Why Are There So Many Audio Research Reference 5SE's For Sale


Been looking for a tubed preamp with high quality balance capabilities. Was looking at the Ref 5SE's but there seems to be many available. Generally when you see that there is some kind of issue. Sometimes they want to move up the line to the latest or they just arent that good. Case in point when was the last VAC Signature you saw out here. The good stuff seems to be rare and when they show they go fast. Comments and recommendations welcome.

fooolish1
The Ref 5se is very available due to introduction of the Ref 6 which replaces it. But rest assured, the Ref 5se is an astonishingly good pre which can be stolen at used prices.
Did you own the piece? Are you an AR guy? I understand the Anniversary 40 is the one to have but out of my budget

OP-


if you are in the market for an ARC pre-amp, you will be hard-pressed

to find one better than the Ref5 SE.

The ARC Ref5SE is a phenomenal preamplifier, as is its companion Ref Phono 2SE phono stage.

I decided to buy a dealers demo REF5se and couldn't be happier with it. I had intended to buy an LS27 or a Modwright 36.5 but decided this would put me in a better place.

So yes; I am in a better place.

Fooolish:
I have had a number of Arc components over the last 7 or 8 years including the Ref 5 and the Ref 40 which I now own. I’m very familiar with the Ref 5se sound which is between the Ref 5 and Ref 40. Obviously, the Ref 40 is noticeably better and is also a steal used if you can assemble the dough. I cannot say that either one is more of a steal at their used price points. I only know I believed I got more than my moneys worth when I paid for each of them at virtually retail when they came out.

Sorry to the OP, but the answer seems pretty obvious. ARC is one of the biggest High End suppliers, ergo, 1000's of amps around. They have just introduced a Ref 6, thus many will be upgrading. Conclusion, many 5SE's will be coming on the market.

As an aside, I would not get on that particular upgrade treadmill. ARC bring out new models frequently and yes I am sure each new unit may be better than the one it replaces, but it becomes a very expensive process over the years. It's certainly to rich for me.

David12, I agree with your first point, but I would point out that ARC generally has a 3 yr minimum sales life on a product before an updated one is released.  I think the Ref5se came out in 2011.  The Ref 6 came out in late 2015.  
The "upgrade treadmill" would not continue to run if each product were not a significant upgrade to the prior one.
For myself, having been on the treadmill, (ref2, ref3, ref5, ref5se and now ref6) I have found that the resale prices on these units are very good, so the upgrade is really not very painful.  And the value for the used purchaser is excellent.  The older products hold up VERY well against current competitive products from other manufacturers.


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I wonder if the Ref6 is on par with the Ref40 ?
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..ditto dbarger
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Thanks all very helpful but no one has really described the sound to me..how does it outline images in three dimensional space...are the outlines really sharp with the right sense of scale? what about its tonality? stage depth and width, mid-range, female voices,? I've always considered AR as close to solid state as you can get from tube gear..but then again, Ive never owned only heard it at a show or a dealer..

I've never owned AR before,always was very much impressed with their sound at the store.So broke down and bought reference 210's and have just bought ref.5se.here in a week.Anyone have this trio,and will I be a happy camper.Hope so,looks like ramen noodles for about a month,sure hope they're worth it.I was getting fat anyway.
I am a big fan of ARC gear. A number of years ago I owned an LS26 and was in the market to upgrade to a REF 5 when I came across a deal on a 40th Anniversary.  I chose to make the investment. I decided that for a few thousand dollars more I could buy the piece that I would build my system around and not get on the upgrade train that David alluded to. I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. As for describing the sound- that's tricky!  I have upgraded my system around it and it has yet to be "exposed". The better the gear around it the more incredible I realize that this piece is. All I can say is my system (available to view in virtual systems) is far beyond what I ever expected that I would own. It is natural. It is amazingly three-dimensional. It is tall. It is wide. It is deep and layered. It makes me happy. The key word in that last sentence is ME. What I have come to learn is that everyone's definition of perfect is different. For me, right now, my system is close to perfect. I suppose that's all one can ask for. Please keep in mind that a system is just that. I've gotten great advice, done some decent homework and managed to put together pieces that are remarkably synergistic. Some of that is skill and, in my case, some of it is luck. But, I guess as the cliche says, "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"  Happy listening- and good luck to you! 
JH
Nice response. There is a 40th Anniversary for sale out here but I just can't get to his asking price. I know its a great piece...I think like you I really crave the three dimensional aspects of a good system that really give you that "you are there" feeling. I also prefer my overall system on the warmer side of things without the loss of inner detail. Probably why I am and always will be a tube guy. I'm going to check out your virtual system. Thanks for weighing in!

As a related point, may I ask of others agree that ARC power Amps are a better deal than the Pre's. You can't generalise I know, but that has been my impression over the years. I use an ARC Ref 75SE and I think it is a real bargain at the price. It's hard to think of another company that can clearly better it.

 The comparably priced Ref 3?  Yes it's very good, but I thought the cheaper Modwright 36.5 was a little better and bought it. I have heard the Ref 5SE with my power amp and again it is very good, but it was a lot more expensive than the 75 and the new Ref 6 is a good deal more still.

 I am sure most people won't agree with me, but I thought I'd throw the thought in the ring and see what happened.

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jhconner, congrats on the new preamp.  You're a smart person!

As an aside, I would not get on that particular upgrade treadmill. ARC bring out new models frequently and yes I am sure each new unit may be better than the one it replaces, but it becomes a very expensive process over the years. It's certainly to rich for me.
ARC is not forcing anyone to upgrade, it's a personal decision.   They want to capitalize on the segment that needs to upgrade to latest so very very smart business move.

