Lack of bass with SP-9 MK3

I've just acquired an AR SP-9 MK3 and my short-lived excitement quickly faded. While the depth and highs are crisp and more detailed than my old GTP-500II (Adcom), the lows are uneventful to say the least.

Granted the Adcom had the Contour enabled, this preamp's lows seem non-existent. I suppose there's a chance that I've been listening to exaggerated lows, but I've tried running various genres through the unit with same results. Is the unit faulty or will new valves fix the issue?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
I doubt that your unit is faulty.

Couple of possibilities. As you said, if you are comparing the SP9 to any unit with a contour feature engaged you bass will suffer considerably. Even if your contour feature was automatically adjustible with changes in volume, differences listening at low levels would be substantial.

Additionally the SP9 is balanced to the brighter end of the spectrum. The bass is certainly present, but the mids/highs are, IMHO, exagerated and will focus your attention on that part of the spectrum.

Tubes can make a difference. I would recommend that you try some new production EH 6922's. They will definitely add some warmth to your SP9. (I tried some in my SP10 a couple of months ago).
The are exceptions but thats pretty much the trade off. Take your pick if you rock, the soundstage depth wont matter much as it isnt existent in many pop recordings.
New tubes sound like a good start. Do you suggest ordering straight from ARC or somewhere else?

Do you think adding a dedicated subwoofer will help the issue? Though I'd think that if the signal is just not there, then there is nothing for the sub to reproduce.

Thanks for the suggestions.
Hi: I had the same problem with a SP 9 mk2 awhile back ..Much too dry and brittle for my taste..I didin't keep mine more than a couple months.. I went to the Audio Research sp11 and found a whole different world..I actually feel the older SP6 sp8 sp10 and sp11 are still some of the best peices ARC ever made..They are all a little different in design but all share the same magic,with a little variations in each..I owned the sp6,sp8 and sp11 and fell in love with the sp11..Some like the sp10 over the sp11 and some like sp11 ( which i did ) over the sp10 ,but I feel that the sp10 and 11 the best of the group...These peices have detail and body ( and magic ) that the sp9 doesn't have.. Just my 2 cents.Hope it helps....
Hard to tell without knowing what the other parts of the system are. Look, if you got used to exaggerated bass you will get used to a more realistic presentation if you give it some time. I seriously doubt that changing tubes will give you the bass you are used to. Reality tends to sometimes be underwhelming...
There are numerous on-line tube sales companies which handle a lot of new production tubes (not so much NOS tubes, which are MUCH more expensive, BTW). I use the Tube Depot for new tubes but others do as well. Go to Audio Asylum and check out their 'featured' on-line tube dealers for details & prices. Last I checked the EH's cost 12.50 each.
I've had my SP9 MKII sitting around for years, everytime I've brought it out for listening disappointed by lack of bass, and that is installed into any system! The thing just sounds as Newbee and Thorman state. I've tried many tubes, they aren't going to change things much if at all.
I would compare your output impedance of the preamp to match with the input impedance of your amp. A simple adjustment of cap values in either might be just the ticket, assuming you are going to keep the amp.
SP-9s all have whimpy power supplies along with most of the new Audio Research gear. Stay with the older stuff it is built much better.
I had and SP9 Mk3 a few years ago and I kept it for about a week. Way too thin all over. I couln't get rid of it fast enough.
Thanks for all the responses. Looks like there isn't much that can be done since so many people had a similar experience. My main goal was to make sure that these characteristics are inherit of this particular unit rather than the neutral, tubed design in general.

Sherod -- the SP9 should be fairly well matched with my Adcom 5802, see the specs below. My understanding is that the desired minimum ratio is 10:1.

GFA-5802: 10k/105k Ohm(balanced/unbalanced)
SP-9: 250 Ohm, the input sensitivity of the amp is 1.7v.
On the preamp - CD Input to Main Output gain is 9db.

Could the out gain be a bit low for the preamp to drive your amp?

You can try switching your cd player from cd input to any available high-level input and you should get 21db of output gain. See how it sounds then.
Have you talked to a representative at Audio research about this lack of bass issue? I think that also there is a modifier, Great Northern Sound( Steve Huntley) that specializes in tweaking AR gear.