This is the latest upgrade AR has added to their list of everchanging updates and more than likely,not too many auditions as this being their latest.Good luck....
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Recently auditioned the original LS16 and found it to be noisy as hell. Tried sets of my own selected low-noise NOS Amperex, Mullard, and Siemens 6DJ8/6922/7308 tubes and it was still noisy. I was running the pre under best possible circumstances. Amps are ARC also and I run a true "balanced system from source to speakers. I suspect the LS16 in single ended is worse still in this regard. The LS2B I had previously owned was much quieter, a Sonic Frontiers Line 3 was silent as a tomb and the Aesthetix Callisto I ended up purchasing smokes the LS16 in all respects. The series 2 version is going to have to be a whole bunch better to be competitive...
I own a LS16 and there is no objectionable noise. I've compared it against Classe CP-35, CP-45, CJ PV-12, CJ PV-14L, Adcom GFP-750, all of which I have owned or still own. I my LS16 single ended. That LS16 you had must be defective, doesn't mate well with your other gear, or you just like slamming AR. I'm very pleased with my LS16.
I own the ARC LS16MKII. It replaces the line stage of my ARC SP9MKIII (I still use the phono stage from that unit with my Linn K 18 cartridge). The ARC LS16MKII has much better resolution than the ARC SP9MKIII, but also is better and quieter (on music material) than a LS 22 that I tried out. Driving an ARC VT 100MKII in balanced mode into moderate efficiency speakers (Linn 5140), it is dead silent when no music signal is on. What is more important is the comparative absence of "noise" when playing what were previously heard to be noisy CD's (a certain Best of the 60's CD), and the increase in micro-dynamics, relative to both the ARC SP9MKIII and the LS 22. The bass sounds (compared with the LS 22) a bit "dry" or overdamped, compared with an LS 22, and some might consider the top octive to be "whitish" rather than (as I do), delicate and defined. Depending on the quality of your power line signal, the preamp will sound better with a line conditioner (I use Monster 5000). In my home, without a conditioner, the sound can be slightly strained in the mid-range and the unit can sound a bit out of breath with tough CD cuts such as "I can see clearly now" in the Holly Cole Trio, Don't Smoke in Bed, CD. I suspect that reflects limitations in power supply regulation, that more expensive units such as the LS25 may not suffer to the same degree.
The gain level seems just right in relation to the power amp used, and the speakers used, in the context of the acoustics of my (long) listening room, but if used with a power amp with less gain, or with high sensitivity speakers, there might be a noise problem: its noise level is specified as being higher than an LS 25 (but it is a more recent product, and that may reflect changes in advertising policies or measuring techniques in the interim; see the noise specs on the Reference II compared with the LS 25 for confirmation of that.
I hope this helps.