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Audio Research LS16MKII Preamplifier
3 Reviews
rating  4.67 of 5
MSRP  3495.00
Description: Functionally the LS16MKII remains unchanged except for the labeling of the inputs. (Single-ended inputs are now labeled CD, Tuner and Aux; Balanced inputs are labeled Bal 1 and Bal 2). The only other external change is the rear-panel addition of a 12V on/off trigger for remote powering of other linked audio and video components.


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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

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

Date Reviewed: March 18, 2005

Bottom Line:   
I had such good sound in my system I was afraid to get a new unit; previously had an A-R lS2-B preamp. Finally succumbed because I wanted a remote. This is a revelation; so much better than lS2-B I can't believe it.

Where voices in a chorus were fairly clear before, now I literally hear every individual voice in a chorus of 30 or more; it's like being in Walt Disney hall live in the first row. Bass that sounded strong and full before is now clearer and more dynamic with more punch.

Piano, which sounded just ok before, now sounds like live in the room; a real piano in my listening room. A cello before was a little boomy; the bass sustained a bit too much; now just clear as a bell. Linda Ronstadt, on 'Canciones', had a slight edge to her voice as did the trumpets; now her voice is clear as a bell without a trace of hardness.

The jump from my old SP-9 to the lS-2B was a jump from a 3 (on a scale of 1 to 10)to a 6; the lS2-B was very good and kept me happy for 10 years; the lS-16 MKII
is a 9 or a 10. It is just remarkable; i can hardly imagine better sound.

The lS2-B is still a very good unit. If you had $1000 to spend, you couldn't buy a better preamp on the used market. The only caveat with the lS-2B is that the sound goes way down after 1000 hours on the tube, and only the ones you buy from audio research are consistly excellent.

But if you can affored the $3500, the lS-16 Mark II is your ticket to sound to die for. Even the $10k Reference 3 doesnt sound better to me (it has tons of bells and whistles, but sounds better..??...I don't think so).

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2004

Price Paid:    $3500.00


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

Date Reviewed: March 16, 2005

Bottom Line:   
The LS16 was the last component I added as part of a major equipment 'refresh'.

Rest of the system consists of:
Rotel 1072 CD player
ARC 150.2 amplifier
Linn Espek speakers
Nordost cables and interconnects (balanced between the preamp and amp)
Richard Gray Power Conditioner

The LS16 replaces an ARC LS3, which dollar for dollar is really a great component. (If you want to do high end audio on the cheap you can find a good used LS3 for $500-$600).

I've been dabbling in high end audio for a long time, and the LS16 made the most noticeable change any single component has ever made when added to my system.

The reviewers in the high end rags talk about hearing the 'air' around instruments. I always thought this was some esoteric BS concept on the part of reviewers until I put the LS16 in my system. I could actually hear what these guys have been talking about! The imaging of the instruments and the 'air' around them was really an astounding revelation. This was especially apparent on various piano pieces and on recordings that contained acoustic bass. The downside is that the LS16 makes marginal recordings sound, well, pretty bad.

The LS16 also made a big difference in the depth of the sounstage.

The LS16 brought out both the best and worst of the recorded material.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2004

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by fsirvine a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 26, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This review was first posted under LS 16. I use it with a Linn Karik/Numerik or Oracle Premiere IV, SME V, Linn K18II front-end, and Research VT 100 MKII amp, and Linn AV 5140 speakers. The highs on the LS16MKII seem scintillating, and the treble range generally seems very open and delicate. There is a continuity in dynamic range from top to bottom that makes for a seemless sound that works well in the context of my system. My point of reference is the SP9 MK III, which I still use for phono preamplification, and which sounds slightly hard in the upper-middle, lower-treble range, and also quite veiled by comoparison. The LS 16II comes with a comparatively small power transformer, and as a result, can only charge capacitors of comparatively limited size. A point of comparison might be the LS 25 or (as regards my phono preamp, my SP9 MK III) The solid-state regulators render that difference irrelevant up to a point, but in this, as in all other such compromises, a point is sometimes reached. It is reached in very demanding CD's such as the Holly Cole Trio, Don't Smoke in Bed. The LS16MKII does not produce the tactile bass that the LS22 produces on cuts like "I Can See Clearly Now." Nor are the attack and delay of instrumental resonances of the bass guitar produced as well. In addition, the Holly Cole's voice does not sound as nice unless one is using a good line conditioner (I am using the Monster Power HTS 500, but was not when the original review was posted under LS 16). This limit is not obviously reached (even without a sound conditioner) in most CD's or vinyl discs, however, where the bass sounds dry, neutral, dynamic, and controlled. Furthermore, dynamic shading is handled better on the LS16MKII than on a borrowed LS22 (and much better than in the line section of the SP9MKIII). This is illustrated by listening to almost any cut in the CD of the Sound of Music. In the wedding song, by the way, the organ peels out with an awesome sense of power; clearly the power supply regulation is up to that task. And the solid-state regulators appear to be very quiet, as reflected by the absence of extraneous noise from the signal. The LS16MIKK is particularly good in making multi-miked material sound clear, detailed and quiet rather than noisy.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $2950.00

Purchased At:   Sound Plus

Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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