Review: Audio Research LS-7 Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

I am new to tubes, and replacing my LS3 was a hard decision to come to. I had a chance to listen to a LS7 at a friends house and was impressed. His equipment is completely different, but I was hooked.
I happen to like the utilitarian look of the LS3 and LS7 (mine is black), the knobs have a solid feel, and the build is first class. My only complaint on the build is that it has a permanant power cord. This preamp does have a phono section, but this is not a problem since I have moved to digital.
The standard Sovtek 6922 tubes are fine. They give good soundstage and reasonable depth. Bass is a little lean compared to the LS3 but I expected that.
I changed the tubes to Amperex Bugle Boys and it changed the whole package! Stage depth was the largest improvement. The bass is slightly better, but the focus is outstanding.
I can recommend this preamp to anyone that is looking for a good tube preamp at a reasonable price.

Associated gear
Theta Data Basic II
Marchand XM9 Active Crossover
Threshold S150 II, S300 II
Celestion A1's (Heavily Modified)

Similar products
Audio Research LS3
I too have an LS7. Upgraded from an Adcom GFP 565. The difference was amazing. Sound stage, bloom, no electronic haze or grain. Better bass. But if I could have afforded it at the time I would have gone for the LS-2 Slightly better. Longer decay on the music a hair sweeter and airier. But overall love the preamp Have original tubes, want to try NOS Mullard or Bugleboys. Solid State amp B&K ex 442 and B&W Matrix 802s3 speakers.
I did have a LS-7 and the biggest inprovement you can do is to change the coupling caps. I had a pair of jensen paper in oil installed and it changed the whole sonic picture for the better. You can get the caps at Welborne labs. They take a while to burn in but well worth the wait. Good listening!