Vintage musicality vs one box convenience

My source of vintage musicality are

Audio Research fully balanced set

Ref CD9

Preamp LS10

Amp D240 MKII.

When working, it’s a wonderful transparent musical system, that plays great music through my large horn speakers (Viking Acoustic L’Instrument)

And it hardly ever works as expected. Typically the LS10 has poor performance at low volumes, with channel balance an issue.

The most reliable piece is the D240, I have two of them and this latest unit has a replaced power supply that adds speed and even more detail to the system.

But the LS10 power switch is drying out and needs rejuvenating.

All of these units are sealed against EMI RFI, so they have added performance value.

But feeding digital signals to the Ref CD9 is possible through optical or coaxial of course limited to 24/192khz. And using the tv via optical does not give a stable signal or quality source.

But all CD’s that are well mastered sound better in this unit than anything that came before or heard elsewhere.

The reliability and stability are an issue, as is the convenience. A big experience drag is the fact that it doesn’t always work. Tubes take a while to warm up, network stability is unreliable and sounds crappy.

I’m close to disposing of the arc amps if not the three units. But it’s not easy to get equivalent performance for the price. I had a Luxman M900u but it costs as much as the three ARC units combined.

I enjoy the Luxman sound and am wondering what would be an equal one box solution? Keep the CD9 and replace the pre and power amps. At the very least. I need fully balanced to feed the best signal from the CD9 if that stays. And I need a better digital source. Argh too many boxes again! Where’s a cd and digital streamer that can reach this standard, perhaps as a preamp (tube output stage?) into Luxman power amp?

Your ideas within context will be greatly appreciated!





Equal One Box Solution: you know the answer, so define the groupings of excellent separates.

Live anywhere near me, Plainfield, NJ?

I would love to hear those speakers!

Sensitivity 98 db puts you in the power range of a lot of current:

remote controlled integrated pre/amps

including not too many, thus not too hot tubes.

So, clarify: tubes or SS, i.e. narrow the choices.

then SACD/CD/Streaming; (I went vintage with low hours)

then TT/mm/mc/sut/phono stage. (I went vintage setup allowing options)


G’day Elliott

Thanks for your kind thoughts. I’m DownUnder in Melbourne Australia so a bit of travel involved in a visit but you’re welcome any time. 
Although the Viking’s are 98dB sensitive I find they do best with some power to move their two 12” woofers.

I’d like to keep the Ref CD player and replace the amp/preamp with an integrated if I can find something of equal quality. Transparency power and remote convenience is what I’m looking for. Solid state. I’ve owned PassLabs XA25, Esoteric F05, various Krell, PrimaLuna and still have Marantz pre/pro.

The Luxman M900u was a sweet beast of an amp. But my budget is no kk ger unlimited and convenience cries out to me.