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Vol. 12, No. 1 Spring/Summer, 2009


Audio Research

Audio Research has been dedicating their efforts this year to improving some of their most advanced products. Thus, they have introduced three new components, the Reference Phono 2 phono preamplifier at $11,995, the Reference CD8 CD player at $9995, and the Reference 5 preamplifier at $11,995.

Audio Research Reference Phono 2 phono preamplifierThe Reference Phono 2 is a fully balanced design with an input circuit that allows its RCA inputs to operate in a balanced configuration without requiring an inverter. It has the same tube complement as the Reference CD8 (see below), four 6H30s in the gain stage with a 6550C and 6H30 in the power supply, and it features the same basic analog stage as its siblings. Rather than using a step-up transformer, special high-gain, extremely low-noise FETs are used in the high-gain section. This approach is more costly than using a transformer, but it is well worth it for the dramatic improvement in performance. There are new, proprietary inner-stage and output coupling caps, and new Teflon caps in the equalization circuit. The transformers are new, and there are eleven stages of power supply regulation. On the rear panel are two sets of RCA inputs with ground post, RCA and XLR outputs, and a 20 amp IEC power connector. The phono inputs can be set for different gain levels, and there are seven user-selectable cartridge loading choices. The display shows all selections and can be dimmed or turned off. All functions can be accessed by remote control. Sonically, the performance of the Reference Phono 2 is so transparent, vivid and downright beautiful that it will present your music as you've never heard it before. There is a master tape-like quality in which instruments stand in bold relief before a black background, with the volume of the recording environment reproduced better than anything you have experienced in vinyl playback. The bottom line is that the Reference Phono 2 provides a more direct connection to the music.

Audio Research Reference CD8 CD playerIn size, input and output configuration, and in all other operational functions, the REFERENCE CD8 is identical to the Reference CD7. But there the similarities end. The CD8 uses the same, high-resolution 24-bit, 192-kHz chipset which Audio Research first introduced in the CD5 and DAC7, as well as the same, advanced power supply regulation system first introduced in the Reference 3 preamplifier. Other enhancements include Audio Research's newest output coupling capacitors and special damping tweaks, while the playback mechanism continues to be the unsurpassed Philips PRO2R single-play deck, still the best dedicated CD mechanism available. Sonically, the REFERENCE CD8 stands in a class all its own. While retaining the lush, full embodiment of the CD7 sound, the CD8 adds new dimensions of transparency. It immediately shows greater top-to-bottom transient speed , purer resolution of low-level detail, and expanded dynamic contrasts, with more bass slam, definition and extension. The soundstage is larger and more holographic because of the heightened ability of the REFERENCE CD8 to embody and locate instruments and voices. Rhythmically, the REFERENCE CD8 also has better defined timing cues and vivid rhythmic interplay. Overall, the CD8's improvements over the CD7 are well worth the extra cost.

Audio Research Reference 5 preamplifierAfter an intensive research effort, Audio Research is proud to introduce a worthy successor to the Reference 3 preamplifier, the brand new Reference 5. The rear panel of the Reference 5 is the same as the rear panel of the Reference 3, with the same number and configuration of inputs and outputs. Also, the same tube complement as the Reference CD8 and Reference Phono2 is used because ARC simply could not find anything they liked better. The vacuum-fluorescent display is identical in size to the Reference 3, but now its display intensity can be adjusted to six different levels or turned off. The new audio circuit is an all-tube, pure Class-A triode, with zero feedback and has slightly greater gain and 3 dB less noise than the Reference 3. Massive energy storage, the most of any Reference preamplifier, provides tremendous dynamic capability. The Reference 5 possesses great bandwidth and resolving power combined with a purity and naturalness that is uncanny. Grain and electronic artifacts are simply absent. Bass impact, depth and control are startling, while music ebbs and flows with a marvelous dynamic life that is rarely experienced outside the concert hall. When you hear it, you will appreciate the sonic advancements achieved by the Reference 5.

Audio Nexus, LLC
33 Union Place
Summit, NJ 07901

   (908) 277-0333

Store Hours Mon-Sat 10:30 AM to 6 PM, Thursday til 9PM

We are authorized dealers for
Arcam * Audeze * Audience AV * Audio Physic * Audio Research * Audioquest * Balanced Audio Technology * Benz-Micro * Bluesound * Chang Lightspeed * Clearaudio * Creek Audio * Epos Acoustics * Gallo Acoustics * Gingko Audio * Goldring * Grado * Kimber Kable * Lehmann Audio * Lyra * Magnum Dynalab * Music Hall * NAD * Niles Audio * Nitty Gritty * PrimaLuna * Pro-Ject * PS Audio * PSB * Quad * Revel * Richard Gray's Power Company * Rogue Audio * Rotel * Salamander Designs * Simaudio/MOON * Sonus faber * Stewart Screens * Sumiko * Totem Acoustic * Vandersteen * VPI * Wharfedale

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