Audio Research LS-16 Mk2 vs LS-17 preamp

I'm thinking of getting an Audio Research preamp and considering either the ARC LS-16 Mk2 or the LS-17 tube preamp. Is the LS-17 worth the extra money (several hundred US dollars) over the LS-16 Mk2? Thanks for the input.
I've never heard the 17 but if you like a linestage that has weak bass, a glaring upper mid and no dynamics get the 16. we go again. I owned the LS16MKII for almost 2 years and found it to have excellent bass response and control, a wide and deep soundstage, open and smooth mids and just a wonderful presentation. I did use the 6H30 "DR" tubes in it, but the stock 6H30 tubes are excellent. The "DR" tubes takes an already great performer up a notch or two.

You have mentioned your dislike for the LS16MKII before, but you've never said you actually owned one and heard it in YOUR system, in YOUR room and with YOUR music? If you heard it in passing at a show or at a dealer, that doesn't really count for much does it? Maybe you heard a defective unit or one that wasn't warmed up/broken in yet. I have read every online review, (which there are many) from professional to consumer and NONE of them agree with your comments? Humph?

Valhalla, the LS16MKII is a wonderful piece of gear as is the LS17. I haven't A/Bed the two, but I think you would be happy with either one.
Bravo Mofimadness for your response to Rwwear, I totally agree. I to have had the LS-16mkII and found it to be(in my system)just as Mofimadness articulated a very good preamp in that price range.
Valhalla, I like nobody else can tell you how a component is going to sound in your system because so many other vaiables come into play such as: associated equipment, speakers, cables(interconnect & power)and room size. It would be helpful however to know what other components makeup the rest of your system.
To conclude, I would like to quote Art Dudley who I think summed it up best when he said "Most domestic playback products have a sound all their own.
The effectiveness of most domestic playback products very much depends on the rest of the system with which they will be used, as well as the room, the climate and the physiology and the psychology of the listerner"
I think most folks who utilize this forum would do well to consider these words before responding to questions about different components and their sound.
A friend of mine bought the 16MK II and I tried it for a week in my system. He didn't like it either even with his ARC amp. He sold it. Why would I be so adamant about my dislike of this linestage without reason. There are many less expensive linestages that sound much better. I tried three different linestages at the same time and the 16 was by far the worst. I'm sorry you guys couldn't hear it.
A friend of mine bought the 16MK II and I tried it for a week in my system. He didn't like it either even with his ARC amp. He sold it. Why would I be so adamant about my dislike of this linestage without reason. There are many less expensive linestages that sound much better. I tried three different linestages at the same time and the 16 was by far the worst.
I don't think that Audio Research would be the well respected company that they are, (or even still in business) if they produced gear that sounded the way you describe...I'm sorry you can't hear.
One man's meat is another man's poison. I have owned the LS16Mk1 and find it to be a decent piece, not spectacular. It does sound superior to four other line stages that I have owned, but then these line stages are just crap in comparison.
Seems like I'm the one that can hear Mofi. I just don't let perception cloud my conclusions. Just because ARC makes quality components does not mean everything they make sounds good.
Rwwear, just because a LS-16mkII sounds bad in one system doesn't mean it will sound bad in any other systems!
You take one experience and base your opinion on that and call it unbiased? Are you kidding me?
As mofimadness indicated, you would do well to read all of the good and positive reviews that have been written about the LS-16(,,,youngblood to name a few)then you might figure out who can hear and who can't.
I have an LS16 MKI modded by GNSC with Amperex 7308 tubes and it's a killer line stage in my system. It was a good piece of gear in stock from but with the GNSC mods it's in another playing field.
I am now using a REF2 MKI modded by GNSC. The LS16 has been boxed in the closet for a few years now.
IMHO the LS-16 is a very good (but not great) preamp. If you want great you might look at the LS-26 - it's a giant killer.
EE read what I said before making comments and stop trying to play follow the leader. I have my opinion. I have nothing against ARC and have tried many of their products and have owned some. But ARC seems to dislike their own products because they replace almost every model or modify them every year or so.
Rwwear, What leader am I following? I have my opinion just like you have yours! and I stated it and mine was based on having owned the LS-16mkII for 3yrs. not one week!! Just because I happened to agree with someone else doesn't mean I'm playing follow the leader!
I have had and currently have ARC systems for 25 yrs.(not that I haven't tried other products)and find their products to be of high quality and a pleasure to listen to as has been voiced by many others.(again check the reviews)
As far as ARC disliking their own products because they continuely improve upon them, that's what their name indicates "research"(duh) They're constantly researching how to make their products better! That doesn't mean you have to change every time they do.(you don't buy a new car every year because GM Ford or Chrysler or whoever comes out with a new model do you?).
I currently have the LS-25mkII and am happy with it. I didn't feel a real urge to run out and buy the LS-26 when it came out even though I know it is better( yes I heard it)
Finally, they don't change their products every year. ARC products have a minimum
FWIW I have an sp16 (ls 16 with phono I believe) and think it is a fantastic piece. I can enthusiastically recommend it to others.
I bought a used LS-16Mk2 on Audiogon last year, and I am consistently impressed with the dynamics, imaging and natural tonality of the unit. (It replaced a Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 with Mullard tube.) My source is a Sony SCD XA777ES which has single-ended output only. Recently I tested the single-ended SP-17 in my system, which came close to the LS-16Mk2, lacking just a little in dynamics and presence. However, the fully balanced LS-17 (which I've not heard) offers some circuit enhancements over the LS-16Mk2. I would be willing to pay around $300 more for the newer model. But either one will bring you a lot of musical pleasure.
The SP16 is NOT the same as an LS 16 with a phono preamp added! As the people at ARC will tell you, the SP16 is a lesser level preamp than the LS16 (no offense, just clarifying) in their line up.
My understanding was that the ls16 is just an sp16 minus phono stage.

