Audio Research vt100 is an MK11 if that matters much.
I can't comment on the 1st sound, but I have a Calypso with:
Rowland 201 monoblocks
Modded Sony 777
Aerial 9 speakers
Evans "groove" phono stage
Kubala-Sosna Emotion IC's
JPS power cords
Acoustic Zen speaker cables
various tweaks and stands
LOVE the Calypso. I run balanced IC's to the amps (Rowlands like balanced) but all RCA's in from the Linn and Sony.
My room is 26 x 15 x 8, but that doesn't matter for the preamp.
I have not owned AR gear, but the match should be just fine. I ran the Calypso into some Bryston gear for a while and it was equally splendid.
I upgraded the tubes, just for fun, and of course different tubes make a different sound, but it was much more subtle than the same changes with other preamps I've owned (Rogue, Melos, Sonic Frontiers).
Anyway, you can't go wrong with the Calypso in my opinion.
As far as "warmth" and "bloom" is concerned, I'm not sure I'd say that about the First Sound.
Detail - Absolutely.
Stage - Huge.
Power - Beyond!
Crystal clarity - With out a doubt
Dynamics and Slam - Probably unmatched.
Warmth and Bloom - nah!
The FS will reflect what ever you have up, and down stream. If your source is smooth your, sound will be smooth, with the FS. Of course, the opposite is also true. It is very revealing. I happen to love what the FS does.
Playing around with the sound by warming or blooming it, is not my particular cup of tea.
If you liked the Calypso you should go with it. follow your heart - and ears. :-)
I have the FS and just listened to the calypso yesterday in a different system. I would agree that the FS is ultra quiet with good dynamics and bass response. The calypso has more inherent warmth, and probably will be a better match with your equipment. You are welcome to hear my FS if you wish, but you did not mention what area you lived in. I am in upstate NY (albany area), best of luck.
If you haven't lived without a remote try it first, it's painful in my opinion and a deal breaker, but then again I'm ADD with my music and volume adjustments!
My friend upgraded from the LS16 to LS25 Mk1 and it was a huge upgrade and now to the Calypso which added some warmth over the LS25 and soundstage expanded, he is quite happy but had to change tubes to get it quiet.
A couple things: you may be able to "warm up" the First Sound (if it's not warm enough for you to start) by changing tubes. Secondly, Galen Carol Audio (gcaudio.com) has been a dealer and will ship equipment for auditioning purposes. I would call Emmanual Go (who designed the First Sound) how to audition one if Galen Carol doesn't work. I don't have Emmanual's phone number, but I'm sure you can get it via Internet search - or from a First Sound owner. Good luck.
Thanks everybody for your input. I did forget to mention I live in Indiana, Go Irish !!
I guess my mindset for some reason is that the First Sound may sound to bright or dry in some systems. I do want and enjoy detail, but some preamps seem a little bright. This is how the LS25 sounded to me after a while listening. This is why I am asking about the warmth. I did get a phone number to First Sound off their web site. Brian
I've had the Master cables and they are extremely high in resolution and would definitely show the warmth ( I cannot endorse know deviations from neutral). If you think a FS pre would be dry, then you really need to audition this unit! I found my Fs to be one of the most musical units I've ever owned.If you like a massive soundstage with 3-d images that you can touch (be very careful with the images-especially when it's D.Krall), the FS will give it to you in a huge way.The FS is a music lovers tool, it doesn't have a remote or balanced connectors( E.GO thinks single ended is the only way to go) but offers a rare glimpse into the tone and timbre of the music. I wish I could try my Master cables on the FS since I only had Cardas at the time. Before you buy you must audition both, to see what fits-Take care Dennis
Thanks for the insight on the FS. D. Krall is wonderful now with the LS16. Somewhat mind-boggling to understand the improvements the FS can make on the tone and timber of music. I also know the 16 is masking some of the tonal color, for search of a better word. And yes, no remote is bother some, as I have owned with and without before.
I also talked to Mr. Go and without a dealer base, auditioning is a challange before buying.I will be calling gcaudio today as I'm off work for a unit to audition.Brian
I would also suggest another A'Gon dealer, Stewart at Sanctuary or Sound / Weekend Envionments whom sells (sold?) First Sound preamps as I purhcased mine through him. I have quite a bit of info on my system thread about the preamp, perhaps more tube rolling info, but overall a preamp if in consideration, an audition is highly recommended. Good luck.