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Theo: I ran an LS26 for several years before moving on to Modwright linestages. I first had the LS36.5 and then the LS100. In my system both were slightly superior to the LS26 (which I liked very much). The LS36.5 offers a leaner, more neutral presentation and the LS100 has more tube flavor. In my system the LS36.5 was a better fit--the reason I sold it for the LS100 was because it offered an integral headphone amp and I wanted to use cans occasionally since a child joined the picture. Had it not been for the headphone capability, my preference would have been to keep the 36.5. It is a VERY nice piece and I understand adding the separate power supply brings things to another level. Headphones left me feeling unmoved and I so I again started searching with the hope of finding a linestage that was uncolored, super quiet, musically enveloping and had some basic features like phase inversion, adjustable gain etc. I ended up selecting the Herron VTSP-3A, which I feel confident will be my end of times linestage. It just gets out of the way and lets the music come to life in your room. Dead quiet, superb pace and timing, very neutral with just a touch of tube magic to create air and space around the performers and designed, built and supported by an engineer (Keith Herron) who understands music and is unwaveringly committed to his clients. Not sure about system matching with the Mac but you can talk this through with Keith. I would also highly recommend his VTPH-2 phonostage, which many consider to be one of the best on the market regardless of price.
Thank you for responding dodgealum, as mentioned I want to audition the Modwright, but I think in the end I may wind up staying ARC, I know the LS27 is reaching its production run and would be curious to see what the replacement offers. But again the LS27 does offer a step forward and I am also watching for the REF5's here on A'gon.
I always seem to be following dodgealum and agreeing with him. I use an ARC Ref 75 Power amp and was looking for a matching Pre a few months ago, I tried the LS 27 and Ref 3 from Arc and the former was slightly better. Then I tried Modwright and I agree with Dodgealum the LS100 is warmer and the LS36.5 more detailed and neutral.
I compared the 36.5 with the REF 3 at different dealers over two days, which is about the limit of my aural memory and I thought the 36.5 was better than the REF 3, not night and day different, but better. The Modwright was a good bit cheaper, more compact and better looking too. I heard the two box version of the 36.5 as well and that really was good, but I could'nt run to the cost.
I was told by the UK dealer that the one box 36.5 can not be converted to the two box, but someone on the Gon corrected me and said it is possible, so that gives a useful upgrade path too.