So what is better about the ls16 exactly? I'd like to know because if that is the case I may have been mislead. The naming convention would certainly seem to indicate that these are the same only one has a phono. That's how it was presented to me and I had no reason to suspect otherwise.
Mapman, I contacted ARC about 1 year ago when I was looking at new/used preamps and to inquire about this specifically. I was told that the SP 16 v LS 16 are two different build levels/qualities and that the linestage portion of the LS 16 exceeds that of the SP 16 by a noticeable margin. What is the list price of the SP16? What is the list price of the LS16?

SP 16 list price in 2002 was $2,495 with the phono and $1995 without the phono board (but it appears it was pretty much sold with the phono).

The LS 16's list price was $2,995 ($3,495 for the LS16 MK II version), though I don't know the specific dates for these prices.

But this correlates with what ARC indicated to me, that the SP units are not the same as the LS units but with the phono added (as that would make them more expensive than the LS units, not less expensive).

So, at least with the SP 16 v LS 16 were are not talking about two preamps with the same line stage, but one with and the other without phono.

You are right as best i can tell.

I see there is an sp16L listed on arcdb as the less expensive linestage version of sp16.

Also a separate listing for the more expensive ls16 that is clearly different in appearance.

Clear as mud from the naming, right?

My mistake nonetheless.

My sp16 cost me $1800 as a discounted price near the end of its production run. The newer sp17 was already out and would have cost more as well I believe.

So my dealer correctly represented the sp16 as a good value for me at the time in that I was considering getting the line stage only version and using an external phono pre-amp which would have likely cost more for some thing external also with good quality.

Just as a further note.
You could go to the arcdb site and take a look at the pictures of the internal layout. It is different, not to mention the LS-16 has balanced inputs and outputs.
Mapman, I have no doubt that your SP16 was an excellent value. I do not suggest for a moment that the SP16 is not an excellent preamplifier and one that many, many audiofiles could completely enjoy. I was just trying to clarify for other viewers that there are some differences.

Though I have to be honest and suspect the running the LS16 in SE mode vs. the SP16 in its only available SE mode may be much less significant than the LS16 in balanced v SP16 in SE. I think this may be part of the price/performance difference (+ remote). I have heard many people comment that the ARC units capable of running in balanced perform noticeably better this way vs. running the same in the SE mode.
Well Mapman, we should get together as I have a LS16MKII on its way to me and we could do a simple comparison to see how noticeable the difference is in SE v SE and SE v Balanced. I am in tne midwest.
I just purchased a LS 16 Mk II and will leave feedback when I have it
shipped. Currently I'm using a SE SP 9 Mk II, and really like it's
performance for the past several years. I've driven many amps, likethe CJ MV 45, CJ Premier 4, AR VS 60 and the AR VT 50 [note the
AR VT 50 is the only balanced preamp, and appears to be a good
matchup to the LS 16 MkII ].
I have owned an Audio Research L 16 Mark II for four years now I originally bought it off of crunch audio always wanted a tube preamplifier now when I first got it it did not sound very good I was new to tubes then I found out why I change the tubes my jaw dropped what a shame I had it put away for 2 years in the closet did not know it had the original tubes in it they were worn out I play my preamplifier through a McIntosh 302 power amplifier going into a set of tannoy Revolution xt8f speakers my sound is incredible my bass is deep and Rich not muddy but very recognizable and these aren't power house speakers for bass I had a Cambridge digital preamplifier it did not have very warm sound this preamplifier is definitely staying in my system and yes you do have to match stereo equipment up it can be different makes but some won't sound as good as others I have the sound I've always wanted with different makes of products it makes my hair stand up on my arms when I listen to David Gilmour playing his electric guitar so I must have done something right it's a damn good preamp I think

LS16 and LS 16mk2 are two tottaly differents preamps.

LS16 is fully tube and will play exellent with tube sourse as

dac 3 CD7 and tube amp but mk2 not.

If you have sourse base or

chips or power amp solid then you mk2 can win

because is hybrid.





If preamp do not have feedback i would search

with feedback . if sourse is fully ballanced keep going

this way.

Some components have to be the same company

to play even. Chip volume control make 20-25 %

disadventage  compare to analog potenciometer but

is 20 times chiper.