201008_jatonPrice: $1300

Website: www.jaton.com

John said: If you’re looking to move up to separates from a receiver or an integrated amplifier, the Operetta RC2000P is definitely a component you should hear. Add in its ability to be run fully balanced, and you have the makings of a top-flight music system. Unprepossessing? Yes. Musical? Most definitely.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Entry-level preamp with some upscale features.