ARC ref 3,5 OR Lamm LL2.1 for my ml2.1

I have been using the AYRE KXR preamp for my Lamm ML2.1 amp. I recently tried the Lamm LL2.1 tube preamp and wad floored at how much more musical my system sounds now. Pianos sounded like pianos. Voice had the mid range magic. One of those great moments where a 7k box beats a 20k box. Now that i realize synergy and tube preamp - i wanted to test the ARC Ref 3 or 5 - anyone experienced this combo and any ideas about the difference between ARC and Lamm preamps on this system?
My experience with ARC Preamps is some time ago, when I am honest, they never moved me. When I listened the first time to Lamm LL2.1 I was floored about its realistic reproduction, sold my more expensive preamps and it was done. I use it with Lamm ML2.1 and LP2 Phono (custom order with 71dB gain).
I would go with the Lamm over the ARC for synergy sake. If I were to go in another direction, and try another manufacturer, I'd suggest a VAC Signature Mk IIa.
Go with the Lamm. They were designed to work with one another.
You can use the exercise...go with the Lammie, no remote.

Dealer disclosure...

As another ML2.1 owner, I am using Herron 3. I found it much quieter then the Lamm and on par with everything else. Cost less too!
The synergy is there with either preamp (say an ARC 5SE and the LL2.1D - you do want the Deluxe version) and both are great choices. The 5SE is more resolving, has better image outlines (if you're into that) and slightly more articulation in the lowest frequencies. It also has a remote. Tonality with the LL2.1D is superb without being overly warm or rich. It sounds like a Lamm preamp which, as you know is very much in its favor. Fwiw, the LL2.1D definitely improves - and not by a small amount - with better 6DJ8 and 12AU7A tubes versus stock. Two great choices - imo you will not make a mistake with either choice.
I've never heard a good Audio Research combination. Even at the high end spectrum.
Another vote for the Lamm preamp. I think it will be a better match (sounded great with my ML 1.1s when I had to borrow one from my dealer while my old preamp was repaired). I think Jtimothya did a pretty good job describing the basic differences I hear between the two brands, and I tend to go for the Lamm sound over the ARC sound.
Lamm or Bust... Go with Lamm. I just added an L2 to my system over Dac to amp direct. No comparison. I say again, go with Lamm.
Oh boy, just when I was having the nerve to do without my LL2D I read this thread and I'm find myself going back on my steps. Shouldn't have clicked this link!! ;-)

I love this preamp, and indeed it does change with upgraded tubes. Mine drives a McIntosh Mc275. I bet it would sound fantastic with your ML2.1.

My apologies. I came from the "less is more" camp, where passions run high. After having added the L2, I instantly defected to the "more is more" camp, where passions are equally high. Fact is, the addition of the preamp made me change my paradigm.
Hey Saint!

Yes, I know what you mean. I tend to be rather agnostic as to either dogma. I just love what the LL2 does to sound vs my current DAC driving the amp directly.
BUT lately I've grown interested in DRC/DSP/"stereo multichannel". The latter needs explaining. My only source is an optimized audio server; a PC.
I'm thinking about getting an 8-channel DAC, set up digital crossovers inside the software, and drive each speaker driver with a dedicated amp, foregoing the passive XO. This allows for time-alignment of the drivers, and also digital room correction. But a stereo preamp has no place in such a setup.

So the huge question in my mind: would the benefits from time-alignment outdo those from a good preamp and the same amount of money spend on a 2-channel rather than 8-channel DAC? The only way to know is to do it, but that would be a long journey.

Sorry...certainly more than you wanted to know!
11-19-13: Stereo5
Go with the Lamm. They were designed to work with one another.
+ 1.

That would be a long journey. But I must admit, the journey is part of the fun. :)
Thanks! for sharing.

LAMM is on my short-list to demo as soon as I find a dealer/retailer. For those who own this gear, please suggest your local dealer/retailer so that I may get some audition time. Happy Listening!

Where do you live?
Hello Saint519.

I am in the deep South- Alabama. Luckily, I travel the nation for work. Can you suggest a dealer/retailer?
Happy Listening.
I bought my Lamm gear on the used market. The Lamm website lists all their dealers though. I have had personal dealings with Innovative Audio of NY, another Lamm dealer. Scott Haggart came by my home to position my Sashas a few years back. He may or may not remember me. But they've got a great audio salon in the heart of NYC.
Thank You! Saint519. If I find myself in the greater NYC area I will visit Innovative Audio- which model(s) of LAMM gear do you own? Happy listening.
I think you'd be very happy with a Lamm preamp. I auditioned a LL2 Deluxe a number of years ago and really enjoyed it. It bested (based on my poor aural memory) a Hovland HP-100, Rogue 99 Magnum and Audio Horizon preamps. Bitten by the Lamm bug I found a used L2-Ref preamp that in the end did not work for me. I swapped tubes, did whatever I could from my end and then spent a ton of money shipping both it and its power supply back to Lamm who checked it over, updated a few things and upon its return it was the same. Maybe it was synergy think and the LL2 Deluxe was a better match with my Bryston amp - don't know but it left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

I have since owned an ARC LS-26 and then a Ref 3 and thought the Ref 3 was the best resolving, dug out the smallest of details in the music, preamp I've owned but the best bang for the buck in all my preamps was the LL2 Deluxe (now the LL2.1 I believe). I think if it had a remote, something I really need/like, it might still be in my rack - I thought it was that good.

If in fact the issues I had with the L2-Ref were synergy issues with my amp your having the Lamm amp would negate that mis-match.

Good luck with your search

My pleasure. I own the L2 Ref Preamp and the M1.2 Ref monos.
How about visiting Lamm itself? They do have a demo room - I know because I bought the LL2 they used for demoing.
If I was able I would definitely visit them. if anything I find it part of the halo of buying from small companies.

What a great idea. I had no idea Vlad did that.

So, what did you decide?
Jump on the Lamm asap!!
Anyone heard of the "Silence of the Lamms"?