Best bargain ARC tube pre amp around a grand

I need some opinions on which ARC pre amp to look for (and which to avoid) used , in the vicinity of $1000-1300. or so. Im pairing it with a pair of Quicksilver Audio M-60's with Sovtec KT-88's and driving Maggie 3.3's.(IM actually very pleased with these amps driving the 3.3r to moderate levels in my room) I want the lush yet detailed ARC tube sound. phono optional,but VPI Aries/jmw10.5 and Lyra Helikon,is worth a good phone stage if it can handle the low output of the lyra... I've owned so many tube and SS amps and pre amps, mostly cj over the years, but ARC is somewhat less familiar. LS vs. SP...anyone???lots of used unit out there
I need some insight.

Hi Ken,

Interesting to come across your post here with my dear 3.3s.

You mention the lush ARC sound. The LS2 is anything but this. After I owned an SP10 for 8 years, listening to the LS2 was about the biggest disappointment when it came to musicality. It took the LS5 to bring upon all the SP10's magic but also bring along so many refinements. ARC has been fairly consistent with musical tube amps through the evolution, but this certainly has not been the case with their preamps....SP or LS series.

The SP10/SP11 is only mediocre as a line stage. The SP8, SP10 and SP11 were great in their day as phono preamps. Forget about the LS15 & LS22 besides the fact that they too are over your price. The only unit that really would fit the sound requirement is the LS5 in any version (the MK III is awesome) but this too is over your cost. I think the LS7/PH1 is a very good option here.

Another option I would suggest you do is jump on a CJ Premier 10. I saw one here recently for a great price.

I've paired my ARC LS-2B with my Quicksilver EL-34 Triode push/pulls, my Quicksilver 300B SET's and my old Quicksilver Silver 90's (like your 60's, that is another KT-88 pentode design by Mike Sanders). I love it in combination with the EL-34 and the Silver 90, but with the SET's it is too analytical and cold for my taste. I use a Cary SLP-50A with those which is a wonderful combination. I think it should work well with your 60's if my experience with the Silver 90's is anything to go by. If you get an LS-2B make sure to try it out in 'Direct' mode (requires a balanced connection) which bypasses the switching circuits. To my ears it makes for a nice improvement. No phono stage, as Captpenny points out though. You should be able to find an LS-2B for anywhere from $700-950 on the used market. That could leave you some room for a pretty decent phono pre if you're a good shopper. Plenty of those to choose from. You may go over your $1k budget, but not by much and you'll have a really nice setup.
Hello, Steve at Great Northern Sound did all the mods necessary to bring my SP9 MKIII up to reference standards and I am really pleased with the results. I did these mods in two stages due to $$$$$ and listened to the unit without any mods, then power supply and the iec with a Cardas power cord (Golden Reference) and then the rest of the mods to finish up. You might give Steve a call and he could explain in detail. He is a pleasure to work with.
I have an LS-8 MkII that I bought in your price range, no phono stage, but I think the line stage is very good, I believe that ARC discontinued this model about a year ago(?)
I have not seen many of the LS8's for sale.
Well my search has ended with the purchase of SP-9Mk II with a JAN Philips NOS tube, and at a price that keeps me a solvent corporation for Christmas ! $800. shipped! I've been promised not to be disappointed and although the output of the Lyra coil is boarderline for this pre amp, alot does depend upon the effeciency of the speakers being driven and the input Volt of the amps. So lets enjoy the music and push on. Thanks to all very valued responses and good listening!