Arc LS25 BAT 50 arc Ref2mkII auditions

Hi. This is just a redirect to an audition of the arc LS25, LS25mkII, BAT50, Arcref2mkII (and my little space-tech!) with various arc amps in los angeles. I'm hoping this will help with people searching for this kind of info since the thread i first created stupidly was titled 'May 4th LA audition preamp freakout' or something like that because i was rounding up freaks for the audition at optimal enchantment. i should have posted the results under this heading.
Here are my results from the audition but i'd suggest finding the original thread and reading all the posts. i'm really just doing this because i've had two people as for the results and figured there actually would be no way for someone to do a search for one of these preamps and find the info yada yada. the original post was titled 'may 4th LA audition preamp freakout' i think.

anyway, here's my original results:

Ah...j thunders, my old friend. welcome.
here is the scoop - i'll just spit it out at random.

(If you’re just interested in the Space-tech laboratory preamp go to the bottom. I’ve received a few emails about space-tech stuff so go to to check it out for yourself. I think the guy is going to be out of town for a month but I could be wrong)

First let me say five of us showed up (to optimal enchantment in santa monica, ca – owner Randy) and i know all the names but not the monikers here so i dont want to let any cats out of the bag and refer to people either way so i'll just say 'the fellas' and that'll have to do. i HOPE all add to this thread as well and correct any mistakes i make.

Before I forget to mention it the auditioning was all done with Vandersteen model 5s. (not my particular favorite but sound pretty damn good).

Here’s what was on the plate: ARC LS25 mkI, arc LS25mkII, Ref2 mkII, BAT 50se. everything was run balanced (except for a few of us). These preamps were played mostly through the arc300 monoblocks (holy christmas) and using an ayre cd player and an oracle cd player (holy f*cing christmas!!) and on the BAT cd player. Let me say that all preferred the oracle cd player and this thing just rocks the house. I think it’s 10k so it’s not going to be rocking my house anytime soon but it still rocks. It’s got this cool spring set up like their tables randy appreciate my comment wondering if it would hold my weight and REALLY didn’t like it when I tried it out. But, as I told him, you’ll never know unless you try. Now we know. …It doesn’t.

Let's start with the Arc LS25 mki (hated it). Well, i could LIVE with it, but when we get to the other stuff you'll see what i mean. the 25mkI sounds great but by comparison to the other stuff it’s weak. It has a thin bass and sounds congested and a bit slow like something’s holding it back. Then randy turned the on switch on and it sounded fine. No, just kidding. It really did sound congested. I say this because when we went over to the LS25mkII WOW! The detail really opened up and the bass really slammed and tightened up. Much much more transparent than the mkI. This was the opinion of ALL.

Ok, then Randy put on the Ref2 mkII. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!! Bass slam, transparency, detail: everything just came alive and forward and real. Jesus I wish I didn’t hear this ten thousand dollar bitch.

Now to the BAT. Randy said the BAT sounds best with the BAT amp and the BAT cd player. Well, he was right about it sounding better with the BAT cd player but more on that later. (we never fired up the BAT amp). The oracle took highest votes for all but the BAT, although less detailed was SMOOOOOOOOTH and I can see liking this more than the oracle depending on your tastes. The oracle was very forward and in your face with detail and slam. The BAT was relaxed, mello but all the music was there. I’d really like to do an a/b with these two again but I’d lean towards…actually, I’m not sure.

But the BAT 50se, while having the same characteristics as the BAT cd player, was not my favorite. This, remember, was being played on the arc300 mono and I’m sure it would sound differently on the BAT amp. (at least that’s what Randy said and I believe the guy – great guy by the way.) 2 of the 6 of us preferred the BAT over the LS25 mkII and the arc ref2 mkII. (Although for me I might prefer the BAT over the the ls25mkII – I’d have to hear them again. I’m one of the 4 though in the above stat who). The BAT is a $7,500 preamp and the ref2 mkII comes in at 10k. To me the extra money is WELL worth it for the ref2 but like I said, not everyone felt that way.

