AUDIO RESEARCH REFERENCE 10 (REF10) LINE-STAGE TUBE PREAMPLIFIER
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AUDIO RESEARCH REFERENCE 10 (REF10) LINE-STAGE TUBE PREAMPLIFIER
479 South Broad Street
Glen Rock NJ 07452
Super clean and very very low use FLAGSHIP line stage preamp from ARC.
Sporting the factory upgraded acrylic low microphonic tops so you can see the high-quality internals in all their glory.
Tube Odometer is currently showing 164 hours.
Tested in our lab and working perfectly.
This REF10 will ship in an original freshly ordered box from ARC. Includes the remote and manual.
Note this REF10 requires a 20A power input cord. See our Nordost collection for the perfect match.
Also checkout the matching phono preamp and REF 160M monoblocks for sale at the time of listing.
More from ARC:
In 2010 we announced the Reference Anniversary preamplifier, a special limited edition product commemorating our 40th anniversary.
It was acclaimed by many as the finest preamplifier available and a fitting tribute to all of the classic Audio Research products that were introduced during the forty years that preceded it
That we would only accept new orders for this special product during the anniversary year surprised almost everyone, but we considered the limited time frame appropriate.
Since that time, we have learned a few things, and the result of that knowledge led to the development of the Reference 10.
Included are critically chosen new components, proprietary custom-made capacitors, wiring, and new connectors that cumulatively provide a level of performance never before achieved.
Key Audio Research design traits remain: The signal path is fully discrete, all-tube, pure Class-A, with zero feedback.
Other attributes and choices remain, too: Each unit is completely hand-soldered and hand-constructed in our Minnesota facility using the finest materials, with major components such as custom transformers, plated-through circuit boards, and casework sourced locally. All engineering is performed in-house.
The Reference 10 follows a new aesthetic path as well. It has a very modern and elegant finish that will attract new admirers without alienating fans of our older products. The front panel of the main control unit has a new, large round volume knob on the right side, with two buttons under it for Power and Mute—the only two buttons on the unit—and a large display on the left. Our logo is above the knob on the right, making this the first asymmetrical Audio Research preamplifier ever. The left side of the front panel contains an interactive touch-screen display that allows the user to intuitively control almost all functions.
The power supply chassis, connected to the main unit via two umbilical cords, simply has one green LED under its offset Audio Research logo. All of the side panels are finished identically to the front panels: Natural anodized, one quarter-inch thick, with no screws visible. The entire chassis (including rear panel) is painted silver to complete the look. There are beautiful new, clear acrylic covers with a revised perforation pattern. And, there is no printing on the front panel of either chassis.
After the single 20A power cord, the Reference 10 is completely dual-mono from the power supply through the audio circuit. There are dual, separate low- and high-voltage transformers for each channel; there is dual-mono vacuum-tube regulation (one 6H30 and one 6550WE per channel), dual-mono audio circuits (four 6H30 per channel), and enough energy storage for a serious power amplifier.
Just as the Reference Anniversary was shockingly better than its predecessors, the Reference 10 offers a further level of resolution, refinement and dynamism that vividly improve the musical experience in every way. As we have said before, words can only fall short of your own experience; to understand how much more profound listening to your favorite recordings can be, you must hear the Reference 10. It is stunning.
- Light dings to top edge of both faceplates.
- Light ding on one side panel.
- All tubes in the preamp section test 75% or higher for Emission and Gm with good triode balance.
- Power supply tubes test excellent with close to NOS specs.
- The tube hour counter on the unit shows 164 hours.
- Both sections were fitted with the optional plexi low microphonic covers. An official extra cost option from ARC at time of production.
Audio Research continues its dedication to unparalleled musical expression and crafting components of the highest quality and lasting value for its customers. Our long-term dedication to service is peerless in this industry (Audio Research, with few exceptions, can repair anything ever produced during its entire history). We continue to seek out new and exciting ways to make music more real and more enjoyable. More than just a name or a marketing tool, Audio Research has come to represent exceptional performance and long-term value. Experience Audio Research – experience High Definition®.
RCA and XLR for all inputs and outputs
20A removable power cord
Cable A and B umbilicals
Smooth, uncolored, undistorted natural and clean
7/10 = Good. One or two minor scratches. Well Maintained.. See our detailed rating description here.
Working perfectly and tested in our lab and listening room.
Unit, remote, manual and power cord.
Original Manufacturers Packing
+0 -3dB 0.1Hz to 200kHz at rated output. (BALANCED, 200k ohms load.)
Less than .006% at 2V RMS Balanced output.
Main output (SE or BAL input)12dB Balanced output, 6dB Single Ended output. Tape output: 0dB. (Processor input: 0dB Balanced)
120K ohms Balanced, 60K ohms SE, Inputs (7): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, PROCESSOR. (XLR and RCA connectors).
600 ohms Balanced, 300 ohms SE main (2), 20K ohms minimum load and 2000pF maximum capacitance. Outputs (3): 2 main, 1 tape (XLR and RCA connectors).
20V RMS maximum Balanced, (10V RMS SE).
2V RMS (1V RMS SE) into 200K ohm balanced load (maximum balanced output capability is 30V RMS at less than 0.5% THD at 1kHz).
-80dB or better at 1kHz.
Volume (104 steps). Push Buttons: Power, Mute, Interactive Touch Panel. Rear RS-232 control and IR input.
Electronically regulated low and high voltage supplies. Automatic 40 sec. warm-up/brown-out mute. Line regulation better than .01%.
1.7uV RMS residual IHF weighted balanced equivalent input noise with volume at 1 (109dB below 2V RMS output.)
(8)-6H30P dual triodes, plus (2 each) 6550C and 6H30P in power supply.
Width 19” (48 cm)
Height 7” (17.8 cm) (standard rack panel)
Depth 15.5” (39.4 cm)
Handles extend 1.5” (3.8 cm) forward of the front panels.
Link to Manual:
Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Better
Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Better
Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Best
We start with a visual inspection of all internal components to make sure that there are no signs of heat stress or damage. Capacitors are checked for telltale signs of predictive failure including bulging, shrunken wrappers, or physical leakage. We also inspect the PCB’s for discoloration from resistors or transistors that may have been running hot. On vintage units we often spot check select capacitors for value and ESR.
When we first power on a preamplifier we connect its RCA output to a Sencore PA81 Power Analyzer which simulates real world loading conditions and gives us an oscilloscope interface. The first order of business is checking that the volume control works smoothly throughout its entire range with acceptable channel balance. This is accomplished by feeding a 1KHz sine wave into one of the preamp’s line level inputs while monitoring the preamp’s output on an oscilloscope. We then switch to a 1KHz square wave to test the tone controls, loudness function, and filters where applicable. During this step we are watching for equal alteration of the test signal by both channels. This also helps us identify dirty controls that will need treatment. Once the basic line stage functions are verified, we test each input individually. This is especially important for devices that use relays to select their sources. If the preamp is equipped with a phono stage we test that as well. We use an inverse RIAA filter which allows us to feed a reference test signal into the phono input with the proper RIAA equalization and level. A square wave or sine sweep is used to verify that the device’s phono stage is faithfully reproducing the RIAA curve. If the preamp under test has balanced inputs and/or outputs these are tested as well.
We finish up our bench testing with a listening test with our bench amplifier and reference speakers. During this test we check for hum or hiss that may not have shown up in earlier testing. We also check that all of the tone controls and filters perform as expected. If the preamplifier has remote control functions these are also tested. Preamps with tube circuits or complicated power supply topologies are connected at our long term test rig for extended stress testing under real world conditions.