Aric Audio Systems Unlimited Preamp


They have a tube model called Unlimited that appears to be a decent value for < $800. It is tube rectified and with pair of tube voltage regulators and 12AX7 driver tubes. It even has a phono stage. Anyone is familiar with this preamp?
Dfc79476 b7e2 448b 8f7b 3aed2a5e9ad4kalali
The limitless preamp looks even more intriguing,I have never heard of this small company.

I sent them a email asking them if they have any plans to make a 2a3 based set Amp.Will see if they answer.

Thank's kalali for bringing this website to our attention.

Kenny.

Kenny, you're right, the Limitless looks like a top shelf preamp, just a bit too expensive for me. I found Aric by accident while looking for moderately priced tube preamps in the $800-$1000 range. Mapletree Audio is another outfit that I'm considering when (not if) I'm ready to pull the trigger. I also must confess I have a soft spot for these one man outfits. Rather give them my money if I can afford their products.

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kalali,

I agree with you I prefer the one man operations also.

Aric answered my email lightning fast and said he could custom build me a 2a3 set starting at $1300.00, I will have to figure out exactly what I want and get back with him.

Kenny.
That's great Kenny. What speakers will you be using with the 2a3 SET amp? Your DIs? Aric's phono preamp looks great too.
kalali,

I bought from audiogon the consonance cyber30 which is a 2a3 Intergrated headphone and speaker amp and I have found that I really like the sound,It's been quite a few yrs that I have had a 2a3 amp.
I'm using the cyber with my DI's and also using my MZ2S preamp to drive it,I have found that is more than enough pwr for 90% of the music I listen to,I did rewire the cyber and I took the volume control and headphone switch out of the signal path and I'm using all Nos tubes.

I will have to wire volume control back in because ultimately I bought the cyber for my granddaughter and will be a Christmas present for her along with some decent headphones.

Kenny.
Aric and I worked out the details of a custom SE 2a3 tube amp that will use a oversized pwr supply and Electra Print 15watt outputs so I will be able to get 8 to 10 watts using the new production JJ 2a3-40 tube and also use regular 2a3 tubes at the normal 3.5 watts.
The JJ tube is capable of dissapating 40 watts and a normal 2a3 dissipates 25 watts.

There is some older reviews of the JJ tube if you google for them.

We came up with price slightly below $1800.00 with shipping and no tubes.Should be a very good sounding amp especially for the price.

Kenny.
I have a DIY WECO 91A clone, 2A3 with Electra Print output transformers. I run JJ 2A3-40s as well. I use it to drive my tweeters.

 I've always thought it was a nice amp, and the EPs and JJs both were nice upgrades. 

Hope you enjoy!
For the price point I would checkout Spearit Audio online based in MA. They are dealers in Conrad Johnson which are outstanding tube and SS products. The SPEARING owners is retiring and they have a lot of new and used gear for sale at good prices. A Classic tube preamp should be accessible. Great sound. Only issue for me is no remote.

Kenny, that sounds like a great amp. I also decided to go with his Unlimited preamp. I traded off expediency (read impatience) for the color choice; gloss black vs. hammered silver, and should hopefully receive it in around a week or so. I'm hoping it will play well with my Vincent SP-331 or MC2200. Thanks for the encouragement.

I'll report back.


sebrof,

Good to read that you like that JJ tube they sure look very robust and well built and not outrageously expensive.Are you using the 91a clone in a tri amp system.

kalali,

Wow that sounds awesome and I'll beat it will help both of your amps sound good.That middle priced unlimited is probably the best value in Aric's lineup in preamps.Did you get the remote option version.
You will probably get yours before mine so you will have to let us know how it works out for you.

I Thank You for finding this gentleman and hopefully by word of mouth in the Audiogon community we will keep him busy.

