Audio research REF 5 SE / REF 40th Ann compared ?


i'm looking for someone who could describe and compare the REF 40th / REF 5 SE

Thanks !
You might want to look at the Ref 40 review in the January 2011 issue of TAS, by, IIRC, Jon Valin. He did refer to the Ref 3 and the Ref 5 in the review.
But not the 5SE.

The 5SE is a lot closer to the 40th AE. But like with most things in hifi, the laws of diminishing returns applies.

If you have the dosh for the AE, by all means get it. It's a limited edition device and is still the reference standard from ARC.

The 5SE makes sense if you already have the 5. The incremental cost IMHO makes it a no brainer to upgrade.
Let's change the Q. Has anyone critically compared the Ref 5 to the Ref 5 SE version? If so, please share comments. I ask because I am on ARC's wait list for the SE upgrade. At this point, because of component supply issues, ARC will likely not get to me until late summer. Btw, the upgrade isn't cheap: $2500. Is it worth it?

I had the 5 which I upgraded to the 5SE.

The 5 was a good preamp but the 5SE was just more transparent and more dynamic. Not that the 5 isn't those things. It's just how much better the 5SE was.
I have the REF-5 (2100+ hours) and REF-5 SE (160+ hours) and they do sound different.

To my ears, the immediately appreciable difference is that the SE sounds very together or "coherent". Instruments and sections in a band and orchestra just "feel" very together and operating in concert. It is my first immediate impression within the first 10 hours.

The 5 by itself does not evoke this togetherness or "coherent" sensation or feelings in my listening sessions. It does not overtly lack it, I just would not even detect or think of it when listening to the 5 by itself.

Overall, the SE improves all aspects of 5's capabilities. The improvement, except for the aforementioned quality, is neither subtle nor obvious. I can hear more natural extended realistic highs, richer and more detailed and better resolved mids and definitely tighter and much better controlled lows. From 5 to 5 SE, the changes are not so overwhelming as to be very obvious, but when listening to the two, I can hear the overall differences when taken as a whole.

Personally, I really like the "togetherness" presented by the SE. In comparison, the 5 sounds just a hair laid-back or just a hair mellow. I can be very satisfied with the 5 but the SE makes foot-tapping music.
No, let's NOT change the Q. The gentleman deserve the respect of having his question answered and not hi-jacked. we all have the right to ask, and expect an answer to our question from the community. HOW DOES THE ARC REF 5 SE COMPARE TO THE ARC 40TH ANNIVESARY PREAMP? Cheers.Ez
Let's start with economics and forget the diminishing returns. There's a mint Ref 40 on A'gon for $11.9K and a 5SE for $10.5K. That Ref 40 is $10K less than I paid on a discounted basis less than 1 year ago. I haven't heard the 5SE, but the Ref 40 sounds amazing, it's got a whole lot of extra build quality than the 5SE and it will sound like it. Sell the kids, mortgage the house, take the wife out to dinner and promise her anything. Buy it if you can come close to affording it in the next 3 years. You'll own it forever and won't get a better deal than that in the next 3 years. Seller is giving it away. Wait till you hear it!
That's cos ARC is about the release the Reference 10 :) which is a 2 box version like the Anniversary.
REF 10 - $30K. Valin to review soon.
I'd still like to have the original question answered...
Not too sure if you have read this review. Although this review concentrates on the Ref 10 - it would appear this particular reviewer has heard the Ref5SE, the 40th Anniversay & the Ref 10. In a paragraph in this review he talks about just how close the Ref5SE is to the 40th Anniversary model that he understands why a "new" Reference model would be sought after - which was to become the Ref10 model.

It makes one wonder - given that the Ref5SE came out AFTER the 40th Anniversary model whether or not the Ref5SE is just a one box version of the 40th? From the reviews I have read - they read like the 5SE and 40th are very similar but then there is a bit of a leap in SQ to the Ref10 - that is to say the 40th Anniversary and Ref5SE are more alike than the 40th Anniversary and Ref10 are.
Just adding to my previous thread.

I discovered this review where the reviewer has heard both the Ref40 & Ref5SE

Quite a few times he does mention how close the Ref5SE is to the 40th - but each time he always indicates that the 40th does have the last word in most - if not all - of the attributes he describes
Quite a few times he does mention how close the Ref5SE is to the 40th - but each time he always indicates that the 40th does have the last word in most - if not all - of the attributes he describes

As usual, the more expensive unit is ALWAYS better than the cheaper one, especially for those who make money with it and a reviewer is not paid for his ears, he is paid to support the sales of the magazine he writes for. And a magazine survives from what? Probably from Air and Love and a few subscribers...
Never forget the most important rule in audio:
The more YOU can afford, the better will be your System.
Some may have doubts about that rule, but they are a minority :-)
I totally disagree with the whole "The more you spend, the better your system will be" ethos-

I believe the art of being an audiophile encompasses the skill of how to get excellent sound at a reasonable price...

That includes learning how to shop for forgotten gems of yesteryear, learning to embrace dated technology, and possibly building a piece or two of your own gear every now and then!

You folks who are always buying the latest and greatest- thank you so much!

My system is built of top quality gear that you no longer wanted.
I agree with Theduker, and attribute much of the price bubble of high-end to this myth that price buys sonic superiority. The price trajectory of AR preamps tracks the Dutch Tulip bubble.

The myth is not harmless. The shows are still being held and attended, but the pricing has made more of us Audio Tourists, even if we have the funds. Pride of ownership, faith in the vendor, love of music, and the illusive sense of quality, begin to collapse when the price is 4X common sense.

I am an unbeliever that any stereo component deservedly costs more than a Toyota.

I have spent some time w/ the Ref5 SE, it is better than the Ref3 model. I would stop here. I am not sure the price difference of the 4oth anniversary model is warranted.

Still, it is more of a skill to piece together an audiophile system on the conservative side. Happy Listening!
I agree with Theduker. I was about to drop some major bucks into my rig by picking up a pair of Magico S3 or S5 to upgrade my speakers. I think I figured out a way to squeeze a lot more OJ out of my Paradigm S8s (v3) by buying a DEQX Premate.

The short version DEQX explanation is that it corrected time incoherencies inherent in my speakers caused by the common use of passive high order crossovers and driver misalignment. The DEQX also EQ's for room effects on frequency response.

For those interested in learning more about the DEQX device and the importance of time coherence, look over the "Sloped Baffle" and "DEQX Game Changer" threads. For a very good technical explanation of time coherence, check out Roy Johnson's articles on the subject on his Green Mountain Audio website.