New PrimaLuna versus used Audio Research preamp?

As posted previously, I'm shopping tube preamps.

Have an opportunity to buy a friend's ARC Reference 5SE, as he upgraded to a new 6SE.

Alternatively, a new PL EVO 300 or 400 is also on my radar, and even new would cost 20% to 30% less than the used 5SE.

Anyone here experience both units and brands?




First, go and listen to each preamp. With what amp are you pairing it?

Second, what sound signature are you wanting? Warmth, dynamics, resolution, soundstage, clarity, richness, etc.

Third, in my experience with PL gear, including the evo preamps the OP listed, produce boring sound. It's neither tube-ish nor solid state. It doesn't have the warmth of say a VAC pre nor the dynamics of a VTL 6.5 (highly recommended) or the ARC 5se. The ARC does not have the warmth of a VAC either.

Fourth, though there are many Kevin Deal fanboys, there are as many who consider him less than a desirable salesman. There are plenty of good and bad service reviews of upscale. There are plenty of other dealers and products that service and sell their products without the uncertainty of Kevin/upscale. I would suggest looking at VAC, VTL, and Ayre (the latter, if you're willing to try solid state). These companies don't change models nearly as frequently as ARC. That said, the 5se is excellent and its resale value will continue to be excellent. PL does not boast such high resale value.

Finally, PL products do not, imo, alter their sound signature by tube rolling. Very few new tube products offer much benefit by tube rolling other than micro differences. If tube rolling is of interest, Decware's products experience notable changes.

Goodluck in your search.

Safebelayer I laughed at your post. You obviously have a beef with Kevin and Primaluna? I would ignore his opinions OP.  I've bought and sold tons of gear over the years and I can politely say Primaluna is very good especially at its price point and it's definitely not boring.  Rolling tubes does change the flavor of this preamp. To many people will agree. 

A friend and I compared the Primaluna to the ARC LS-28 at a store last week. The LS-28 was better. The Ref 5SE is supposed to be better than the LS-28.

I have never owned a PL, but have heard them, I think I would go with a Rogue before I did a PL.  I had an LS-27, loved it, but upgraded to REF 6.  With SS amplifiers, it has tight bass, soundstage, and clarity.  I do not see a need to upgrade again (unless tubes dry up).  Even if they were comparable products, I have been burned by so many Chinese products, I would go American all the way.