Kenny.
Kenny, I didn’t get the remote option since I hardly ever use the remote on my current (SS) preamp. As a  complete tube newbie I'm curious about his design and the tubes he uses in power/voltage supply and all the reasonably priced 12AX7 tube options available for future tweaking.
By the way, thanks for sharing the review link. I’m not expecting anything fancy as long as it has a nice warm sound.
Received the Unlimited preamp a couple of days ago and been playing it since. Really love the sound it makes. Its got that so called mid-range bloom and lush sound that folks have been taking about and associated with tube preamp. The detail is comparable with my other preamp - NAD C165bee, but the soundstage depth and the airiness around the vocals and instruments is noticeably more apparent. Listening to Madeleine Peyroux earlier and the presence is eerily real. The construction is fairly industrial and nothing special but reasonably well made. I guess this is as close one can get to an all tube preamp since even the power supply is tube rectified along with voltage regulator tubes. There's a knob in the back to control the output gain which is a nice touch and allows for matching the gain with the input sensitivity of the pairing amplifier. All in all very happy with the purchase and the timing since he raised the price by almost 35% just last week - $725 to $975. I've had a number of  email exchanges with Aric asking for tube recommendations and he responded within a few hours with great suggestions. I'm sure you'll be happy with your amp. He seems to be a real nice guy to work with.
Forget to add that the bass is also noticeably better. Can’t say if its tighter but its more apparent specially at lower volumes. Somewhere I read this might be attributed to the nature of the 5AR4 rectifier tube but I have no prior tube preamp experience to know one way or the other. And the preamp is truly quiet, not even the slightest noise, hiss, nothing, even with my ears right next to the tweeter.
kalali,

Very nice to read that you really like your new Aric audio preamp.
Is it sounding good with both of your pwr amps and do you feel like the preamp is a good value for the sound vs. the cost.

My gut feeling tells me you got a much better preamp than a Freya and I hope you really enjoy it.

Kenny.

The preamp sounds good with both the Vincent/Vandersteen and Mac MC2200/ Martin Logan systems but the lushness and warmth is more pronounced with the Vincent/Vandersteen combo partly because the room setup is very different as well Mac is inherently warmer by itself. Freya seems like a great piece too and in some respects appears even more modern with more features.

Hi. I bought the Unlimited after listening to their little brother which I bought in the local Craigslist. The Unlimited is an excellent preamplifier.  In my system it replaced a EE Minimax. I agree with Kalali 100%, I think he nailed his assessment of the Unlimited. In addition, Aric is a great guy to work with. In my case he added an extra set of input jacks for a modest price. I've owned a series of high end preamps and sound wise the Unlimited beat them all. One thing I noticed is that the new Unlimited only has two 12ax7 while mine has three. I'm not sure why that is but i'm very happy with my purchase. It would cost two to three times what I paid to get better sound. This is a highly recommended piece of equipment if you are in a budget.  
audiogabby, nice to hear input from an owner who's owned other tube preamps. This is my first and I'm really enjoying the different presentations of my favorite music tracks I hear from this preamp when compared to the SS units I've owned in the past. I'm guessing the third 12ax7 in yours is for the phono stage since on the new ones he's using a solid stage front end feeding into one the two 12ax7 line stage tubes. I haven't tried that input yet since I have a completely separate but much older vinyl rig.
The phono stage is pretty decent too at the price point. The biggest strengths of this preamp, in my opinion, is the midrange presence, dynamics and clarity.  

I see a good deal of action on the Tekton DI thread about Aric's amplifiers and makes me glad to see folks continue to support these small one-man operations. Just wanted to share some feedback after having used my Unlimited preamp for over a month or so and tubes have settled a bit. It sounds wonderful and seems to get better and better as it breaks in. The top end detail and midrange are incredibly engaging, especially on smaller bands with few instruments and vocals, like folk or jazz. I have already bought a set of tubes he recommended as upgrades including the rectifier, regulators, and signals, and will pop those in but want to first get used to the sound the way its now to have a good baseline. I'm also exchanging emails with Aric to see if I could make it even better by using better Audyn caps like the Plus or Pure Copper. He said he's experimenting this himself and will share the outcome. In some cases, upgrading the cap even within the brand may require using a different value to improve the sound. A nice benefit of point to point wiring that even could allow a novice like me to tinker. Anyway, its such a treat to be able to communicate so easily with someone who made your gear and get guidance on how to make it better. I have no doubt his amplifiers are just as good.

Thought I'd contribute my experiences with Aric Audio.

I had Aric build me his Transcend KT 120 amp with Pure Copper caps and it was fantastic sounding. What an amazing value at only $2600 as it sounded better in my system than amps costing twice as much. 

