which auduo research pre?

ok so i want to buy an audio research pre. around 1000. which do I pick? yes tube, no phono. there are just to many models to choose from. Can't make sense of all the numbers, need serious help. thank you
It can be confusing with all the models. Its best to take your time and go listen for yourself.Everyone hears differently and likes different sound. I know that does not help, but I can tell you my picks. You must consider what amp and speakers you will be using (along with what speaker cables). I have listened to most of A.R. Pre-Amps and have owned the LS3, the LS2B Mk2 and the Ref2 Mk2. I also use the Classe Omega Amp with the Revel Salons.With the money I have involved in amp&speakers I thought that I must have the REF 2. But I found it to be to "tubey" sounding and did not like the gain at all. I went back to the LS2B Mk II. Newer and more exspensive does not always mean better.I put the LS2 up against the the LS 15 I prefered the LS2 alot. Balanced definitly makes alot of difference. I just think for around $1000 the LS2 is a nice "Bang" for the buck Pre-Amp. For what its worth it was "Classe A or B in Stereophile. Good Luck!
I have owned the LS2B and the LS25. I agree with Rsa, for around a grand, the The LS2 is a nice bang for the buck.
What they said. For a thousand $ or so used the LS2B is hard to compete with though i personally prefer the (solid state) LS3.
Totally agree with Yetiman. I have an LS3 in my main rig. It sounds excellent and has great flexibility.
Timo,Yetiman have my vote,I too have the LS3 in my rig
the arc ls2 has alot of different variations and can be found from anywhere to $700 to $1300 depending on the version.

it is a very good preamp, even by todays standards. the arc ls 15, 16 and 16 mkii are very good also. the ls16 mkii is the best of the bunch and cost the most (imo).

points to consider....

the real strength of the ls2 is that it only requires 1 tube, hence tube rolling is cheap and easy.

the ls16mkii takes 2 "super tubes" hence there is less tube rolling but a cheap consistent source of tubes. the ls16 mkii is a very high resolution design.

balanced or unbalanced..... the ls2 is not a true dual differential design. the 15 and 16 are. if you are running balanced, then i would strongly recc. looking at the newer 15, 16.

remote control - are available on all three. the arc ls2b mkiii (the mk iii is a pretty rare pre- the last of the 2 series)has a remote control, something to consider. to remote or not to remote.

what is your price range and taste ?

the arc preamnps have changed their sonic signature as time as progressed. their sonic signature may not be to your liking, so audtion the different series if you can.

also, another pre to consider is the pse hl-1. it is a hybrid design with remote, ht bybass, and balanced. requires only 2 tubes. pretty rare on the used market and is better than the arc pre's even costing up to $7500. it is very transparent, dynamic and delicate, and very musical. pse is located by magnapan and audio research in minn. very small operation that has been around a long time. his gear is very reasonably priced at $2500 - $3000(NEW)/ $1000 to $1500 used) and has a long standing reputation of performing to the level of gear on the $5k to $7.5k range ( 2 to 3 times more).

good luck,

LS2B. As soon as you can afford the upgrade, send it to Steve Huntley at Great Northern Sound and he'll kick it up a notch or two. Worth every penny, and I've compared my (former) GNS Modded LS2B side-by-side with a stock unit. The differences were not subtle.

I can't believe all the praise on the LS2xxx. There are enough people who have owned this, and even upgraded it, paid a lot of money for all this only to learn that a stock LS5 in any version destroys the LS2. Without having heard direct comparisons here, in the same system at the same time, claims of this vs. that don't carry a lot of merit.

I suggest you do a search here on Audiogon to read these comments by many people.

And to hear that a tube product's real strength is that it only has one tube.....hah? I would think that the strength would relate to its musical presentation, resolution, etc. And if you only have $1k to spend, I think buying the LS2 just for the sake of owning an ARC tube product, will result in you getting the kind of sound that I suspect you will not be happy with.

Please talk to Steve Huntley before you go this route. And don't buy the LS15 or LS16 for the sake of their balanced topologies. These too are very analytically sounding units. If you like a super neutral product without the 3-dimensionality qualities of a tube product, then you're better off with something like a Klyne line stage. Why bother with all these LS units that have tubes if they bring on none of the qualities of tubes? If you want tubes because of the incredible harmonic richness and bloom, only the LS5, LS25 and Ref products in the ARC lineup will bring this to you. Again, talk to Steve Huntley and ask him his opinions on the LS5. Enough said.
John, while I agree with you, the $1000 price range is a definite limiting factor. If Dpm wants a sound more like solid state, the LS2 or 3 is a decent way to go; if it's tube sound you're after, though, the LS7 is a possibility in this range if you really want to have an ARC product, although I would strongly advocate seeing if you could scrape together the money for an LS5, which I view as one of ARC's best efforts.