Audio Research SP16 / 16L Preamplifier Preamplifiers

SP16 / 16L Preamplifier

The SP16 is completely single-ended with five sets of inputs (labeled Phono, CD, Tuner, Video and Aux) plus a Processor pass-through. There are two sets of main outputs for flexibility, plus a Tape out. The SP16 has a 12-volt trigger to turn on power amplifiers or other equipment, and full remote control of all functions including power, input selection, stereo/mono, volume, and muting.

User Reviews (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5  
dodgealum   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 20, 2006]

This is not a full review but just a comment on the "minor quibble" mentioned in two of the posted reviews. I agree--the jump in volume at lower listening levels is too great between clicks. I found it hard to obtain just the right volume with my high level sources (i.e. compact disc)--it was either too loud or too soft. This problem was exacerbated by my 96db Daedalus Audio DA-1's. A call to ARC turned up the "CD only gain reduction modification". Basically, they drop a high quality 6db resistor in the output for the CD, reducing the output for this source alone. I got it back a few weeks ago and I can tell you that it solved the problem with no apparent loss in sound quality. Highly recommended to anyone who would like more adjustability at low listening levels. Not only that but ARC are great folks to work with--quick turn around, a full test bench check on the unit and a brand new box on the way home.

BTW, this is a great preamp that sounds great and is very user friendly!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
wb6yaw   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 16, 2003]
Strength:

Nicely defined stage, wide and deep with lot's of 'air' around the instruments. Overall response seems very well suited to my particular system. Love the remote. That's why I replaced an earlier LS-1 with the A3CR.

Weakness:

No knobs. I'm old school, proper preamps are supposed to have knobs. In my case only, since I bought used I had no color choice and ended up with black but would have preferred silver. I'll live with it to save 750 bucks.

I bought mine slightly used but it's just like a new unit. I'm very happy with it and won't go into superlatives since they've already been done here. I replaced a Musical Fidelity A3CR which I was also very happy with. The biggest difference I've noticed so far is a slightly deeper sound stage. As far as the big steps in volume at low settings, I haven't noticed that so much but I'm sure it's a function of overall gain and speaker efficiency too. One point I might make though is that for every movement of the volume LED you've actually made 3 steps of adjustment and they change rapidly so it'd be easy to change several steps without realizing it.

Similar Products Used: ARC LS-1, Musical Fidelity A3CR Anthem Amp2SE Music Hall MMF CD-23 Magnepan 1.6QR
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Anupam Saxena   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 08, 2003]
Strength:

Neutral, clean, detailed, and ability to present complex music without congestion.

Weakness:

The steps in the volume control are too big at low volumes, but that is a minor quibble.

Detailed, neutral and involving sound, maybe not as dynamic as the old SP-10's and SP-11's which were stupendous. Not as extended at top or bottom either. Yet, it allows effortless listening to the music, never drawing attention to itself. I forget about the equipment and just follow whatever instrument or voice I want to. They are all there, separated by space and timber, even in the midst of the densest, loudest crescendo. The remote control is a very useful artifact - I wouldn't live without it now. Very highly recommended.

Similar Products Used: ARC SP-6B ARC SP-10 ARC SP-11 CJ PV-4, PV-5, and PV-7 Precision Fidelity C-8a
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Gary Roufosse   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 27, 2003]
Strength:

Great soundstage, airy and reverberant sound, incredible detail in all aspects and frequencies.

Weakness:

The only issue, and a small one, is the response of the volume is not linear from top to bottom. The volume "steps" at the bottom end are somewhat bigger than at higher volumes. There is no other weakness that I have found in this preamp.

I was looking to compliment my Aragon 8008BB Power amplifier, B&W DM604S3 speakers, Rotel RCD1070 CD, and Maple Audio Works Ambiance interconnects. My current preamp, and Acurus RL-11, had served me well. I auditioned the ARC SP16 at the dealer, and liked what I heard, so I arranged for a weekend test drive. After letting it run in for about 16 hours, I had a good listening session. Some of the music auditioned on this preamp/system: Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris, "Tucson Sessions/Western Wall" Cyrus Chestnut "Revelation". Cat Stevens "Teaser and The Firecat" (Remastered) Each one of these recordings was beatifully done, and the SP16 was at home in reproducing the finest nuances of every aspect of the music. The soundstage is great, the depth and reverberation of strings and keyboards beautiful. Great bass extension and detail. (especially on Revelation's stand up bass passages) Zero listening fatigue. The weekend audition was all the impetus I needed to make the buying decison.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
weiserb   AudioPhile [May 02, 2003]
Strength:

Beautiful ARC build quality. Very involving detailed musical performance, Airy, quiet Phono section that rocks. Reverts to mute mode on turn on and volume control still works in the mute mode. Overall heavenly sound top to bottom with a down to earth price. Unless you want to spend a lot more and get a seperate phone this is a great piece to get!

Weakness:

Volume control increments too large on low end so volume can sometimes seems to jump too fast. No direct input selection on the remote, so you have to scroll through inputs on remote. Handles are option and tricky to install

A wounderful preamp with almost everything you could ask for at a very fair price. Most imortantly this piece piece is like a fine musical instrument.

Similar Products Used: Conrad Johnson Premier 14 , McIntosh C22, Tandberg 3008, ARC LS7
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-5 of 5  

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