I was was so happy with the amp I decided to go all out and have Aric build me a no holds barred 300B SET amp. As good as the Transcend amp is his 300B took my system to a whole new level. Powerful, dynamic, gorgeous midrange, amazing tone with a large, 3-D soundstage. Music just oozes with realism through this amp. Aric hit a home run here!
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I am so glad to hear you guys speak of Aric audio. I have the Limitless preamp and i love it. I noticed that it is no longer on his website, I think it was replaced with the Transcend series preamp. I am thinking about looking into getting my Limitless upgraded to the Transcend series. 
I started out with the Unlimited and i love it so much that i had it upgraded to the Limitless. I have my eye on his new mono blocks.
If you're a little handy with a soldering gun and can pay attention to details, you can do most of the upgrades yourself. I replaced the stock capacitors in my Unlimited with the top line Audyn just recently and I'm very impressed with the results. The best part was Aric himself actually told me exactly what to use. Same with tube selections. He's truly a class act guy and a passionate audiophile and I'm so glad to see he's getting a lot of business from the folks here.
It's great to see some exposure for Aric Audio. I have a number of pieces from his shop and without exception over the course of a year they have "seasoned each other" in a way that has enriched the overall presentation. During the process I often asked for and always followed Aric's recommendations which were never by the way offered up unsolicited. My experience with Aric Audio has been very thorough in terms of putting two systems together, both of which are remarkable, affordable, and continue to sound better as time passes. I recognized early on that dollar for dollar I was getting a tremendous value which held true for each piece and allowed me the synergies of components designed and crafted by the same individual on the same bench, being combined and performing as a single voice. I've been an advocate of that kind of thing for decades and once again I am enjoying watching it unfold.
Rereading my own earlier comments about upgrades, I just want to add that my intent was not to advocate folks jumping in and start taking things apart and doing their own mods. There are significant voltages in play and mistakes can have some serious consequences. If have never done this sort of work before, you should not take any chances and just send the piece back to Aric and have him do it the right way.
I've gone back to the Limitless on the site in lieu of the Transcend unit, as the majority of inquiries I had were looking primarily for a line stage (where the previous Transcend unit had a full tubes phono stage which added substantially to the cost). The Limitless has a competent solid state phono stage that's fed into the main tube line stage, so it fits the general needs of my clients better. If anyone wants a full tubed phono- that will be offered as a standalone unit.

@fusionout - Thanks for the kind words! If you have your eyes on the Enigmatic push/pull amps, send me a message and I can work with you on price since you're a 2 time repeat customer. Those amps are literal powerhouses, with the functionality of turning it into several different amps via the flip of a switch and swapping tubes and they can drive any speaker out there! 

Best, Aric
After having spent the last couple of months with Aric's linestage and 300B SET I couldn't be happier. My system sounds better than I ever thought possible. Tone, speed, dynamics, imaging, soundstaging......it's all there in spades. Superlatives don't do Aric's products and customer service justice. As content as I am with my system working with Aric is such a pleasure I find myself wishing I had another build for him. Maybe some speakers next!
Speakers you say!

I think I may have the first set, but Mr. Kimball designs and builds a killer speaker called the Dynalto. Floorstanding 3-way and the crossover work is enough to make you a believer -- but that's only where it starts. Full range (meaning full range) with a ribbon tweeter that defies much in its presentation because it melds with the mid in such a way that it sounds like one, not two drivers. I couldn't be happier. The fit and finish is what I've come to understand Aric Audio to be about, as is the sensation of being blown away. 
Thanks guys! I believe being able to optimize the whole system together is like matching the engine to the transmission. I've got a larger set named "Animus" that's in the works now featuring a quad array of midranges flanking a ribbon tweeter. The low end will be handled by a high efficiency 12" driver. Two more amplifiers are in the works as well. Aric
Initial testing of The Motherlode preamplifier is complete! This unit was designed to fill the niche left by "The Dude" (which was a high end 6SN7 based preamp using all film capacitors and tube regulation in the power supply). This is a "no hold barred" design that was spawned between A'goner laaudionut and myself over the course of the last couple of months. He originally wanted to purchase a "Dude" only to find the owner/designer had regretfully passed away and the use market was becoming scarce for this gem. Flash forward to today, and I believe I have a unit that will compete on all levels AND includes a full tube phono stage as well. This is on my own personal "Got to have it" list as of today!
The magic of the Dude is in several design areas that make it unique. The 3 tube regulated power supply is a gem and to this day nobody has figured out how Paul the designer did it. Paul was an absolutely brilliant designer and while some aspects of his Dude preamp can be “copied” this is one that has not to date.

