Audio Research Reference Linestages

Just want to hear if anyone else have a similar experience that I do.
Some 8 years ago I bought my first ARC Ref linestage.
It was Ref2 mk2, which I first enjoyed very much, but soon I found the bass to be to close in the soundstage and the treble too far away which never allowed the soundstage to get really homogenous and create the real music event.
When comparing with a Conrad Johnson LS17 it was very easy to hear that Ref2 mk2 had some issues with it's soundstage.
But I'm a fan of ARC's high energy "big" sound so I bought a used Ref One (later model with Infinicaps and detachable powercord), and it easily beat Ref2 mk2 in every way.
There I had the perfect soundstage with great dynamics.
It simply sounded more complete and homogenous than Ref2 mk2. Still not the last air in the highest treble that C-J LS17 have, but the rest was much better with Ref One.
Recently I tried to replace my Ref One with Ref 3, but after 3 months I gave up.
I found Ref3 to lack dynamics and the perfect soundstage of my Ref One. It simply sounded less involving and a bit lame compared to my Ref One.

Anyone else that have kept their Ref One simply because the find it to sound better than later ARC Ref linestages ?
Yes- I have a Ref One, plus there are two local friends of mine who both find their Ref One's to be superior to any of the newer Ref series (except the Anniversary no doubt!)
Well, I have not owned any of the ARC Ref. series myself, but my friend has owned all four of them, (they skipped the ref. 4). I have heard his system countless times, and personally, I disagree with your assessment.

The One was always a bit noisy for my tastes.

The Two was slightly better, but not much.

(That being said, both the One and Two were quite musical, and possibly more so that the Three and Five that followed, but I would never have owned either.)

The Three was a big step up, IMHO. It was much quieter, and more transparent. I would consider owning this preamp.

The Five is basically just a better Three, IMHO. (Basically just more of the same, with slightly better dynamics and slightly better bass response.)
I recommend that you not bother with the Ref. Five, because if you dislike the Three, the Five will not be much better, (in my estimation anyway).

FYI, as you can tell, I highly prize deep, dark, black backgrounds, and the Ref. Three and Five preamps excel at that, versus the One and Two. (FYI, I own a solid state preamp myself, (Ayre K-1xe), primarily for that very reason.) Tube rushing noise bugs the heck out of me, and both the One and Two had it, albeit somewhat muted, but still, it was there. (I should point out that it never much bothered my friend, so perhaps I am just overly sensitive to it.)

My two cents worth.
ARC seems to have been on a course toward detail/resolution over the recent decade-ish. As a result, it does not surprise me that there will be some/many that prefer the earlier versions to the new versions. Personally, there are parts of the LS25I that I like better than the LS25II. I think this case is mostly having to do with the tubes used vs. major changes to the circuitry. These are personal issues or opinions and you are likely to get people strongly agreeing with you and those that strongly disagree with you. Neither is more right or wrong than the other - such comments are based on personal opinions.