Audio Research LS9 Preamplifiers

Audio Research LS9 Preamplifiers 

DESCRIPTION

Solid State Line Stage Preamplifier with balanced ins and outs

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 21  
[Oct 11, 2020]
MNMadMan


Strength:

I have owned my LS 9 for 21 years. I have it hooked to AR 100.2 Amp (a pre market version). It’s fed by a PH3 AR phono pre-amp. I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC connected as well. Home built FLAC server. Rega 25 turntable primary, and a Adcom 700 I don’t use much. The speakers are Martin Logan SL3. The sound is neutral. Digital or Vinyl, quite enjoyable. Fairly open sound.

Weakness:

It does have a slight hum when it starts and goes away after a while. Can’t hear it unless I am right there.

Price Paid:
2000
Purchased:
New  
Model Year:
1999
OVERALL
RATING
4
[Mar 06, 2006]
mos
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Looks, minimalistic ergonomics, dynamics, silent background and enough to drive any amp.

Weakness:

None as far as I know, but do compare with other ARC's

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

Similar Products Used:

Adcom

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Feb 10, 2006]
mos
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Looks, dynamics, silence between passages

Weakness:

price as new, compare to ARC tube gear (?)

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.

Similar Products Used:

Adcom GFP-345

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Nov 23, 2003]
Paul Dunn
AudioPhile

Strength:

Powerful remote! Very musical, An incredible value of features versus performance.

Weakness:

Absolutely none at this price point!

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.

Similar Products Used:

Conrad Johnson, Music Fidelity, ARC, PS Audio and many more.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 10, 2003]
Jim Alio
AudioPhile

Strength:

Strong Balanced section. Extremely transparent. Great remote. Good build quality. I'd compete this product, the way that I have it setup, with pre-amps costing $5000 more.

Weakness:

Weak RCA section. Hokey volume control. Could use more balanced inputs-only has one for the CD and 2 out for amps. Doesn't look as impressive as 10,000 pre-amps but then again, for the $, nothing touches it.

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!

Similar Products Used:

Mark Levinson, Accuphase,

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 09, 2003]
Ng
AudioPhile

Strength:

Very transparent and detailed.

Weakness:

No on/off switch.

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.

Similar Products Used:

Audio Research LS3, Audiolab 8000Q.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Oct 07, 2002]
Ken
AudioPhile

Strength:

musical, very detail, solid bass, good soundstage,

Weakness:

none, especiall with the price I pay

I sold my BAT VK 5i and intend to get BAT VK 40. There is none available then, so I got AR LS9 for temperary use. Because I had auditioned LS3 many years in my system, I had a great deal of confident with Audio Research SS preamp. After, I had the LS9 for several months. I am convinced that it is a great amp. And with the price I paid for. It is a steal. I can bet you that there are not many $850 preamp can compete with LS9 and probably none. My system now: Krell MD20 transport Sonic Frontier SFD2 Mk2 D/A Audio Research LS9 preamp BAT VK 500 power amp NHT 3.3 speakers MIT reference interconnects Audioquest Argent + I don't want to commend on those who put down on this unit.

Similar Products Used:

Krell Krc2, Audio Research LS16, BAT VK 5i ,

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 25, 2002]
Marc
AudioPhile

Strength:

It imparts little or no sonic signature on the music. It is very neutral which is the goal of a well made preamp.

Weakness:

No on-off switch...but since it draws very little power at idle, it is always warmed up. You can turn off the power via power conditioner if necessary.

I have come to determine that the LS-9 is a well built and competitive preamp with others of similar price ($1995) available. It has single ended and balanced in''s and out''s. High quality RCA''s. Nice looking unit that is well built. Remote controlled. Removeable IEC cord. Logic controlled volume control which according to ARC is much more accurate than normal attenuation. At used market pricing ($750-$1000) it is a steal!

Similar Products Used:

McCormack, Adcom, Krell, Joule Electra, Classe.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 26, 2000]
Gio
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Sounds good with the right system

Weakness:

Did not sound good on my system.

I wanted to rerate this pre. I gave it a 2 in my 1st review.

2's are reserved for pure crap. This pre is not pure crap.

I did not like it at all in my system (see prvious review) but I have heard it with other equipment. The amp is quiet and has a sound stage better than I 1st gave it credit for.

I'm only bumping it up 1 star but I think in the right system people with this pre amp may be very happy.

Its just not for me. But its better than the 2 I gave it.

Similar Products Used:

Bryston BP-25

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
[May 11, 2000]
John Dooley III
Audiophile

Strength:

Balance tones & Detail

Weakness:

low hum when not using stereo, no viedo by-pass, too few controls

This was my 1st up-grade into the High End from mid-1980's Yamaha seperates. I owned the unit for one year and up- graded to the Audio Research LS-16 about a month ago. At 1st comparsion with an Aragon pre-Amp during listening trials to match to my Aragon 8008B Dual Mono Amp, the Audio Research LS-9 was more balance and sweet for Martin Logan SL-3 speakers, therefore I bought it. Later I realized that there was a low hum during non-listening times. Then when I bought an Acurus ACT-3 D/A for some Martin Logan central and rear channels, the Audio Research LS-9 had to be turned up all the way to carry the front channels (no Audio by-pass), which was a drag. Then when I bought a Rega turntable, it was time for a tubed Pre-Amp to mellow out the sound. The Audio Research LS-9 is a good beginning point to the High end, but it wont last.

Similar Products Used:

Audio Research LS-16

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 21  

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