Audio Research Reference 3

Bought a nice ARC Ref 3 at a fair price to try in the mix. My first 6H30 tube pre. One 6550 and 6H30 in power supply, four 6H30's in the output. I'm running balanced out to amp, DAC is balanced in. Gotta get an external phono stage to connect the turntable.

I'll have at least four audiophile types here Saturday to voice their impressions. I didn't even have time to warm it up today, just wanted to power it up and made sure it worked.

arc_ref_3.jpg

Not my innards or rear panel pic, but they look the same. ;)

ARC_REF3_top_open.jpg

arc_reference3_600_rear.jpg
Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

Comments

  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 17,237
    That right there makes me jealous lol...... Looks good.
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,185
    VERY sweet. What 6H30's are you gonna use?
  • GlennDogGlennDog Posts: 2,367
    Congrats! Very nice, indeed
    Power Rogue M180 monos & Adcom GFA 5802
    PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
    Rears Salk SuperCharged Surrounds
    Source PSA PWT into NSD Supremo
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Mains Salk HT2-TL
    Center Salk HT2C
    Pre Cary SLP-05
    Wires WW & MIT
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,252
    Thanks for the congrats!
    dromunds wrote: »
    VERY sweet. What 6H30's are you gonna use?

    The low hour Electro-Harmonix 6H30Pi Gold pins it came with for now. It has a Sovtek 6550, would like to try better there, even if just a made in same plant one up in quality Tungsol. I'd rather not go with a pricey '58 Tungsol 6550 black plate at $385.
    DSkip wrote: »
    Is there an 'un'nice ARC Ref 3?

    Saw some 7 out of 10's with face panel scratches I'd rather not have. ;)
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 18,288
    Man that is SUPER SEXY Rich. You never cease to amaze me by the gear you get. When is the next audio fest at your place?
  • Dennis GardnerDennis Gardner Posts: 4,901
    Beautiful piece! Seems odd for them to use green for display color. So many others using blue that the green might seem out of place.......
    HT Optoma HD25 LV on 80" DIY Screen, Anthem MRX 300 Receiver, Pioneer Elite BDP 51FD Polk CS350LS, Polk SDA1C, Polk FX300, Polk RT55, Dual EBS Adire Shiva 320watt tuned to 17hz, ICs-DIY Twisted Prs, Speaker-Raymond Cable

    2 Channel Thorens TD 318 Grado ZF1, SACD/CD Marantz 8260, Soundstream/Krell DAC1, Audio Mirror PP1, Odyssey Stratos, ADS L-1290, ICs-DIY Twisted , Speaker-Raymond Cable
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,252
    edited April 2015
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    Man that is SUPER SEXY Rich. You never cease to amaze me by the gear you get. When is the next audio fest at your place?

    Thanks! After Axpona some of the guys are stopping over Saturday. Unsure if/when another get together will take place.
    Beautiful piece! Seems odd for them to use green for display color. So many others using blue that the green might seem out of place.......

    Thanks!

    It matches the display of my diy DAC. ;) On the Ref 3, you can dim in stages or turn display off if desired. They kept the same display for the Ref 5. Now I Don't like to look at them cause they are around $10K used.

    pesante_0a.jpg

    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • GlennDogGlennDog Posts: 2,367
    edited April 2015
    Rich,
    I just picked up a pair of tubes thru Andy @ Vintage Tube Services
    616 454-3467 I've delt with him in the past, He's a good guy

    No Afil

    Tubes with him is a labor of love. He's very knowledgeable, very helpful and patient to boot w/ fair prices IMHO

    I recommend you give him a call to see what he's got!!

    Rock On!

    Post edited by GlennDog on
    Power Rogue M180 monos & Adcom GFA 5802
    PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
    Rears Salk SuperCharged Surrounds
    Source PSA PWT into NSD Supremo
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Mains Salk HT2-TL
    Center Salk HT2C
    Pre Cary SLP-05
    Wires WW & MIT
  • Joey_VJoey_V Posts: 7,871
    Ref3 has always been a want of mine. Congrats!
    Joey's Gear:
    Current Gear:
    Primary:
    Digital: Torus RM15 -> Emm Labs TSDx/Bluesound Node 2 -> Emm Labs DAC2x
    Analog: VPI Avenger Reference w/ Rim Drive w/ ADS + 12" Fatboy Dual Pivot + Lyra Etna
    + Audio Research Reference 40th Anniversary -> Boulder 2060 stereo amp (w/ Audioquest WEL Signature) -> new speakers + JL Audio F113v2 x2
    Secondary:
    Rotel RA1592 Super Integrated -> Sonus Faber Olympica 3
    Tertiary:
    Oppo 105D -> Rotel RC1570 preamp -> Rotel RB1582 amp -> Focal Kanta 2


    Main speakers system evolution over the years:
    Klipsch Promedia 4.1 -> Axiom M22ti -> Sonus Faber Concertino -> Sonus Faber Concerto -> Polk LSi7 -> Polk LSi9 -> Martin Logan Mosaic -> AV123 Onix Ref 1 -> Martin Logan Vantage -> AV123 Strata Mini -> Martin Logan Summit -> Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor -> BW 802D2 -> Sonus Faber Stradivari -> Rockport Avior -> BW 802D3 -> BW 800D3 -> ???

