Reference quality line stage?

I'm planning the purchase of the last line stage I'll ever need (as distinct from the last one I'll ever buy...). It's going to be used for two-channel stereo only. It will sit between my Audio Note 4.1x Balanced Signature and a pair of Wavelength Triton Blue monoblocks driving Coincident Total Victory speakers. My opportunities for auditioning units in the price range I'm looking at are severely limited, which is why I'm asking for thoughts here.

My musical tastes run the gamut: orchestral, chamber, jazz, rock, folk, blues, even some alt country. My audio tastes are decidedly single ended triode: I like music that's palpable, fleshy, detailed, open, dynamic, extended and just plain real.

I'm looking for a line stage that's going to give me everything with as little fuss and attention as possible. My mechanical requirements are simple. My minimum configuration would be: single ended, three inputs, one output. I need about 10db of gain. Remote volume control would be nice but not essential. Anything beyond that (balanced operation, remote source selection, tape outputs, HT capability etc.) is OK if it doesn't compromise the fundamental quality of the unit.

The price range I'm looking at is $10K to $15K USD. I have no preference for new or used. The short list at the moment includes the Blowtorch, the VTL 7.5 and the Aesthetix Callisto Signature. I'm a bit hesitant about the Callisto, frankly, because of the number of tubes - it looks to me like there's too much potential for care and feeding problems down the road.

Any thoughts on my three candidates or suggestions for others I should consider are welcome.
Bob: Yes, that was where i heard the Blowtorch. Personally, i didn't think that the room there was phenomenally large or that an amp that was rated at 200 / 400 would be too small to fill the room with sound. Obviously, one would need reasonably efficient speakers to achieve this but i don't think that high spl's in a room that size is out of the question.

Given that the spl level was far from being "loud" at any point in time, and i was sitting very close to the speakers, i have to wonder how much output was actually coming out of the preamp. Given that i am QUITE familiar with the specific make / model of the amp in question, i know that the lack of gain or output didn't have anything to do with it. To be quite honest though, the CD player being used was somewhat on the low side of output. With a gain rating on the Blowtorch of 8 dB's, even a 1 volt signal from the CD player should have resulted in 6+ volts of output capability. Given that the amp has an input sensitivity rating of 1.3 volts through the RCA's and 0.65 volts in balanced mode, we could not understand why the gain control on the Blowtorch had to be "cranked" way up.

As a side note, i can't remember if the Blowtorch was being run in balanced or single-ended mode. The amp in question has an input impedance of 15K per leg as measured to ground in balanced mode compared to a factory rating of 24K with RCA's. I do know that other preamps that i've used with the same make / model of amplifier were able to drive the amp into saturation quite easily, but at the same time, they too required slightly higher volume settings than with some other amps. Sean
Sean, I did a demonstration four years ago in that estimated 22 x 45 x 12 room with the Blowtorch using some 100w Atma-Sphere amps driven single ended into some Swans speakers and had no problem filling the place using both CDs and Vinyl......Better look elsewhere for the lack of gain as there have been no changes in the preamp.....Pots have a range of 65db BTW and are full open at 6 O'Clock on the dial rather than 5 O'Clock which would be the norm.....
Why not try a Monarchy Audio 22c with piggyback dacs? It is
available for (gulp) $850 from Monarchy Audio right now. It also has a built-in Monarchy 10a preamp.

I've heard their setup compared with Levinson, Pass, Krell, and CJ, and I was amazed that Monarchy could EASILY have priced this unit at $7-10k without blinking an eye. (Stereo reviewers would not have blinked, either. Their products are THAT good.) What sets Monarchy apart is that they DON'T gouge folks simply because they make such goog equipment.

If you can afford a $15k pre, why not audition the 22c dac/pre? It will certainly be a small price if you don't like it (heck, you can sell it on Audiogon if you don't like it). Trust me; I will never go back to my seperates again.