Haven't heard it but maybe you may want to consider a pause until they release the LS 27 MK II.Go Packers
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Called the Audio Research and they said the new LS 27 sounds better than the Ref 3 and very close to Ref 5.This is a common comment here on A'gon.....the latest LS2X is "better" than the previous RefY. This does not say much about a company's flagship product if it is "bettered" by the middle-tier product in the following year. I suggest that you wait for the LS28 in a couple years as it will outperform the Ref5.
I like Audio Research gear. The hot air being spouted by the folks above, does not detract from a great company that works hard to improve products all the time. If you don't want to buy one, fine. i wish i had the cash to buy a new one.
I am the happy owner of an Audio Research Sp-15 and an Audio Research PH-2. i do not use them as much, because i have a Bryston BP-26. But they are great classic gear. and if i live long enough, I might someday own a used REF 3 or 5.. or even an Audio Research LS 27.
So.. for you guys giving a razzz.. you are idiots...
Thanks for the giving me the chance to insult you. LOL
Jafox, Markwatkiss - I think you are too hard on ARC. The days when ARC was launching new models almost yearly are long gone. Right now, ARC models seem to replaced after 4 years (some, like Ref-210/610 are already 6 years old, with no replacement on the horizon), which is probably more than industry avg.
Ref-3 was first introduced in 2004, so it is not surprising, that the lower cost model that is beeing introduced some SIX years later is close in performance.
Hmm, so it is not good for a company to continually try to improve its products. Better to make the best product they can and then just give up. I have to agree with Elizabeth. I have owned Audio Research products since 1985 and they make excellent gear. No one forces you to upgrade every time a new model is introduced.
Jafox, Markwatkiss - I think you are too hard on ARC.Yes, perhaps, but my comment was not so much based on the claim that the next product is "better" than the last. It was about a newer product down in the line outperforming the top tier products of just a year or so ago. Writing that any product outperforms another in every parameter is quite a claim in anybody's book.
As an owner of ARC products for 15 years or so, trying out many of their products in my own system, or taking my product to a dealer to hear the differences, I quickly learned that the latest ARC product in a serious often did not outperform the last one. The new product was often not a refinement of the last, but rather a completely different interpretation of the musical performance! And then some years later, the previous "sound" was back.
People often write here about the ARC "house sound". There are actually two that I know of. This made for much frustration to "upgrade" my system and stay with ARC products. And finally I moved on to other lines, e.g., BAT, Counterpoint, Wolcott, CAT, Aesthetix, Aria.
Come on, after all these years, are line stage circuit topologies or PS designs really changing all that much? The great designers have pretty much already muscled through all the permutations here. The recognition and significance of greatly improved passive components, transformers, cabling, layout, interfaces, etc., are making a greater contribution these days than anything else.
The power supply design/implementation is often the greatest contributor in the improvements as you move up to the higher-priced models. So I am skeptical with the marketing claims when I read that last year's unit with the far more extensive PS design, is now "bettered" across the board by the more compromised new product.
Sure, trickle down knowledge, from what was learned in R&D development of the top products, can benefit the other models, but these models have inherent compromises that would still limit their performance. There could very well be greater resolution or clarity in one form or another brought on by a sweep of new passive components newly discovered. But the units with the beefier supplies are simply going to outperform in the ways of greater dynamics, and low-end control. If you throw in tube regulation/rectification, now you have 3D performance that the compromised solid state PS-based product can not match.
If changing a dozen capacitors takes a product's performance to a new level, then give due credit to the capacitor company and not hand wave that the audio company has once again made a great breakthrough. These comments are not directed at ARC but to the industry as a whole.
Ref-3 was first introduced in 2004, so it is not surprising, that the lower cost model that is beeing introduced some SIX years later is close in performance.Close in performance in every way, or has a refinement or two, e.g., lower noise, extended top end, etc., due to a new wave of components?
Open the case of the LS27 and compare it to the Ref 5 and Ref 3 and judge whether the LS27 is that similar to either. I bought a used Ref 3 instead of a new LS27 after comparing the two. ARC has fans and detractors and because they have been around so long they have a lot of both, something not that common in high end audio.
