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Audio Research Reference 6 REF6 Tube Preamp - Complete and Barely Used

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Pickup currently unavailable at SkyFi 479

Audio Research Reference Ref6 Tube Preamp - Complete And Barely Used Preamplifier

Audio Research Reference 6 REF6 Tube Preamp - Complete and Barely Used

SkyFi 479

Pickup currently unavailable

479 South Broad Street
Glen Rock NJ 07452
United States


We've had a few of these wonderful REF6 preamps in the shop before, but they all sold before we even had a chance to list them.

Here we have the cleanest and newest one we've seen yet.

The internal clock that keeps track of usage showed 30 hours when it arrived, which was confirmed by the owner. We put another 20 or so in our long term reliability test that we perform on most tube gear. It was originally put into action back in 2018.

We're happy to report it is working brilliantly. It also looks like new and will come complete with all accessories, manuals, and a new box which just arrived from ARC.

In addition this REF6 also has the optional clear acrylic Top AND acrylic Bottom to show off all the interior bits.

MSRP at the time was $14,000 while the current model will set you back $17k.

Stereophile Review:

Recommended Cables:

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Better

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Best

Kimber Kable - BALANCED XLR Connectors - Better

Kimber Kable - BALANCED XLR Connectors - Best

Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Better

Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Best

The SkyFi Testing Process for Preamplifiers:

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.


FREQUENCY RESPONSE: +0-3dB, 0.4Hz to 200kHz at rated output (Balanced, 200k ohms load).DISTORTION: Less than .01% at 2V RMS BAL output.

GAIN: Main output: 12dB Balanced output, 6dB SE output. Record out: 0dB (Processor input: 0dB BAL output).

INPUT IMPEDANCE: 120K ohms Balanced, 60K ohms SE. Inputs: 4 balanced, 4 single-ended. Assignable processor passthrough.

OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: 600 ohms Balanced, 300 ohms SE Main (2). 20K ohms minimum load and 2000pF maximum capacitance. Outputs (3): 2 main, 1 record out (XLR and RCA connectors).


RATED OUTPUTS: 2V RMS (1V RMS SE) into 200K ohm balanced load (maximum balanced output capability is 70V RMS at less than 0.5% THD at 1kHz).

CROSSTALK: -88dB or better at 1kHz and 10 kHz.
CONTROLS: Rotary encoders: Volume (103 steps), Select Input. Push Buttons: Power, Menu, Enter, Mono, Invert, Mute.

POWER SUPPLIES: Electronically regulated low and high voltage supplies. Automatic 45 sec. warm-up/brown-out mute. Line regulation better than .01%.

NOISE: 1.7uV RMS residual IHF weighted balanced equivalent input noise with volume at 1 (109dB below 2V RMS output.)

TUBE COMPLEMENT: (6)-6H30P dual triodes, plus (1 each) 6550WE and 6H30P in power supply. POWER REQUIREMENTS: 100-135VAC 60Hz (200-250VAC 50/60Hz) 160 watts. Standby: 2 watts.

width 19” (48 cm)
height 7.8” (19.8 cm)
depth 16.5” (41.9 cm)
Handles extend 1.6” (4 cm) forward of the front panel.

WEIGHT: 37.5 lbs. (17 kg) Net; 49 lbs. (22.3 kg) Shipping.

Link to Manual:



Manufacturer Box

Yes Included


Yes Included


Yes Included


Yes - Power Only

Physical Condition (Info Here)

8 / 10

Working Condition

10 / 10

SKU: 104119