The knowledge gained in the creation of Audio Research’s Reference 160-Series Amplifier has now transitioned to both reference preamplifiers, the REF6SE Line-Stage and the REF Phono 3SE Phono-Stage. According to the Minneapolis company, the first production units will ship in March 2020.
As Audio Reseacrh explains, due to the extremely low-level nature of the signals involved in a phono stage, the component and wiring upgrades incorporated in the SE update combine to create a startling advancement in performance. Improvements include enhanced resolution at all levels, greater purity and focus, improved transient speed and snap, and increase in quality of dynamic shading. The sum of these improvements further breaks down the barrier between reproduced sound and the immediacy of a live event. Externally, the only difference is that the back panel will indicate the unit’s name, Reference Phono 3SE.
The SE update will be available to current REF Phono 3 owners in May 2020, and can be installed through Audio Research in North America for $3,000 USD. Authorized service centers in the rest of the world will be able to install the SE update kits in their respective countries.
50 Years of Audio Research
Founded by William Zane (Bill) Johnson, Audio Research is one of the oldest continually operating manufacturers in American audio. The company was founded in 1970 in Minneapolis and today remains a performance-oriented company by philosophy and design, with an uncanny dedication to vacuum tube technology. Bill Johnson always felt that, when properly implemented, vacuum tubes were capable of producing a far more realistic and convincing musical experience. And 50 years lates, the company continues its dedication and can repair almost anything ever produced during its entire history.
Since August of 2018, Audio Research occupies a 20,000 square-foot, technically-advanced production plant and administrative headquarters in Maple Grove, Minnesota, where approximately 35 technical, assembly and support staff guide the product line from concept to finished goods.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Audio Research promised to release new products, starting with the new Reference 6SE vacuum tube pre-amplifier and Reference 750 SEL tube amplifier, primarily the result of improved capacitor and wire technology breakthroughs. The company also promised to introduce a new series of components and custom finishes of existing components, allowed by its modern manufacturing facility. And if all this wasn’t enough, ARC is also working on a small but impressive project called “Making the Music Glow” as 2020 closes one chapter of the company’s story and begins a new one.