Why Are There So Many Audio Research Reference 5SE's For Sale


Been looking for a tubed preamp with high quality balance capabilities. Was looking at the Ref 5SE's but there seems to be many available. Generally when you see that there is some kind of issue. Sometimes they want to move up the line to the latest or they just arent that good. Case in point when was the last VAC Signature you saw out here. The good stuff seems to be rare and when they show they go fast. Comments and recommendations welcome.

fooolish1
I am a big fan of ARC gear. A number of years ago I owned an LS26 and was in the market to upgrade to a REF 5 when I came across a deal on a 40th Anniversary.  I chose to make the investment. I decided that for a few thousand dollars more I could buy the piece that I would build my system around and not get on the upgrade train that David alluded to. I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. As for describing the sound- that's tricky!  I have upgraded my system around it and it has yet to be "exposed". The better the gear around it the more incredible I realize that this piece is. All I can say is my system (available to view in virtual systems) is far beyond what I ever expected that I would own. It is natural. It is amazingly three-dimensional. It is tall. It is wide. It is deep and layered. It makes me happy. The key word in that last sentence is ME. What I have come to learn is that everyone's definition of perfect is different. For me, right now, my system is close to perfect. I suppose that's all one can ask for. Please keep in mind that a system is just that. I've gotten great advice, done some decent homework and managed to put together pieces that are remarkably synergistic. Some of that is skill and, in my case, some of it is luck. But, I guess as the cliche says, "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"  Happy listening- and good luck to you! 
JH
Nice response. There is a 40th Anniversary for sale out here but I just can't get to his asking price. I know its a great piece...I think like you I really crave the three dimensional aspects of a good system that really give you that "you are there" feeling. I also prefer my overall system on the warmer side of things without the loss of inner detail. Probably why I am and always will be a tube guy. I'm going to check out your virtual system. Thanks for weighing in!

As a related point, may I ask of others agree that ARC power Amps are a better deal than the Pre's. You can't generalise I know, but that has been my impression over the years. I use an ARC Ref 75SE and I think it is a real bargain at the price. It's hard to think of another company that can clearly better it.

 The comparably priced Ref 3?  Yes it's very good, but I thought the cheaper Modwright 36.5 was a little better and bought it. I have heard the Ref 5SE with my power amp and again it is very good, but it was a lot more expensive than the 75 and the new Ref 6 is a good deal more still.

 I am sure most people won't agree with me, but I thought I'd throw the thought in the ring and see what happened.

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jhconner, congrats on the new preamp.  You're a smart person!

As an aside, I would not get on that particular upgrade treadmill. ARC bring out new models frequently and yes I am sure each new unit may be better than the one it replaces, but it becomes a very expensive process over the years. It's certainly to rich for me.
ARC is not forcing anyone to upgrade, it's a personal decision.   They want to capitalize on the segment that needs to upgrade to latest so very very smart business move.