Man you ARC guys are loyal! If I was gonna spend that much dough on a pre, I'd also look at the Atma-Sphere MP-1, EAR-Yoshino 912, etc. Why limit yourself to ARC?
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I've owned the LS26, LS27 and LS28 (and LS2B, LS15, LS25 and so on). The difference between the LS26 and LS27 was noticeable, but the difference between the LS27 and LS28 was dramatic. As a traditionalist and a fan of Audio Research since 1992, I really hate the looks of the new stuff, but the sonics are better across the board. Improved dynamics, detail, bottom end extension, decay, realism, etc. I hope that helps.