Audio Research LS vs SP?

I am looking into used Audio Research. My budget is $2000 for both power and pre. I am kind of confused about the preamp models. What are the differences between LS and SP? I am assuming the higher number is better than lower one. Am I right? Finally what combination do you recommend? Thanks. Dan
The SP series are full function pre-amps manufactured by Audio Research from the 1970's through the late 1980's. They all have a phono stage. The LS series are line stage only pre-amps from the early 1990's to the present. If you have a turntable and vinyl is an important part of your listening pleasure, you may be interested in an SP series pre-amp. I have owned both the SP-6 and SP-8 which I presently use. They are very well made units and are probably one of the best values in a full function pre-amp on the used market from a price performance standpoint. They may not have the ultimate neutrality and transparency of the newer pre-amps but you really won't care once you hear what they do with the music. I recently was on a quest to locate a SP-10 MK2, one of the most musical tube pre-amps ever made and still highly sought after. I received a call from a gentleman who was interested in selling his because he was finally upgrading. He called me back a few days before I was going to go look at the unit. He told me that after listening to his new pre-amp over the past 2 weeks (a really expensive well known unit)he decided to stick with the SP-10 Mk2 because he just couldn't part with the wonderful phono stage of this unit. This gentleman has a system well over 100K including Infinity IRS 5 speakers. If you don't play vinyl the LS may be for you. The LS-15 is a very good line stage pre-amp that you can find at a reasonable price, 1.4K-1.5K. Good Luck
The LS is for line stage which means it will handle everything but a turntable. The SP is for stereo preamp with a phono section. If you buy patiently your $2,000.00 can go surprisingly far toward true high-end stereo. On the used market may I recommend an SP 9 MkIII and a D200 power amp. You might even have enough left over for some Audio Magic cables which produces a very nice synergy. Good luck!
I have just purchased a SP 9 MKIII and the detail and imaging is great. I find it to be on the thin side. Steve Huntley at Great Northern Sound is going to upgrade the power supply to solve that problem. This preamp can be modified all the way to reference standards. I paid $825.00 delivered. I am going to use a Music Reference RM9 MKII amp. Best of luck. Richard
Cobra95 so far as what combination is right, it is hard to make a recommendation on an amplifier without knowing what the rest of your system is and how much power you need. I definitely prefer the ARC tube amps over the D200 which is a solid state amplifier that Brauser recommends but there are many things to consider. The ARC tube units run very hot, there is the tube replacement cost to consider and they may not work well with certain speakers. But on the up side ALL of the ARC tube amps especially the D series tube amps offer much better midrange presence than do the SS amps from ARC, IMO. Examples are the D-70, D-90, D-115, D-76, D-250 (mucho power!)and the D-79. I personally do not care as much for the Classic series which came after the D series amps. The VT series are also very good but you are going to pay more, they are the current models. Some of the above are in Audiogon and at quite reasonable prices. Solid state is the safe easy route but once you go with tubes you will have trouble going back to solid state. Many would argue that point so you really have to listen and make up your own mind.
Thanks for reply everyone. Yes, I definately want to go with tudes. I forgot to mention my systems. B&W N805, Pioneer Elite PD65, and Kimber 8TC biwire. I do listen to LP's and am thinking about upgrading my Pioneer once I am done with amps upgrades. Thank again.
Hi, at last I think you have now more ideas, and you can decide which one buy. It's important know if you'll change your speaker system or not; for me the best couple is SP10-II preamp and D79-III power amp; but the matching with some loudspeakers could be not perfect; could be interesting try CL 120, CL60 or CL30 (Here you MUST change absolutely the tubes, with russian ones). Finally, what you listen better will be your choice! Bye from Italy!