Audio Research LS9 Preamplifiers

4.1/5 (20 Reviews) MSRP : $1995.00


Product Description

Solid State Line Stage Preamplifier with balanced ins and outs


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Reviews 1 - 5 (20 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by mos a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 6, 2006

Bottom Line:   
I purchased this pre-amp mainly by chance as an upgrade from a simple Adcom pre-amp. At first I thought there was not much difference but after awhile I realised the complete silence between notes, greater dynamics and 'air' around all the music playing. I have not yet compared it with other similar priced pre-amps but I expect it to perform as well or better than a sub 2000 dollar pre-amp.

The only concern I have is whether I should have opted for a valve ARC design instead but for the price I pait I could not get a similar sounding machine with balanced in and outs. I also like the fact that it's step volume control, previously I did not like volume control in steps but now realise the sound improvement, ie even a good volume potential might affect the sound quality.

I'm now playing with my old Adcom amp, GFA-5200 and the volume range works perfectly, on the RCA outputs. Balanced I guess it will be even better dynamics etc but I hope that the volume range is still usable.

This unit is very good sounding but do make sure you can use the complete volume range, if your amp is too sensitive you can only use a fraction of the 70 steps otherwise it's just too loud :-)

Paid £550 used, which IMHO is very good for the unit

Rating 4.5 out of 5

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $550.00

Purchased At:   Audio-T West Hampste



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by mos a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2006

Bottom Line:   
I replaced my old Adcom GFP-345 with the Audio Research LS9, I was at first expecting much larger improvement than during my trial period but after a while I realised that the silence between tones, dynamics and the 'veil' was lifted from the music. I have not compared the LS9 to other SS in the same pricebracket, nor tube gear from ARC but for the price I paid it was definetly an improvement.
Also note that the gain is very large, and the used unit that I bought had the gain lowered for being able to use the 70 step volume control. If you do not have this there is a big chance that you can only use half the steps and this would be tricky for low listening levels.
I have not used the balanced inputs or outputs yet so have no opinion on their use, although I expect the sound to at least improve marginally.

Make sure you get the remote and check the gain with your amp before deciding.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $1100.00

Purchased At:   Audio-T, London



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Paul Dunn a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: November 23, 2003

Bottom Line:   
The best solid state preamp I have heard to date! The LS9 was conceived to replace the LS3(B). As the Martin Colloms review stated: "It competently improves on the historic standard set by it's predecessor the LS3. Interestingly enough the LS9's principle designer is Thad Early, who began his career at Krell and spent six months developing the LS9. Early and D'Agostino worked together in the early eighties and he has been with Audio Research since 1993. Many thanks Thad for designing a highly listenable and musical product! Some of the previous reviews stated the gain is insufficient. In my opinion it has more than enough gain for most people however if you need more just use the balanced in and outs or you can send to ARC to have the gain increased. Anyway a great SS preamp and I recommend it highly.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jim Alio a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 10, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have heard several reviews of this pre-amp and they range from "Great" to "Terrible". I wondered why there was so much of a spread. I purchased the LS-9 last year and after a little experimentation, I now know why. The system likes/needs balanced connections, because of the increased voltage levels attained by using balanced. I am a EE and understand that by increasing resistance, you increase voltage. A pre-amp works on voltage, not on current. If you use RCA, the volume seems kinda "dim" and the sound quality is "thin" due to the lower voltage. I won't prattle on any further but if you buy this pre-amp, go balanced or go home. I use Magnan Type Vi XLRs which are well suited for my solid state equipment. It was kind of a fluke that I came to own these but they are awesome! I suggest not using silver as it will tend to sound grainy. Silver may be good for analog but not for solid state. The presumption here is that you want to listen to music for hours without fatigue, as opposed to impressing someone with infinite detail. As a side note, the XLRs were upgraded to 50 ohm. You would not believe how that picked up the sound floor. At 1/4 volume now, the floor shakes. With RCA, I was seeing 3/4 volume and higher to get the same result. I am using 30 year old Dahlquist DQ-10 speakers that I rebuilt and they are driven by an Audio Research D240-MKII. Even with this "difficult" load, the system sounds warm and clear, but not overbearingly clear. If I could do anything to improve the sound of the LS-9, it would be to upgrade the power lead. That should unveil a bit of extra detail in the upper register without any other "coloring". As for one reviewer's comment that the user would not tend to keep this pre-amp long, I would say that the only reason I would ever part with this is because I need more balanced inputs----the only reason!

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $800.00

Purchased At:   Private Seller



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ng a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 9, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have always liked the sound of my Audio Research LS3. But when I needed to set up another hi-fi set in the hall, I was looking for a pre-amp that sounded like the LS3, but has both a remote and balance input/output.

The Audio Research LS9 was the choice after extensive research. It is very transparent and does not impose any audio signature that I can detect. The built quality is excellent. Maintenance is a non-issue since it is solid state.

I suppose those reviewers who gave bad score to this pre-amp did not use the excellent balanced input/output.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile




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