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Anonymous (not verified)
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Audio Research Ref 3 Preamp

Hello all. I auditioned this preamp this past weekend; The rest of the system was:

Paradigm Signatures S8
ARC 300.2 solid state amp
Cyrus CD Player....

Needless to say this was a sublime audio experience, as cliche as this may sound, I have never heard a system this good, ever!! This new ARC preamp is really something else. I'm not a big tube fan, but I think this time ARC got it right and hit it way out of the park, the sound was rich, enveloping, textured,without loosing transparency...Everything was just perfect, anybody else have heard this new preamp???

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Audio Research Ref 3 Preamp

I have heard the Reference 3, and it is everything you say it is. A couple of things you may wish to consider;

1) The Ref 3 only has 6.8 db maximum gain, compared to 12db or 18db in most AR preamps. This may be a problem if your power amp has less gain than the average or if your speakers are not efficient.

2) A lot of the $10,000 is invested in bells and whistles, if you ask me. I decided to buy the LS-16 Mark II, because for me the sound is glorious and the price is $3500. You only get 2 balanced inputs, and 4 unbalanced inputs, but that works fine in my system. If you need more balanced inputs, the LS-26 has eight inputs balanced/unbalanced AND selectable gain of 6db, 12db, or 18 db for each input channel. In some ways, I think the LS-26 has more features and sounds essentially the same as the Ref. 3 at $6000. It is a brand new unit, and I would certainly buyt it before the Ref 3 (I think there will soon be a ref 4 with better features).

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