Audio Research Reference 3 line preamplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Tubed, remote-controlled line preamplifier with full sets of balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, and Processor Loop. Tube complement: four 6H30P dual triodes, plus one 6550C and one 6H30P for power-supply regulation. Maximum voltage gain: main output (single-ended or balanced input), 11.6dB; balanced output, 5.6dB single-ended output. Frequency response: 0.2Hz–200kHz , +0/–3dB, at rated output (balanced, 200k ohms load). Distortion: <0.01% at 2V RMS balanced output. Input impedance: 120k ohms balanced, 60k ohms single-ended. Output impedance: 600 ohms balanced, 300 ohms single-ended main (2), 20k ohms minimum load and 2000pF maximum capacitance. Output polarity: noninverting. Maximum output: 20V RMS maximum balanced, 10V RMS single-ended. Rated output: 2V RMS (1V RMS single-ended) into 200k ohm balanced load (maximum balanced output capability is 30V RMS at <0.5% THD at 1kHz). Noise: 2.7µV RMS residual IHF-weighted balanced noise output with volume at 1 (106dB below 2V RMS output).
Dimensions: 19" (485mm) W by 7" (178mm) H by 15.5" (394mm) D. Handles extend 1.5" (38mm) forward of front panel. Weight: 29.6 lbs (13.5kg) net, 43 lbs (19.5kg) shipping.
Serial Number Of Unit Reviewed: 15303114.
Price: $9995. Approximate number of dealers: 50.
Manufacturer: Audio Research Corporation, 3900 Annapolis Lane North, Plymouth, MN 55447-5447. Tel: (763) 577-9700. Fax: (763) 577-0323. Web:

Audio Research Corporation
3900 Annapolis Lane North
Plymouth, MN 55447-5447
(763) 577-9700

Doctor Fine's picture

My own example sounds absurdly clear, has some warmth (not sterile sounding) and the most remarkable characteristic is that it drags NO BAGGAGE along with it sonically.
There is no extra chuffiness or weight or bulk to notes.
The note sound clean and holographic without any blur to it at all.
Shockingly clear without any wooliness at all.
It sounds weird at first.
Then you realize all the dreck is missing and only notes remain.
Close your eyes and you get it.
It sounds so good you almost don't know how to process the sound!
That's why it helps to close your eyes!
I am an retired high end salesman.
Let me put it this way--my box speakers (Harbeths) now sound like stat panels!
They got FASTER!
That's what this preamp does to sounds.
I would recommend it to be matched with systems that can be tuned to show off its lean clean fast as heck presentation.
Once I adjusted the bass output to match its somewhat leaner presentation (I use four subs) it really sounded full and revealed tons of new detail.
It might possibly sound too lean with some setups so pay attention to synergy and match this piece to slightly warm stuff for best results.
It is not really lean in temperament---the warmth and fullness is there but it has to be coaxed out a bit to show it off.
Adjustable subs help a lot!
What an amazing fun piece of gear!
Oh by the way pay attention to tube hours on this one.
The power tubes wear out fast at around 1000 hours according to users.
The main tubes last for twice that or more.
Changing the tubes restores fullness.
A used set will make the unit sound pretty dry and tired.
With new ones it really gets fresh and alive in your face!