Sunday dreaming about preamps...

I am closing in on a turntable choice, so now I am thinking about what I see as the next weak point in my system. Right now, I have sources feeding an Audio Research SP16L which feeds an Art Audio PX-25 power amp and Blumenhofer Genuin FS2s. The SP16 was ARC’s entry level pre-amp years ago and definitely a good start, but I am thinking that’s the place where I can get better.

With that in mind, aiming for tube designs, I looked at a couple of preamps both priced at ~$10k which I know for some here would be a step down but for me would be very much at the upper limit right now.

Local dealers trade in ARC, Aesthetix, BAT, Hegel, NAD, Quicksilver, PrimaLuna, Quad, Rogue, Rotel and some others which are only SS.

On an initial search. the BAT VK-80 and the ARC LS28se, would seem to both be candidates to aspire to. Who wins that shootout? What else should I consider?


I went from a Ls-26 to a Ref5se and now have the LS28SE and am very pleased. I really feel that the LS28SE runs in the very same lane at the Ref5se. It also runs much cooler. I have a Mcintosh MC402 between it and my speakers. If you have been happy with the  ARC sound, I think you will be very happy with the newer ARC endeavors.

Thanks @theo! Everything by ARC seems so professionally done and especially lately, beautiful to look at. If I were just going on that, I would go with ARC no question. My one concern is that there is an absence of warmth, so I want to compare them on that score. In this case since they are local, I'll definitely have a chance to listen in person.