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When Audio Research was founded in 1970, analog vinyl playback was the de facto music source of the time. Audio Research has either incorporated or built stand-alone phono stages since the very beginning, and has continuously provided phono preamplification, even during the height of digital music. The Reference Phono 3 is the next advancement of analog playback.
The Reference Phono 3 is a continuation of the work which has been evolving other components in the Audio Research Reference Series over the past year. In mid-2015, all of the amplifiers received significant performance enhancements with the SE updates - new output tubes, components, and other parts ushered in a new level of sonic accuracy and musicality. This exposed a need for higher resolution and dynamic capabilities in components upstream from the amplifiers, and in October 2015 the Reference 6 was introduced. The Reference Phono 3 is the next step in ARC's pursuit of musical realism.
Like the Reference 6, the tube count in the analog section Reference Phono 3 has been increased from four to six. The power supply has been redesigned to accommodate the additional tubes, as well as provide a greater dynamic range. Numerous other components and parts, including proprietary coupling capacitors, wiring and cryogenically-treated pieces advance the playback experience to a level reminiscent of master tape playback for a realism and palpability previously unavailable.
The Reference Phono 3 phono preamplifier is housed in a single chassis paneled in custom-machined aluminum. The vacuum tube audio stage utilizes six 6H30 vacuum tubes (three per channel), and one 6H30 and a 6550WE provide regulation in the power supply. The large, vacuum fluorescent display on the front panel shows all functions relative to the selected input. A row of six buttons control power, mute, input, and menu controls.
Frequency Response: ±.2 dB of RIAA, 10 Hz to 60kHz; 3 dB points below 0.3Hz and above 300 kHz
Distortion: Less than .002% at 1.0V RMS 1kHz output
Gain: Selectable 51 dB (Low) and 73 dB (High) at 1kHz BAL; 45 dB (Low) and 67 dB (High) at 1kHz SE. (MC and MM compatible)
Input Impedance: 47k Ohms and 100 pF SE
Selectable loads: 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 Ohms, and Custom