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.


I get an error message bugredmachine. I’d love know know your system. I have used the 6sn7 Linlai’s in the amp. Will be cool to hear the difference when shifted from amp to preamp. This will be my first tube preamp and I’ve read that tube rolling can have a significant impact on the overall sound. 

@bugredmachine: Awesome system! I also use an Adona rack. What shelves are those you have? I use upgraded ones from Marigo Audio, along with their upgraded sub-platform footers. Do you find that the Shakti stone that sits on your preamp transformer causes too much heat build up? I like what the Shaktis do for transformers but, I had overheating problems when used on my tube poiwer amps. Good listening. Jeff


I had a Sachs and really liked it, BUT, for the life of me I could not eliminate the noise it sent through the tweeters. I tried every trick in the book and eventually gave up. I had even wrapped it in Sapele Pommele veneer as I had enjoyed it so much at the start. I became frustrated over time when the linlai tubes were a rage and they would not play without horrific noise issues. Don guided me to make some internal adjustments but they failed to produce good results.

I sold it to a happy user in Florida and ordered a Motherlode 2 to pair with my Coda amp. Then I moved and the MOtherlode remained in the unopened box for months. I finally finished my new system in Tennessee and the Aric preamp is extremely quiet and as musical as the Sachs. I have no issues whatsoever and really like the fit and finish.

Aric was great to deal with and builds a very high quality unit. You will not be disappointed.

Still very,very pleased with my Motherlode II.  It pairs wonderfully with the two First Watt amps I run. (J2,and F5)  I have zero desire to replace it.  


I purchased many, and I mean many, butcherblock slabs over the years for isolation on the Adona racks and on the floor, etc. I just put small rubber bumpers or equivalent Vibrapods between the steel and wood. 

No heat build-up on my components, even the Coda at Class A runs cool to the touch. Over time I bought a bunch of the Shakti's and just throw them on for added absorption.

I'll tell you what fells, the biggest improvement I have every experienced is cabling. These JPS Aluminata cables have transformed my sound - eliminated electrical noise, increased bass output, and thrown the soundstage outside the speakers. Simply the best sound I have ever had. I'm looking for another Aluminata power cable as we speak.