The underlying assumption here is that the Ref 5 is an order of magnitude improvement over the Ref 3. It's is not, IMHO. The marketing angle is that since the Ref 5 is a major improvement over the Ref 3, then the LS27 must be at least as good as the Ref 3. I don't believe that listening bears that out. Compared to the LS27 the Ref 3 had more inner detail and transparency. The soundstage was also more "fleshed out". Money is also important. I bought a mint low hours Ref 3 from an ARC authorized dealer for $5200. How much is that new LS27 again?? Why buy a $7K "almost Ref3" when you can purchase the genuine article for less money?
Differences of opinion, obviously, or other gear or rooms, but I am one who finds the LS27 superior.
and I agree with Elizabeth, those that want to bash go right ahead...ARC has, thankfully, had their best years these past 3 yrs. And, also thankfully, their new pieces have been some of the best they've made in years. So jab away, the laugh's on you....
Why discounted: Review sample, trade show sample, Dealer going under, Fickle rich person, Fickle poor crazy person, won Lotto and buying 40th annv model, Rich and buying 40th annv model, Poor, Crazy and sold child to buy 40th annv model. Died, relations want money, not stupid audio stuff.
Lost job six weeks after promotion. Divorce and wife got stereo..
I previously owned an ARC REF 5 and was FORCED to sell it (still hurts to think about it). I finally saved up for a LS27 and it now has about 215 hours logged on it. I can tell you that it sounds absolutely fantastic and at this point it is almost as good as the REF 5. I have heard the REF 3, and as good as it was, I do not remember liking it as much as I do the LS 27. I have never heard the two side by side, but after enjoying this preamp as much as I have been, I am not even considering a REF 3 as a next step. There is a lot of breaking in to do, but if this is how good it is 1/3 the way to final break in, it goes to show how much ARC has learned from creating their REF 40 masterpiece. Before the switch to ARC I was using McIntosh (C2300 and two MC275's running in mono) and in my humble opinion, the new ARC gear is in another league in almost every area. If you are looking for a new preamp and the LS27 is in your price range - go out and get it.
I started building a system around ARC units in 1980 and have changed them over the years as Pre's, Powers, Dacs, & CD Players have been superseded.
There have been few occasions when the change has been a retro grade step in terms of musicality and overall performance.
LS2B to LS7 > loss of resolution.
Classic 150 to Ref 210 > gutless.
CD2 to CD7 > loss of soundstage.
PH7 to Ref Phono 2.
Ref 3 to Ref 5.
Ref 210 to Ref 610T.
With respect to ARC upgrading to new models - it is just smart marketing and business.
They KNOW that the legion of ARC fans will rush out and purchase the latest model, Example - LS16 to LS16MKII to LS 17 and same for the LS25, MKII up to LS26. With the clever note: trickle down from the Ref,a baby reference, and sounds better then the former reference at 1/3 the cost.
I would bet 10 years from now the new LS28 or LS19 will not have 6H30 tube, it will have a different tube or back to a different supplier 6922 or whatever - with the note (new supplier, new circuit) and people will say Ahh ---- never liked that 6H30 anyway too dry and sterile.
I am not knocking this or being an ARC basher at all. The ARC products I have heard I liked (which is all the reference gear).
I bought one about two months ago. ARC recommends 600 hours break-in so I put a pair of well seasoned 6H30s on Day 1. I had upgraded from an LS16 MkII. I'm not sure what some of the subjective descriptions mean when used by A'goners so I'll just say that I now hear details in music that I never heard before. If I close my eyes, good recordings sound much more lifelike. My associated equipment consists of a Cary 303 CDP, CJ Premier 11a and Quad 989s. The tubes are all NOS. ICs and power cords are mostly Harmonic Technology. Oh, and I do use a PS Audio PPP.
I owned an LS26. Lovely midrange,captivating overall sound, but anemic in the bass (extension and weight), so I sold it and went SS. I love the improved bass, but do miss that midrange magic. Does the LS27 improve in the bass area? I'd hate to waste the might in the bass my Krell amp conveys with another tube pre that limits what gets passed to it.
In Audio Research's defense, any quality audio manufacturer has the right to improve their products as state of the art parts and technology improves. It is in their best interest to do so. You try a new design and you learn from it. It either works or it fails, in which case you move on and try something else. High end manufacturers that do not improve their products over time won't last long as it's extremely competitive.
