The Ref 5 SE is a tubed, remote-controlled line preamp with six sets of balanced and unbalanced inputs, three sets of balanced and unbalanced outputs, and a unity-gain Processor input. It uses 6550C and 6H30P tubes for power-supply regulation, and four 6H30P dual-triodes in the analog stage. Improvements over the original Ref 5 include new Teflon and hybrid coupling and bypass capacitors, new internal wiring, and a vertically mounted circuit board that nearly doubles the earlier version’s energy storage. The Ref 5 SE exhibited incredible detail retrieval, bold and nuanced tonal color, outstanding dynamic range, and large soundstages with a slightly forward perspective, said BD. “The Reference 5 SE gets my highest recommendation,” he concluded. JA noted superb measured performance. Compared to BJR’s reference Audio Valve Eclipse, the ARC offered longer decays and resolved more inner detail but lacked some low-end impact.
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