udio Research launched its Reference series in 1995 with a line-stage preamp. It has steadily expanded the line since, adding stereo and mono amplifiers, digital components and phono stages. But preamps have remained central to Reference, culminating in the new Reference 6 ($14,000), the ninth preamp in the Reference series.
Audio Research has used new components, transformers and wiring for the Reference 6, and the preamp's updated cosmetics are more than skin deep. The Reference 6's chassis is more substantial and rigid, helping to dissipate resonance that's both internal and external. The Reference 6 uses six 6H30 tubes instead of the four used for its predecessor and has a redesigned tube-regulated power supply, which uses single 6550WE and 6H30 tubes. The Reference 6's microprocessor-controlled volume control is also new, providing finer steps and improved sonic performance. A vacuum-fluorescent display, both single-ended and balanced inputs and outputs, and full remote control carry over from previous Reference preamps.
Sonically, the Reference 6 is said to possess improved dynamics, lower noise, better bass control, greater relaxation and purity, and greater transparency. Audio Research goes further: "Quite simply, the Reference 6 improves upon its predecessor in every way, for a more palpable and immediate musical performance."
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