For what it's worth, the VT-200 (original, not MkII) can sound very good with the RCA inputs. It might cost a tad more than $3k, but it's an excellent amplifier.
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I did go ahead and get a VT200. I was a little disappointed I didn't get more of a response from the forum, but I was able to talk to several folks off line about using the unbalanced inputs. In the end, I am extremely pleased with how the VT200 sounds in my system. Running the amp single-ended was a non-issue. The electrostatics have never sounded better. I think it was the perfect upgrade.
That was pretty quick - you really moved out. Did you find one locally?
Glad to hear the VT200 is working out well for you. It really does make very enjoyable music. I think it may go down as one of the best values among ARC's high power amps; in fact it's kind of the amplifier sole mate to the SP-8 which is probably the best value in their preamps.
Actually, I had spotted a couple on Audiogon prior to putting out the posting. One of the postings on Audiogon was from a guy locally, paul99. We exchanged a bunch of emails and phone calls, and he agreed to let me take the amp home and try it with my system. I think he knew once I got it home, I wouldn't be giving it up!
I agree, the VT-200 and my SP-8 do seem to work very well together. I had been looking off and on for an amp for the last couple of years. We were just finishing up a kitchen remodel, and I worked a new amp into the budget. Figger'd if my wife can get a $5k range, I can get a new amp! Of all the amps I was remotely familiar with, a used VT-200 seemed to give me the most sound for the $$. AFter having had it for a couple of weeks now, I really think it is fantastic.
Easy. To match the synergy of the SP8 the D90B, D115MKII, or Classic 120 or 150 monoblocks. This would be in order of price and power but not quality. Outside of ARC the PS Audio Delta 250 monoblocs are fantastic and a bargain - but not tube. ARC products seem to work better togather. No problem with a VT-200. That will give you a lot of reserve. I actually hooked a rather highly modded ARC D90B up to Carver ALIIIS and it was magical. Tubes seem to shine with planar speakers.