Foolish,

The outlines are extraordinary and the sense of scale unsurpassed by anything created with flawed human hands.
Everybody dumping ARC buying VAC.
I have always wanted to audition VAC and VTL.
ebm - curious, what is the basis for your comment " Everybody dumping ARC buying VAC"? 

knghifi, well quite, I'm not criticising people who do upgrade, just point out it can be an expensive business and it's to costly for me..

 I have nothing but admiration for ARCs business acumen and I don't think three years between models is a long time. If users are persuaded the upgrade is worth it, so be it. I would be interested to know how much of their income is based on SE upgrades, which I recently did with my REF 75, and users working there way to the latest model, as against first time buyers

The AR REF 5SE needs a high impedance power amp, 100k or higher. I was using it in my system with Bryston 10B-SUB crossover which has 15k input impedance causing high frequency roll off and lack of bass. I advertised it and it was sold within a day. The new owner uses AR mono blocks and it sounds great in his system. Since then, I went to passive route but still keep the AR Phono REF 2SE. The Bent Audio slagleformer fully-balanced passive preamp (silver magnet wire version) is higher resolution than the REF 5SE and has zero background noise.
anwar "The AR REF 5SE needs a high impedance power amp, 100k or higher."

No, it needs 20K or higher, according to ARC and this site, which is consistent with my experience, too.

Cleeds, I have tried my Ref 5SE with various amps, including direct connection to my MC452 which is 22k.  From my own experience, it sounds the best with AR power amps and their input impedance is indeed very high. Current AR power amp models input impedance is 200k or 300k. Stereophile measurements of Ref 5SE were all done with 100k impedance.

This is what I got from ARC through email:  Driving a lower impedance load will not damage the Ref5 SE, it will only lower its sound quality. The bass and treble will roll off and the preamp will not be as dynamic. It will also go through tubes faster as you are driving the preamp harder.
Anwar 4-24-2016
The AR REF 5SE needs a high impedance power amp, 100k or higher.
The measurements section of Stereophile’s review of the Ref 5 SE states as follows:
At high and middle frequencies the Ref 5’s output impedance was slightly higher than specified, at 628 rather than 600 ohms balanced and 322 rather than 300 ohms unbalanced. However, at 20Hz the impedance rose to 1447 ohms balanced and 637 ohms unbalanced, which, with an extremely low load impedance of 600 ohms, rolls off the low bass by 3dB at 15Hz (fig.1, cyan and magenta traces). Into the more realistically high 100k ohm load, however, the Ref 5’s low-frequency response is flat to below 10Hz (fig.1, blue and red traces).
This does not by any means suggest that a load impedance of 100K or more is necessary. Nor does this:
Anwar 4-24-2016
I have tried my Ref 5SE with various amps, including direct connection to my MC452 which is 22k. From my own experience, it sounds the best with AR power amps and their input impedance is indeed very high.
Obviously, there are a great many differences in design between ARC power amps and an MC452 besides their input impedances.

The measured maximum output impedances of 637 ohms unbalanced and 1447 ohms balanced (which means approximately 723.5 ohms for each of the two signals in the balanced signal pair) seem suitable for driving a 20K load, based on the 10x rule of thumb guideline (as applied to the highest output impedance at any audible frequency). But even if that were to be a bit marginal in some systems, 47K or thereabouts would certainly seem very comfortable.
Driving a lower impedance load will not damage the Ref5 SE, it will only lower its sound quality.
"Driving a lower impedance" than what?

Regards,
-- Al

Simple reason: ARC "upgrades" their pre's every ten minutes, thus impairing the resale value of the ARC pre you own unless you pay for the upgrade. In contrast, a company like VTL, whose 7.5 iii pre I happily own, upgrades their models every few YEARS, and only when there are significant improvements to be made.

Different business models. I know which one I prefer. No disrespect for ARC intended.

Neal
nglazer " ... ARC "upgrades" their pre's every ten minutes, thus impairing the resale value of the ARC pre you own unless you pay for the upgrade."

This isn't even remotely accurate. For example, the Ref 5 was introduced in 2009. The SE version went on sale in 2011 and has only just now been superseded.

Most ARC gear holds its value quite well, too. Some of that has to do with manufacturer support, some with its serviceability, some with its performance.

I have really good equipment, but would trade any of it for most AR stuff, except the cost and the tube maintenance. 
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Simple reason: ARC "upgrades" their pre’s every ten minutes, thus impairing the resale value of the ARC pre you own unless you pay for the upgrade. In contrast, a company like VTL, whose 7.5 iii pre I happily own, upgrades their models every few YEARS, and only when there are significant improvements to be made.

Different business models. I know which one I prefer. No disrespect for ARC intended.

Neal
Not remotely true at all Neal.  ARC upgrades about every 3 years and if you've read any of the reviews about their latest offerings you'd realize the upgrades are significant. Sounds like you are just a big fan of VTL and want to continue to feel good about your choice in equipment... The fact is ARC enjoys one of the highest used retail values of any manufacturer.
Iv compared the Arc 40th to Purity Audio Gear and preferred the Purity Audio. Its not well known and i don't know how well secondhand units go for but they are better value bought brand new compared to even second hand arc gear.  

Purity was more transparent and more musical. The arc gear is good but the price on new is defo not worth it. Mind you lots of second hand ones up for sale and sometimes just sometimes you can get one at a great price.
There are numerous versions/models of the Purity Audio line stage. Which particular model are you referring to in comparison to the ARC 40th Anniversary ?
REF 6 review 

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/equipment/audio_research_reference_6.htm