C'mon man, ya must have the two new pieces of ARC gear broken in by now. The silence is killing me.
There's a third new product, aside from the much talked about Ref2 phono and Ref5 linestage, and it is a SS integrated amp (DSi200), pushing out 200w/ch with an MSRP of $5,995. Here's a link with an overview of the product at arcdb.com:
Would love to hear either the folks from TAS or an early adopters who have switched over from tubed ARC amps to this SS integrated. Thx
Thanks, I saw that a while back.
I'm sorry for my relative silence lately but I've been very busy with our Special Issue, manufacturer visits, and other writing assignments. Because it is still changing its overall balance (and developing typical ARC-like bloom and neutrality) with break-in, I'm not yet ready to comment on the Reference 5 in detail, save to say what I've already said-- it is, clearly and unmistakably, the highest resolution, lowest noise linestage preamplifier that ARC has made, a worthy companion piece to the Reference 2 phonostage.
About the Reference 2, which I've had in my system longer and have used more frequently (in fact, constantly), I can be more explicit. This is, overall, the most lifelike phonostage I've heard--and certainly (and by far) the best phonostage ARC has ever made. It is markedly lower in noise and higher in resolution than the (admirable) PH7; its bass is very nearly as good (solid, defined, extended, and dynamic beyond any tube or tube-hybrid phonostage of my experience) as the best solid-state bass; its midrange is a marvel of realistic tone color, sensational dynamics, extremely fine detail, and realistic bloom; its top end is every bit as good as its midband.
While the Audio Tekne TEA-2000 phonostage is still slightly superior in the heart of the midband at retrieving very, very low-level detail (for instance, you can hear every ripple of Alison Krauss' vibrato with a clarity that the Ref 2 can't quite match--yet), it is outclassed in the bass (which is comparatively less well-defined and extended) and the treble (which is comparatively a bit rolled) by the Ref 2; it it is also not the Ref 2's equal in soundstage breadth. The excellent Soulution phonostage (built into the 720 full-function preamp) is somewhat bigger and more powerful in the bass than the Ref 2, almost as good in the midrange and treble, though ultimately not quite as airy, bloomy, delicately detailed, or finely colored as the Ref 2, and slightly darker in balance than the almost-dead-neutral Ref 2 (though not solid-state dark). It is excellent at soundstaging, equaling the Ref 2's breadth and width of stage but, perhaps not the Ref 2's depth of image.
With the exceptions noted, the Ref 2 is superior to every other phonostage I have used and recommended. Plus, it sounds even better than described paired with the Reference 5 (as one might expect), though it also sounds great with the Soulution 720 and the BAlabo BC-1 MkII preamps.
Mr. Valin -
First, let me say how much I have enjoyed your writing (particularly your movie reviews) in the now-defunct "Perfect Vision" magazine. Your style, wit, and insight never failed to provoke thought.
I would happily pay coin of the realm to subscribe to any periodical to which you routinely contribute. Those might include?
Cordially - Your fan - Boomzilla
I was writing film reviews for our on-line magazine Playback, but the magazine's format changed recently and "software reviews" were a casualty. At the moment the only place I can be read is right here on-line or in TAS. No film reviews at this time, I'm afraid. But thank you again for the very kind words.
My 3-year subscription to TAS is now in the queue. Tell them I said you deserve a raise!
Please encourage Mr. Pearson (he still there?) to modify the TAS format just enough for some movie reviews. I know that is not the main focus of the magazine, but I've yet to find another magazine that matched the quality of movie reviews found in the old Perfect Vision. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Cordially - Boomzilla
A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!
I started this thread to keep track of the new ARC REF gear!
I apologize for hijacking the thread - I'm new here & just happened upon Mr. Valin's post.
Geez, the '5 must have some mighty finicky parts if it's still not burned in. We are all watching/waiting.
Don't blame ARC. It's not the the Ref 5's "finicky" parts, so much as the amount of time I've been able to devote to breaking it in!
I've been preparing a review of the Soulution electronics over the last month and, naturally, I've had the Soulution gear in my system most of the time.
C'mon Jon, it's time for more on the ARC goodies!
What's the rest of your system? Have you heard the ARC yourself?
Mr. Valin seems to be very tepid about it. Does that mean you will steer away from it?
I heard the REF5 on Tuesday, driving Bryston 28B amps, into Focal Maestro speakers. Not sure of the front end, but think it was Meridien. As I was unfamiliar with that combination AND the fact that the '5 had just a little more than 300 hours on it, I'll reserve judgement.
