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  1. #1

    Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi all,

    So thinking about trying to arrange for a demo of the Momentum HD preamp to see how it compares to my current Ref40.

    However, before I do so I was wondering if anyone else had tried this? Would be great to hear feedback of any pros and cons.

    The rest of my system consists of DCS Vivaldi stack, Magico S7’s and Momentum M400’s. Transparent cabling throughout.

    Just to clarify I am very happy with what I have but as always in this hobby I am wondering if missing out on something better!

    Thanks for your input
    Marc.

  2. #2
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    same brand pre and power rocks!
    samsung soundbar & subs

  3. #3
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    For reference purposes, I used to have an ARC Ref 5SE with a DAG S200. As much as I liked the 5SE, the change to the Momentum Pre was well worth it. The DAG synergy is special.

    I have since updated the Pre to the HD version and the amp to the S250 edition.
    _______________

    Mike

  4. #4

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Agreed re synergy of having the same brand, although sometimes the warmth of a valve pre-amp with a solid state amplifier works extremely well.

    When I changed my amplifiers from the ARC Ref250SE's to the M400's I was amazed by the improvement, especially in areas where I though the ARC's would at least match the Momentum's.

    I am kind of thinking the same here, the ARC pre-amp should do some things better than the Momentum HD but with experience on the amplification change this may not end up being the case.

    The ARC preamp I have, the anniversary edition is rather special, so be good to see if anyone else has tried the change with this in place.

    Thanks for your replies
    Marc.

  5. #5
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Marc - Indeed, the ARC Ref40 is special. Do you have a DAG dealer near your home? Well worth doing an audition with the rest of your system in your environment.
    _______________

    Mike

  6. #6

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Ritmo View Post
    Marc - Indeed, the ARC Ref40 is special. Do you have a DAG dealer near your home? Well worth doing an audition with the rest of your system in your environment.
    Hi Mike,

    Yep I do, just didn't want to start down that road until had some ideas of benefits etc ��.

    Will schedule the demo though now! After have done so will report back findings
    Thanks
    M.

  7. #7
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi Mark,
    Yes I have done exactly what you are contemplating. I had the Ref 40 for 9 great years and never thought I would change this piece in my system (yes, audiophile naivete!). I have an s250 feeding M3s and the Ref 40 seemed to work really well with this. Then I had an opportunity to hear the Momentum HD at home. In only took a few minutes to tell that the Momentum was a much better match in my system. Frankly the improvement was shocking. I suspect their is synergy here between the preamp and amp but I also think that the Momentum HD is just a superior preamp as it should be at its price and more recent design. Jon Valin has described a fine grain to the sound of older ARC gear which I never understood till it was gone with the HD. More detail, better bass and broader sound stage. I could go on but I would probably have to go online and consult the "audiophile cliche generator." Don't hesitate to have an in-home audition and I would be surprised if you don't agree.

  8. #8

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Milt View Post
    Hi Mark,
    Yes I have done exactly what you are contemplating. I had the Ref 40 for 9 great years and never thought I would change this piece in my system (yes, audiophile naivete!). I have an s250 feeding M3s and the Ref 40 seemed to work really well with this. Then I had an opportunity to hear the Momentum HD at home. In only took a few minutes to tell that the Momentum was a much better match in my system. Frankly the improvement was shocking. I suspect their is synergy here between the preamp and amp but I also think that the Momentum HD is just a superior preamp as it should be at its price and more recent design. Jon Valin has described a fine grain to the sound of older ARC gear which I never understood till it was gone with the HD. More detail, better bass and broader sound stage. I could go on but I would probably have to go online and consult the "audiophile cliche generator." Don't hesitate to have an in-home audition and I would be surprised if you don't agree.
    Hi,

    Thank you so much for your response.

    I concur, the saying ‘this is one piece that will
    never leave the system’, seems to be something which we audiophiles should never really state!!

    All I know is that when I did the demo for the mono M400’s I was shocked at the difference. Again for the cost uplift you kind of expect it to be better but that as we know in this hobby does not always equate to better!

    From what you mention above and the similar equipment you had / have as me, I’m sure I will conclude the same as you.

    Right, now to arrange the home demo Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 PreampMomentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp. Will report back findings.

    Thanks again
    Marc.


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  9. #9

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Please do report your findings.
    l have seen many posts of people preferring tube/SS pairing and I suspect it depends on many factors (brand, speakers, room, cabling etc,).

