I own the Ultra 4 se with phono, and I love it. Many things have come and gone in my system but the Mapletree stays. I have had a Modwright, Candela, and Roque preamp as well as a dynaco pre in my system, the Mapletree bested them all in my system. I currently run a VTL tube amp,( soon to change maybe). You should hear it with Vinnies RWA sig 30!!
The Mapletree sounded great right out of the box, very, very, musical. it adds a touch of musical warmth to music, and always seems to bring out the best in most amps it is paired with. I have had it paired with the Channel Islands d 200 digital mono blocs and it was great, so great I may go that route myself.
The Mapletree likes good tubes, and tube rolling will result in very different results. The stock tubes are good but my Sylvania 6sn7 gta's really wake the pre up with great drive and tremendous amounts of air. It will sound like two different pre's, or it could, depending on tube choice. I have some Tung sols coming to see what they do.
Dr Lloyd is great. He is very accomodating, unlike a lot of larger audio manufacturers.
Also he has an upgrade he doesn't speak about , he can put in Audio Note tantalum resistors instead of stock, I never heard this combo, but he likes it. My pre is stock
The stock Auricaps are also very good in this pre, others have experimented with boutique caps to no great result. Also the pre is dead quiet. The phono section is good, not the greatest but good for the money, different tubes might make that better but I have yet to experiment with that.
Everyone who has heard my pre ( many people) have asked to borrow it, and I usually oblige, if you were local I would let you borrow it, see what it does in your system.
Also I use tubes from Vintage Tube Services ( Andy) he is the best.
And there is a waiting list to get one, so you may have to wait, I waited 3 months for mine, I believe the wait list is now seven months, but it is worth it. I would go for the 2 se or 4 se if you need phono, the magic 5 b is not very popular. BTW if you don't like your Mapletree, it would be sold in less than a day here on audio circle.
You can call me if you like