Audio Research Ref 3 vs Atma-Sphere MP-1 mkIII


Has anyone been fortunate enough to compare these two excellent preamps. I'll be driving, at least for now, Gamut M250 monoblocks, in balanced mode

Thanks for your insights.

Brian
audiobrian
I have.

In my system, driving Pass Labs amps in balanced mode, the Atma-Sphere
MP-1 MKIII was a better match...resulting in a much larger image (which I
like), and a more lifelike, dynamic reproduction.

I'd say the ARC Ref3 was the more tonally neutral of the two, if that's a
priority.

FWIW, both were replaced with a Lamm L2 Reference, which has the neutrality
of the ARC married with the dynamics and life of the Atma-Sphere.
Grant, if you wouldn't mind, could you expand on your comment that the Atma-Sphere presented a "much larger image"?
The reason I ask is that I have heard this phrase many times, and IME, it usually means a more forward soundstage. A wider and higher soundstage, but at the sacrifice of depth.

FWIW, depth is a priority to me, I like a deeper 3-D soundstage as opposed to the more forward, larger 2-D stage. I do realize that everyone has different tastes though.

Cheers,
John
The image was higher and wider, which is what I meant by larger. Depth was
about equal, as I recall, and it could be adjusted with positioning of the
speakers (closer together and/or more toe-in produces a deeper image in my
system...and a small amount does it).

I believe it's fair to say that in my system, the Atma-Sphere put the listener
closer to the front of the concert hall than did the ARC Ref 3.
Thanks Grant, that does clarify certain things.

I prefer a more laid back, or mid-hall perspective as opposed to the "in your face" front row perspective.

I know that I differ from others who love the front row view, so thank you for clarifying what you meant Grant.

Cheers,
John
 
Let me offer a slightly different take on what I think Tvad may be describing. I'm not sure that the MP-1 presents an inherently closer or further view of the soundstage. In other words, I don't think its a front row vs. mid hall preamp. Although I have heard preamps (some CJs, the Premier 17 for example) that do seem to put you further back, so its not entirely a recording issue

Imagine you're looking at an orchestra, standing on the same level as the musicians are sitting. Imagine you could ride a boom-lift straight up so now you're at say a 45 degree angle from where you were. Imagine what that would do to your perspective on the orchestra.

Using this scenario I think the MP-1 yields a more oblique perspective. You are not closer or further, but the orchestra *seems* more "spread out" (higher, wider) than it does with a preamp that gives a more 'head-on' view. Distance (depth) is the same, but the perspective yields a more dimensional view of the musicians.

I grappled with this issue recently listening to the MP-1 and another preamp. I'm not sure my account ultimately holds up, but I needed a way to explain to myself that the MP-1 gives a different view, but not necessarily a closer one.
 
Tim
 
Tim, my perspective with the MP-1 was not one that you describe, i.e. 45
degrees above the plane of the orchestra.

I think system variables make an enormous difference. For example, I listen
nearfield with the speakers 8 feet from the chair. I'm sure the perspective
would be different in a larger room.