The way he used the 6sn7 tube is also unique and unconventional. He did not follow the established designs and conventional wisdom in books etc... He utilized the tube in unique ways that many would quickly dismiss as “wrong”. This is also unique to the Dude to date. 

Things like a robust Pi filter, circuit breaker instead of fuse, SS rectification, hand build Shallco silver contact stepped attenuator, and Duelund output caps can be matched.

We miss Paul and TRL gear. I like the fact that we are respecting his work by mentioning the Dude in this thread.
@grannyring much respect to "The Dude" and thank you for the insight on it’s uniqueness! In terms of similarities the ML has the breaker power switch, an exclusively film capacitor power supply and robust storage + PI filter stages. I’ve also employed SS rectification using dual series UF diodes per leg with snubbers across them in a full wave bridge, and perhaps a difference (not knowing the Dude architecture myself), is a large 5H choke after the first filter cap stage for smoothing. This uses a more conventional Mu-Follower stage with a 6SL7 as the amplification. TKD volume potentiometers, and Duelunds on the outputs (Jupiter PIO’s are used in the phono stage section). It’s fairly straightforward but does use a pair of OC3 regulators snubbed with small film capacitors to drop the excessive voltage at the tail end of the B+ before it hits the plate resistors. While there are many differences I’m sure, and this is not out to "clone" the design, I would more respectfully say this pays homage to The Dude in it’s basic structure. Best regards, Aric
Goodness I love what you are doing here. It will sound absolutely wonderful I am sure.  Very nice.  Love to see pictures if possible. 
Based on the pics of the Motherlode I've seen its a beauty. I don't know enough about the workings of all those impressive looking capacitors and such inside of the units to really appreciate what Aric has created here, but if it sounds better than the linestage he built for me ( and I'm sure it does ) this will be one sweet preamp. Can't wait to hear laaudionut's impressions of it. 
That sounds like a wonderful piece of audiophile gear. Love to hear more about the specs. Knowing Aric's attention to details and his choice of excellent components, I have no doubt it'll be a great success. Even his lower end Unlimited preamplifier that I have is excellent and sounds better and better the more I use it.
I'll be able to post more a bit later- perhaps Monday as I had some company arrive for the weekend. Real quick though, is anyone aware of an easy way to post pics on this forum without having to upload them to another site and post a URL?

Aric
I'm not sure if you all have or use Facebook at all, but it's the only website I could find to post some quick pics of it. Eventually I'll have it up on my own site, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peak (well not too sneak I suppose) of the Motherlode pics, and pics of the power supply and preamp internals as well:

https://www.facebook.com/AricAudioSystems/posts/1769537846429578

Best, Aric
I have been looking at the pics and this is the way a great preamp should be built. Very well done! The design, layout, and build quality are all impeccable. I see my personal favorite - Jupiter copper foil caps. I now use these in all my builds and mods. I love them! Bypass with a .01uf Duelund silver foil and you’re in heaven.

Your attention to detail and build skills are first rate. Exciting to see a preamp like this is still being built. No circuit boards, beefy Pi filter with quality chokes and Clarity TC caps. Many power amps don’t have power supplies as good as this! The power supply is the key to great sound. Very exciting to see this beauty!
Thank you Bill, I really appreciate that! Those Jupiter caps sound gorgeous by the way, as do the Duelunds. It's very satisfying to be able to work with parts of this caliber. Best wishes, Arc
As several A'goners have requested, here is a link to the The Motherlode preamplifier built for Laaudionut:

http://aricaudio.com/products.php?product=ML6SL7MM

Aric
Aric - Great job on the Motherlode and your other fantastic products!

All - If you are located or visiting the Chicago area and interested to see/hear/buy the Aric Audio Special 6SN7 Line-stage or Special KT88/120 Amplifier. We have them on display!

Thanks!
Mike
Audio Archon - dealer
Thanks Mike- it's much appreciated!
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A review of my Transcend KT88/120 amplifier just went up on Home Theater Review today.
https://hometheaterreview.com/aricaudio-transcend-series-kt-120-se-stereo-amplifier-reviewed/