JV has a review of the ARC REF Pnono2 coming up in issue 199 and I'd have to think that the '5 wouldn't be too far behind if it isn't a part of that one. I haven't sensed Jon being tepid about the new ARC gear at all.
I'm still working on other reviews! But...it's getting cooler here, which is another way of saying it's finally "610T Weather." I did conduct an interesting experiment while a truly golden-eared Japanese equipment designer, who does not speak much English, was visiting me. We were listening to a competitor's gear--solid-state monoblock amps and a solid-state preamp--and the sound was great. I said, "Let's try something." I swapped out the solid-state preamp for the ARC Reference 5, then dropped the needle again. My Japanese friend looked dumbstruck. "What has caused this wonderful change?" he said with astonishment. "Tubes," I replied. He shook his head and said, "Cannot just be tubes. Must be ARC technology."
That kind of sums it up.
Jon, here in the Philippines, ARC gear is quite popular and their recent line of reference products have sold pretty well inspite of the steep price of admission. I myself have used a ref 3 preamp for the past 3 years when the local dealer told me to pick up a demo ref 5 and just break it in for him. How's that for salesmanship. I used it for a week, then hooked back my ref 3 which I firmly believed could easily match the performance of the 5, considering that the two have basically the same parts and tube complement. How wrong i was. I'm now the very happy owner of the ref 5. This baby is so good I'd never thought i'd see the day when I'd describe the ref 3 as being grainy, sibilant and somewhat raw. Btw, have you heard the HD 220 amp of ARC? Thats another story to tell.
I'm curious as to how many hours you now have on your Ref5
Hi, about 20 hours on the ref 5, out of the box its bright but it quickly settles in a couple of hours. How much better it will get i can't say.
I find your comments most interesting inasmuch as ARC recommends a 600 hour break-in and to date everyone who owns one (except you) have had negative comments about the opening up of the bottom end until then. How did you get so lucky?
I think the reports about the breaking in of the Ref 5 are greatly exaggerated. I've used a new Ref 5 for about 150 hours, then put back my own Ref 3 (about 1100 hours) and boy, was I disappointed with the sound of the Ref 3! Btw, this is something I'd never thought I would say!
by all accounts of many other Ref5 users it would seem apparent that it is your impression that is overly exaggerated. You and dafos seem to be the only ones happy with your minimum break in. Everyone else has reported issues with either absent, faulty or poor bass until they come close to the 600 hours of break in.
Oneobbgyn, i'd like to make it clear that i am not very particular about bass reproduction. So long as its not boomy or too lean, i'll live with it. Needless to say, i do not find the bass of the ref 5, at 20 hours, lacking in comparison with my ref 3 which had over 2000 hours. Honestly, i can never describe the bass of a new ref 5 as "faulty, poor or absent!" But let me reiterate that I strongly agree with Zeb that i never thought i'd describe the ref 3 as somewhat crude sounding in comparison with the ref 5. To ref 3 owners who for some reason finances are tight, i suggest you don't audition the ref 5, it'll be hard to go back and one hour, and not 600, is all you'll need to confirm this.
I kinda agree with Zeb and dafos, oneobgyn. I didn't find the bass faulty, poor, or absent when I plugged the thing in. Of course, I've been listening to LPs via the Reference 2, which is fully broken in, so that may have made a difference. I do think the thing is a bit darkish sounding and flat in aspect at the very first, albeit extremely detailed with what I judged to be newfound control and extension and speed in the bottom octave. In other words, I thought it sounded a bit tight at first, like a coiled spring. Over time (and I mean a relatively short time, certainly nothing like 600 hours) it has begun to relax, to develop the air and bloom I'm used to and to shed its slight darkness and move closer to dead neutral.
Hey Johnathan, did you actually cut up the nordost cable into 17 one meter lengths and try to resell it?
Well I cannot speak with any authority other than as a former Ref3 owner (whichBTW I loved). However there are just too many other opinions of audiophiles here, some of which I know, feel just the opposite. I guess we are all waiting with baited breath for JV's review. Several Ref5 owners and posters to this thread also seem to feel opposite to Zeb, JV and Dafos. On any tube gear would you not agree that the bass is the last to open up. I am perplexed to understand how zeb and dafos say that the bass is not an issue after only a few hours of break in.
