I was told by my dealer that there is no replacement planned for 2008. I was also told that Ref 3 is a single best selling component in ARC history.
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Brian, have you tried contacting ARC? I haven't heard any rumors this year, but I did hear them last year around this time. Pre-CES mental gymnastics as far as I can tell. Obviously last years speculation proved false. I do imagine that one day the Ref 3 will be replaced, but it is still selling very well, and ARC is finally listening to all the criticism of their chronic upgraditis (mk I, II, II, etc). So my guess is their thinking is now "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
BTW, I own one, and it is a terrific preamp.
The curiosity took the better part of me and I called Terry Dorn from ARC today. I asked him if they have any plans to introduce Ref 4 or Ref 3 mk 2 in a feasable future.
Here is what Terry told me (this is an exact quote):
"None whatsoever. The REF3 continues to be one of our all-time bestselling preamps."
Hope this helps !