I think it's funny that people are commenting on the bad room acoustics. I hear that too, but I wonder if that's just a dodge for self-proclaimed audio geeks too afraid to stick their neck out. Even if the room sucks, you should still be able to decide if you prefer a $300 preamp or a $5 one. Don't you think? I mean, seriously, shut your yap and pick a favorite! Come on! Jump in! It's ok to be wrong. Nobody here thinks you're the audio god that you think you are anyway.
See here? I'm not afraid to stick my neck out (and get it chopped off)... In fact, I'll be THRILLED if I'm wrong.
I think "A" is the GAP73. I think I can hear the transformers working their magic. At first, I preferred B because it sounded cleaner (which is also indicative of an IC design), but then the details of A won me over. Neither one is bad at all, just different.
A has a less defined, but more pleasing, bass, sounds more lively with some nice harmonic "swells", possibly related to the transformer of the GAP73? I equate it to an old hi-fi my parents had when I was a kid and the sound strikes a chord with me.
B sounds cleaner and more neutral with a bit of nice "conveyor belt steady sustain", but lacks that incredible swell that comes in powerfully, then rounds off the notes as they disappear. B reminds me of my first SS fender amp. There was some nice harsh clanging metal sounds going on there, the sustain was superior, but the initial strike of the instrument didn't hit me in the gut (followed by the smooth and surprisingly rapid decay) like music from the old hi-fi did.
"A" has more of a classic swelling hi-fi sound that I find pleasing. I think it's providing a little bit of compression or something with a slow release. And so I suspect it is transformer-based. A isn't as clean, but it really does have that rounded swelling/diminishing sound. I want/need that in my recordings. I suspect A is the GAP73, but if I'm wrong, I will need to borrow your circuit design. My "guess" is based on a good long listen, though I've never heard the GAP73 personally.
They both sound excellent, to be honest. Either way, great job! While I wouldn't replace A with B, I could easily be happy having many channels of both and I wouldn't quit recording if I had to choose one over the other.
How much clean gain can you get out of your homebrewed circuit though? If you can show low noise at high gain, then I'm extremely interested in B, slight differences be damned! And... if you're circuit is A... then I doubly want!