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. 


Even the 12 db gain of the REF 6SE is very likely far more than is needed with a high output DAC.

First post been a lurker for years.  I just sold an slp 05 with the Upgrade after using it for about 5 years.  Rolled many sets of tubes including NOS KenRad VT-163 and Marconi BL63 among others.  Was always happy with the sound but I could never get rid of a slight crackle from the tweeter.  It was always present, basically there was no dead silence when there should have been.

I believe it was the gain issue discussed but I could never defeat it.

Since my amp is an Arc ref75se I sold the Cary and decided to go the ARC route by purchasing a Ref6 a few months ago,  I am never looking back as I am really enjoying the ARC build quality and sound.  Considerably more money than the Cary though. Other than the slight hiss I still feel the slp 05 is a great piece of gear but I'm happy where I ended up.

@markmuse , A most excellent choice, do post your considerations once your REF6SE has settled in 😎

ARC specifies that the Reference 6 provides 12dB of gain via its balanced outputs and 6dB via its single-ended outputs; 1.7uV RMS of residual noise, IHF weighted, noise with volume at “1” (109dB below 2V RMS output); and less than 0.01% distortion at 2V RMS, balanced output.


I just googled it.