Almost since the inception of the brand, Audio Research has produced some of the finest components for music reproduction; this is especially true with regard to preamplifiers. In 1973, the SP3 was hailed as the best preamplifier available, and this tradition of excellence has continued ever since. The Reference Series from Audio Research was first introduced in 1995 and has been the ultimate representation of performance, musicality and power. The Reference 6 is the latest chapter of our story.

The Reference 6 is not simply a market-driven product, but rather, a solution to a need which arose after the creation of the Reference SE Series amplifiers. According to Warren Gehl, who is responsible for sonic development of all Audio Research products, the new series of Reference amplifiers offer a level of musical and dynamic capability only made apparent when using the flagship, two-chassis Reference 10 preamplifier. Both preamplifiers of the Reference Series need the ability to provide the full benefit of this new sonic landscape. Increasing the tube count to six in the analog section, and advancements in the power supply improved both macro- and microdynamics and lowered distortion.

The Reference 6 also offers better bass control, relaxed purity and more dimensionality. Further improvements include a more grainless presentation, greater transparency, better speed, and more continuity across the musical spectrum. Quite simply, the Reference 6 improves upon its predecessor in every way for a more palpable and immediate musical performance. Numerous elements – transformers, capacitors, wiring – are designs exclusive to Audio Research and the Reference 6.

A completely new chassis has allowed not only a more beautiful aesthetic, but also provides more structural rigidity to assist in the dissipation of electrical and mechanical interferences. Six premium 6H30 tubes are now used in the audio circuit (increased from four tubes in the Reference 5SE) to provide an even quieter background and increased dynamic range. The tube-regulated power supply is also a new design for improved sonics. New circuit boards, circuit designs, and larger power transformer have been implemented to provide robustness and serviceability.

A new volume control with finer step gradation and higher performance completes the system.

Additional information


  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: +0-3dB, 0.4Hz to 200kHz at rated output (Balanced, 200k ohms load).
  • DISTORTION: Less than .01% at 2V RMS BAL output.
  • GAIN: Main output: 12dB Balanced output, 6dB SE output. Record out: 0dB (Processor input: 0dB BAL
  • INPUT IMPEDANCE: 120K ohms Balanced, 60K ohms SE. Inputs: 4 balanced, 4 single-ended. Assignable
    processor passthrough.
  • OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: 600 ohms Balanced, 300 ohms SE Main (2). 20K ohms minimum load and 2000pF
    maximum capacitance. Outputs (3): 2 main, 1 record out (XLR and RCA connectors).
  • OUTPUT POLARITY: Non-inverting.
  • RATED OUTPUTS: 2V RMS (1V RMS SE) into 200K ohm balanced load (maximum balanced output capability
    is 70V RMS at less than 0.5% THD at 1kHz).
  • CROSSTALK: -88dB or better at 1kHz and 10 kHz.
  • CONTROLS: Rotary encoders: Volume (103 steps), Select Input. Push Buttons: Power, Menu, Enter, Mono,
    Invert, Mute.
  • POWER SUPPLIES: Electronically regulated low and high voltage supplies. Automatic 45 sec. warm-up/
    brown-out mute. Line regulation better than .01%.
  • NOISE: 1.7uV RMS residual IHF weighted balanced equivalent input noise with volume at 1 (109dB below 2V RMS output.)
  • TUBE COMPLEMENT: (6)-6H30P dual triodes, plus (1 each) 6550WE and 6H30P in power supply.
  • POWER REQUIREMENTS: 100-135VAC 60Hz (200-250VAC 50/60Hz) 130 watts. Standby: 2 watts.
    Width: 19” (48 cm)
    Height: 7.8” (19.8 cm)
    Depth: 16.5” (41.9 cm)
    Handles extend 1.6” (4 cm) forward of the front panel.
    Weight: 37.5 lbs. (17 kg) Net; 49 lbs. (22.3 kg) Shipping


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