ARC Reference 6 or Cary SLP 05 with upgrade?

Yeah, it's me again. The Voyager has settled in nicely and I think I would benefit from a better preamp. A friendly local dealer dropped by today with a ARC LS28. That was headed in the right direction but was not close to a $12,000 improvement. I could probably swing a used ARC Reference 6, but somehow the Cary SLP 05 has caught my attention. Everything I read about it is very positive but I don't know if it would lend more of a full sound than increased transparency. Has anyone been able to compare these two directly? 

Currently: Bricasti M3 > Rogue RP-7 > LSA Voyager > Fyne F1-8

One of the things that appeals to me about the Cary, aside from cost, is it uses 6sn7 tubes which are now being manufactured by Lin Lai and have a reputation for great sonics.

Anyway, I await your wisdom. 


Does anyone know what the gain is on the ARC LS28 and Reference 6? I think the Cary 05 is 17db.


why not use the two input level controls instead of the Rockwells? Or are they in the line from your DAC so your phono is not attenuated? 

Both very good amps.

But they have very differing sound characters that arise from implementation of very different design philosophies.

You need to listen to both in your system over a decently long period before you make up your mind.

I'm for the AR as I have a Ref 6 myself, but it's a personal decision.

@markmuse There are some here that have pointed out that the input level dials are not equivalent quality to main volume so ideally they are best left at full for seamless passthrough. This may be splitting hairs but isn’t that what we all do here..ha. I have not done a comparison between using the rockwells versus the input level controls, unlikely I will hear a difference but theoretically it is possible. I will attempt that. The rockwells are fairly inexpensive and considered high quality. They attenuate everything as the are between the Cary balanced out and the Pass amp.