I had a Line-2, now a Line-3 (and Power-3s), and both have been exceptionally reliable. I did have one problem with the Line-3 when it arrived. A low level of hiss, but higher than it should be, was cured by snipping out a resistor from the ps. Since then, just superb.
BTW, the headphone amp is based on the HeadRoom module and, to my ears (I do not listen to phones unless forced), it is quite excellent
SF is where its at. i currently have the power 2. I screwed up putting in the tubes once and sent it back, got fixed no charge. Just good people.
When I had my old Audio Research LS 16 sent to upgrade from MkI to MkII, my dealer loaned me a SF line 1.
To my ears, in my system, the SF Line 1 fell far short of the LS 16, less detail, and a total collapse of the soundstage. I even swapped out all six tubes, but it made little difference.
System at the time:
Martin Logan Ascents
Audioquest Diamond X3 XLR interconnects.
Needless to say, I was very happy to get the LS 16 back.
Just my 2 cents
disagree with above- my modded SF Line 3 blows away my old ARC LS16 in all parameters...
And to add to Sutts experience, my Line 3 was better than ARC Ref 1 and I now own Line 3 SE which is even better. In fact, Line 2 "blew away" LS15 which was replaced by LS16.
Maybe it is system dependent, but SF Line series are known to be exceptional.
...Heard the reference SF T3/P3 (Transport 3, or 'Iris', and Processor 3 with the proprietary 'Ultra-Analog' dacs and outboard power supply) digital combo a few weeks ago (original retail $16k USD for both pieces).
They are connected (optimally) through a special proprietary I2Se cable. we compared to ARC CD3MK2 and Sim Audio Eclipse LE, and the SF reference combo was clearly superior- low-level detail retrieval superior to both of the others, with a lower noise floor (although kudos to the Eclipse for this as well).
The ARC CD3MK2 had more 'jump' factor than the Eclipse, but we found it more 'edgy'. The Eclipse was smoother, even though it had a more 'Row K' perspective, which some may like (I don't mind that). The SF combo had the liveliness of the ARC CD3MK2 without the edginess, and dare I say a slightly more 'analog' signature to it. I have owned the Eclipse (along with AA Capitole; Meitner and many others), and the Eclipse is still my fav one-box player, but the SF T3/P3 combo has detail retrieval even the Eclipse doesnt' know about- high praise indeed...
I have an SFL-1 (hybrid); SFL-2 (all tube); and two SF Line 2's (one in my SS system one for my tube system). As you can see I am a real Sonic Frontiers fan. No reliablity problems at all on any of the preampts (or power amps) in 10 years.
Great sound. Tube without the bloat or slugishness. Precise attack without brass/glare. Tube sound decay (musical).
Great remote on Line 2s. Best headphone amp I have ever heard (though I am not an expert on ultra-high end headphones).
Good buys on the used market and great current service.
What's not to like?
Ive had my line 3 for 3 years and have never had an issue with it. I have it connected to a Pass x-350.
A close friend of mine and fellow Audiogoner had Power 3's for nearly four years that he subjected to heavy use -- he never had to replace a single tube (not even an output tube) or had to have it serviced.
I am also a SF Line 3 owner with 4 years of exceptional performance and completely reliable service. It's a tremendous pre and was a tremendous value when new... at the going used 'gon prices they are a steal for what you're getting. Top quality, ultra refinement, incredible flexibility and superb sound. I'm told there's more difference between the 2 and 3 than there is between the 1 and 2 but I've never made the comparisons personally. I will attest to how pleased I am and can confidently recommend the product(s).
Wow- Great responses guys- I truly appreciate it.
Sounds like the Line 3 is much better than the Line 2...unfortunately, I think the price of a Line 3 exceeds my available hi-fi fun money right now.
Any Happy Line 2 owners out there who haven't moved on to the Line 3 yet?
There are just praises for SF line 2 and 3's so I'll just chime in as a line 1 user. Sonically very good given its price point used, and haven't encountered any reliability problems so far despite some claims by others.
Yes, I have owned a Line 2 for over 4 years now, wow has it been that long? Reliability has been excellent, the power supply is completely overbuilt, construction is heavy duty, all connectors are high quality. The only issue I have had is that somehow I blew a fuse in the power supply and completely wrecked the fuseholder trying to get the fuse out...and I am an EE who knows how to do this. Maybe I'm an idiot. Anyway, I emailed SF (actually Anthem) and they sent replacement fuses, then a replacement fuse and holder, which I soldered in. The point is that these are reliable, sound great, and customer service is still good even after SF went bye bye. I would not worry about reliablity if I were you; have constantly used it for years, many power cycles, much movement, travel, relocation, though I strive to be careful.
Here are the issues: Careful on your tubes, I have found that bad tubes which "hiss" will be audible on sensitive speakers (I have WP5.1, 90 dB sens.) If your tubes are good, I highly recommend the Line 2. Also, the remote was pitted, I had to send it back and get one with a nice smooth aluminum suface.
I've owned my Line 1 for a couple of years and very happy with it. But after an hour or so of playing the volume knob on it does not operate. The volume control on the remote works fine. I have it in a cabinet with only 1 1/2" clearance. Is there something overheating that causes this? The top of the chassis does get hot. Has anyone have this same problem?
Thanks so much guys for your responses!
I'm enjoying my Line 2- it's a great piece of work.
Now, any suggestions for retubing :) ?
Thanks again, Dan
Anyone want to comment on the necessity/value of tube matching on these units, especially the Line-3?