ARC Ref 1, 2, 3 Preamps

Comparative notes, opnions and comments.
You may want to insert the LS26 between the Ref2 and Ref3, why?, because the LS26 beats the Ref2, (ask any ARC Dealer, it is closer in performance to the Ref 3 than the Ref 2 is)this also eliminates the Ref1.
Many asume the LS26 is a continuation of the LS25, it is entierly different. No 25 can be upgraded to a 26.
You could save half of that 10K Ref3 price and be very satisfied with the LS26, as I am with mine.
Just my opinion,
Good idea. I'm interested in the "best" of the recent (10 years?) ARC preamps. I've heard some say the actually prefer the early Ref pres that used the 6922 instead of the 6H30s - so I'm looking to info on what the deifference and preferences of those that have exposure to these, ideally all 3, now 4.
Well in my system I found the REF 1 to be more musical than the 2,this may be because the 1 employed tubes in the power base as opposed to solid state in the REF 2.I'm not entirely sure this is the reason ,so perhaps someone else can shine a light.The REF 3 is an entirely different animal and far superior to the earlier models.I have no experience with the LS 26.
I had REF1. At the time the source was ARC CD3MkII. System ran balanced.
I found the REF1 nice in some ways but it was a bit too colored for my listening tastes. I tried the original tubes and the set of NOS Amperex and eventually sold it.
Things I didn't like about it:
1. It had over-emphasized bass that seemed to slow the presentation. If you have speakers that do not need extra oomph generated by a preamp, then cross the REF1 out,
2. Midrange had an almost weird coloration where voices would have this metallic flavor. I would call it glare. It did not have that pure crystal clear midrange.
3. Highs didn't sound completely natural. There was also slight glare in certain parts of the treble.

Its strengths included, as pretty much all ARC preamps, the ability to throws a huge soundstage and provide great dynammics. It did wonders on classical large scale orchestral music. I liked it with the classical music and instrumental jazz, as long as there were no vocals.

I had an LS-25 with the same NOS Amperex tubes and liked it better than REF1. It had no glare in the midrange and was overall much more neutral and natural sounding.

If you want to try an ARC preamp, I would recommend you start with the REF2(if you want to experiment with 6922 tubes) or even REF2MkII which did address some issues of the earlier REFs. But at the going prices of the REF2MkII, I would probably opt for the LS-26.
With price out of the equation, it seems like there is some consensus that the LS26 and Ref 3 are in most ways better than any of the Ref series (and LS25) precessors - and that the LS26 would be prefered over all the Ref 1 & 2 permutations. Anyone disagree with that assessment?
Any new thoughts?