Audible Illusions modulus 3A, what would be the next level of up grade?

I have the Mod3A. simaudio 400m mono blocks, vpi scout II hyper model, ps audio gcph with level 1 underwood mods, tekton pendragon speakers
The classic line would be, it sounds great!
 I think me pre part of my system is where I should upgrade.
 Any suggestions?
I had a 3A with the John Curl phono board for many years and really felt it was an excellent sounding unit. It did eat tubes and I had a major problem with it when one of the volume controls shorted and sent a spike to one speaker. Very costly problem. This is an issue with these as they age but AI does stock parts.

I grew tired of the old schoolness of this unit and wound up with a ARC LS27 pre and love it. While I had to invest in a new phono pre the LS 27 was a huge advancement in ease of operation and I feel, sound quality.
I had been running an Audible Illusions MA3 for 10 years when I sent it back for some updates and repairs, I took advantage of AIs very liberal trade in policy and took possesion of the new pre 16 months later. Both pres had the John Curl phone boards and needless to say I loved them both dearly, with that said I did not want to go into my retirement with a piece of gear I could not count on the builder to repair and get back to me within a reasonable amount of time. I went through 9 very good preamps and an equal amount of phone preamp to settle on a Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe and an Allnic H1500se ll phono. I was really surprised at how much cash it took to better the Modulas 3B, other pres that I used and really liked were the 1st Sound Presence Deluxe lll.

I agree with kdude66. Going to the Double Impacts from the Pendragons would be a very good upgrade if you like the Tekton sound. I also had Audible Illusions preamps for many years--owned the 2D for 18 years followed by the 3A w/gold phono boards for 6 years. The phono section was tough to replace. I bought a TRL DUDE used on Audio Circle and it has been a sincere upgrade--potent powerful bass, wonderful live mids and uppers, with very live sound overall. It took several tries to find a phono pre I liked as well. I finally bought a used Whest 3.0 RDT SE for $2300, but the phono section on the AI was VERY tough to beat, even with the awesome DUDE doing the line stage. The AI 3A does not eat tubes if you buy AI’s premium matched tubed set. I had the same tubes for all 6 years--changed them right when I bought it used on Agon.
Thanks for the input.
There are some pre's I have been looking at. I have not had the chance to hear them yet.
 Primaluna Dialouge premium
 Allnic L-1500
 McAlister Audio
 Don Sach's pre
 I do like my Pendragons, I've only had them for 9 months. I appreciate the recommendation and get where it's coming from. I'm in Toronto, Canada. Additional shipping cost, the exchange and 13% taxes on the total amount make it a pricey proposition. If I was considering the DI's (and I certainly have) I would be looking for used, locally.
 I would prefer to stay on topic and keep the discussion to pre amps.
You may want to look into the Aesthetix Calypso. A fantastic preamp from a great designer.
The Calypso was on my short list and there is one available locally.
It is highly regarded in the forums. I did have direct discussion with a couple of people that have owned one and they said they were a little noisy. Noise bugs me. I should still check it out.
I haven't listened to one in a long time, but my impression is that the 3A is very good. It may be hard to beat for near the same kind of money. It does have a ton of gain which isn't an issue for vinyl, but might make finding a good match amplifier wise more important than finding another preamp that is "better".
The best part of any Audible Illusions preamp is their phono section, especially the John Curl MC one.  I was upgrading to a better speaker long ago when I first bought the 2D.  After hearing what I could getting sound improvement from over doubling the cost of $900 speakers back in 1990, I kept hearing such a great difference in the sound with any of their speakers vs. my own setup.  I had a good PS Audio preamp with phono then and brought it back in to Quintessence Audio to listen to it vs. the AI 2D.  The AI just brought the music to life and was very organic and beautiful sounding with every record I played--so much so that I bought the 2D for $800 and had a very significant improvement to my system for a whole lot less than buying the better sounding speakers.   The 3A was just as impressive when I bought it later.
+1 ssand.

I only did a six month stretch and used original equipped tubes. The excuses for what was initially described as a two week all needed parts were on hand repair/upgrade became the most unbelievably lame experience. I even took to using unfamiliar phone numbers to simply get through to them.

It wasn't until I demanded in a registered letter to return my preamp and refund my money when I received the completed unit eight business days later.

After the repair/upgrade it didn't sound any different and the replaced dual mono attenuators had little change in their range as was promised. I listened to it for a few hours and put up for sale. I wouldn't recommend any aspect of that preamplifier or their support.

If I'm not mistaken this was the inspiration and Audibly a huge step up to my ear.
there has been some good feedback and suggestions so far. Interesting experiences as well. Thanks.
I seem to be drawn to the Don Sach pre amp, at the moment.
being a newbie on this site, how do you PM someone?

