Why buy a pre/pro if you want hi-end stereo? I have Cary Audio's SLP-98 tube pre, which is incredible and will easily beat the Cary Cinema 12 pre/pro in two channel. My current "reference" is the SLP-05. Now, that's some big league line stage right there.
I'd be afraid to use any but the most recent Cinema 12 with the hardware/firmware updates. Hopefully, Cary will have a rock solid pre/pro by 2015 or so when I'm ready to upgrade. If you are looking for very good, but not elite pre-amplification, within the context of a pre/pro, then I'd look for a Cinema 12. Of course, that's beyond your stated price range. The SLP-98 would work some incredible magic though if you separate home theater from music.
HT 3.1: Panny BDT 220 | 60" Panny VT60 | Marantz AV7005 | Focal CMS50 (L/R), CMS40 & CMS Sub
Stereo system: Cary Audio 306 SACD Pro | Cary Audio SLP-05 tube line level | Cary Audio SA-200.2 | Focal Diablo Utopia III