  10. #10

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by gshelley View Post
    Please do report your findings.
    l have seen many posts of people preferring tube/SS pairing and I suspect it depends on many factors (brand, speakers, room, cabling etc,).
    So I agree with the above, however after having my M400's in place, they provide the warmth of the valves and the power and grip of solid state. So I am thinking if that is anything to go by then the preamp will only add to this... We shall see ��

  11. #11

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    One other question, do you think there will be a new pre-amp which will be produced for the Relentless (although it will be a different price level I should imagine)? Maybe trickle down into a further update to the Momentum HD?
    Thoughts?

  12. #12
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    One other question, do you think there will be a new pre-amp which will be produced for the Relentless (although it will be a different price level I should imagine)? Maybe trickle down into a further update to the Momentum HD?
    Thoughts?
    Yes I was talking to Dan at the world introduction to for the XVX speakers and he hopes to have it ready for the Munich show. I am looking forward to seeing the design. Multiple boxes if I remember correctly.
    Jim

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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Have you seen the latest Stereophile and Jason Serinus's review of the Momentum HD? In the text of the article, there is a mini interview with Dan D'Agostino wherein Dan mentions that many of the improvements to the HD version came from his developmental efforts of the Relentless preamp, so the HD IS the trickle down. BTW, Serinus wrote a very positive review of the Momentum HD and preferred it to his ARC Ref 6 by a substantial margin. Of course, he might be considered as biased towards D'Agostino products based on his rave review of the Progression monoblocks that are currently in his system.

  14. #14

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi Jim,
    So I should imagine at a completely different price level, more in keeping with one of the Relentless mono’s!! Be interesting to see what it is though. Munich isn’t that far away now
    Thanks
    M.

  15. #15

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Thanks for the heads up re the review, will take a read of that. I did hear the HD incorporated trickle down from the Relentless. Was wondering if he had uncovered other areas when building the new Relentless preamp. Suppose we will see soon.

    I would say the Ref6 to HD is probably not a fair comparison. Maybe Ref10 or Ref40 be better, but even still should imagine the resulting analysis would be the same. I will find out soon!!

    M.

  16. #16
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    Thanks for the heads up re the review, will take a read of that. I did hear the HD incorporated trickle down from the Relentless. Was wondering if he had uncovered other areas when building the new Relentless preamp. Suppose we will see soon.

    I would say the Ref6 to HD is probably not a fair comparison. Maybe Ref10 or Ref40 be better, but even still should imagine the resulting analysis would be the same. I will find out soon!!

    M.
    Yes, I suspect the Relentless preamp will be a four box affair and probably 80K or more....maybe a lot more.
    I know that D'Agostino is also working on the Progression integrated to be released soon. It will be offered at a very attractive price, by D'Agostino standards.
    Yes Marc, do let us know what you think of the Momentum HD. I am smitten by it.

  17. #17

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Milt View Post
    Yes, I suspect the Relentless preamp will be a four box affair and probably 80K or more....maybe a lot more.
    I know that D'Agostino is also working on the Progression integrated to be released soon. It will be offered at a very attractive price, by D'Agostino standards.
    Yes Marc, do let us know what you think of the Momentum HD. I am smitten by it.
    I reckon way more than £80k, probably closer to the £125k of a mono amp! So not in my league!!

    Will let you know, I think I will be rather smitten too....
    M.

  18. #18

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    U might want to think about this:

    Get rid of the dCS stack and REF40 preamp. Move to an MSB SelectII and use it as your preamp as well as your dac. I think you'll be amazed at the improvement. Then get the MSB M500 amps......then you'll have amazing synergy...

  19. #19

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsrule View Post
    U might want to think about this:

    Get rid of the dCS stack and REF40 preamp. Move to an MSB SelectII and use it as your preamp as well as your dac. I think you'll be amazed at the improvement. Then get the MSB M500 amps......then you'll have amazing synergy...
    Thanks for the suggestion, although wont be getting rid of my DCS Vivaldi stack, I think it is superb. Also the M400's are just something else, best amps I have ever heard / had in my system by a long way.

    M.

  20. #20

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi,

    So I managed to obtain a demo unit and had this in place for a week or so before it was returned to the dealer, hence I wanted to provide an update.

    The look, build and quality of the unit was amazing – the meter for the volume control was just superb.

