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Music Matters 11: Audio Research, Magnepan , HRS, AMG

KEF R Series

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by Mohammed Samji

Definitive Audio in Seattle, WA.

The night before Music Matters, I had a chance to spend a little extra time in Room 3. As I entered the dim room, two gentlemen were sitting dead center, 2nd row, soaking up the sweet spot.

Garth Leerer from Musical Surroundings dropped the needle on a blue grass LP playing on an AMG Giro turntable with AMG Teatro cartridge. As the tracks played, the smiles on their two faces said it all. Every few seconds sharing a few words of excitement with each other, giddy like kids, as they soaked up the emotion of the music. That’s what this hobby is all about. This room was a winner.

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So what’s the secret sauce?

The heart of the system was the new Audio Research Reference 6 preamplifier and Reference Phono 3 phono preamplifier. Downstream were a pair of Audio Research Reference 250 SE Mono amplifiers and a gigantic Magnepan MG20.7 speakers. All wired together with Transparent Audio Reference XL Gen 5 cable. Everything was sitting on Harmonic Resolution Systems bases and stands.

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The first thing you will notice about the Ref 6 and Ref Phono 3, are a fresh look. The gear looks much more modern, and takes design queues from the recent Audio Research Galileo line. It’s a much overdue change, but David Gordon of Audio Research told me that some of the fans aren’t happy with the new look. I support the updated look, and I think you will too! Internal changes include a six 6H30 vacuum tube based design compared to the previous generation that used four tubes, a larger power supply, new transformers, and a more rigid chassis.

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The Audio Research gear paired with the Magnepan speakers provided extremely black backgrounds, powerful dynamics, & a realistic reproduction of instruments. The Audio Research Reference Phono 3 delivered the best sound I have heard from the AMG Giro to date. I am interested to try the Reference Phono 3 with the larger AMG V12 in comparison to my current Audio Reference Phono 2 SE. David Gordon told me to expect the improvements to be significant, and an even larger improvement over my Reference Phono 2 that was upgraded to the SE edition.

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