The Ref 2 Mk II has a new signal path board (JFET inputs and four 6H30's I believe, instead of the previous version which used 8 6922's) and still uses tube rectification in the power supply, but the rectifier tubes are laid out differently than the original Ref 2, so they have obviously done some adjustment for the new signal path board. It looks like this is the preamp which combines he speed and bass extension/control of the Ref 1 with the larger soundstage of the original Ref 2. I personally preferred the Ref 1 (which I have) for its synergy in my system but am going to give the new Ref 2 Mk II a serious audition. As with all preamps (which are the soul of your system) I suggest listeners audition it and compare it with their current preamp, if you cant get an at home audition, call your dealer to arrange to bring your preamp to the store and hook it all up to components you have as well or something similar, the diffrerence between the preamps can give you a good idea what will happen in your system. Eventually, the technical merits of a component are really just the designers approach to getting the sound he/they prefer and hope you will too, or technobabble for those who enjoy that part of it, but how it sounds to you (and its reliability) are the most important factors, which can only be determined by auditioning. So get off the internet and into a store and work it out for yourself. Most importantly, have fun. Producing music is an art and so is reproducing music, you get to choose you colours, textures, etc. Me, I am going to warm up my amps now (the Ref 1 stays on 24/7) and spin a few records.
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