    So in some areas I thought the preamp was excellent, such as the detail and control. The bass was much better focussed too. These were definitely better than the ARC Ref40 unit.

    However, the soundstage was not that large to start with and although it did improve over the initial couple of days, it never really opened up. The soundstage was always limited between the speakers – the system had lost its air, naturalness and sparkle. It sounded maybe more accurate but more clinical.

    We swapped the ARC back at the end and the soundstage and airiness returned (minus that detail and control to some extent).

    In summary and being honest I was actually disappointed. I had expected the D’Agostino to excel in all areas and simply blow the ARC away, but it didn’t.

    I did query with the local distributor if this was what they expected or if there happened to be any other issue (such as compatibility of some type) that caused my above findings. The only response was that it was not valves and hence possibly the difference in presentation.

    Although this is true, I used to have the ARC Ref250SE amplifiers before the Momentum M400’s and the M400’s were substantially better than the ARC in every way, valves or no valves!

    Has anyone else found this when trying the preamp? Any other ideas welcome! I am kind of wanting to re-try again when we are back to a more normal way of life and have the distributor here so he can come and hear it.

    Thanks and stay safe
    M.

  21. #21

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Duplicate post
    Last edited by Marck1973; April 30, 2020 at 05:34 AM. Reason: posted twice for some reason

  22. #22
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    Hi,

    So I managed to obtain a demo unit and had this in place for a week or so before it was returned to the dealer, hence I wanted to provide an update.

    The look, build and quality of the unit was amazing – the meter for the volume control was just superb.

    So in some areas I thought the preamp was excellent, such as the detail and control. The bass was much better focussed too. These were definitely better than the ARC Ref40 unit.

    However, the soundstage was not that large to start with and although it did improve over the initial couple of days, it never really opened up. The soundstage was always limited between the speakers – the system had lost its air, naturalness and sparkle. It sounded maybe more accurate but more clinical.

    We swapped the ARC back at the end and the soundstage and airiness returned (minus that detail and control to some extent).

    In summary and being honest I was actually disappointed. I had expected the D’Agostino to excel in all areas and simply blow the ARC away, but it didn’t.

    I did query with the local distributor if this was what they expected or if there happened to be any other issue (such as compatibility of some type) that caused my above findings. The only response was that it was not valves and hence possibly the difference in presentation.

    Although this is true, I used to have the ARC Ref250SE amplifiers before the Momentum M400’s and the M400’s were substantially better than the ARC in every way, valves or no valves!

    Has anyone else found this when trying the preamp? Any other ideas welcome! I am kind of wanting to re-try again when we are back to a more normal way of life and have the distributor here so he can come and hear it.

    Thanks and stay safe
    M.
    Hi M.

    This sort of does not surprise me, although I would have hoped the HD woukd have been a lot better as well.

    Great tube pre amps excel in soundstage, air , sparkle and 3d like depth it's hard to go back to SS preamps after you have lived & breathed this in your system.

    I recently compared the Dag Progression pre amp with my cj GAT - The Progression has a higher retail price. the Progression sounded nice and by itself was very enjoyable, but putting back the GAT added life to all music and with similar transparency .
    My friend like the Dag as it was smoother in the top end- to me it was be a bit more muted and boring.


    cheers
    Source: Technics SP10mk3 - Thales Simplicity II, TW Raven AC-3 - Graham Phantom, SME 3012-R, Exclusive P3,,Linn LP12 - Naim ARO
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  23. #23
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    Hi,

    So I managed to obtain a demo unit and had this in place for a week or so before it was returned to the dealer, hence I wanted to provide an update.

    The look, build and quality of the unit was amazing – the meter for the volume control was just superb.

    So in some areas I thought the preamp was excellent, such as the detail and control. The bass was much better focussed too. These were definitely better than the ARC Ref40 unit.

    However, the soundstage was not that large to start with and although it did improve over the initial couple of days, it never really opened up. The soundstage was always limited between the speakers – the system had lost its air, naturalness and sparkle. It sounded maybe more accurate but more clinical.

    We swapped the ARC back at the end and the soundstage and airiness returned (minus that detail and control to some extent).

    In summary and being honest I was actually disappointed. I had expected the D’Agostino to excel in all areas and simply blow the ARC away, but it didn’t.

