AR ref2 mk1 or ref 3

i looking to buy AR pre, i need help on these two, any owner outhere ineed some info and advice.thank you
Since you have gotten no responses to your query, I will give you some "hearsay" input.

My friend, who has the ARC ref. 2 (mk 1, I think) did a home demo of the Ref. 3. He said it was a definite improvement over his ref. 2. He said that when the ref. 3 comes down in price, that he will sell his in order to buy it. (However, he said that currently, even used, it was too much to justify the improvement.)

FYI: My friend has very good ears in regard to listening for sonic improvements from equipment changes (I guess that comes from buying and selling a fair amount of gear over the last few years!), so I trust his judgement.

Remember though, advice is only worth what you pay for it!
You can mail me the check for the advice! :-)

Good Luck!

I now own and Ref3 and previously auditioned the Ref2, MkII. The Ref3 is much better than the earlier models, especially in terms of bass control and more extended treble.
I have owned all of the AR Reference preamps and the Ref3 is by far the best of the bunch. All of them are excellent and are well worth the money. Even at $10k, the Ref3 is money well won't regret it.

I still have a Ref2 mk2 in my second system.
I have an LS26, which is still burning in. But I do believe it is going to sound better the the Ref 2. Also as I was told from the dealer, proforms 97% of the Ref3.
I have had (and am currently using) a Ref 2, mk1 in my system for the last 4 years and absolutely love it. I have tried several other pre's including: Ref 2 mk2, LS25 mk2, LS26, and Pass Labs X1. While all of these units are very very good, none of them could knock out my Ref 2 mk1. The reason?? Bloom. All of the units were very crisp and clean sounding, none of them had the bloom the Ref 2, mk1 has. It is a wonderful combination with my Maggies.....

Now comes the Ref 3. This unit was truly amazing. It was extremely quiet, very accurate and did show some bloom. Had I had the cash, I would have traded my Ref 2 mk1 in on it. (Mind you, I heard this unit when it first came out and it was going for retail). Some day, I'll own one when the price drops. Until then, my Ref 2 mk1 does the job quite well.


Magnepan 1.6
ARC 100.2
PS Audio Power Director
All sorts of other stuff!
I own the Ref 3 and prior to that the Ref2 Mk ll. The former was a super preamp however IMO the Ref3 is in a league of its own. Simply put, it is the best preamp I have ever owned.
I have owned 3 ARC linestages, and listened to several more extensively. As Oneobgyn says, the Ref3 is such a leap, there should be no question which to choose. I now own the Ref3.
There is no doubt that I am partial because I own the Ref 3 but simply put I have never experienced music in such a fashion as with the Ref 3. Be prepared I am sure for the proverbial ARC Mk l, Mk ll etc upgrades but honestly right now, this is as good as it gets.

If there is any flaw it is the slight noise emitted when the LCD sceen is on. My advice is to mute this which is very easy to do with the remote. The screen will always illuminate briefly when you use the remote to change a track or function etc.