Audible Illusions Modulus 3 Audio Research SP-11

Hello folks out there,

I have heard many consider the Audible Illusions Modulus 3 as their reference piece against the Audio Research Sp-11 or Sp-15.

Does anyone own both of these preamps and can tell me if the Audible Illusions Modulus 3 is really that good?
I have heard it almost beats any top preamp out there.

I've owned a Mod 3 and two different ARC preamps, tho neither was an SP-11. IMO, they fall at opposite ends of the spectrum. ARC gear can get a satisfying 3d presentation, but never gets tubey in a dark or romantic sounding way. Tonality stays neutral enough to feel very much like the best solid state gear.

My AI Mod 3 was darker, thicker thru the bass and lower mids, and all together a tubier sounding piece. It was definitely less neutral. I liked both, but the AI was IMO more personal taste/system defendant. I'd think that most folks would have no problem choosing one or the other. you saying that you currently own (4) ARC SP-11's? I find that kinda hard to believe?

Also ARC never made a SP-11MK3. They made a SP-11SE (Special Edition) out of the last 50 or so SP-11MK2 models, but never a MK3.

I am really confused by your initial post if you already have the ARC unit(s)? Not sure what your end game is here?
The Modwright LS100 blows the Modulas 3A away.
I owned for several years very unreliable and it
takes months to get back from repair.
Sound is adequate but no magic!
Elliotdrum it is possible the Modwright LS100 is a better
sounding unit compared to the the AI 3A but at a far
greater cost. I have an ARC SP11 MKII I purchased several
years ago and yes it is better sounding than the AI 3A but
try to find one under three thousand used. I would prefer
to say all the above mentioned preamps are great in their
own right but go about their business in different ways and
depending what your trying to match them up with, will
determine what you end up with.
Does anyone own both of these preamps and can tell me if the Audible Illusions Modulus 3 is really that good?

I own both

I own four of them! Mk1 -Mk3! two MK1 versions!

There is no such thing as a MK3 technically speaking as Mofi said already. My understanding is the MK3 was nothing more than a "bling" thing for audiophiles with a gold faceplate. This is confirmed on this webpage.

ARC SP11 MK I and II

I personally see no reason to threw the AI off.

no reason at all, I agree and I do happen to own both.
An SP11MKII with a modded power supply for about 17 years and AI Modulus 3 for 8 - 9 years? (not sure)


For the money the AI is great value. I remember I had sold off my SP8 at the time and regretted it. That thick sounding baby SP10 preamp was great to tube roll with. The AI replaced it. Much closer in sound to the SP11 than the SP8. Also unlike what some others have said here I have had few problems with tubes.

The SP11 MK11 is an all assault design built in the heyday of vinyl by someone that knew a thing or two about how Music is engineered and delivered to us in digital and analog mode. It has on the fly GAIN for digital/analog and vinyl cartridge LOADING ! Sonically it is truer to neutral than the SP10 which i have also heard - same system.

On the fly gain allows for great adjustment of bad digital recordings. I have a friend that spent mucho dollars on a German preamp/phono stage and it takes him all afternoon to do one loading change. Sometimes he would throw out his back attempting it.

The biggest thing about the SP11MKII is its secret weapon that either few know about or its just not discussed. But I will let those here in on it that are not aware. You see the SP11MKII has a stealth mode that ARC calls the HOTROD mode. Its called the bypass switch which disables most of the circuitry. When run in full mode with all its features intact including (balance) it is a good preamp. In HOTROD mode it becomes a window to your equipment before and after it. The AI can't touch it in my room.

I have owned and/or demo'ed - CAT, SP8 and SP10, Newer ARC, Allnic, Pass, Krell, Bryson, Classe preamps. The Sp11mkII remains to this day and is used in HOTROD mode only.

also fwiw - I owned OTL's for a year. I asked the Maker of the amps if he would be interested in taking a shot at a new phono stage for me to trial - he told me "why bother". He thought the SP11MKII was that good in hotrod mode. Have had many offers on it including the tech that upgraded the power supply. He was really impressed with its construction.

Stefanovitch - Do you understand how the bypass and gain features work on the sp11 ? If you have not heard the SP11MKII with bypass engaged, and direct outputs - imo - you have not heard this preamp.

I would never buy a reference level preamp/phonostage that did not come with on the fly gain and cartridge loading because the music we listen to is not standardized. Some has been recorded at high gain levels others not so much. The gain control separate from volume control allows you to adjust for this. Anyway some direct impressions for you.

Happy listening.