Audio Research LS8 line preamplifier Sound Quality Ratings
Longtime readers of my work in Stereophile, and especially in Hi-Fi News & Record Review, know my propensity for attempting to apply a numeric rating to a product's overall sound quality. Some feel that I should keep these numbers to myself and simply describe their value in the subjective language of sound quality. However, overwhelming feedback indicates that readers value the ratings as a more accurate gauge than words alone. In the light of advancing performances, the original 010 scale has become open-ended. As a rough guide, the finest amplifiers and preamplifiers achieve scores in the 3050 range, while creditable middle-rank contenders rate in the low 20s.
My reference score for the Audio Research LS7 was in the mid-20s, so it was somewhat disconcerting to find that the LS8's listening data indicated a score of just 20competent, yes; inspiring, no. (Note that ARC's remote-equipped, FET/solid-state, balanced/unbalanced LS9 scored in the mid-20s; as did the LS9's tubed equivalent, the remote-control LS15.)Martin Colloms