Monday, May 23, 2005

Audio Research Reference 3

Source: Prestige Audio Video May 2005

French audio magazines never stop supprising me. How in Earth they manage to get reviews of the latest products out so fast? Good for us melomanes. Two reviewers concluded: "With humility, we give it the golden medal on our podium of audio preamps". Actually, reviewers compared Reference 3 to experience time traveling, i.e. disk after disk the pre-amp (used with ARC VM220 amp and Wilson Audio Alexandria speakers) managed to transport them to actual time and site of particular recording. "Like having artist for us only, in private performance." Measurements were immaculate, the pictures also illustrated "zen" kind of simple, yet evidently effective design.

Viewpoint: I have managed to hear both previous generations of ARC Reference, and I 've liked them all, but for different reasons. Ref.1 was typical, lush tubey sound (6922 tubes) with slightly exaggerated soundstage. The Ref.2 was much more controlled (6H30 tubes), very crispy and detailed sound. Now, I already posted my findings concerning effect of installing the 6H30DR grade tubes in my ARC LS25mkII pre-amp (astonishing is this closest word I can use). I can just image how Reference 3 would benefit from DR grade tubes and proper tube dampers (it still uses those awful O-rings). In addition, ARC really should look into companies like Plinius or Mark Levinson how to make a proper remote control. That nasty little plastic toy has zero owner satisfaction.

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