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.

Sorry guys,

For my typo in the title, it should be kept not keep! For some reason I could not correct it after the thread went up. But, I did share that I got very little sleep last night, so that's my excuse!
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@teajay I just wanted to thank you kindly for the nice words posted! I'm very stoked that you're digging the ML II thus far, and since you received a "fresh" build, I believe it will continue to open up even more in further hours. Best wishes! Aric
Spent another 15 to 20 hours listening to the ML II preamplifier this weekend. My cursory take on it has just being totally reaffirmed. As quiet as any Solid State line-stage I have ever had in-house. It rivals the speed and slam of my David Berning based ZOTL curcuit piece, and with the right 6SN7’s, for my taste 1940’s TungSol NOS Black Glass oval plate, produces both holographic imaging and a purity of tonality which is beautiful. It’s overall effortless and liquidity allows you to totally relax into the music.

I agree with rh67 that the pre-amplifier's physical appearance is quite attractive. Also, the remote control is very well built and its precise control of the volume allows you to get to the "sweet spot" very easily.
As the owner of the original Motherlode Preamp, this is bittersweet news indeed! However, I am far from surprised that Aric is building upon the foundation of his already legendary tube gear. I continue to be in awe of my Motherlode, and will have the slightest bit of envy for those who end up with the Lode II in their system.

Hey Laaudionote,

Your Motherlode is still a great preamplifier! You should give Aric a call so he can share with you what he has discovered to improve the overall performance of the ML to the ML II. Possibly, he could upgrade yours to the present generation.
The Stereo Times list of 2020 "MOST WANTED COMPONENTS" has just gone up on the website today. It includes the Motherlode MK-II preamplifier. The full review has been submitted and should be posted in the next few weeks. Congrats to Aric for receiving the award and building a great reference line-stage. By the way, I bought the demo piece, I did not want it to leave my house!
Hi Teajay, Thanks for the kind words and the heads up on the ML II "making the cut"! I'm really excited that you love the unit and am very appreciative of your willingness to give it a listen at the onset. Part of what brought this model to fruition was your critique of some of my earlier designs, which pushed me to set the bar higher! Best regards, Aric
Congrats Aric... a great, and well deserved, outcome from everything I've read about you and your products.