plz suggest a tube preamp to match Parasound A21 amp

Hi, I'd like to add some tube attitude to the signal entering my Parasound A21 amp. Plz suggest decent tube preamp under $2,500...New or used, but no 20-30 years old, vintage stuff plz. Fully balanced design is preferred. Combined XLR / RCA inputs/outputs are necessary. Recently tried Schiit Freya Plus, but didn't like it due to weird volume control function and delayed start. Tnx.

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Freya +/A21 combo sound better than my SS (p6)  and I know that I could play with tube rolling to polish the SQ, but that clicking-scraping volume control and pretty long start delay of Freya is Just not for me. 
There’s a Unison Research Unico PRE available here for $2k (MSRP about $5k).  They fly under the radar but make really good stuff.  Best of luck. 
You might be able to find one of our used MP-3s in that price range; it would do the job. How its different from most high end audio balanced preamps is it has a direct-coupled output, and supports the balanced line standard, otherwise known as AES48, which most tube preamps don't (and a lot of solid state preamps for that matter).

AES48 reduces the liklihood of ground loops and also the artifact of the interconnect cable itself (if you've heard the difference between two interconnect cables in audition then you know what I'm talking about). Most preamps don't support the standard since an output transformer is usually needed (the Backert Labs Rhumba has an output transformer for balanced operation, so should be a contender here). We patented a means of direct-coupling a balanced output. Getting rid of the coupling cap at the output means greater transparency and bandwidth.
Thanks, surfmuz. Good to hear the Freya worked well with the A21. I’m considering using mine with a Rotel RB-1590.


Check the output impedance of the preamp because the A21 has an input impedance of only 33kohms. I was in the same situation and the low frequencies were MIA
If Balanced input of A21 used the impedance is 66 kΩ..... 33kΩ is for RCA input only. 
05-09-2020 8:58pm
Don’t know about the AR Ref 2 with Pass amps, but I’m pairing the AR Ref 3 and AR Ref 5SE with Parasound Halo A21 and JC2 monoblocks with incredible results - hard to believe. Just incredible clarity, detail, resolution, imaging and soundstage with superb tone, tenor, texture and bass control - a very holographic, live sound.

I’ve been surprised by this combination - though, I suppose some of the credit must go to the Bryston BDP-3 & Schitt Yggdrasil DAC, which sound superb, even without the AR tube line stage - but, the tube line stage improved upon that combo even a great deal more. And... with either the Harbeth 30.1’s with Townshend Super-Tweeters, or Linkwitz Orion’s - to the point, that I doubt I could improve upon the sound a lot more. I’ve also been surprised that this combo has really awakened the 30.1’s, which initially hadn’t impressed me, but now have much better highs, resolution, and bass control with the Harbeth rich, organic sound.