ARC REF 3 vs Modwright 36.5 DM

I have both of these fine preamps. In my system, the ARC REF 3 is very detailed and revealing, whereas the Modwright 36.5 DM (separate power supply) has a better mid-range and a "bigger" sound. I go back and forth on which preamp I prefer and realize that a preamp that had both of these characteristics would be perfect. Any recommendations on what preamp this might be?

My system: amplifiers are Pass 30.8 or Modwright KWA 150 Signature to Wilson Sabrina speakers. Analog front end is Thorens TD 124 or Garrard 401turntables (both highly modified) and Pass XP 17 phono preamp. Digital front end is Auralic Aries server to MHDT Pagoda Balanced DAC.



I owned the LS36 (no DS) used with the KWA150SE and the ARC LS26 so not exactly direct experience with either but based on what I’ve learned would encourage you to check out the Herron 360 Reference which will likely have the best attributes of both and then add superior tone and PRaT. 

@gareents Just curious, did you play around with the BAL/SE setting of your ARC REF3? From my experience, the SE setting will give you a fuller sound while the BAL settings will give you more emphasized treble. You can play with both and see what you like more.

@gareents hey I’m running the XA30.8 with the Sabrinas as well!
Different preamp though as I use XP-12. 
I get full and natural mids with the Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper XLR  interconnects. I would recommend going all balanced cables between your sources and pre as well as pre and amp. If you have an opportunity to try the AZ Absolute Copper you’ll most likely nail it with the ARC preamp.  

Be surprised if the OP isn’t already running balance from either preamp to one amp or the other. I also have the M/W but not with the DM. Not to get into a fuse debate but I changed them out and am happy with the improvement although subtle. Many ARC Ref owners have done the same. If you haven’t tried the Daedalus DiD’s isolation devices you should as I think they’re among one of the best accessories out there. Really transformed my LS36.5 along with WyWires P.C.


I highly recommend looking into Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme 1.3 or Rhythm 1.3. They both are extremely well made preamps and highly praised among end users. you are very to get either of these for in-home auditions.

PS: I used to own LS36.5 and a pair of KWA 150SE in mono configuration. 

Thanks, I greatly appreciate all of the thoughtful responses.

BTW, yes I am using both balanced and single ended connections. I would agree that SE connections are a little warmer, but also lose detail.

Thanks for the Backert Labs and Herron recommendations.