ARC versus Joule Electra

Hi Folks:

I greatly admire Jud Barber's work both in terms of preamp's and power amp's. His OTL creations are finest of that type of tube amp that I have ever listened too.

Has anyone ever done an A-B comparison between the ARC Reference 2 Mk2 or LS 25 MK2 (both 6H30 tubed) versus the best preamps by Mr. Barber?


I think that HPs comments on the LA150MKII capture the essence of the preamps sound and the Joule sound in general, but for the LA150MKI which was a different animal all together compared to the house sound. If you can read HPs review, you get the idea of what to expect, and very different soundscape from what you can expect from ARC, I think. All great preamps in their own right.
Not me.

But I do swirch between an ARC LS25 and Jouloe 100 pre. If this is of interest, respond to this post and I'll provide some flavor.

Hello Marty: LA-100 is from "stone age". Today, I believe, the best Jud preamp is LA-300ME and so said Harry Pearson in July 2010 issue of TAS. He gave this preamp "2010 HP Editor Choice" Award. He called it "most romantic" - of course without coloration.

In contrary to Joule-Electra where all preamp (with pssible exception of LA-150 Mk1) are slightly romantic - ARC preamps are not consistant and vary from model to model. I am not familiar with LS25 but I listen to Reference 2; no comparison to LA-300ME, on my very subjective opinion.

I like LA-150 Mk2 too but "300" is better
I guess I'm just a "stone age" kinda guy.
I am not sure why the OP and Dob are comparing Ref 2 Mk2 (introduced in 2000) or LS25 Mk2 (introduced in 2000) with the best current Joule preamp. If you want to compare apples-to-apples, ARC's Ref 5 and even more appropriately ARC's latest 40th Anniversary Reference preamp will be the relevant comparison. The OP and Dob are comparing 10-yr old designs one of which was the mid-level ARC offering (the LS25 Mk2) with the latest SOTA Joule offering. I am sure ARC and Joule have very different sonic signatures and that's fine. But one should compare current designs at same price points to make relevant comparisons. Doesn't make sense to me. My 2c worth.
Hello Cmalak: Before start critic of the responses please read the question:

"Has anyone ever done an A-B comparison between the ARC Reference 2 Mk2 or LS 25 MK2 (both 6H30 tubed) versus the best preamps by Mr. Barber? "

I repeat: BEST PREAMPS by Mr. Barber


Cmalak, I hear what you are saying, but there is no reason to believe that 10-year old ARC, or 20 year old ARCs may not be as good or better as the current line-up, lot's of reasons for new models other than a constant upward progression, I never liked the move from 6922 to 6H30, for example. I think distinguishing ARC from Joule is pretty easily heard, Joule is more a meat on the bones sound, and most ARCs of recent vintage are leaner by comparison (not meaning better or worse, just different). Which you prefer may have as much to do with the amps and speakers you are using as anything else. may want to read my response.
"I am not sure why the OP and Dob are comparing Ref 2 Mk2 (introduced in 2000) or LS25 Mk2 (introduced in 2000) with the best current Joule preamp."

OP stands for Original Poster. So I am asking the question of both. And just because the OP asks the question does not mean you cannot answer his question and at the same time point out the difference between the units he asking feedback on.

Capish is actually spelt Capiche. Capiche?
Pubul57...I agree but if you are assuming the OP is asking because he does not like the 6H30 based designs from ARC and prefers the more tubey 6922 based designs which will have a more similar sonic signature to the Joule Electra units, than he should have gone back before Ref 2 Mk2 and LS25 Mk 2 because those units were some of the first linestages coming out of ARC that had transitioned over to the 6H30 tubes and were really the predecessors of the current more neutral 6H30-based linestage designs from ARC. I was just pointing out the difference in designs that's all. The OP can ask for whatever comparisons he so chooses. To me the comparison does not make as much sense but that's just me.
There is a Joule LA 150MKI which I think used 6H30, and proabably sounded more like current ARC gear, Jud quickly reversed course.
Never heard the ARC but I owned the Joule LA-150 MKII and it is very lush and romantic. I have it paired with Wyred SX-1000 monos for a combination of power and romance. I listen to a lot of jazz and vocals and I love the Joule sound.

Thank you all.
Let us know what you decide. Either way they are both excellent preamps, but as you might suspect different and only you can decide which type of sound you prefer, I'm sure you could resell either one easily if one is not your cup of tea.
Dob, is this your TT:

Any updates?
Hello Bjesien,

Yes, its my TT and I do smoke...but not Winston

Happy New Year !
Sorry, actually meant to ask this of Martyk1. Also, is that a set of prototype Ayre Myrtle Wood Blocks I see under the table?

Nope. I belive that the video you posted shows a Mk. II, and I have the earlier Mark I.


In defense of my first response in this thread, when I offerred to provide feedback on the 2 preamps that I own, I did start the post by acknowledging "Not Me". Since I knew that my offer was slightly OT, I suggested that the OP contact me off-line if he had any interest in my thoughts on the older models I own.