Audio Research LS7 - Still a good performer?

Hello all!

Currently in the process of moving to separates and wanting to get tubes into my system in the process.  Working on a deal on a ARC LS7 line-stage and wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts on its sound/performance?

The unit looks to be in very good shape for its age ('95-'97), original owner with four "6922" dual-triode tubes (not sure what this means...will have to learn "tube-speak").

Thanks for any thoughts!


The LS-7 was, in my opinion, ARC's most "tubey-sounding" preamp after the LS-5.  Subsequent models have been more neutral, though I believe the SP-16 might be similarly balanced tonally,   It is not as good, IMHO, as the earlier LS-5 (very highly regarded by its owners), but it does have the advantage (unless your source components and amp are all balanced) of having single-ended, rather than balanced, inputs and outputs, making it more compatible with much of the equipment out there.  I liked it much more than ARC's earlier hybrid preamps and line stages, and I'd assume that it should be pretty inexpensive at this tome, since it was inexpensive (for ARC) when it came out.  If it's in good working condition (ask how long the tubes have been used) and the seller lets you try it in your system, you might like it, as it will give you an idea of the tube sound.

 Audio Research preamps have come a long way in the last 20 years or so. I would try to find an LS16 mk2. The LS16 mk2 and LS25 mk2 were two of the first ARC preamps to use the 6H30 tube. They are more detailed and holographic than previous preamps. A huge improvement even over the original LS16 and LS25 preamps. I had an LS25 mk2 for many years and it was also a great preamp.

If you are just starting a  component system, that is a good play to start. I wish I still had my 5!
What is the seller asking for the 7?

You should factor in the cost of sending it to ARC for a complete overhaul. Some Caps etc might have to be replaced. The other problem is you have no warranty. Go to your local dealer who can give you a path in building your system.
Thanks for the feedback, all!

JD:  He's asking $700 for it.  

I listened to the LS7 when I was buying a new preamp. I like the sound and the soundstage it gave but at the time I went for a LS15 and since have bought a LS25 mk1. As you move up the LS line soundstage get much bigger and deeper with better detail. The LS7 is a nice entry pre from ARC, I would change the tube to Telefunken or Amperex 7dj8 as they sounded the best in my LS15 and LS25. I also liked Ei Elite 6dj8 gold pins but they have since gone out of business and are very hard to find. For the price IMHO the LS7 is a good deal and you should be very happy till the upgrade bug bites. Best of luck!
Have had one of these for about 3 years now. Most important as with any used HiFi stuff that you find one that has been pampered. Physical appearance, seller's reputation is all you can use when you buy online. One tip, if you see any written markings or repair tags, pass in it. I can't understand why some sellers leave like 3, 4 or 5 or more service tags stuck to the back, major red flag. Also never buy one that has been serviced, even by manufacturer.  Some may disagree there but with maybe 25 pieces purchased on Ebay this technique has never failed me.  This LS-7 I have has been hooked to ss with fine results but now is married to a new MC275 and they sing sweet music. Pre, amp and speaker combos make or break systems, thats the whole deal. Run good gauge speaker wire, ie 12 ga and justs decent interconnects. Forget any thing over $100 for connects, you would be wasting money. I will say tubes are very accurate and transparent but I also like the SS sound that has that deep bass back round for certain types of music. I am currently running 2 ss and one tube set up through the same speakers (2 speakers at 4 ohm for tube and 4 speakers at 2 ohm drive) I can switch back and forth for a change of pace. This hobby is a real addiction, or should I say this Obsession!  lol  You can't lose with LS-7 and you can get matched set brand new from ARC for about $250. I have a set boxed as back up.