    I did query with the local distributor if this was what they expected or if there happened to be any other issue (such as compatibility of some type) that caused my above findings. The only response was that it was not valves and hence possibly the difference in presentation.

    Although this is true, I used to have the ARC Ref250SE amplifiers before the Momentum M400’s and the M400’s were substantially better than the ARC in every way, valves or no valves!

    Has anyone else found this when trying the preamp? Any other ideas welcome! I am kind of wanting to re-try again when we are back to a more normal way of life and have the distributor here so he can come and hear it.

    Thanks and stay safe
    M.
    Hi Marc,

    You may want to hold out for the ARC Ref 50, which is due out this year for ARC’s 50th anniversary. I owned the ARC Ref 10 and its dimensionality, huge soundstage and powerful dynamics are hard to beat in a preamp.

    Best of Luck,
    Ken
    "No summit worth climbing is easily attained."
    --------------------------------------------
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  24. #24

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the update, so are ARC definitely doing an anniversary preamp this year? Any idea on pricing?!

    I have compared my preamp to the current Ref10 and tbh I prefer mine - they did something in the anniversary edition which is superior (in my view) to the actual full production run. I know that they lost money on the anniversary preamp - it was more of a show of what they can produce (in a limited supply).

    Rgds
    Marc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinist View Post
    Hi Marc,

    You may want to hold out for the ARC Ref 50, which is due out this year for ARC’s 50th anniversary. I owned the ARC Ref 10 and its dimensionality, huge soundstage and powerful dynamics are hard to beat in a preamp.

    Best of Luck,
    Ken

  25. #25

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Exactly my view, I thought it would still surpass the ARC in every area.

    I am aware that Dan has always focussed on amplifiers (Krell days etc) and ARC has always been known really for this preamps, so shouldn't be surprised really, however I was still disappointed.

    Did your friend also comment on soundstage?

    The Ref50 could be interesting....

    Take care
    M.
    Quote Originally Posted by XV-1 View Post
    Hi M.

    This sort of does not surprise me, although I would have hoped the HD woukd have been a lot better as well.

    Great tube pre amps excel in soundstage, air , sparkle and 3d like depth it's hard to go back to SS preamps after you have lived & breathed this in your system.

    I recently compared the Dag Progression pre amp with my cj GAT - The Progression has a higher retail price. the Progression sounded nice and by itself was very enjoyable, but putting back the GAT added life to all music and with similar transparency .
    My friend like the Dag as it was smoother in the top end- to me it was be a bit more muted and boring.


    cheers

  26. #26
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    Exactly my view, I thought it would still surpass the ARC in every area.

    I am aware that Dan has always focussed on amplifiers (Krell days etc) and ARC has always been known really for this preamps, so shouldn't be surprised really, however I was still disappointed.

    Did your friend also comment on soundstage?

    The Ref50 could be interesting....

    Take care
    M.
    LOL. My friend is no audiophile, so listening with him is generally some beers just enjoying the music - I was surprised he noticed that difference.

    If you can get a demo of a GAT2, try it out. Or hold out for the REF50

    cheers
    Source: Technics SP10mk3 - Thales Simplicity II, TW Raven AC-3 - Graham Phantom, SME 3012-R, Exclusive P3,,Linn LP12 - Naim ARO
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  27. #27

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Your findings aren't that surprising to me. A few years ago I purchased the new Mark Levinson No536 mono blocks and the No52 Ref preamp. They sounded amazing together but then last year got a chance to try a BAT Rex II in place of the Levinson preamp and well ... sold the Levinson as the RexII had the warmth and presence the Levinson did not. The Bat Rex II is a two box 18 tube preamp(only 16 active). Enjoy your ARC and the 50th Anniversary might be really special and I plan to audition that also but BAT did just release the Rex III. It never ends .....

    George
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  28. #28
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    Exactly my view, I thought it would still surpass the ARC in every area.

    I am aware that Dan has always focussed on amplifiers (Krell days etc) and ARC has always been known really for this preamps, so shouldn't be surprised really, however I was still disappointed.

    Did your friend also comment on soundstage?

    The Ref50 could be interesting....

    Take care
    M.
    Hi Marck,
    I see on another forum that you have decided to pull the trigger and go with the Momentum HD. Good for you! I am not missing my “forever” Ref 40 in the least. Let me know what you think once the Momentum HD has settled in your system. I suspect you had another go at it before deciding. I know you were originally dissatisfied with soundstaging the first time around.