I am not suggesting that the Ref 5 sounded its best out of the box. However, it did sound very good and improved over time. I did not alternate with my Ref 3 throughout the first 150 hours, but at 150 hours, the Ref 5 was far superior to my fully broken in Ref 3. Reports of non-existing bass for the first umpteen hours are plainly wrong, I am sorry to say (assuming the unit is not faulty).
The only slightly negative thing I found with the Ref 5 is that it is more sensitive to mains quality than the Ref 3. I don't know why that is so, but I do occasionally get a very slight hum (inaudible when music is playing, even at very soft levels), when the Ref 3 is completely silent. It is not the fault of a particular unit either, as I have also tested another Ref 5 in the same environment - same behavior. In all other aspects, it is much much better than the Ref 3, which I used to think was pretty close to perfect!
You've got to love that hum though. ;)
Please correct me if i'm wrong but i did notice that ARC has reduced the gain (or in other words made the steps finer) per volume step at volume levels below 50 or so. This makes it a perfect match for the ARC Ref Phono and CD players when used in balanced mode as it gives the user a wider range of useable volume settings before things get too loud.
6 moon's visit to Soulutions factory - its history, philosophy and mission. Like the Magico Q, they are supposedly coming out with a "lower priced" range.
Any follow up on this? My unit has 400 plus hours, but compared to my current preamp the bass wt and presence is just not there. Certainly you guys are over the 600 hour mark by now. comments, thoughts impression?
I have the ARC Ref 2 MK2 pre and VT200 MK2 and also Magnepan 3.5R speakers with linn LP12 and koetsu rosewood signature. I want to buy the Ref phono 2. Which in your opinion is the most suitable power cable for the ARC Ref phono 2 and the interconnect cable from the phono to the pre amplifier.
Thank you very much for your time,
I wanted to know your opinion on something else as well.
About the matching of the ARC VT200 MK2 with the Magnepan MG 20.1. Is the power of the amplifier enough for this speaker?
thank you again
I can't tell you from personal experience whether the ARC VT200 MkII is sufficiently powerful to drive the extremely power-hungry Maggie 20.1s. A lot would depend on the music you listen to, how loud you typically listen, and the size of your room. However, based on my own experience with the 20.1s and that of colleagues I would hazard a guess that the VT200 probably isn't powerful enough for most listeners. In tubes, you would be better off with one of VTL's larger amps or with the big ARC 600T. In solid-state, there are many, many options, though as a value-for-dollar proposition I would certainly give the Bryston 28B a listen.
Perhaps a reminder that not everyone can afford the recommended amplifiers is applicable here at this point.? Any suggestions for lower priced gear that would be suitable in both power and quality please ?
I have no first-hand experience with this combo yet, but several people have told me that the $2895 Odyssey Stratos Extreme monoblocks (at about 300W into 4 ohms) do very well with Maggies. The $2k Parasound Halo A 21 stereo amp (at 400Wpc into 4 ohms) might also be a good match, as would the well-reviewed $4195 Bryston 7B-SST2 (900Wpc into 4 ohms). In tubes (or tube-hybrids), the $2195 Vincent SP-331MK (300Wpc into 4 ohms) could also be a candidate.
Obviously, these amps need to be listened to with the 20.1s before they can be recommended. I will soon be testing the Maggie 1.7s with the $995 Odyssey Khartago and the Odyssey Strati and will report my findings. (I hope to get my hands on the Bryston amp, too.)
Jon, I´m looking forward to hear your findings on how the Bryston amps, which are known for being a great match with Maggies, compare with other (ss and tube) amps on the 1.7s.
Whether you get your wish or not depends on Bryston! i can already tell you that Soulution 700s and Technical Brain TBP Zero/v.2s are GREAT matches. (Of course, at $115k and $40k, respectively, they damn well ought to be.) Up next...the ARC 610Ts, then the BAlabo BP-1 Mk-II, then the Symphonic Line Kraft 250, then the Odysseys, and then...well, as I said, that depends on Bryston.
Jon, I fully understand that the Soulution 700s, 610Ts, the BAlabo, etc are great matches (heard the impressive BAlabo combo driving Grande Utopias at Audio Concept in Stockholm) but it would be much more interesting to hear how more moderately priced amps like the Bryston 7B-SST2, ARC REF110, etc would do with the 1.7 (or my 3.6s). Looking forward to your review.
Any thoughts on the new two chassis Audio Research 40th Anniversary Reference preamplifier?
Not yet, but soon, I hope.
Have you heard much about Anthem MRX series? Any thoughts if they will be sufficient for the a pair of MMGs and MG12s?