As a former flagship preamp of Audio Research, the Reference 2 MK.II is still one hell of a preamp. Fully balanced in design and revised from the original Reference 2, this MK.II version offers a much improved sound over the original Reference 2. The major changes are improved power supply, revised analog circuit boards and the use of 6H30 tubes versus 6922 tubes in the original (uses six 6H30 versus nine 6922 tubes). All these improvements gave the MK.II better dynamics, imaging, focus and clarity. Details were sharper and music were a tad faster. Paired with a high quality poweramp and the combo will easily rival anything out there costing up to $20,000. Audio Research did offer owners of the Reference 2 and earlier Reference 1 the ability to upgrade to the MK.II for $3,000 and $5,000 respectively but this is a factory original MK.II and for the price we are asking for now, its a real audiophile bargain.
Cosmetically, the preamp is in great shape. Very minor scuff marks here and there from use but nothing major. We have the original box, manual (previous owner scribbled some notes on it) and remote.