  29. #29
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Milt View Post
    Jon Valin has described a fine grain to the sound of older ARC gear which I never understood till it was gone with the HD.
    In the REF40, much of this can be remedied by putting tube dampers on the 6550 tubes in the PS.

  30. #30
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Milt View Post
    Hi Marck,
    I see on another forum that you have decided to pull the trigger and go with the Momentum HD. Good for you! I am not missing my “forever” Ref 40 in the least. Let me know what you think once the Momentum HD has settled in your system. I suspect you had another go at it before deciding. I know you were originally dissatisfied with soundstaging the first time around.
    The Momentum HD is amazing - building off the already stellar Momentum, I am hearing more refinement allowing for beautiful presentation - things have gotten into holographic territory really complimenting the 400s. Keeping the pairing will gain you sound quality in spade. Why, they are designed to support one another.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
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  31. #31

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Hi Milt et al,

    So you are quite correct I have now swapped out my Ref40 for the Momentum HD preamplifier. Sorry for the delay in providing an update!

    As I mentioned above I was always surprised that on initial review it did not perform anywhere near what I expected. Something kept on at me that there must have been an issue. The only thing that was not changed was my Transparent cables. So I contacted Transparent and enquired what would happen if I used my existing cables (which were tuned for valves) on the D'Agostino. There response was that it would make a significant difference...

    On that basis I asked again to borrow the preamp but this time borrow some Transparent cables that had been configured for solid state (and specifically the D'Agostino equipment). After a few weeks I managed to get the loan piece back with the said cables.

    As soon as we turned the system on it was like a WOW moment. The system sounded just amazing (and that with it still being cold!). The soundstage issue that I reported previously was not an issue now. Infact if anything it was more accurate and focussed. The vocals were so powerful, as if the performer was standing in my room.

    The realism and naturalness that the system was portraying was simply at another level to the ARC preamp. I always thought this is where the valves would win the battle against the solid state, however in this case it was not. Infact in every area the Momentum was simply superior to the Ref40.

    So long story short, I now have my own Momentum HD, installed a couple of weeks back. I also have my cables reconfigured. The system is running in, it has about 150 hours so far, and continues to improve. To say I am delighted is an understatement. I would say that I am done and no more changes will ever be made, however we all know how that ends up 😄.

    Take care and stay safe
    Marc.

  32. #32
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Congrats Marc, perseverance usually pays off in the end. I had a similar experience when I added Dragon Source power cords to my Select 2 DAC.

    Enjoy,
    Ken
    "No summit worth climbing is easily attained."
    --------------------------------------------
    Source: MSB Select II DAC with Two Mono Powerbases, Femto 33 Clock, Renderer V2 Digital Input Module and Roon Nucleus Plus
    Amps: Vandersteen M7-HPA Mono Amps
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  33. #33
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    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Congrats Marc. It’s been interesting to follow your journey. Enjoy the new preamp in good health.


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  34. #34
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Poland
    Posts
    1,560

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Congrats !

    A friend of mine, who has M400 monos, also changed the ARC Ref 6 to Momentum Pre and couldn't be happier.
    Adam

    Speakers: Magico M3
    Amp: Vitus SM-103 / MSB M202
    Digital: Lampi Pacific + Lampi DSD Komputer
    Cables: AQ WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC / AQ Hurricane PCs

  35. #35

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Thank you Mike. It has been a bit of a journey, although the ending makes it well worth it. Many happy minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of listening to music ahead 😄

  36. #36

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Elberoth View Post
    Congrats !

    A friend of mine, who has M400 monos, also changed the ARC Ref 6 to Momentum Pre and couldn't be happier.
    It is certainly a significant step up, but being fair to the ARC, which is great preamp, the Momentum is several times the cost of the ARC so I would hope that it does surpass it.

  37. #37
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Barrington, IL
    Posts
    7

    Re: Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

    Quote Originally Posted by Marck1973 View Post
    It is certainly a significant step up, but being fair to the ARC, which is great preamp, the Momentum is several times the cost of the ARC so I would hope that it does surpass it.
    Agreed. Having had ARC preamps for 25 years, I have nothing but respect for their products, particularly their preamps. And because of that I was really surprised that someone known for amplifiers could come up with such an outstanding preamp. Well done Dan! And congratulations Marck.

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Momentum HD vs Arc Ref40 Preamp

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