arc reference 3 has been in the market for close to 4 years now and the grapewine has been abuzz with the imminent arrival of its successor, possibly an "all-new" reference 5 or reference 3 mk II. arc is keeping matters close to its hearts and leaving many supporters guessing.

when it was first launched, old-timers of ARC had a lot of getting used to with the new aesthetics of the ref 3 and it took more than one year for it to break into the malaysian market. the ref3 proved to be a totally convincing winner compared to its predecessor, ref 2 mk II.

every new generation of arc preamp, since the days of the venerable sp11, has always been revolutionary in terms of performance improvement.

i am saving up for my reference 5 next year!
oh, btw, i just got back my LS26. i would continue with the review of the furutech reference III power cord ;-)


Panzer said...

The ARC Reference 3 has been my reference level pre-amp since i first heard it about 2 years ago. It continues to be, but the competition is mounting in the form of Ayre KX-R! Also possibly the next Pass Labs XP series flagship, X0.2 replacement.

Looks like soild state is starting to challenge the traditional tube pre amp for the high end stakes!

It's an exciting time to be in high end, economy issues aside.

Jess said...


I know you are very loyal to ARC ,but even a strong loyalist like me has move on to something else.ARC today has lost its tube signature sound,and could easily be mistaken for a Solid State design.

why not try something else??

HS Lam said...


what Do you think ,at the price,could be better than ARC ?

ARC is the choice amp of Malaysian audiophile, and frankly I do not foresee any change in the near future

KT said...

well ,to be frank ,it is an unending quest.The SS camps wants to sound like tube ; and the tube amp camps wants to sound Solid state.

Isn't that a compliment though?i.e calling a tube amp Solid State??

Jess said...


I replaced my ARC Combos with Air Tight- and couldn't be happier.

My only regret? wish had done it earlier, but I was holding on to old sentiments...

Ken said...


May I know which Air Tight preamp and amps are you using? As far as I know the amps are usually low powered so you should be using a high sensitive speakers as well, right?

jess said...


wadia 861 driving the ATM-2 sans preamp.i use gemme audio katana loudspeaker.

when we talk about amp,the quality of the power is just as important as compared to the quantity....and the room size of course..

i only have a small listening room,and feels that the air tight to be the perfect antidote to tame the aggressive WADIA

Kent said...

I have moved from The ARC to BAT; and the BAT really madke me wake up about what I love about tube sounds.

Like most of you, I should have jumped ship long ago,but was hanging on to ARC for too long....

Ken said...


Thanks for letting us know the components in your system. They are all first rate from source to amps and speakers. I agree with you that using the AirTight ameliorate the agressiveness of the Wadia.

Anyway, I have just changed my preamp from ARC LS5MkII to ARC LS25MkII. I would say that the sound improve in almost all aspects. Basically the biggest improvement is in the frequency extension on both ends of the spectrum. I am quite happy with ARC. The thing is Air Tight and BAT amps does not have a huge following in Malaysia.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...


ARC's real forte is in preamp, not power amp. i still think they are the preamp king. i think ref 3 alone captured more than 50% of the high-end preamp market.

having said that, it is true that ARC's power amps have lost its signature sound. maybe now you can understand why i am still hanging on to my classic 120 and matched it with LS26.