find at the $5K range (the older MKII and Signature versions) 2nd hand.