ARC LS26 power cords, interconnects, tweaks

I just purchased an Audio Research LS26 preamplifier. This is my first tube component and now my system could go fully balanced if I invested in xlr cables. I am very happy with the overall sound of the LS26. The separation of details and fuller sound in the midrange is an incredible improvement in many ways. Tones sound so natural and true through this preamp. That said, I do not feel I am getting the full level of performance it is capable of. My former pre was a solid state edge g1. There was a sparkle in the treble that is not there with the ARC and while the midrange is certainly fuller it sounds very slightly veiled especially on voices. I am sure this is just a tweaking issue as it really does sound incredible. I would love to hear from other owners who have experimented and what you've learned.

I currently own all Tara Labs RSC interconnects terminated with RCA. My system is:

amp: spectron musician 3se mk2 (isoclean superfocus power cord)
preamp: arc ls26 (shunyata taipan power cord)
cdp: resolution audio opus 21 (shunyata taipan power cord)
loudspeaker: audio physic scorpio: spectron remote sense speaker cable / purist audio new elementa advanced

I suggest you do not make any changes anywhere in the chain at all until the new preamp is fully broken in, which is anywhere from 400-500 hours of playing time(not just powered, but playing). Unless you bought the unit used.

I hate to say it because you probably heard it before, but with cables, be it power cords or interconnects or speaker cables, it is very system/component/room/listener dependent. There are too many variables to consider. Very hard to make any specific recommendation. If you live in the US, it is best to take a set of different cables from Cable Co. They have a lending library with huge selection of cables. It's a lengthy process that can also become difficult and confusing to select the "right" combination of cables.
Another way to do it is to buy used cables here and sell them if they don't work out for you.

To start with something, start with what you have. Give your preamp time to break in and yourself time to adopt to new sound. No surprise that LS-26 sounds different from your last preamp. You need to get used to its sound. Let it fully cook and then see how you like it before you start swapping cables.

FWIW, I use Shunyata Taipan Helix Alpha on my ARC preamp. Shunyata Python VX on cd player and Audience powerChord on the amp. ICs are Acoustic Zen Silver Ref MkII from cd to pre and Matrix REF MkII from pre to amp.
Learn the voice of your system and then start tweaking with cables.

I still have stock PC because I'm tweaking other things and still learning about my system.

Take your time and enjoy.
You have not as yet "heard" your LS26, as suggested above it needs time to break in. I have about 350hrs on my LS26 and I still hear changes (for the good).
I don`t normaly like "adaptors" because that introduces another connection plus one that is not soldered.
I also use a new ARC PH7 phono which has only RCA out.

Just to see what happens if I took the "balanced" path, I ordered 2pr. of Cardas RCA to XLR adaptors,($75 a pair) balanced going into and balanced comming out of the LS26.
The difference was VERY significant, like a veil lifted, dynamics and high transparency, sense of space and depth was MUCH better, I am not going back to the RCA only path.
Some reading this will say I am imagining the improvements, but I think the signal just going through the balanced mode is improved and past on down the line so to speak. The LS26 is the only unit in my system that can go Balanced, you may find that the adaptors are all you will need.
Hi there,
Audphile is right, get at least 400+ hours on your LS26 before making any judgements. Mine has, and I'm still amazed at how un-hifi it sounds, and how it just lets music 'appear' in my room.

No way that the LS26 can be making vocals sound veiled. It must be a system interaction. Try borrowing some different inteconnects and see if that changes anything.

I find the LS26 sounds a little more dynamic if you use the high gain setting. Balanced cables will be a definite plus if the associated up/downstream components are balanced.

I have my preamp on a spliked mdf platform. I use Daikom footers (like Aurios)under the pre for isolation.

I have never felt the need to try different PC's yet, it sounds so good 'as is'.

I'm using a Cardas Golden Reference PC (with Oyaide plugs and receptacles) that used to power my Krell preamp before I bought the ARC.

I'm using the incredibly transparent and musical Gabriel Gold Revelation I/C's. They are the perfect match with the LS26.

Relax and enjoy!
Thanks for your input. Last night I was tinkering around with some xlr cables i borrowed from the cable company. I put them in several days ago. There was some improvement in gain but it was not a night and day difference. At the request of the dealer at Audio Connection in Verona NJ(nice guys by the way) I tried moving the cd input to the "monitor" input. The improvement in sound was dramatic. The flatness disappeared, the high frequences were more clear and crisp. In effect, I was happy with my system again. The ic's were purist audio elementa advance which is also the line of speaker cables i have. this may be a useful tweak to other ls26 owners. The gain stages will not work in monitor mode but it isn't missed. Why would the monitor sound better than the cd input?
I used to own LS26 and had the same experience. According to my dealer monitor has a shorter signal path than CD input that's why it sounds better. Its also the reason that with monitor input you dont have all functions available e.g. gain as far as I remember.
I too use to own an LS26 and had great results with XLR audio magic cables.

That being said it does take some time for it to fully open up so just keep breaking it in.

Out of curiousity what pre do you own now and how does it compare to the ARC?

Rayden 1972 and Jim swantko, you both state that you "used to own" the LS26. What pre did each of you purchase after the LS 26 and what aspects of the performance of the LS26 were lacking as far as your personal preferences are concerned?
I would try Shunyata Anaconda Helix Alpha PC if I were you. It should give some more HF air and sparkle. This the cable that ARC uses at their factory to voice their products. I use Anacondas myself and are very pleased with the result.

You should also try to put the pre on some footers. I have tried Finite Elemente Ceraballs (rigid) on my Ref 3 but finally settled on Sorbothane feet. The improvement is not subtle.

Last but not lest, you may want to try NOS 6H30-DR tubes (you have only 2 in there, so the investment is minimal) which offer slightly beter deninition and resolution. Do not forget to get Herbie's UltraSonic-9 tube dampers for them.
I am using the LS26 with MIT Shotgun S1's (XLR) and Virtual Dynamics Masters LE 2.0 power cords. Sound is awesome. Thanks Jim.