I own one (2yrs.) and think is is awesome, especially with NOS tubes. I have heard the MKII as well, and it is really nice (almost current REF2 level). I give a thumbs up!
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I too, am very happy with my VT-100 mk2 and LS-25 combo driving Watt/Puppies. Can anyone recommend best NOS tubes to try with LS-25? I am unable to afford the mk2 upgrade at the present time and would like to experiment with NOS. And also best place to purchase NOS tubes? I am running the supplied 6922's now. I Can also Highly recommend Marigo dot treatment and the Top Gun power cord for LS-25. Any suggestions on NOS tubes is much appreciated!
I agree with Blues_man's response, putting a bunch of solid state stuff in the amps and pre-amps isn't going to necessarily make them sound better, but surely different. Lets wait for some reviews and enjoy the sweet sound of the tubes we already have. ARC electronics are hands down the best sounding in the market.
As Gmorris noted, I am also in no hurry to upgrade to the latest ARC versions of the LS25 and VT100. The LS25MKI is a really nice preamp. Prior to the LS25, I owned a demo late-model Ref1. Sonically, both were very similar, with the Ref1 edging the LS25 out in soundstaging. Because they were so close sonically, I sold the Ref1, bought a used LS25, and pocketed the $difference. Regarding tubes, I have had really good success with Amperex 7308's, Siemens 7308's, Tungsram 6922's, and Mullard 6922's. Currently I am using a pair of Tungsrams and a pair of Siemens to good effect. This preamp really allows you to hear the improvements by using one 3mm Marigo white dot place at the base of each tube between the pins...much more air, blacker, more palpable mids. I know of no better cost-effectve tweak than the Marigo dots. I also found a nice improvement in performance by replacing a Synergistics Research Reference Master Coupler with a Harmonic Tech power cord.
Dem or anyone else, Did you ever compare the vt100 mark II using a great solid state preamp verses a tube preamp ? I have the pass labs aleph P which is as quiet as a passive preamp. For my phono stage I have an ARC ph3. I notice I get a wonderful tube clarity when I use the ph3. I wonder what my vt100m2 would sound like with an LS25 or ref1 in place of the pass labs.
Knowing that interpretation of sound quality is a personal thing, I'll give my 2 cents here. I owned an LS 25, considered a mark II upgrade, but then a/b compared a MArk II, against the Ref 2 and a VAC renaisance. While the Ref 2 has sonic virtues over the LS 25, even with upgraded NOS tubes, the VAC literally outpeperformed the REF 2 in all categories. I have been a long time ARC fan (still am!), but there are formidible competitors with outstanding products!
I have just had my ls25 upgraded to the mk11 version, I was using nos tubes that made an incredible difference, I have not had the chance to evaluate them side by side but so far it looks like it's going to be a tight race. I would compare the two before doing the upgrade and keep in mind you are limiting yourselves to just stock 6h30's since I don't believe anyone else makes them, I did not think about the tube limitations before I had the upgrade done. just my opinion.
Based on the recommendation from GJcooke, I purchased recently the 6H23 tubes from Upscale Audio. The results have been nothing less than spectacular. All musical parameters have been enhanced by this tube upgrade. The LS25 sounds like a brand new design with these tubes. I suggest that LS25 owners should try a tube upgrade before deciding to upgrade to the MKII version. In fact, I just ordered another set of 6H23 from Upscale, and have absolutely no intentions of ever "upgrading" to the MKII. Please note that the 6H23s are in fact labeled "Sovtek 6922" and appear to be identical to the ARC stock Sovtek 6922s. But beleive me, they sound substantially different: more robust,focused and powerful bass; better refinement; sweeter highs and midrange; larger soundstage with better layering and image focus. And to top it all, enhanced coherence and musicality. PHEW!!!!!!!
I did the same thing with the 6H23s from Kevin at Upscale with the same results as Gmorris... two thumbs up!! Also did the VT-100. The 6H23s do not work well with the DAC3MKII however. I think this has also convinced me to wait with the MKII upgrade... You can replace with these tubes 25 times (at current rates vs. the cost of ARC OEM tubes) before you will break even with the expenditure. There is also another level when some key capacitors are removed and replaced with Signature hotrod type D Infinicaps (use type S to mimic some of the other competitors sound).
I have the LS 25MKII and it is a superb pre amp. I think the j-fet input stage makes the preamp quiter and easier to drive, allowing it to mate better with different sources. Whether or not its worth the money to upgrade, I don't know. pondering that same question with my Meridian 508-20 to the 24 bit.