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Top of the line fully functional preamp just below the reference series from AR.
Fully balanced pure class-A circuit design for superb accuracy and transparency.
Awesome LCD readout which makes adjustments and status super visible, even to older eyes.
Full featured phono section allows a connection to just about any phono cartridge making this a great bargain in high end audio.
This particular unit was a floor model and is in perfect working condition. Cosmetically it’s near perfect with a tiny edge nick near the left knob, and a few surface scratches on the top.
It comes complete with all original packaging - remote, power cord, etc.
The SP20 is a fully balanced, pure class-A preamplifier that uses no overall loop negative feedback. It has seven levels of voltage regulation, and its line and phono stages each include low-noise JFET inputs and two 6H30 output tubes. The phono stage provides 58dB of gain, which makes it compatible with most low-output MC cartridges. In addition, for the first time on a preamp, ARC has included a ¼" headphone jack. Nor is the SP20's headphone amp an afterthought—it takes advantage of the SP's entire line stage by routing the output signal through an impedance buffer into the headphone jack; a switch toggles the preamp output between the headphone output and the main speaker output.
The SP20's physical appearance combines old and new. The faceplate with two large knobs evokes the look of the classic Audio Research designs of the early 1970s. There are also controls for input selection, volume, power, mute, and the headphone/speaker toggle. Unlike the ARCs of 40 years ago, the SP20 also has a touchscreen, similar to that found on the company's flagship Reference 10 line stage ($30,000). This indicates input name, monitor input, volume, stereo or mono playback, phase, load, mute, balance, and output selection, and grants access to the settings menu. You can adjust the gain of each input to maintain a uniform output level when switching inputs, and assign to each input a different name, to be displayed when the input is selected. The Display submenu lets you adjust the display's brightness and timeout. When engaged, timeout dims the screen for a specified time period until any button is pressed.
On its rear panel, the SP20 has more inputs and outputs than I've seen on any other ARC model: one single-ended phono input, five single-ended line inputs, two balanced line inputs, one single-ended line output, two balanced line outputs, and a single-ended recording loop.
I asked Audio Research's head of marketing, Dave Gordon, how he felt the SP20's phono stage compares with ARC's separate phono and line-stage models. He said that he felt the SP20's phono stage provides the same amount of gain as and is comparable in sound quality to that of the PH8 ($7000), but is a different circuit design. He thinks the sound quality of the SP20's line stage is somewhere between those of the LS17 SE ($5500) and LS27 ($7500) line stages, but has greater bandwidth (to 220kHz) than both. It struck me—if all this is true, a preamp that can provide sound quality comparable to $13,000 or $14,000 worth of ARC separates (excluding the cost of interconnects), and that has a headphone amp and a broader range of features, would be a relative bargain at $9000.
This item will be professionally packaged and insured for safe transit to your home.
Please click here for detailed specifics regarding our specialized packing process that separates us from the rest.
If we don’t have the original manufacture's packaging, we use heavy duty double ply corrugated boxes with Instapak expanding foam custom inserts. In many cases this has proven to be better than the original packaging. We also use high quality fiber reinforced tape to seal our packages. Lightweight items will be bubble wrapped and shipped in a high-quality box.
This item is available for pickup in Ridgewood, NJ or Union Square, NYC (with convenient parking in the building).
NJ Residents or anyone picking up without a resale certificate will need to pay NJ Sales Tax.
Use the Buy It Now button and we will cover the PayPal fees.
Thanks for looking and be sure to call or text 646.852.2073 with any questions.
Please also click here to visit our Audiogon store to see the rest of the items we have for sale.
WHO WE ARE
SkyFi Audio is a small startup business specializing in the purchase, reconditioning, and reselling of select high-end audio equipment. We only buy equipment the we admire and are passionate about. No mid-fi, no gimmicks, no junk.
Each piece of equipment is cosmetically restored and fully tested in our well-equipped lab by an engineer with 30+ years of experience in the HiFi world. If it does not meet or exceed the original manufactures specifications, it will not be sold. We are very selective about the equipment we purchase, focusing on mostly analog, high-build quality, American, and European built units.
Through our sister company, which is an authorized dealer for McIntosh, Audio Research, Sonus Faber, ClearAudio, Pro-Ject Audio Systems, and Sony ES, we have access to OEM parts, service, and support. If you are local and looking for new equipment from the above-mentioned manufacturers, please drop us a line as we can arrange both sales and professional installation in the tri-state area.
We do not accept or review any offers that do not go through the official Audiogon system. We have too many items for sale and it’s nearly impossible to keep track of offers outside of the official system. Please don’t message, email, or text any offers.
If you do not see a “Make an Offer” button, it means we are not considering any offers on that item.
We prefer working through PayPal which allows you to use a credit card or bank transfer. We do not charge extra for any payment fees if you purchase the item at the asking price. You can also send us a personal check (which will need to clear before shipping), certified check, money order, or wire transfer. International clients without access to PayPal should use a bank wire transfer.
If you are picking up an item we do not accept PayPal. You must pay in person with cash, certified or bank check, or wire transfer. If you make a PayPal payment and are picking up the item, it will be returned.
TRADE IN POLICY
We accept trade-ins of equal or lesser value under certain conditions. Simply ask and let us know the exact model, condition, and the accessories that are included (such as the original box, remote, cables, manual, etc.). We will only consider high-end equipment from mainstream manufacturers such as McIntosh, Mark Levinson, Audio Research, Krell, etc. and will typically pass on displays, projectors, receivers, dated surround processors, and mid-fi equipment of any type. We will offer a fair value for your equipment, but keep in mind we are running a business and will need to be able to resell the equipment at a profit after investing a great deal of time and resources in testing, certifying, repairing, cleaning, and packaging the incoming equipment. If you are looking for top dollar we suggest attempting to sell it directly to an end user on your own.
SELL US YOUR GEAR (Working or Broken)
We will also purchase your used or broken gear and arrange pickup if you are in our local market. Just drop us a note for a quote but be sure to include the condition and what is included.
HOW TO VISIT US
We are currently operating from a residence in Ridgewood, NJ. You are welcome to make an appointment if there is a piece of equipment you would like to see in operation before or after purchase. We have a well-equipped, dedicated listening room with tons of equipment of all makes and models. We are not a store, so please don’t make an appointment if you are just curious as to how a speaker or piece of equipment sounds. In essence, no tire kickers please.
If you are in NYC and cannot make it out to Ridgewood, we can arrange pickup in Union Square (14th Street) after the purchase. You can call or text 646.852.2073 with any questions or to schedule an appointment. We can also arrange to install, calibrate, and tune the gear in your listening room if you are local to the area. This is super useful when purchasing large speakers or heavy amplifiers. It is also great for ensuring your new turntable is setup correctly in its final resting place.
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