Has anyone Upgraded their ARC preamp

I'm currently running an ARC Ls-25 and I'm thinking about upgrading to a Ref-3. The only problem is I have never heard one. I have heard the MKII version of my pre-amp and I didn't like it. I also heard the LS-26 was very mechanical and not musical. Is the Ref-3 a very musical pre-amp. I don't want to sell my pre-amp and then be disappointed.
Taters...I used to own the LS-26 and upgraded to a Ref 3. I did not think the LS-26 was mechanical. In fact I thought it was very musical. And the Ref 3 has the same sonic signature as the LS-26 but just gave you more of everything the LS-26 delivered: neutral tonal balance, natural timbres, wider dynamic envelope, more controlled bass, and 3D dimensionality and bloom. In both cases, the LS-26 and the Ref 3 were mated to ARC's Ref 110 power amp and CD 7 (so an all ARC chain). What did you have your LS-26 mated to in terms of amps (there could have been a mis-match there)? If that is not the case and you just did not like the LS-26 than I would not get the Ref 3. The LS-26 is a mini-Ref 3.I hope this helps.
One more thing. The LS-25 MkII is I think when ARC switched over to the 6H30 tubes in its preamps from 6922s. Does your LS-25 MK I pre have 6922 tubes in it? It could be that you just don't like the 6H30s vs 6922s. Just guessing here. Many folks who hear BAT and ARC pres based on the 6H30 tube think they are lean and almost SS sounding. I do not think that is the case but it could be you are in that camp.
Did you hear the MKII version of your preamp and the LS-26 in your system? Were they broken-in and fully warmed up? It has been my experience Audio Research hybrid preamps require 3 days warm up to sound their best.

I have never heard an Audio Research preamp sound mechanical unless it was not warmed up or not broken in. I have always been amazed at how many folks have come to the conclusion they do not like a product without sufficient break-in and warm up. Maybe the third owner actually gets the fully broken-in component and full enjoyment at a discounted price.

Ever since Audio Research developed the hybrid preamp the tubes were given a long, 10,000 hour, tube life whether it was a 6DJ8H, 6922 or the current 6H30. You can leave these preamps powered up 24/7 and only replace the tubes once a year, 24 hrs. x 365 days = 8760 hrs. This is a small price to pay for the improvement in sound.
I went from a 25MKII to a Ref 3.It was a step up.More musical all around,I was very pleased with my choice.
I had the LS25 MkI and it was good, but had a veil on it compared to the LS26 I owned for the past couple years. I loved the LS26; ARC's philosophy goal is to capture the best of solid state; the detail, speed, dynamics and low noise floor with the positives of tubes; more three dimensional sound stage, more air and bloom around the notes. If you want a tubey sound, there are other manufacturers to give you that. I jumped the Ref 3 and went to Ref 5 and it is light years above the LS26, but for the price it should be! With many audionuts upgrading I think I'd jump to the Ref 3 from the LS25 MkI; your urge to upgrade will be less!
Hifimaniac...nice setup and agree with you 100% on your description of the ARC sound. That's exactly right. I see you have the PH7 right now. With your Continuum set-up, it's begging for the Ref Phono 2 :-) One quick question, with the Ref 5 mated to the SS Nemo monos, you still get as much 3D dimensionality in the soundstage and that sense of bloom and air around instruments as compared to the Ref 5 into a tubed power amp (Ref 110/210s for example)? I run my Ref 3 into a Ref 110 and I am thinking about subbing out the Ref 110s for the DS450 from ARC but I am afraid to lose some of that tube magic that gives you an immersive quality to the musical presentation. Thanks
"It has been my experience Audio Research hybrid preamps require 3 days warm up to sound their best"

Why would anyone buy a tube pre that takes 3 days warmup to sound "good".Thats the dumbest thing if seen on this site.Ill pass!!!
Toetap...imho, i don't think the Ref 3 requires 3 days of warm up :-). I would say after 30 mins, you are in happier than a pig in doodoo. Initial break-in is a different story and that has to do with the caps used. Initial break-in count on 200-400 hrs. After 200 hrs it starts getting there and after 400 hrs you are pretty much done.
Cmalak,I know what your saying and I really like the Ref3.My point was how totally stupid and clueless the poster was,IMO if your going to post for all to view, make some sense.I guess I just dont have the ability to overlook idiots anymore.
Cmalak, I would definitely get maximum 3D sound with tube amps but I live in AZ and tubes in the summer would heat up the room too much; I owned some VAC Phi 250's for a time and that's what I experienced. I bought the Nemos for a little more power for the MAXX's and they are surprisingly an easy amp to listen to. I'd love a Ref 2 phono but I have other pressing needs! Will enjoy what I have. Thanks for the kind compliment!
hifimaniac...i understand where you are coming from. enjoy the great setup.

toetap..it's all good in the neighborhood :-)

and now back to the OP's original programming...
Toetapfactor, That was an interesting display of ignorance not to mention your inability to read. I was referring to Audio Research hybrid preamps. And if you can't hear the difference it is most likely poor system resolution or poor hearing.
Toetapfactor, I was taking your comments personal until I looked back on comments you made on other threads to find you are rude to most everyone. I also noticed you have no feedback. You have never bought anything here and you have never sold anything here. You are somewhat of a leech. You are not contributing anything, including constructive comments. Instead your comments are insulting.

If you read my post you would have noticed my comments were about Audio Research HYBRID preamps. Do you know what a HYBRID preamp is? Many Audio Research HYBRID preamps are more solid state than tube. The LS-25MKII in fact uses JFET drivers followed by a cathode follower.

These HYBRID preamps are the ones I am referring to. They sound ok after being turned on for a while, but by the end of the evening they are sounding better and by day 3 they are sounding their best. This may not matter to you since you may have never owned a preamp of this quality, but I am sure it matters to other members.