Looking at Upgrading my ARC Line Stage Ref 2 Mk I to an ARC Ref 5se

Pacha

Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2014
19
27
220
Hello All, I've been listening to my LPs through an ARC Ref Phono and Ref 2 Mk I Line Stage for many years. Recently I acquired a Ref 2se Phono and the improvement was substantial. This has got me thinking that maybe it's time to upgrade my current line stage to something like the Ref 5se. Anything newer than that will be out of my budget.
What are the thoughts from other ARC using people here?
Thank you.
 

Bobvin

VIP/Donor
Jun 7, 2014
792
722
315
Redland, Oregon
www.purewatersystems.com
You will experience significant improvements all around.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pacha

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
2,301
1,926
460
the Upper Midwest
What are the thoughts from other ARC using people here?

I agree with Bobvin. I owned the Ref 2se and 5se for a few years and will say they are meant for each other. These units were designed, built and released by the same people and they share the same level of quality with several of the same parts and similar topology built around the 6H30 tube. If you like what you hear from your 2se be prepared for more of that from the 5se. ARC's top-line Ref 10 and Ref 10 Phono are essentially two Ref 5ses and two 2ses respectively, one for each channel, each with it's own power supply.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pacha

Pacha

Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2014
19
27
220
Thank you for the replies, they re-enforced my thoughts. I’ve started my search for a Ref 5se, see several Ref 5 for sale, no se, so I’ll need to be patient.
I’ll update as the search continues.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bobvin

Nemal1

Active Member
Dec 9, 2018
155
86
33
58
Try a website called Hi-Fi shark. There are about 12 Ref5 SE’s for sale some of which are in the US, the balance being In Europe
good luck with your search
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,322
1,969
720
Portugal
I moved from REF3 to REF5 and it was a noticeable improvement - the REF 5SE is worth the difference over the REF5.

Be very careful with HifiShark - they only gather advertisements and have no control on content. Audio Research preamplifers are a scammer favorite.
 

Pacha

Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2014
19
27
220
Thank you for the replies and the warning. I deal with a close friend who is also my audio dealer. I do all of his phono setups and he takes care of my needs. I'll keep an eye out for a good Ref 5se and keep the thread updated.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bobvin and tima

Pacha

Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2014
19
27
220
First update:
I've found a Ref 5se for sale, the asking price is $6599.99. What do you all think of that price and besides tube hours and overall condition, what questions should I be asking the seller?
Thank you
 
Last edited:

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,322
1,969
720
Portugal
First update:
I've found a Ref 5se for sale, the asking price is $6599.99. What do you all think of that price and besides tube hours and overall condition, what questions should I be asking the seller?
Thank you

If you feel you need to ask questions to the seller, then you have a problem. Tube hours are meaningless, the counter can be user reset. IMHO you should research the seller, not the REF 5se! :)
 
  • Like
  • Haha
Reactions: christoph and Pacha

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
2,301
1,926
460
the Upper Midwest
First update:
I've found a Ref 5se for sale, the asking price is $6599.99. What do you all think of that price and besides tube hours and overall condition, what questions should I be asking the seller?
Thank you

Original msrp for 5SE in 2012 was $12,995. Your price is not a screaming bargain but seems reasonable for 8+/10 condition. You might ask the seller if he is the original owner and does he have any extra new tubes he could add to the deal. If you can get a serial nbr, ARC may be able to tell you if the unit has been in for repair. If you buy a 5SE, I suggest acquiring a new set of tubes for backup.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pacha

Bobvin

VIP/Donor
Jun 7, 2014
792
722
315
Redland, Oregon
www.purewatersystems.com
Take away typical 40% the dealer earns on sale of a new unit at full list price, the unit you mention really ought to be in (imho) pristine condition for the seller to be asking what he is. That said, it may be he is expecting a negotiation so is starting high. I‘m sure a clean, well cared for, cosmetically perfect unit could be found for less if you are patient.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pacha

lem321

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2014
45
16
238
First update:
I've found a Ref 5se for sale, the asking price is $6599.99. What do you all think of that price and besides tube hours and overall condition, what questions should I be asking the seller?
Thank you
Hi Pacha,
First of all, I think the 5SE is a great upgrade and matches the 2SE very well. I've owned both. I have tracked Audiogon prices on the 5SE over the last few years and selling prices have generally been as low as $5500 and up to the $6900 range. I think anything around $6000 or less would be a good price (for the buyer). I would ask total hours, age of the unit and whether it was an original 5SE or one that was upgraded from a Ref 5. Having the original box and accessories including the Owners Manual, tools, remote control (preferably metal) and documentation are desirable. Lots of pictures help and of course, seller feedback on Audiogon, usaudiomart, eBay, etc.
 

Nemal1

Active Member
Dec 9, 2018
155
86
33
58
The questions raised earlier are excellent and cover almost everything assuming the seller is being honest. Are you unable to listen prior to purchase?
you always have the opportunity to negotiate as well. Good luck...
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing