What preamps outshine the Aesthetix Calypso?

I am interested in upgrading my preamp from the Calypso. It is a fine preamp, but I am looking for a preamp that is more dynamic and "involving". Ancillary equipment is the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC/Transport, a VAC Phi 200 power amp, and Sehring 703 floorstanders. The VAC preamps seem a bit too expensive for my tastes. The TRL Dude is intriguing but is simply too heavy for my audio rack. So, I am considering linestages from EAR, Shindo, BAT, and possibly Audio Horizons

I know the Calypso is a fine preamp. Can anyone advise me on what preamps really outshine the Calypso? My budget is $5K or so.
Yes, I have done a fair amount of tube rolling with the Calypso, buying a variety of NOS tubes for that purpose from Vintage Tube Services.

Audiofreakgeek, yes I have experimented with and am using good power cords, isolation, power conditioning, etc.

Pdreher, I won't sell the Calypso until I am sure I have found a successor that I really prefer.

I may give BAT or Modwright a try, although have to admit some nervousness about 6H30-based preamps, as that is not my favorite tube.

Are there any fans of EAR preamps out there? One dealer who carries both VAC and EAR claims the EAR 868 linestage sounds pretty close to VAC preamps. Of course, he also knows I don't want to pony up the $15K for a new VAC Signature preamp.
What about a Audio Research Ref 3 or better;I always read about these as being some of the best of the best and resale if you don't like it should not be a problem.
Mcondon, sounds like you have taken the right actions to move forward with a well thought out plan. I am with you on the 6H30 tubes, as I have not been impressed with my limited experience with them.

The Ref 3 is a very good preamp as mentioned, it should also be noted there is a Ref. 5 at a good price right now on eBay!!! Or at least it looks like a good price to me???

I too have heard good things about the EAR preamps, though I am not sure if they are always available in balanced mode (which is important to me at least).

Personally, I am always hesitant with BAT, not because I don't like their products (I have owned 2 amps and one preamp of theirs), it just seems like they don't hold very good resale value??? I looked at the 51SE which one seller offered to me at well under $3K. I went with a Sonic Frontiers Line 3 instead.

I'd be tempted to look at the EAR preamps and it sounds like your dealer has them to allow you to audition, that's a huge plus.
That's a tough call... The ARC might be worth a try. You might try to stretch a bit and find a Callisto used....