I posted a review about a number of (phono) preamps recently that included a stint with a mod 3b (also had a mod 3a).  
See my: Preamp Shootout thread in the forum.
As an update to my piece - I am now listening to the following: Benz LP-S, Coincident Dragons and VSA VR-4SR’s. using two phono sections- the Doge 8 Clarity with Sylvania 5751 tubes in the phono (and GE 6201’s in the linestage ) and an EAR SUT or an Aesthetix I/O sig with NOS tubes into the linestage of the Doge 8.  Both setups are awesome in their own right but for price/performance,j the Doge 8 with a SUT is almost untouchable.
I would also recommend checking out the Calypso. I am using one currently after owning an Audible Illusions L-1. I would not describe the Calypso as noisy. They did have at one point a batch of noisy tubes sent out, so that may be the issue. I am still getting used to the sound, but I would say there is a texture to the sound, that may not be as “clean” as the AI, but somehow is more organic, with weight to the music. Imaging is also improved. It is definitely worth a listen.
Move up to the Audible Illusions Modulus 3B.  It is light years ahead of the Modulus 3A.  I owned the original Modulus 3, 3A and 3B.  The 3B is absolutely dead quiet and the music just really flows.  It is a bargain at the retail price and I saw one here a week or two ago for around 3 grand.
If you don't need the phono stage do consider the L3A. I traded-in my previous 2A and the change was "roll your socks up and down". There are some L3A reviews online to include the following: 

The L3A is very musical and has met my requirements for soundstage, clarity and depth on vocals and instruments. 
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i see that you have a analogue rig, i suggest you upgrade to Backerts Lab pre Extreme model. it’s utterly transparent and almost neutral with a touch of velvet smoothness or warmth(depending on rolled tubes), it would let through the tones /dynamics and emotion in your upstream gear with clarity and vividness better than Audible Illusions 3A or B. Trust your convictions, if you like zero feedback in Audible Illusions, Backert Lab surpass AL several folds. i’m amaze they achieve clean power supply even without a separate PS chassis. Next upgrade your cartridge, then your poweramp. Approach someone or dealer for loan or ask some other senior experience audiophile, i guess they would also say the same thing. i have a 2nd system with a pair $1200 speakers but sound like a $8-9k system, if you can match the strengths of each gear in the chain. Report this

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I know this thread is a bit old, but I wanted to let you know how things are going for me and my Modulus 3B.  First, it is an amazing preamp.  With that said, AI is really dropping the ball now on things.  When I ordered my preamp I was told it would take 3 weeks.  It took 5 months.  Worth the wait, based on the quality of the sound.  Back in June of this year I decided to order a set of replacement tubes to have on hand.  It is now 9/10.  Still no tubes.  I was told when I place my order all they had to do was match them up and I would have them in a week or so.  I have called at least 20 times and get a different excuse each time.  The tubes were sent.  We are waiting on a batch of tubes.  They are matching the tubes now.  The tech that does the matching is on vacation.  The secretary is out to lunch and she will have to see if the tubes were sent.  etc, etc, etc.  AI make amazing stuff, but they are now at a point of not being able to even send out a set up tubes.  So sad, since the product is so good.  Personally I am of the opinion that the people that are in charge there have reached an age where they are just letting things slide, and since they make enough money to get by, the rest doesn't matter.  IMHO!  
Having owned 3 AI preamps including the 3B, I agree.  I believe it is a 3 person operation at most with Art Ferris (semi retired) , a tech and secretary.  I am lucky in that I never needed service.   I waited 4 months for tubes that never arrived.  I bought the 6h23neb tubes (matched) from the tube store and never had a problem and they were dead quiet.  Also, received them in 4 business days!
I just bought a L3A from Art that was a dealer demo.  He completely refurbished it to make it in as new condition.  It took a month to receive it and several phone calls,  but I honestly expected it.  I think the whole shooting match is Art, his wife and the tech. Anyway, it was a great deal and Art was responsive.  I am pleased with the L3A and M3B I own.  Musical, reliable and affordable. 
Hey dmc, how is the L3A compared to the M3B ? I hwve the vida lcr phono amp and will.only be using their line stage.

Btw, is your vanilla or black gate L3A ?


I just received a AI L3B line Stage PreAmp, after an unreasonable 12 week buildout. It is georgeous, inside & out. In my rig (a recapped Conrad-Johnson Premier 11a, Martin-Logan Aerius’ speakers) except for the waittime, I am very happy. 
I've been waiting for my L3B since March. I'm due soon but, man, the wait is damn near killing me!
Glad you're happy with yours!
This thread brings back so many memories. I had a Modulus 3 w/phono that I was very pleased with but it started getting noisy in one channel. I re-tubed it but that didn't solve the problem so I called Art and he said to send it in, which I did. After several MONTHS I started calling him every week. He said his tech was on vacation, etc., etc. Finally after 9 months, I guess he got tired of me calling and sent me a brand new 3A with gold phono board at no charge. It was a nice upgrade and worked great. When I got the upgrade itch, I replaced it with an ARC, which I love  but kinda miss the Modulus and phone calls with Art.
I emailed AI yesterday and asked a question and I got a response from Art the same day.