REF 3 In My System?

I was just offered a great opportunity on an ARC Ref 3. I had an LS-26 at one point and loved it and always wondered what the Ref 3 was all about. This is a great chance to scratch that itch. I'm wondering, from an impedance matching perspective, how it might work in my system. The ARCDB lists the specs for the Ref 3 as having an input impedance of 120K Bal/300K SE (I would be using SE inputs) and the output impedance as 600ohms Bal/300ohms SE (I would be using balanced outs). My amp is the Modwright KWA150, my CD player an Esoteric X-03se and my phonostage the Herron VTPH-2. I don't have the stats on the Modwright handy but the Herron has an output impedance of 500ohms. Not sure how Ref 3 would be "viewed" by my other components. Can anyone offer advice? Anyone use the Ref 3 in concert with the Modwright or Herron products?

I've got to move pretty quickly.....
If your LS26 sounded good with your current system, you will love the REF3. I have an LS26 and the dealer lent me a REF3 for a few days and it really opened up my system.
I still have the LS26 but someday I am looking for a LS27 as it is touted to sound better than the REF3. However if a deal on a REF3 came along I would strongly consider it.
I had a LS26 and then purchased a REF3. It is everything you have read and more!
You should be fine. Ref 3 has a very high input impedance, meaning it is an easy load for your Herron.
I also had a Ref 3 and a LS-26 in my system. I had the Ref 3 first and downsized to the 26 for fianancial reasons. The difference was night and day as the Ref 3 was so much better sounding in every way.
I own a Reference 3 and like it. I agree, I believe it would work well with your described system.
I also owned the LS-26 and upgraded after a year to the Ref 3. It is definitely a sonic upgrade and if you have a good deal on it, then I would also "scratch" that itch. The Herron should easily drive the Ref 3. Just call Dan and find out what the input impedance is for the KWA-150 amp. As long as it is above 30Kohms, you should be fine. I would also ask Dan if he has had feedback from customers who had matched the Ref 3 to the KWA-150. Finally, I am assuming you cannot actually audition the Ref 3 in your system, but maybe one option is to see if you have any Agoners in your area or someone in your local audio society who might be willing to let you auditon their Ref 3 in your system. Just a thought.
" The LS27 is touted to sound better than the Ref 3 " . By who ?
By ARC on their website.
Of coarse ARC , there are trying to sell LS27's not the discontinued REF 3 . I've heard both back to back in a familiar system , have you ?
Tmsorosk - Would you please share your impressions of the LS27 vs the REF 3 in the back to back listening session you experienced?
Yes I would really like to hear Tmsorosk's review. I have been told by ARC that the LS27 is better but the REF 3 is more affordable. So if you can provide what speakers, amps, source etc. It may be some time before we hear from the industry magazines on the LS27.
Sure . We felt the REF 3 had a rounder, fuller sound , some might say better coherence , the 27 seemed to have better depth but not better image specificity . The REF 3 also had more of that liquid presentation that tube lovers obsess over , I felt the 3 also had slightly better low frequency extension , but the other four club members were less sure of that aspect . On that note i should mention that one of the five of us preferred the 27 . You might say the 27 had a more solid state feel . It's kind of what you would expect from ARC , a more modern tube preamp with less tube sound , it seems thats the way ARC has been progressing for several generations now . Now lets not blow the differences out of proportion , the two were very similar and these differences were small . Both were excellent . You could say I was biased as I did own the 3 for about three years . I hope this adds more light than confusion . Regards Tim
ARC CD8 , ARC Ref 110 power amp , Nola viper Ref 3 speakers . Tried two different speaker cables first was MIT O2 and Cardas , don't recall the model .
Thanks Tim, in speaking with ARc they claim the LS27/REF5 deliver a more controlled bass and quieter transmission of the signal. They claim the new power supply design is the main contributer to areas of gain. It is interesting to read an "ears-on" comparison. I have had the Ref3 in my home and would be pleased to own one, my LS26 has served me well in musical terms. As the LS27 is 7000 and the Ref3 seems to be in the 52-5800 price range, it is close enough to warrant investigation before investing.
Thank You for sharing.
Tmsorosk - Thank you for sharing your impressions and the system specifics!
What's the advantage of using tubes if the product sounds like a solid state design. I'm assuming there is a real advantage.
I agree , if your going to built tube amps , why not build them to sound like tube amps . Is the lessoning of tube sound partially do to the never ending search for neutrality and perfect balance ?
Onhwy61/Tmsorosk...I am not sure there is a uniform definition of what "tube sound" is. My sense is traditional, old-style tube amps were all about the midrange, with rolled off highs and flabby bass. If that is the sound you like, you can certainly buy vintage Marantz, Dynaco, Scott, amps and get that sound. Certainly older ARC, Conrad Johnson, Cary etc... designs also had some of those limitations. But also, the traditional tube sound had 3D holographic soundstaging and fleshed out images within that soundstage. Traditional tubes also excelled at displaying notes' full measure, from attack to sustain to decay, resulting in a smooth and liquid presentation. I would argue that modern tube designs strive for a full-bandwidth presentation, with extended highs and more controlled/articulated bass response, and a tonally neutral presentation (in this respect tubes and SS are converging), but what they retain is the 3D holographic soundstaging, imaging, and that liquid natural presentation. And the Ref 3 has these attributes in full measure. Just my 2c.
Cmalak, good explanation, but I wasn't thinking about old style tubey sound. I'm thinking along the line of something Tim da Paravinici may have said about how he could get tubes to sound like solid state and vice versa. My perception is that tubes, even in preamps, require more attention from a user than equivalent solid state designs. When designers try to remove the added maintenance of tubes they end up with complex designs that defeats one of the main advantages, at least in my eyes, of tubes which is circuit simplicity. Added complexity leads to increased costs. Here I'm thinking of the recent ARC or VTL designs.

In the back of my mind I'm wondering whether some tube manufacturers really want to make solid state designs, but customer resistance limits their flexibility. With electric guitarist, who as a group never abandoned tubes and are more responsible for the continuance of tube production than audiophiles, they want to "hear" the tube. The tube is an effect processor that they purposely use to create a "sound". Tubes are also very common on the pro audio engineering side. There too the users want to hear the tube effect of added spaciousness, smooth highs and a nice breakup characteristic when driven hard. I also would place audiophiles in that group of people who want to hear the tube. I see it in the extensive tube rolling activity and the advocacy of specific tubes as sounding better than others.

Although I'm a little suspicious, I'm not convinced it's purely a marketing driven thing and I'm just wondering what engineering reasons a manufacturer would pick tubes over equivalent solid state designs if in the end they both sound the same.
We have talked about evolution and convergence of tube and solid state designs and there effect on tubes , but what about the effect this has had on solid state . Let me start by explaining why I traded my beloved ARC REF 3 preamp for the Ayre MX-R . Although the Ayre may never be called liquid it has many tube qualities , fleshed out images , 3D holographic sound stage , and the transparent ability to bring musicians closer to the listener than anything else that I have experienced regardless of technology or cost . I won't go on and on about it's abilities but I think I'm safe in saying it was the most important and thought provoking addition to my music maker .
It's not fair to compare these two fine units because of the doubling of cost , but in that sense the REF3 is likely a better bang for the buck .