Here’s some random notes I wrote down about the BAT listening to the guys talk and I agree with all of them. Smooth. Clean bass. Black background. More realistic vocals (this is where the bat really does shine). Good detail. ?? I don’t think I agree with that one but I was on valium or something like that. But as far at the BAT cd player the detail wasn’t as forward most definitely – but I kinda liked that.

I really think that the BAT stuff is great but meant for a certain taste. If you’re not the biggest fan of detail then the BAT is more likely to grab your attention because it is smooth and nice. But to 4 of the 6 of us who preferred the ref2 mkII or the 25mkII we found the BAT to be a little slow and behind the music.

BUT HEY, ALL of these preamps were TOPS, all but the LS25 mkI really were soo similar it came down to personal taste. But really I think the ref2 mkII brings things to a whole different level of hi-fi. Heads above the rest.

Ok. So now on to my dinky little Space-Tech Laboratory preamp. This isn’t balanced so we had to change over amps to the audio research vtm200 monoblock (boo-hoo, right?). Keep in mind we’ve just gone from a 30+k set up to a 14k setup amp-wise. I hate to say it but this little space-tech ROCKED!!! It’s just plain and simply ROCKED! It in no way was at the level of any of the preamps we tried out but this is a $300 preamp!!!!!!!! To think someone would spend an extra $7,200 for the BAT for the difference in sound is really almost criminal. I would…but I’m insane like the rest of you. Really, the space-tech was a little harsh on the top end and would be a bit fatiguing after a long session (that’s what Randy the owner said and he’s the one selling the multi-thousand dollar units). If that’s all his problem with this preamp was then you be the judge. I hope the others chime in about this thing. We really didn’t get a lot of time with it because we had already wasted poor Randy’s sunny Saturday afternoon but WOW this thing is a performer. Like all the rest of us I’m looking to upgrade but I’d ONLY go up to an LS25MKII (not the mkI) or the ref2 mkii if someone leaves me a ton of money. I would also think about an audibile illusions (we didn’t get to compare this because someone had just bought Randy’s THAT morning). I might do the AI because it’s got a phono and I know I could sell it for about what I bought it for. But really I’m looking in to a ref1 now (although haven’t heard it if it comes close to the ref2mkII then WOW – and maybe down the road I can upgrade it to the ref2??). Other than that I’m going back to space-tech and getting one of their higher models. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this guy’s stuff. If ANYONE (except bruce) wants to come by and take a listen – im in los angeles – please do. I like people who put time love and energy into their own equipment like Albert at space-tech and if I can help him in any way I will. But really the only way is to hear with your ears since he doesn’t advertise (I don’t think). I’d say this little $300 space-tech gets you 75% to the Audio research LS25mkII and ties the mkI. I wonder how it would respond to better tubes.

So that’s that. I LOVE the ref2 mkII and could just kill myself about it. Where am I going to find 10k (legally?). Fortunately arc comes out w/ upgrades soooo often I might just wait for that and reap the bounty when everyone starts trading in for the ref2mkIII or whatever they come up with.

By the way, the only person who walked out of the store today buying anything was little old me. I purchased a sweet vandersteen model 2wp. It’s on order. If someone thinks this is a mistake for my acoustat model 3s let me know asap and I’ll get randy to order something else. But I trust randy and he said this would be the real deal for these speakers so …we’ll see. He lent me a demo until mine come in but I dropped it down the stairs (it weighs like 100lbs) so I haven’t been able to listen to it because it’s in too many parts. – just kidding randy, relax. Jesus.

Hope all this helps guys. I’m new to all this and certainly not a professional reviewer but I tried.
I wonder how the Adcom would have faired in the mix? Rather well, I'm guessing. It is also a fraction of the price of the tube units, and offers a true balanced design, as well as the option of running in passive mode. I know that certain Audiogoners have had reliablity problems with the unit, but mine has been running 1 yr plus and is problem free. It is much smoother after it breaks in while preserving great detail. The major euphonic difference I note with some of the tube units I have auditioned is that they image more tightly than the Adcom. I am not sure which is more accurate but I could live with either. In the frequency extremes the Adcom is more accurate. IMHO!