Audio Research REF 6 to REF 6SE upgrade.

UPDATE””””””””” I just got off the phone with Audio Research about the REF 6 to 6SE upgrade and I was told that the price of the upgrade went up from last year from $3500 to $5000. I was pretty shocked. Also he said that it will not have to be done by the service dept as they have a guy who strictly does Ref 6 upgrades. as all parts are in stock and it will only take 14 days turn around time. 

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xtattooedtrackman

So what exactly is the upgrade and what parts do they use. For $5k I'll build you a point to point wired preamp with the best parts available. Happy listening 

@bigkidz   18 caps have been updated with propietary components made especially for Audio Research. In addition 14 runs of wiring have been upgraded. 

WOW 18 caps with proprietary components especially made for AR.  Like they are made form gold or something?  Do you think that those caps are as good as V-Caps?  Do they use a Plitron transfomer in the upgrade?

AR makes a good product and they have been around for a very long time.   So enjoy yours.

Happy Listening.

I won't be sending in my ref 6 for an Upgrade to ARC went I get one for 5,000 damn it. 

Besides pride of ownership and resale value, I've found that the small manufacturers of tube equipment have better sound for way less money than the well known brands.



I wish you lived near me in Central NC.  I have 2 Pass Camp Amp Kits unboxed, waiting to be built.  Unfortunately, I haven't built a kit since the '70's, and at 59 and a half years old I have mild Parkinson-like trembles.  I'm afraid to try soldering because I don't want to screw it up.  I can't find anyone local to help out.  I'd love to see the gear you build.

Yeah we are in New Jersey

I don't know of techs in your area sorry

google search vujadeaudio




I love ARC;however,it's not worth spending $5,000 for the upgrade to SE.Sound improvements will be small.

I have a Ref 6.  When I bought it the SE had just come out.  I thought then the premium for changed caps and some allegedly better pieces of wire was outrageous.  I wonder what differences would be heard in a blind listening test?

I have had a lot of respect for ARC over the years and bought many pieces, including an SP10 that I still have.  But I'm afraid this is taking the piss in a way that Mr Johnson never would have contemplated.  But commerce now is a lot more cynical and dishonest that when he got started in 1970.

That is truly expensive and not something I'd ever contemplate.

Considering the changes, this new model could well be worth the upgrade. Check these out, and ignore those who make outrageous guesses and ill-informed assumptions.

Audio Research Reference 6SE Preamplifier

Audio Research: When SE Is Really Special

Well I would think resale value means a lot. 

Most of the time less money is lost on the smaller manufacturers equipment because it's a less expensive to begin with.  I really don't care about brand recognition, only sound quality and reliability.

@pedroeb   I believe that the SE will be worth the overall investment to me. I read so many positive stuff going from the 6 to SE that I am willing to do the upgrade. And probably knowing that this will be my last model that I will be staying with for ever. 

This is what I hate about these so called “upgradable” components. You’re sold on something being upgradable and future proof and then it costs almost a much to upgrade a component as it does to buy a new one. Why…..

Shunyata recently had a major price increase on many of their cables.  They had been producing cables for previous couple of years on old stock, but faced large increases in price when sourcing the wire.  Hard to imagine, but specialty electronic parts price increases probably contributed to this increase.

@tattooedtrackman There’s a dealer 2022 Ref6SE for sale on Audiogon.

Audio Research REF6SE For Sale | Audiogon
They’re looking for $12,900 but will take an offer.
There was a non-SE Ref 6 on another site going for $8000.

@noromance  Yes. I just saw the 6SE good price also. But I can’t see it making sense to sell mine and get a used 6SE for the same price it would cost me to upgrade mine for the SE. I know what I have with mine. And it  only has 625 hrs on it. So to me it’s barley broken in. With the upgrade it will be a practically new 6SE

While $3500 to $5000 is a big jump, have you been to the grocery store lately?? 
I heard both the Ref 6 and the Ref 6SE a few years ago and there was a very noticeable difference.