It is certainly the case that if they don't come out with new products they won't get reviewed and they might even fall of recommended component lists because they haven't been reviewed in so long. This is especially a problem when a ten or twenty year old design is every bit as good as anything made today. There may be some improvement in passive parts over time, maybe, perhaps, but I suspect the basic designs for amps and preamps have been part of the electrical engineer's "recipe" book for quite a while now.
An interesting A/B would be the all balanced LS5 versus anything before or after, I think it would hold up pretty well in comparisons (sound-wise, maybe not functionality and ergonomics)Now this makes me smile. What a great idea indeed. An IEC, set of Valvo or Amperex PQ 6922 or 7308, update with some cheapo Dynamicaps, and it could be most interesting. 8-)
Be glad to comment. I did significant listening over multiple sessions at my dealer.
Listened to Ayre, McIntosh and ARC. Swapped Pre amps and Amps. Did not feel the Ayre had the power to drive the Salon 2s. The McIntosh had more bottom end than both the Ayre and ARC but was not as musical nor did it have the wide soundstage the ARC has.
The clarity of the DS450 is tremendous yet it is not over analytical. Even my wife has commented on how the nice balance and musicality our system has now.
you can add Atma-sphere, Vandersteen, Music Reference, and Merlin as other companies that start with a solid basic design from day one and evolve over time, fine-tuning to a well sorted product with the need to reinvent a product line on a road map schedule like Intel; it is curious that some of my favorite products are companies with this product approach - I did not look for it, but it just happened to be that this happens to be the type of product I like, and tend to keep:)
There is no denying the ARC makes fine sounding products, but that does not mean one has to buy into their new model hype. Manufacturers are constantly improving, tweaking, modifying their products and many do it without declaring it a MkII or giving it a new model number. It is also important to remember that as low volume producers audiophile companies are frequently at the mercy of large suppliers. If suddenly a tube, capcitor, laser assembly, etc is no longer available, they may have to "upgrade" their model.
The following is a rant: we're talking about line stages! A few inputs, a source selector, volume control, outputs and a suitable power supply - there ain't that much technology to be constantly refined. Like I said, ARC makes fine products, but the fanboys (thank you Elizabeth) do like to hype it just a little bit.
Just a quick question here..Onhwy61, Have you ever designed a solid state of tube line stage or the power supply that goes to that line stage?? I love how people dismiss what's involved in the design of a product.If you had never designed a piece of audio gear then you have no point of reference and your comments are without merit. So here's the deal, when you have sat down for hours at a time and listened to 10 different manufacturers resistors and capacitors in only one small part of the circuit and played the same song over and over again at 2am ( when the line voltage is stable and quiet) and do this for months at a time till you voice the product correctly, then you can come back and tell me it's easy. Audio manufacturers should be given props for continuing to work on their designs thereby advancing the audio state of the art.
I haves owned and enjoyed using an ARC preamp. I even recently considered buying one of their preamps because I think they sound that good. But is ARC really any better or more dedicated to great sound than Atmasphere, Lamm, CAT, or any number of manufacturers? I think not.
BTW, I'm capable of judging a musical performance without ever having been a symphony conductor. I can hold a valid opinion about our commander in chief without ever having been the President. And yes, I can judge the relative complexity of building a preamp compared to some other components. Just because you can't do something doesn't mean I can't.
Anybody can have an opinion. But only a fool will form an opinion without any knowledge of the issues in question.
Anybody can have an opinion. But only a fool will form an opinion without any knowledge of the issues in question.That's a fairly harsh statement. It's true that many people babble on here with little to no value. But there are many others who have much knowledge that is realized by the rest of us when we read their many contributions here.
I'll tell you what I would like to hear, a SP-10 Mk 3, that is maximizing that circuit with the best parts and see what we end up with. I know, I know the design is a bit long in the tooth compared to today's but I wonder how much better it could be. And of course there is that great phono stage. Great Northern had several mods for this pre and stated the extreme mod would compete with anything out there, and what about the LS5? How much more could be extracted from that great line stage with current parts and a few changes? And so far as going backward who here would say that the Classic series amps were an improvement over the D series amps? Not me for sure! Now the VT series got them back on track.
I haven't heard current production other than in unfamiliar systems so I won't comment but it seems unlikely that their middle of the road line stages couldn't be more than minor changes in circuit design. There is a benefit for ARC in promoting new models rather than making revisions to existing which is to say some will want the latest and greatest, not a bash on ARC but I don't particularly care for this approach, preying on the known insecurities of audiophiles:)