    Old Gear:
    Speakers:
    BW PM1 (3.5/5), CM10s2 (3.75/5), BW800D3 (5/5), Rockport Aviors (5/5), Sonus Faber Stradivari (5/5), BW 802D2 (4.5/5), Martin Logan Summits (4.25/5), Martin Logan Vantage (4/5), Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor (3.75/5), AV123 Strata Mini (3.5/5), ML Mosaic (3.25/5), Onix Ref1 (3/5), Sonus Faber Concerto (2.75/5), SF Concertino (2.5/5), Axiom M22ti (2/5), Polk LSi9 (3/5), LSi7 (2.9/5)
    Source:
    Squeezebox 3 -> PS Audio Digital Link III -> Cary 306/200 CDP -> Cary 306 SACD -> EMM LABS DAC2X/TSDX
    Preamplification:
    Rotel RC1070 -> Rogue Perseus -> Cary SLP98 -> Cary SLP98F1 -> Cary SLP05 (sold and then repurchased) -> ARC 5se -> ARC Ref 40th Anniversary
    Amplification:
    HK AVR330 -> Rotel RB1070 -> Rotel RB1090 -> Plinius SA102 -> Cary 211FE -> Classe M600 -> Boulder 2060
    Subwoofer:
    Infinity Entra2 -> SVS 25-31PCi -> SVS 25-31PC+ -> Dual JL Audio F113v2
  • vc69vc69 Posts: 2,501
    My "partner in crime" in this hobby locally has the LS26 and the REF 3 has been on our short list for upgrades for some time. Being a hybrid, we have found that the 26 did not seem to respond to different tubes in a very noticeable way. I'm very curious what your thoughts are and would welcome a PM from anyone with suggestions of tubes to role into the 26. We have tried both brand new "stock" tubes and some Russian "military spec" tubes and couldn't really tell any difference.

    Let us know of your impressions!
    -Kevin
    HT: Philips 52PFL7432D 52" LCD 1080p / Onkyo TX-SR 606 / Oppo BDP-83 SE / Comcast cable. (all HDMI)B&W 801 - Front, Polk CS350 LS - Center, Polk LS90 - Rear
    2 Channel:
    Oppo BDP-83 SE
    Squeezebox Touch
    Muscial Fidelity M1 DAC
    VTL 2.5
    McIntosh 2205 (refurbed)
    B&W 801's
    Transparent IC's
  • ZLTFULZLTFUL Posts: 5,527
    Rich, beautiful piece of kit there.
    My buddy's shop is an ARC dealer so I get to see some pretty fantastic stuff come through his doors and the Ref 3 is one of my favorites of theirs.

    Congrats on the purchase.
    "Some people find it easier to be conceited rather than correct."

    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 17,237
    So where's the Krell going Rich @SCompRacer
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 18,288
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    Man that is SUPER SEXY Rich. You never cease to amaze me by the gear you get. When is the next audio fest at your place?

    Thanks! After Axpona some of the guys are stopping over Saturday. Unsure if/when another get together will take place.


    Man been trying to get there for (Axpona) two years now, Again this year work stepped in and shot it down....I'm really bummed now:(

    One of these days Rich...

  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,517
    Congrats!!!!!!! I do love AR's tube preamps. Gives you the speed of SS but the wideness of tubes. Great piece!
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R,Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Innuos Zen MK3 , W4S recovery, LKS MH-da004,

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac11,Aries Mini
  • ThortonThorton Posts: 1,314
    Rich, very nice pick-up. I'd love to hear the difference between the AR and your Krell with the SS8's. Enjoy and have fun Saturday.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Ethernet Filter: GigaFOILv4 with Keces P3 LPS
    Source: Roon via ethernet to DAC interface
    DAC: Bricasti M1SE
    Pre/Pro: Marantz AV8805
    Tube Preamp Buffer: Tortuga TPB.V1
    Amp1: Nord One NC1200DM Signature, Amp2: W4S MC-5, AMP3: W4S MMC-7
    Front: Salk SoundScape 8's, Center: Salk SoundScape C7
    Surround: Polk FXIA6, Surround Back: Polk RTIA9, Atmos: Polk 70-RT
    Subs: 2 - Rythmik F25's
    IC & Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, Signal Cable
    Power Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, PS Audio
    Room Treatments: GIK Acoustics
  • brianlebrianle Posts: 572
    Very nice! Congrats!
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,252
    edited April 2015
    Thanks for the kind words.
    vc69 wrote: »
    My "partner in crime" in this hobby locally has the LS26 and the REF 3 has been on our short list for upgrades for some time. Being a hybrid, we have found that the 26 did not seem to respond to different tubes in a very noticeable way. I'm very curious what your thoughts are and would welcome a PM from anyone with suggestions of tubes to role into the 26. We have tried both brand new "stock" tubes and some Russian "military spec" tubes and couldn't really tell any difference.

