Pass labs vs arc


Am I correct in thinking that audio research gear would be a step up from pass labs? For this comparison I would be looking to step up from xp10/xa30.5 to ref3/ref75. I do prefer tube sound. What would be the potential benefits of moving up the chain in amplification and pre units? Perhaps I should be focusing on better speakers first? Perhaps I am incorrect in thinking arc gear is even a "step up" from pass? Thanks for any comments and thoughts 
d2girls

 Maybe. Pass makes excellent amps. I am not as big a fan of some of their preamps. You don't say what speakers you have or are thinking about and how efficient they are. I would make a long term plan and work toward it. Upgrade one piece at a time. If it were me I would keep the Pass amp and start by upgrade your preamp. An ARC Ref 5se would be a huge upgrade. The preamp will have a bigger impact on the sound than the amp.

 What is the rest of your system? What speaker and front end components do you have?


More of a lateral step I would think, very good SS versus very good tubes.

Why not just use both, like I and many others do, use both!
My ARC Ref 5SE works great with my Pass Labs XA-100.5 amps.
not a step up, but different...
You really need to do a serious audition of the gear you are thinking of buying.  I am very much a tube person, but, I would pick a WIDE range of solid state gear over ARC gear.  It is very much a matter of taste.  To me, ARC stuff is lean, harmonically bleach out and dry in the way that I don't hear with decent solid state.  The failing with solid state, to me, is a touch of lifelessness, but I'll take that over lean and mean.
Agree with lostbears.  What's the rest of your system?
Lateral step at best I would go with the tubed preamp if you must and stick with the Pass Amp. 

Chuck 
Just in general terms it would be a lateral move, I have a Pass XA30 that I swap out in my all tube system from time to time and just can't let go of it.
These are completely different sounding units Pass more bass ARC better midrange,stage and imaging.I would go with Pass amp such as 250.8 and ARC preamp there by getting the best of both sounds.Good luck!!
Hi guys sorry but I was caught up with things and haven't had a chance to respond yet. I appreciate you all taking the time to give me such valuable feedback. I am using everything I listed to drive my Arteluthe Cadenza. They are 96db sensitive, smith horn loaded compression tweeter loudspeakers. Note, these are not the TAD PRO offering that was offered on here some years ago, however it is using the same cabinet and smith horn, and the same dual front ported 15 inch woofer design, just with different, cheaper drivers.

Digital source, nothing too fancy just a Arcam CD player, and a schiit branded dac.

@jmcgrogan2 for sure, simply changing out my xp10 preamp for a different one such as the ref3/5/6 is totally an option. As well, I have every intention of getting an audition of anything new I want to purchase. The goal is to get some more of that tube magic introduced into my system. That's pretty much it. I'm thinking that changing my preamp would be an easy way to do that. My speakers SING, yes, absolutely sing when paired with tube gear. I only ever heard it with a puny (not to say it was bad, it was magical sounding) 6w integrated amp from Triode Labs.

My only misgiving is that a tube amp would have weaker bass. I've come to terms with this and all it would require from me is a slight adjustment to my listening habitsand expectations in what I want out of my music. Trading off bass performance for that real "tube magic" is a tradeoff I think I can live with. 

I havent made up my mind with what I want to do but based on the feedback I've gotten so far I think swapping out the xp10 for a Audio Research Ref5 wouldnt be a bad move?

ps. I know I can just google but I value your guys opinions more than a glossy magazine reviewer: what arc preamp would suit me? I'm looking at the used market as I really can't afford to buy a ref5 NEW, I believe it's almost $20k for one new, and I was looking to spend at most $8k on a new piece of kit. (I was budgeting for 13-14k for both a amp/preamp) Im thinking I may be better served upgrading one piece of gear at a time.

Did I mention I just got into this hobby 10 months ago? :)
@d2girls, The ARC Ref 5 and Ref 5SE are discontinued, and can be had on the used market for roughly $5K and $7K respectively.
The Ref 6 is the current ARC model, which lists for $14K, compared to the list of $13K for the Ref 5SE and $12K for the Ref 5.

That said, I'm not sure that ARC is what you are looking for. Yes, the bass will be a bit leaner, but high resolution is the ARC's magic, not *tube magic* per se, as @larryi noted above.

BAT tube preamps sacrifice nothing in the bass department compared to SS, and have a bit more tube magic, though are not as revealing as ARC.

If you are looking for warm tube sound, you probably should look for a Cary, conrad johnson, or Joule Electra preamp.

Cheers,
John
The new Conrad Johnson ET7 and GAT2 preamps have a harmonic texture that is so spooky that it must be heard in my opinion. As far as calling the new series of CJ warm may not be the description I would use. The older CJ tube products being called warm I would not argue. The ET7/ ART150 combination is very special. The resolution of the new CJ products is amazing. If you have a dealer near buy go have a listen.