@curiousjim    I couldn’t agree more about what u said. Also I will have practically the very 2 highest ARC amplifiers and preamp made from ARC. So to me it will be worth the upgrade as I can’t see my going any higher with them. I know I will not be getting or interested in the Ref 10 preamp also. 

@tattooedtrackman Yes. That was kind of my point. 

But I can’t see it making sense to sell mine and get a used 6SE for the same price it would cost me to upgrade mine for the SE.

@tattooedtrackman I meant that I wouldn't be sending in my ref 6 which I don't even own yet, and paying the price to upgrade it to the ref 6se. Which we now know is 5,000. Once you get the work done you'll more than likely be very happy.  They probably do more than just the capacitors and wiring!  

I suspect if one was to do the work themselves or sub it out and one day there's a problem with a proprietary piece and youd have to send it in to arc, they'd probably decline to repair it? idk for certain just an assumption!  I would like to know this! 

@brunomarcs   I totally think that it void the warranty if u have other services done on any equipment other than Audio Research. It just makes common sense. 

@brunomarcs   Also I am sure that I would be very happy with the upgrade. This is definitely my top of the line pre amp that I will be going with them. I will not be upgrading it again being a Ref 7 or a 10. Same as my Ref 750s. Those are here to stay for good. 

Same as my Ref 750s. Those are here to stay for good.

Hopefully you have good air conditioning, those amps will generate a lot of heat. I bought a krell amp from a guy that was using the audio research 610T amps with the kt120 upgrade, and he had to figure in a bigger central air unit. He was using those amps just to power the midrange/tweeter and a pair of krell fpb 750 mcx for the bass. It sounded really good with the apogee divas.

@invalid   Yes. As a matter of fact I’m installing a brand new Mitsubishi 18k btu split system AC unit. Also these REF 750 amps are also upgraded to the KT150s from the KT120. So I am sure there will be good heat from them. My Krell FPB 600 put out a lot of heat and I’m sure these would be more. 

I figure that if my grandson gets into audio that by 2070 he'll be able to buy an upgrade to his Audio Research Reference 50 Mark 15 for a mere $$25,000! 

Well, I love my ARC REF6 and I have very little interest in paying $5K to upgrade it.  I suspect that as with a lot of upgrades, the improvements might be audible, but not by much.  I am sure that there is something that I can upgrade for $5K that will make a bigger difference.  But hey, if you've got money to burn, an improvement is an improvement, however small it might be.

I was a long time ARC owner starting back in the mid-70s, do they offer a trade up program? That might make sense but the bean counters often rule. I haven't deal with them in more than the decade, Zane was gone but Len had just left parts and service. 

I've been with Lamm since 2006 and yes, there are hiccups. But to be expected. 

wm. Johnson is long gone. Vlad passed away. 

We can only hope that the companies not only respect their legacy but their customers. 

Over and out, 

I just saw that they are a step short of filing for bankruptcy. The company was placed in receivership. A company called Lighthouse Group has been assigned all their assets. Hopefully someone will buy them, maybe an agreement has already been made, but this is sad.

Prices are going up everywhere.

i was bummed that my targeted flea watt speaker price jumped by $7k. I complained my dismay to the manufacturer even though I knew Covid/economy supply chain problems was driving costs up everywhere. Luckily, a mint used pair came up for sale in my favorite veneer- birdseye maple, it was speaking to me so I listened :)

Likewise, my someday distant DAC went up in price by $6kI wanted to raise the sonics of my digital chain to closely match the sonics of my high quality analog chain. The best soundings DACs seem to start at $42k Lampizator, Linn, dCs, MSB, WADAX. It was extremely difficult to find something that can satisfying complete at that sonic level but within my budget. . I was extremely disappointed. Luckily Linn wanted to support their past customers of their DAC+streamer unit, so offered the DAC upgrade for $7k. So I purchased their last model used with the older streamer but with the upgraded DAC, the same used in their new $42k DAC+streamer. I’m soooo blessed.

Just curious if anyone on this thread has heard both the 6SE and the 40th Anniversary pre? I am looking at getting either one of these. And curious to know how big a difference there is between the two