    The LS27 is said to sound better than the Ref 3.

    With 6H30's, not many choices. The desirable DR's fetch ~ $500 a matched quad. There are rumors that a lot of DR's sold are fake. Now the 6550, there are choices there. But I don't want to have to buy a $500 tube for this thing to sound good. Been that route before with tubes. The Sovtek 6550EW does OK, so do SED's. From reading forum posts, the 6550 gives more of a difference than 6H30's.
    So where's the Krell going Rich @SCompRacer

    Got a buddy that dibbed it already. ;) Not sure I want to give it up yet.
    DSkip wrote: »
    Oh! By the way, WELCOME BACK TO TUBES!


    ;)

    Thanks but it's not a done deal yet...lol I've been wanting a 6H30 pre amp for some time. Really wanted a dual mono ModWright 36.5, but $10K new. The single chassis 36.5 is less but not as good sounding. I've read plenty of good things about the Ref 3 so it was also on my list.

    We'll start with the KRC-HR. It's a great sounding pre amp, not lean sounding at all. Aaron is bringing his pet phono, a bottlehead Reduction MM stage with Integration upgrade. It has some mildly upgraded components. It did sound better than my Krell KSL phono board set to MM. I used my diy SUT with both. I want to hear how his pet does compared to the Krell Reference MC only phono board (four gain stages).

    Then we'll toss the Ref 3 in, which will be kept heated up. I have a Project DS+ phono box. Sounds good set to MM with my SUT on the Ref 3. You really need an exceptional high output MC stage to beat a good MM with good SUT. We'll try Aaron's pet with the Ref 3 then.

    What I like best, stays. Maybe both will stay....
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 17,237
    No worries Rich it woulda been too rich for my blood anyway lol.... But I still will keep track of it in case I hit the lotto heheheh
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • Ern DogErn Dog Posts: 2,239
    How does it sound.
  • headrottheadrott Posts: 5,490
    Excellent pre-amp Rich! Please let us know what you think of the 6H30 tube. IMO, I find them to be a tad sterile, but that's my taste.

    Also, I forgot how beautiful your DAC is. Keep us informed on the listening session(s).
    Relayer-Big-O-Poster.jpg
    Taken from a recent Audioholics reply regarding "Club Polk" and Polk speakers:
    "I'm yet to hear a Polk speaker that merits more than a sentence and 60 seconds discussion." :\
    My response is: If you need 60 seconds to respond in one sentence, you probably should't be evaluating Polk speakers.....


    "Green leaves reveal the heart spoken Khatru"- Jon Anderson

    "Have A Little Faith! And Everything You'll Face, Will Jump From Out Right On Into Place! Yeah! Take A Little Time! And Everything You'll Find, Will Move From Gloom Right On Into Shine!"- Arthur Lee
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,517
    How are you liking it so far?
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R,Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Innuos Zen MK3 , W4S recovery, LKS MH-da004,

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac11,Aries Mini
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,252
    Axpona was a blast! Carl, Dan, Doug, Aaron and I attended. Dan is 76 and retired, but you wouldn't know it by the way he wanted to see everything there. He didn't want to stop and eat. Words of wisdom, "sink your teeth into the gear you haven't seen yet! Partake in the nutrition left out in many of the rooms" (big candy dishes...lol). Saturday they descended on my place.

    The Ref 3 sounds fantastic! All agreed it should stay in the rack. Music sounded more full and rich. Mid-range and vocals had more air, sounded livelier. You get accuracy with smoothness. I felt the KRC-HR does bass better but the Ref 3 handles it well.

    Carl said he got excited with Melody Gardot playing on vinyl. Since the Ref 3 doesn’t have a phono stage, Aaron was kind enough to bring his Bottlehead Reduction with Integration upgrade. That and my SUT makes for a stellar combination with my low output (.3mV) AT33PTG/II cart. I have ordered a Bottlehead Reduction w/Integration upgrade. It punches well above its weight.

    The Ref 3 is a good fit. They suggest above 20K ohm input impedance for an amp, my KSA-250 is 47K. It sports a resistor ladder volume network, keeps track of and displays tube hours via remote (resettable by user when re-tubing). The remote provides control of everything I need. I even like the design.

    IMG_0222_zpsbulzmsof.jpg
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,517
    Looks fantastic!!
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R,Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Innuos Zen MK3 , W4S recovery, LKS MH-da004,

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac11,Aries Mini
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,517
    I am a fanboy of arc preamps. I agree with what you say about the sound being fuller and rich. I find the newer arc in genral are just as detalied if not more as a good ss pre and fast without any bloat. There is just a magic sound to them. I have tried a few preamps but keep going right back to the sp16. I think since I like the arc "house sound" my only next step up is one like yours.
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R,Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Innuos Zen MK3 , W4S recovery, LKS MH-da004,

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac11,Aries Mini
  • dkg999dkg999 Posts: 5,658
    My SP16L is a keeper. I haven't found anything better at the price point. Rich's Ref 3 just takes things to a whole different level. Enjoyed both the show and the afternoon at Rich's place!
    DKG999
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC
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