You will only need to listen to a note or two of any well-recorded LP to hear the differences between ARC’s new Reference Phono 10 preamplifier and other tube phonostages Reference Phono 10 comes closer to transistor-like clarity, speed, and grip than any tube phonostage I’ve auditioned.This much I can say with confidence: If truth of timbre, bass and power-range weight and color, dynamic authority, and 3-D imaging on a vast 3-D soundstage are your foremost sonic priorities (and, on much music, I think the ARC’s three-dimensional, holistic presentation comes a bit closer to what I hear in life than solid-state’s somewhat flatter, more analytical one), then the Reference Phono 10 will be your preamp of choice. - TheAbsoluteSound
Audio Research was proud to introduce the first two-chassis phono preamplifier in their history, the Reference Phono 10. This model number was designated because it mirrors its line-stage counterpart, the Reference 10, providing an unsurpassed level of performance in its category. The front panel has a 7” diagonal touch screen mounted asymmetrically, and only two buttons for power and mute.
The interactive touch screen allows the user to change inputs (and input names), equalization, loading, gain, muting, foreground and background colors of the display, display intensity, and tube hours. Control functions are duplicated on the supplied metal remote. The front and side panels are 3/8” brushed and anodized aluminum, and the tops of both units are acrylic with a laser-cut perforation pattern (chosen for its sonic benefits).
The Audio Research Reference Phono 10 embodies everything we know about phono playback, and incorporates many of the insights gained in the development of the Reference Anniversary and Reference 10 line-stage preamplifiers. The Audio Research Reference Phono 10 is a true dual-mono design with totally separate signal paths for each channel, from the dual-mono power supply forward. There are separate high- and low-voltage transformers for each channel, and sufficient energy storage for a serious amplifier, fully twice the capacity of a Reference Phono 2, providing incredible dynamic headroom.
There are twenty stages of electronic regulation, with separate vacuum-tube regulation for each channel. Dual umbilical cords connect between the power supply and the separate analog stage. The power cord inlet contains a 20A IEC connector. The dual-mono audio circuits are fully discrete, pure Class-A, with zero feedback. The low gain audio section uses eight 6H30 tubes, four per channel. Rather than using a step-up transformer, special high-gain, extremely low-noise FETs are used in the high- gain section. This approach is costlier than using a transformer, but it is well worth the dramatic performance increase. The design is fully balanced, with an input circuit that allows its RCA inputs to operate in a balanced configuration without requiring an inverter.
There are two sets of inputs with the same flexibility as the Reference Phono 2SE, including switchable Low and High gain, seven loading options including 47k, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 ohms, plus Custom which can be factory-set according to your needs. In addition to standard RIAA equalization, the Reference Phono 10 also includes early Columbia and Decca equalization curves.From the first note on that treasured LP, its greatness is at once obvious and breathtaking—the Audio Research Reference Phono 10 is a sonic blockbuster that establishes the new standard in analog music playback. Emphatically. Great vinyl takes on an explosive, dynamic quality that is normally encountered only in a live performance, whether the crescendo of an orchestra, a roaring rock band, or the intricacies of a solo piano.
When called for, the stage is vast, holographic, enveloping: Dimensionality is redefined, with an engaging, ‘reach out and touch it’ quality. The RP10 resolves so much detail without grain, delighting listeners with new information extracted from those familiar grooves. The musical experience is so much more involving and persuasive—you do not want it to end.