I'm looking to upgrade my LS-15 to one of the following linestages:

LS-5 Mk III, LS-16 Mk I, LS-25 Mk I, Reference One, Reference Two Mk I

How do you compare those against each other? Please share your experience if you owned any of them...

I like the sound of 6922 tubes... How does it compare to the sound of 6H30 in the more recent LS-16 Mk II, LS-25 Mk II, Reference Two Mk II?

My system as follows:

Wadia 830
Sonus Faber Cremona
MIT Shotgun S3 IC & SC

I listen mostly to Classical Baroque and Jazz instrumental & vocals

Thanks for your advices!
I have to second the GNSC mods. A few years back I seriously considered replacing my SP9 MkII with an LS25 and spent some time listening to a loaner LS25. However, after talking with Steve Huntley, I decided to go with the Ref mod on my SP9 MkII preamp and am so glad I did. The improvements were substantial and obvious.

Steve does excellent work as many posts here and on AA will attest to. You just might want to give him a call before you dump the LS15. Definitely worth a phone call.

check out http://www.greatnorthernsound.com
The thing about after market mods is that you will never be able to recover the cost that goes into the mods. So before you decide to do it, make sure that you are going to like th changes and that you are planning to keep the unit for a long time. The GNSC reference level mod for the LS-25 costs around $2000, and maybe another $200 for the quad of Siemens 6922s. The unit I got was modded 18 months ago and I only paid $400 dollars over what the stock LS-25 MkI are going for on the used market. And this was through a dealer too!

Just posted wanted add:


Thanks for your advices!
By the way, there are a few of these on eBay. You might want to check them out. I was doing a search on eBay yesterday to check out what the going prices are for an ARC LS-1 that I am planning on selling and found a Ref 1 and an LS-5 Mk II there.

By the way, I think the general consensus is that the LS-5 Mk II is better than Mk III?

"By the way, I think the general consensus is that the LS-5 Mk II is better than Mk III?"

"Better" is always a tough term here as it provides little if any objective value.

There is one A'gon member (name escapes me) who prefers the II. But myself and two local (Minneapolis) previous owners of the LS5 disagree. In 1997, I went to my ARC dealer with my LS5 II to compare to the III. The III had a far more tonally coherent presentation. There was also more resolution in the mids and lower trebles with the III. The 3-dimensionality characteristics were otherwise identical. Had this not been the case, I would have eliminated the III from the running as this was what got me addicted to the LS5 in the first place back in 1995. I would have gone for the III but the $1500 upgrade cost was simply not a good value at the time. The amp used was a VT100. I do not remember the source or speakers.

When I took my II to a local audiophile's home to hear the III again, the same results: we both prefered the III. In time the II can be a little fatiguing due to an unnatural overshoot in the trebles. The amp then was also the VT100 driven my Theta DAC - speakers were Wilson WP. This system had phenomenol resolution and imaging.

And a few years later, another local audiophile who was selling a III, brought it to my home. Same results. After listening to the III, the II is tough to go back to because of the treble fatigue. The II however rendered a little more low-end extension/presence than the III. Whether or not this was accurate, who knows. Without being able to directly jump from one to the other in the same system, these differences would likely not be detected. The amp was the VT130 driving Magnepan 3.3.

He also brought over his LS15 and both LS5's smoked this instantly. The LS15 was eliminated in a matter of seconds for its dull portrayal of space and decays.

The one benefit of the II is that it has 30db of gain vs the III being configured as 12 or 18db. The latter requires a change of 8 resistors. If you use a phono source and your phono stage is not so high in gain, the extra gain of the II can be beneficial.

Hope this helps.