Aric Audio's Motherlode II line-stage keep me up all last night
I received for review Aric Kimball’s new flagship line-stage the Motherlode II on Wednesday morning of this week. This beautifully built two piece (the massive power supply has its own chassis) went into one of my systems to burn-in/settle-in until I had a chance to have a lengthy listening session to get my first take on its performance. That turned out to be yesterday starting around six in the early evening. Well, I was so mesmerized by its performance I did not go to bed until four in the morning!
I have had the pleasure to review four different Aric Audio pieces in the past. Aric designs and builds some of the finest tube based amplifiers and line-stages on the market today for amazingly reasonable prices. Besides, he is totally "good people" with the strong suite of offering his customers first rate support of their Aric Audio purchase. He went "full monty" with the Motherlode II regarding parts quality, a short list of some of these are Khozmo volume control, Vishay resistors, special high-end caps, dual torodal power transformers, dual chokes, and a very innovative way to drive the pair of 6SN7 tubes to perform at their ultimate performance level.
Why was I up all night listening to this line-stage? It would have to be one of the most quiet/transparent tube based preamplifiers I have ever had in-house for review. This allowed all the micro-details to be easily heard. The overall speed, dynamics, aliveness it brought to the system were at the level of the finest tube or solid state line-stages regarding delivering the PRAT of the music being played. The Motherlode II created a large layered and realistic sound-stage with 3D imaging and air around each individual player. My favorite 6SN7 tube are NOS TungSol 1940’s Black Glass oval plates. When I put these tubes into the Motherlode II I heard the beautiful timbres and tonality that these tubes have to offer clearly coming through in the production of the music.
If you are looking for a tube based line-stage that will give you reference level performance in the price range right around $5000, take a look at Aric Audio’s website for all the details regarding the innovative design and the specific parts that are used in this piece. This linestage is a "killer" performer. This will be a fun and a total pleasure to continue to evaluate the Motherlode II and in the near future write my review on it.