Audio Research sp 16 or sp 17?

I may have a decision to make between these two Audio Research pre-amps soon.

My understanding is that though they look similar, they are quite different internally, so I thought I'd solicit any feedback from the experts here.

The newer SP 17 will cost a significant premium but I might consider it if justified.

I have heard the sp 17 with my phono source and liked it very much (dead quiet) though it requires an additional step-up device to achieve proper levels.

I would not get to hear the sp 16 until after I would commit.

Also, I read a snippet on the web recently that Audio Research (the company) is being sold, which would seem like a big development, but have not seen anything otherwise that would confirm this. Is it true?
The sp16 is on order.

It is targeted to place my Carver c-6 preamp into reserve duty after ~ 20 years of reliable service in my system.
You will like the SP16, my dad had one and went off the deep end after a bit and bought the Ref3, the only issue that the 16 may have is if you have really efficient speakers the volume steps can be annoying but that can be worked out.

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm pretty confident it will be a keeper.

None of my main speakers are particularly efficient so I think the volume steps constraints will not bother me.

I am used to turning knobs on my current pre-amp but I'm sure I'll get used to pushing buttons instead.

The big issue to adress up front was using it with my low output Denon DL103R MC cartridge, but I picked up a second hand Electrocompaniet mc-2 step up device used from the dealer along with the pre and that solved that problem.
You should be really happy with it, congrats and best of luck!
The sp16 went in last weekend and is sounding fabulous in the early going.

I am very impressed!
Congrats........are the volume steps any issue for you?
Volume steps not an issue. None of my speaks are particularly efficient.

I do notice that the the remote seems to increase 1 light level which equates to multiple steps at a time whereas the control on the unit increases 1 step at a time.

The difference in sound from before is quite significant! Everything is more open and dynamic than prior which I am loving so far.