Aesthetix vs ARC


I have a general question for those familiar with the two companies listed above. I'm currently using an Aesthetix Calypso which I consider a top tier preamp. Recently I've been thinking about trying an ARC reference preamp. To be more specific a reference 5 or 5se. I expect the ARC 5SE to rate higher but i'm not sure how their sound signature compares to the Calypso. Please don't ask what is that I don't like about the Calypso or how much do I have to spend, etc. I just want to know the sonic signature of the Ref 5se compared to the Calypso. I do change equipment from time to time like everyone else.
audiogabby
The ARC Ref5SE is in another league.  I own the Calypso Signature and the ARC.  Of course the ARC is a lot more expensive though.  The biggest difference is in the bass and how much more natural the Ref5SE sounds.
Liminiscate, thanks for your response. I thought that was the case from reading individual reviews. I wanted to hear from someone that had actually compared the two. I will be looking for a 5SE as soon as I get back home next mth. I'm away for the winter but will follow up on that upgrade.
limniscate, what amp are you using?
Its not boxing both are wonderful when matched to a great system.
I looked at Aesthetix years ago when I bought my LS26 and as much as I liked the sound, I decided on ARC and recently I bought an REF5se and all I can say (as I listen to Roxy Music) , I can't imagine you being disappointed.

Sanders Magtech but looking for something new

audiogabby-


Aesthetix or ARC, whichever way you go, I would mate the pre-amp to a solid state power amp for best effect.  If you like the Aesthetix get the Calypso Signature. Happy Listening!

I'm currently using a Counterpoint NPS 200A with the Calypso in balanced configuration.  
It might make more sense to upgrade your amp instead. The 200A was a good amp, but either preamp is in a different league.
I tried to sell the 200A last year but all I got was a bunch of low ball offers. The amp is original and in very good condition. I'm the second owner.
lumniscape, which speakers and cables are you using, if you please?

I have the ARC Ref 10 preamp and I haven't found another pre that bests it.  It's limitless.
Magnepan 3.7i's 
Mainly using Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme cables (speaker, power cable to ARC Ref5SE and Magtech)
Shunyata Alpha HC to my Schiit Yggdrasil, Shunyata Zitron Python from Yggdrasil to Ref5SE, Groneberg TS Premium from REF5SE to Magtech 

I just got the Merrill Veritas for demo today and am using different interconnects and power cables.
Both are excellent, having owned the Aesthetix and now owning the ARC 5se, I can honestly say the ARC is way superior.  Bass, soundstaging and portraying a sense of realism are just some of the areas the ARC beats the Aesthetix.  Also, Aesthetix customer service was not up to high end standards.
I think it’s unfair to compare the Ref5SE to the Calypso Signature because of the price difference ($13k v. $7k); a fairer comparison would be the Calypso Eclipse to the Ref5SE (~$10k v. $13k).

As far as customer service, Glenn at Aesthetix has always been responsive to my emails and phone calls.

Actually, The correct comparison would be the Aesthetix Callisto Signature or Eclipse to the ARC Ref 5se, not the Calypso. Here’s a link to a comparison of the Calypso to the Callisto:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/review-aesthetix-callisto-signature-tube-preamp

The ARC uses the 6H30 tube. If you like that tube then ARC might be right for you. You can’t change it for anything else, though. The Callisto has a bunch of tubes that you can roll to tune the sound to your taste, maybe too many tubes for many people.

Wouldn't the Callisto be more comparable to the Ref10, since they're both dual chassis?  The REF5SE is single chassis just like the Calypso.
Agreed-

$13K vs. $7K is a bit unfair. Happy Listening!
"I think it’s unfair to compare the Ref5SE to the Calypso Signature because of the price difference ($13k v. $7k); a fairer comparison would be the Calypso Eclipse to the Ref5SE (~$10k v. $13k)."

I don't see why that would be unfair. System matching is more important than price. In some systems, the ARC may outperform the Aesthetix, and in other cases, the opposite may be true. Of the 2 preamps, the Aesthetix will most likely match up with a wider range of components than the ARC. With ARC preamps, its hard to predict whay kind of sound you're going to get. They can sound amazing in your system, and be a train wreck in mine. Not only that, the build quality of the Caylipso is also much better.



The Aesthetix Callisto Signature retails for $13,000 including a $2,000 remote control. $11,000 without remote.

The ARC Ref 6 retails for $14,000.

The ARC Ref 10 retails for $30,000.

Ultimately, what’s important is the sound, as sfall states. However, the sound quality we get is usually limited by the amount of money we can afford to spend. I know that a cheaper system can sound better than a more expensive one, but if one carefully puts his system together, the more expensive one should sound better. I know that my system’s sound has improved as I have bought more expensive components.

How many boxes the component consists of is usually not a big factor in what we buy.

So I think that most people shopping for a preamp would compare the Callisto to the Ref 6 and feel that the Ref 10 is out of their price range. However, if $16,000 is chump change to you, you might compare the Callisto to the Ref 10.