Sonic Frontiers line 3 vs. AR 25 II

I'm on the verge of buying one of these pre's. There's a little price descrepancy between the SF 3 and the AR 25II. I've never even seen a Sonic Frontier's pre but have heard good things. If anyone has first hand experience with these pre's, which would you choose to mate with a Levison 334 amp, Sony SCD 777ES, and top notch DIY speakers. Thanks.
The SF Line 3 is my favorite alltime preamp. It is highly resolving yet also highly musical. I use it with a SET amp (Cary 805s) and the synergy is great: tube magic that's also highly revealing. There are other tube preamps that impart more bloom and warmth to the sound (Conrad Johnson, Cary, Quicksilver; since you're using a SS amp you might want to check out a "tubier" preamp (if that's where your tastes lie).
Actually Shamburg, I'd like to stay away from the euphonic camp. At can't get over the idea that I'd be adding something to the signal that wasn't there originally. Now I'm not one of the SS only guys who criticize anything tube related. My desire for a tube pre stems from an experience early on in my Hi-Fi experience when I demoed a AR tube pre and was amazed at the sound stage which resulted. A 3-D, holographic soundstage is what I'm after. However, I wouldn't want to compromise resolution.
I think your misunderstanding the first response/post SJH32! The Line 3 isn't "tubey sounding" at all! Neither really is the 25! Both are excellent. I would give the line 3 a small edge however.
Still, you'll never know until you try in your system! Each can be upgraded with better tubes for best sound. (note, SF has customer service issues, and are basically rude to deal with often...I've owned both companie's products).
You might consider the world class CAT preamps! No tube sound there!..just world class purity and preamplification.
I've yet to hear any CAT preamp that didn't simply sound spectacular, if not tonally transparent to the source!
I doubt you could find much to criticize about them.
Still, the line 3 is probably not going to dissapoint either. good luck
For what ever it's worth, I prefer the Sonic Frontiers Line 3 on every level, except for the fact that they are no longer in business. I understand service is still available, but there is something to be said about working with a firm that has been around for a long time and appears to be staying around.
I have owned a sonic frontiers power 2 for many years now. recently i had a problem with the right channel. I called SF tech support and spoke to frank pugliano. Not only was he a super nice guy, he fixed the amp for free and even chenged the voltage settings for free (i recently moved to europe) I dont know who you may have spoken to that was rude, but i have nothing but good things to say about their support. Recently i have auditioned both of the pres you mention above albiet in different systems. I have decided to buy the Line 3. I think that even now it is world class.
Funny because I own a Power 2 and it had a problem with the right channel and I spoke to Frank as well. It's on its way back home right now. He didn't fix it for free but I bought this used and it was cheap to fix (shipping was the main cost)and I am not complaining. One of my tubes broke on the way down there and they replaced for free. Since they are still doing service and are very friendly people to deal with I wouldn't consider them "not around". They still do upgrades, offer tubes etc. Really great people and really great equipment. Too bad they aren't making this line though, if it was this good then just think how great it'd be now......I would get a Line 3, it's an amazing unit, but I can just barely handle the heat from the Power 2 much less adding that many more tubes to the room. My Golden Tube Audio Pre has only 1........
I agree with shamburg's opinion and assessment of the Line 3. It is extremely neutral to the point of simply doing its job without added colorations... Whatever sound you're looking to achieve must get its character from other parts of your system chain, ie power amp, because the Line 3 is not influential this way. I am a very happy owner of one and have had nothing but exemplary service from it and the SF staff (I needed a couple of tubes). No experience with the AR25 but my guess is it's an excellent product which will however impart more influence into the chain than the Line 3 ever will. Keep in mind again though, it won't give you classic tube sound to your [already] solid state based system. It would still be my choice among most preamps...(and it's incredibly versatile as well).Good luck and happy lissnin...
I've never heard an AR but, I do love my SF Line 3SE. As the others have said it's very honest and not tubey. I had Frank Pugliano and company upgrade it to the SE configuration last year and it really was worthwhile. I needed to get it back for service this spring, still under warranty, and Frank was again, professional and quick. The Line 3 is a really fine piece and the SE is better. Also, Chris Johnson, who designed the Line 3, is available at for service and upgrades if required so, there is support for the SF gear.