Preamp upgrade ARC LS5, SF Line 3, others?

I'm looking to upgrade my preamp. I have Audio Research LS2 MKII and ARC D200 power amp. The LS 2 can be a little bright on the top end and thinon the low end. I have heard the LS5 and was blown away auditioning it in my home, but have a number of components that are single ended. I've always liked ARC products, but they seem low on features.

I've read reviews on the Sonic Frontiers Line 3 and am encouraged by it. SOmeone I spoke to said the Line 3 was dramatically better than the ARC LS5. Any SF Line 3 owners would like to leave comments on this. Any other preamps one should look into?


I second Jaica'a vote for the Hovland. I eliminated the need for a preamp in my system, however, if I needed one again, the Hovland would be it.
Placette active line stage. Not cheap ($4K) but the best I've heard so far under $10K. Wonderful on "bright" sources, as the Vishay resistors clean up the high end.
Like you, I had the ARC LS2-II. I bought an ARC REF-1 off Audiogon and have been extreemly happy with it! It has both balanced and SE connections. The biggest difference was in the bass, but the REF-1 bettered the LS2 in every way. You can find them here for under $4,000.

Good Luck!!!
I use a SF Line 1 with an ARC D200 and really enjoy it. I think there's definitely something to be said for combining a tube preamp w/ SS amplification. And the SF Line series features are very nice- I particularly enjoy the headphone amp w/ my Sennheisers.
Hi Tom,

Keep me informed as I currently using the Balanced version (LS-2B MkII). I've been thinking about upgrading my preamp which would have both balanced and single ended inputs/outputs as I am using balanced input for my digital front end and single ended input for my analog front end. That rules out the Hovland, but the top contenders are the ARC Ref series, BAT VK-50SE, and the SF Line-3.