Need help from tube guys to select a tube preamp

I'm seriously considering mating a tube preamp with the McCormack DNA .5. I would like recommendations for a tube preamp, that is remote controlled, and in the $500-$600 range. I have no experience with tubes, but I have heard so many convincing comments that I think I am going to take the plunge with the pre section. I have been told that there is a Sonic Frontier offering that may be a good match. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Hi Jb3,

I was wondering what it was about the tube preamp testimonials that made you decide to take the plunge. I think the reasoning behind your decision will help us in making suggestions.

That being said, I've been using a nice preamp the BC21 from Blue Circle for almost two years now. It's a discontinued model because of the scarcity of quality 6SN7 tubes [it uses only two], but it has a nice full, smooth sound with very good soundstaging. I've used it in conjunction with the companion Blue Circle BC22 amp along with other solid state amps such as the Pass Aleph 3, and my current BAT VK200 all with excellent results. For a few years the BC21 was well regarded by the folks at Stereophile who remarked how big it sounded when mated to a McCormack DNA1.

The BC21 doesn't have a phono stage or a remote control, although one could be retrofitted by Gilbert Yeung at Blue Circle, but I've never longed for a remote function. The BC21 has decently extended highs, a full midrange and full sounding bass. But the full sounding bass can at times come across as being slightly muddy and lacking in detail. This is probably a character of the 6SN7 tubes. The BC21 usually sells used for about $600-700.

For the past few months I've also had a BAT VK3i preamp which uses five tubes, four of which are 6922s. The BAT has a less midrange prominent sound with better defined bass, slightly more detail up top and better soundstage layering front to back. I haven't tube rolled this preamp at all the way I have with the BC21, but I feel it lacks the organic midrange I love about the BC21. This one may be too far out of your price range at $1200-1300 used.

I'm awaiting the delivery of an Eastern Electric MiniMax tube preamp to compare with these other two. Its cost is $1200 new.

Others you might consider are the Rogue 66, Audio Research LS7, Quicksilver, Audible Illusions L1, and the various Carys.

Good luck and welcome to the club!
I've compared the Eastern to the Dared 2000A, and the latter wins hands down! The Dared usually can be had for about 350. at auctions here or on Ebay or from the dealer. (PS: I have no interest in the company nor any relationship with any principal; I'm just a standard audiophile) Enjoy.
I think if is a single comment, or logical arguement, that makes me want to use a tubed pre its this: SS equipment often claims to have a "tube-like" quality to it sound, but does tube equipment ever claim to have a "SS-like" quality to its sound?
I'm a little new to the high end, but the combination of a quality SS amp and a tubed pre just makes a lot of sense to me. It may not be quite "having your cake and eating it too" but I think it may be close. Ultimately, wouldn't we want to capture the best of both SS and Tube?
Really, I wish I didn't need a remote controlled unit, it would make this much easier and less expensive. But I am installing in a closet (to keep sticky toddler fingers away mainly) and I think I would miss it if I didn't have it. Do you, or anyone else, have comments on remote v. not? If you don't have one, do you miss it, or find it unnecessary? Other ideas?
I second the Dared SL 2000a preamp suggestion.At the price these little guys go for there's no competition!