Audio Research Ref3 vs VTL 6.5 or 7.5II

I am looking for a tube preamp with true balanced circuit and would like to seek your comment/experience on Audio Research Ref3 vs VTL 6.5.

BTW, is VTL 7.5II significantly better & worth the extra money?

My audio system consists of Marantz SA-7S1, Madrigal poweramp & Revel Studio speaker.

Many thanks!

If you havent already, I would encourage you to look into the NAT Audio Symmetrical preamp ( that is a truly balanced design. We import these from Europe and they are exceptionally good value.

Our website is:

Happy Listening

Three years ago when I decided I wanted change my system to a tube system (from rowland) I narrowed it down to VTL and Audio Research.

I started to lean towards VTL then two years ago I was at CES and had a demo between the 6.5 and Ref3.

It was so long ago that I can remember specific differences between the two units however I do recall enjoying the 6.5 over the Ref3 with every cut that was played.

One thing to note as well we took the tops of both units and looked in side. the VTL looked like it had beefier components.

I ended up with the VTL along with their amps.

I've heard the 7.5II in a few different systems but never A/B'd I think the 7.5 is a fantastic pre-amp.

I'm banging the VTL drum for sure, however I'm happy I've gotten to a point where I just sit down and play music with out thinking about components.

Now I just think about new components when I'm bored at work.
Thanks Elevenmg.

I have asked some of my friends the same question. Most of them prefer VTL 6.5. However, none of them have experience on VTL 7.5II.

BTW there are speculations that ARC may launch a Ref5 next year: .
i did an in home side by side comparison of the vtl 6.5 / art ref 3 over several days.

the vtl 7.5 m2 is superior to both the vtl 6.5 and the arc ref 3, but the benefits of the 7.5 m2 may not be as great in your system (over the 6.5) than spending the extra $ on upgrading a different aspect of your system, such as cables or power cords. on the other hand, i do hope to have the 7.5m2 some day, but it is not the next upgrade on my list. the 6.5 has performed flawlessly in my system. also, if you chose a vtl, upgrading the stock tubes to higher quality can greatly enhance overall some aspects of the sound and musical experience .