Preamp dilemma...

Just sold my Audio Research LS15 to upgrade preamp. System is:

Basis 2001/Graham 2.2/MBenz m.09
Arcam Alpha 9 CD
ProAc 2.5's

I've been pleased, just looking for improved soundstage, dynamics; if I had to choose, I would say I would better tolerate some warmth in the system, but still want detail. Love nothing more than being drawn into the music. Listen to vinyl/CD about 60/40.

Preamps on the list:

Thor TA-1000
SF Line3
Joule LA100

I have a fairly long IC run to the amp (5 meters), but I'm hearing that balanced vs. single-ended isn't the silver bullet it was once thought to be, as evidenced by many high-end units only being made w/SE outs. My big concern is compatibility with the VT100MkII and the PH3, since there's no way I'm going to be able to audition many of these. Opinions on these (or is there a glaring omission that would work here?)
I suggest you add the First Sound to your list.
I just upgraded to an arc ls5

hands down the best arc amp except for the ref 2!
it was more revealing than a ref 1 in a comparison

and has brought musicality to my system in a very involving way

I had an LS2 mk ii before this

The LS5 whether MK 2 or 3 is wonderful. I have to agree with audiotomb. One of the best Pre's ever made...accurate but great bloom. Tough to find. Downside...takes 10 6922's to work. If you like NOS tubes it can cost a fortune to run (mine is tubed with Amperex gold pin 7308's). The sound is heavenly. Good luck in your search.
From your post, I presume that you want to buy another tube preamp. If so, then you need to add the appropriate model of Conrad-Johnson preamp to your list.

If you are willing to consider some other preamps that are a bit less well known, you should also include the Hovland 100, which has gotten some outstanding critical reviews.

glad to know I am not alone in the ls5 endorsements

I can't afford a ref2 but i sure enjoy my ls5
it makes music so so involving!
the decay of the notes is heavenly

what tubes have you used on it besides the amperexs?
I am using the russian soltexs (came with it)
and have two damper rings per tube ($80 for that)

I would love to get a mk iii for single ended stuff
but the mk ii with cheater plugs works wonderfully

what do you think of the bl-2 rca to xlr boxes???

anyway CHAZMO, I am not trying to divert your thread

don't buy an LS22 or LS25, they don't have the magic of the LS5. Unless you are willing to modify them substantially.
Why arc would skimp when the ls5 was such a gem is beyond me

look at the resale values and it's obvious
or look at the lack of available LS5's on the market

Have you heard of the Opal Wyetech Labs preamp? Might be what you are looking for (any budget limitations?)
LS5 MkII/III actually was on my list originally, but I was a bit put off by balanced in's only... I've heard that the BL-1 (plus extra interconnect) is NOT a good thing; does the MkIII have SE also?
I have only tried the Sovteks (factory tubes) and the Amperex 7308 gold pins. The Soveteks make the pre amp very very good. The Amperex's make it one of the best pre amps I have ever heard. The ls 5 becomes a different character altogether. The actual sweet spot shrinks (almost electrostatic in nature) but the sound in the spot is jaw dropping. I too am using the AR damper rings (2 clear silicon rings per tube). The texture and vibration of instruments and voices is extraordinary. The tubes are hard to come by but worth every penny. I understand the Mullards give it a similiar character. All of my components are run balanced so the all XLR is a good thing. I would love to get a removable power cord however. I may have to drive over there and see if they can do it.
The only AR piece I am very familiar with is the Reference 1. I think it is in the same class, if not a hint better in most configurations. The LS 5 is all balanced and with the right CD balanced output Player (I have an EC EMC1) the Ls5 can edge out the Reference one ever so slightly.
I had an extra ls 5 for sale a few months back. I never saw one on the market before that but it was like the Ls5's came out of the woodwork all at the same time! If you can find one snap it up.
Not sure about synergy with your system but the thor is a very good unit
celery - thanks for the tips on tubes

do you have a mkii or mkiii?

I have a mkii and it works fine with single ended cables using adapter clips. No need to spend gobs of money on a bl1 or 2 and more interconnects as long as your cables are 2 meters or less.

I am just astounded at the LS5's resoliving power and the way notes hang and decay so naturally. Even on recordings that were made a little bright. I'm an acoustic guitar and bass player and the musicality of the ls5 is just so right. Too bad I missed buying your second 5 celery, I recall seeing it and writing you but the funds were not there then.

I demo'd the Ref 1, not the same ballgame - it seemed more restrained, less musically involving.

anyway Chazmo - try an ls5 with your setup and you won't be taking the preamp out of it!

definitely stay away from the LS25 or 22

the only arc amps outside reference that could handle long runs (5 meters) are the LS2 and LS5
these were designed when mono blocks near speakers were all the rage
after that they went cheap on the power transformers
and were caught up in the home theatre bypasses and skimped big time on the power supply. And you can hear the results!
I have to disagree about the LS25 Mark 11. I recently auditioned the Reference 11 and the LS25 in my system. I found the LS25 very close in sound to the Ref.11 at a considerable less cost. The LS25 is not a all tube design and has a less tube sound than many AR preamps and in my system was very transparant. Of course this is all very subjective and system dependent. I used a Jeff Rowland Model 10 amp with the LS25 and thought it was a good match. I bought the LS25 and have been very happy with it. I would at least try it in your system to see if it works for you. It should be a great match with the AR amp and phono. Good luck.
Another choice could be the CAT Ultimate (or the earlier III). Dynamics, rythm, transient attack and resolution are all good -- but, musicality is its strength.

the ls25 and ref 1 are in the same league
the ls5 is in a league with the ref 2
which is well beyond the ls25
I just bought a McComack TLC and am encountering gournd loop with the connection of my dish audio to it. Can any one help?
bhilbert check the forum archives, lots of posts on this: you may need an antenna isolation transformer or just use audio balancing isolation transformers on the audio connections. Or sometimes if you ground the sleeve of your incoming coax to house ground then that fixes this problem.