Audio Research Reference 5 SE line preamplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Tubed, remote-controlled line preamplifier with six sets of balanced and unbalanced inputs, three sets of balanced and unbalanced outputs, and a unity-gain Processor input. Tube complement: 6550C and 6H30P (power-supply regulation), four 6H30P (dual triodes). Frequency response: 0.2Hz–200kHz, +0/–3dB, at rated output (balanced, 200k ohms load). Maximum voltage gain, main output (single-ended or balanced input): 12dB, balanced output; 6dB, single-ended output. 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, 20k ohms minimum load and 2000pF maximum capacitance. Output polarity: non-inverting. Maximum input: 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: 1.7µV RMS residual IHF-weighted balanced noise output with volume control at "1" (109dB below 2V RMS output). Power consumption: standby, 2W; full output, 130W.
Dimensions: 19" (485mm) W by 7" (178mm) H by 15.5" (394mm) D. Handles extend 1.5" (38mm) forward of front panel. Weight: 30.4 lbs (13.9kg) net, 41.6 lbs (19kg) shipping.
Finishes: Natural Aluminum, Black.
Serial Number of Unit Reviewed: 59304913.
Price: $12,995 (upgrade from Reference 5 to Reference 5 SE: call ARC). Approximate number of dealers: 50.
Manufacturer: Audio Research Corporation, 3900 Annapolis Lane N., Plymouth, MN 55447-5447. Tel: (763) 577-9700. Fax: (763) 577-0323. Web:

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

seank's picture


"The Ref 5 SE's performance at the extremes of the audioband, usually tube electronics' bàte noir, was superb."

I had to search the internet for bàte noir.

bàte noir is french for black beast

I assume from the context you meant "weakness".



John Atkinson's picture

The phrase should have been bête noir - blame my occasionally suboptimal HTML coding :-)

I have corrected it.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Markus Sauer's picture

It's la bête, so bête noire, I'm afraid, Mr. Copy Editor.

Anyway, I like bàte noir, it's almost black bat, and every review in the Halloween edition of Stereophile should mention black bats at least once.

audioware's picture

These pres are outstanding. However the problem is their poor reliability. 06 (six) of them were already on my services bench this year to fix problems with the transformer that feeds the dgital, the remote control and the on-off switch, circuits. It is a small xformer below the circuit board that burns out frequently. Another very serious problem is with the 6H30s filament regulators that do not stand for the increased current demanded by the new 6H30s intead of the old 6922s. ARC has to pay more attention to these problems!

laywingsun's picture

Editor ,my englishi is poor,but I'd like to ask a question :Can I replace ref5se's 6550 by kt88? thank you.

John Atkinson's picture

Can I replace ref5se's 6550 by kt88?

These tubes are very similar and used as the series-pass element in the voltage regulator, I don't expect them to behave differently. However,  I wouldn't do so until you have checked with Audio Research.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile