Audio Research LS26 vrs REF 3

I am considering my next upgrade, have an ARC LS26 now and would really like to move to a REF. Can anyone compare a REF 3 to the 26 and or is the 5 that much better than the 3 ?
Thank you

I have spent some time w/ both the ARC REF3 & REF5 SE.
If you can afford either of these pre-amps, go for it.
If you can afford the REF5 SE, this is the better of the two. Happy Listening.
I've owned both with the LS-26 being the first ARC preamp I ever purchased. The Ref 3 is a worthy upgrade, especially at the cost differential if buying used. It dug out details the 26 couldn't reproduce. I did email a reviewer a few years back who reviewed the LS-27 and thought it, in his opinion, was better than the Ref 3 but not by a whole lot.

I will say I didn't own the Ref 3 long enough to acquire a Tung Sol 6550 from the 50's that is reported to be the "must have" tube in the Ref 3.
The LS26 can be made to sound 98% as good as the Ref 3 by doing a couple mods. I added 4 bypass hot rod dynamicaps .01uf 500v to the main output caps and did some dampening on the Main board and relays.   Also make sure you keep the tube dampers as high as possible on the tube and tight against each other. We did a blind A/B test with the Ref 3 and no one could tell which one was playing.