McIntosh Tube Pre vrs Audio Research

Can anyone comment based on their experience between a McIntosh tube pre amp like a C2200, C2500, C50. to an Audio Research Pre amp like a LS26, LS27. I currently have an LS26 and recently got a Mac Amp for my Wilson Watt puppies and really love it. Thinking about upgrading my pre, Curious what people here have to say about the two brands.
Thank you
My experience is that Your amp and pre amp must be designed and engineering by the same manufacture. Both are excellent brands and don't mix them.
I had a few McIntosh solid state pre amps before I decided to try tube. I have had a number of McIntosh amps and currently an MC402 for 2 channel and MC205 for HT. I looked at the C2300 and really was drawn to it as a long tim Mc owner, but kept hearing more of what I liked in the LS26 and at this time I am waiting to afford either a clean used REF5 SE or buy an new LS27. I just think the two work well together with my Revels and know from trying a REF 3 that it can only get better. But my understanding is the LS27 is better than the REF3 so I will bypass that step in my upgrading. In short I think the ARC brought more a natural and revealing musical presentation than the Mc did, and that was hard to admit for me, but glad I did.
The C2300 is one of the very best preamps made, period. It has a truly superior phono section and is beautifully musical. It even made Harry Pearson's (RIP) reference system for a while. The C2500 is the same unit with Mc's fancy DAC added for good measure. The C50 is their top solid state single body unit and also has their high end DAC.

I loved the 2300, but couldn't handle how long it took to warm up @ 4 hours, so swapped it for the 50. It was a good compromise for my system, but I wish I had the scratch (and space) for the C1000. That way I could get the best of both worlds!

Since you have digital sources, if you go tubed Mc, I suggest you go for the C2500. That way, you can compare the AR DAC in your disc player to the Mc DAC and see which one you like better.

Good luck no matter which way you go and happy listening!
Well thanks for the input. I do currently have the LS26 and a ARC PH5 and a Benchmark DAC. If I could consolidate into one pre amp (C2500) and it sounded just as good, that would be great. If it sounded better ? Well then thats the dream ! I realize the only way to know is to buy one and try it out. But I welcome everyone experiences and opinions.

Thank you
You may consider the ARC SP20, it doesn't have a DAC but I hear it is a real good performer. My dealer says that in a listening between the LS27 and SP20 they perform at the same level with certain subtle differences.
I have thought of it as well, but haven't had a chance to hear it.
Here is an interesting comparison : This weekend, my friend brought over his VTL 2.5 pre and we compared it to my LS 26.
In short, the 26 was more "analytical" as the reviewers often say.
The VTL has a beautiful lush mid range which is what I am looking for, but the LS 26 had a deeper and tighter bottom. Which is also what I am looking for. The VTL by comparison was more musical and LS26 tended to have a bit of a upper mid "glare". So I am still searching for the pre amp that will give me the "magic" tube mid sound, 3 dimensional capability all with the deep and accurate bottom end.