A civil discussion about the state of Audio Research


I invested considerable time yesterday expressing my thoughts as to the current state of Audio Research as a company from the standpoint of quality (positive) and customer service (negative) only to have the entire thread censored/deleted by the mods.
For the small subsection of this Country’s population that are home audio enthusiasts, Audio Research is an iconic brand. Moreso than any other company, AR was the torchbearer for tubes when the rest of the amp manufacturers were turning to solid state. Further, though there were a few duds here and there, I am hard-pressed to think of any other company that has made as many legendary models of amps and preamps that have withstood the test of time (imho only Krell, Spectral, and CJ come to mind and present era super-brands such as CH and DarTZeel lack the history necessary).
My point yesterday is that AR’s acquisition by a parent company has resulted in a dilution of brand identity-similar to when Volvo was acquired by Ford between ’99 and ’10 and suddenly cross pollination of parts and assembly took place. My second point is that unlike the car industry, audio is a niche industry and to refuse to interact with customers directly and to instead insist that the customer go through the local dealer is inexcusable. I think we would mostly agree that when one tries to call AT&T about one’s cable and internet service only to get a computer interface and then eventually a clueless third-party intermediary who barely speaks English in India, the entire experience is frustrating and inadequate. I have news (apparently) for the parent company of AR; the present system is not altogether different from getting a clueless intermediary in some remote country who can not really help you.
My local AD is not a top-notch audio salon. They don’t stock a single piece of AR gear in their showroom and primarily cater to home theater. They have one salesperson who has a history of owning AR gear and he only works part-time. More importantly, based on other accounts, I have no confidence that if I experience a catastrophic problem AR will treat me with respect and take care of me. I have heard nothing but the opposite. The human touch is gone. My local Devore dealer, a nationally respected one-man shop dealer-used to carry AR and thanks to several awful experiences since the take-over dropped AR and now sells VTL instead.
I am hoping that this thread results in a CIVIL and appropriate, mostly intelligent discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of AR and AR's future. If the mods wish to delete this post as well, fine, but I want a forum to post my concerns about AR and if this one won’t accommodate me, I will find another.
Again, for the record, I am the original owner of a Ref 6 and Ref 150SE and therefor have ~$30,000 invested in my amp and pre alone. A paltry sum by the standards of some, but not paltry to me.
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Showing 5 responses by tomic601

glad to see the thread subject resurrected for sure. My point, ignored by the previous OP was that the topic and content had value. Let’s hope this one does as well. 

My situation and perspective might be a bit unique, but here goes. I currently own but one ARC component ( REf5se) but recommend and purchase for others many ARC bits built over a more than two decade span. I also have two systems in different geographic locations, one close to a middling ARC dealer and another with a fantastic dealer some 100 miles away ( easy drive considering the $ we are talking, right? )

ALL my interactions w selling dealers ARC or otherwise MUST offer more value than simple order taking

ARC so far still have ears and engineering talent, but IMO VTL and others are quickly catching up. ARC should bulk up the bench and offer better phone service. Stop charging extra for a metal remote. The plastic is good for one drop in the dark...

on China, all luxury brands that have a global strategy must address this vast potential market ( look to wine for clues ) Some brands have a USA only strategy because setting up export means jacking the USA price up and then allowing discounting. Not mentioning brands..no need to, you know the stuff that is always on sale, demo, etc..

replacement tubes better offer some spectacular value, sonics, reliability or both

enjoy the music...
i am appreciative of the posts relative to tube sourcing beyond ARC, not so much the analysis of potential cognitive dissonance, etc....or realized for that matter...the music is king, queen and the jester
my REF5se tubes ( less the regulation ) are at 4 k hours and still sound great, will change them this Fall. any other vendors of note? Not sure iF RAM is doing much with 6H30....
 @bifwynne I have a USA NOS TungSol in the Power supply, I would classify that change at the 2 k hour mark as revelatory

another cheap and easy 5se mod ( at least in my room ) is getting it off factory feet and up on 3 Ayre blocks...
 @twoleftears sounds. like stock purchase buyers remorse to me....I lie awake wishing I had shorted them....