Anybody? Anything? It seems my dealer may have more information than most other ARC dealers. :-)
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We've been running the new VS115 for a few weeks now and although it looks very much like the VS110 in terms of the open architecture with exposed tubes and transformers, the sound is radically different.
The VS115 is a fully balanced differential amp with 85% - 90% of the sound of the REF110 for $3500 less. It's so similar sounding to the REF that until you do a side by side comparison, you wonder if there is any difference whatsoever.
But there are some differences: The REF is slightly more see-though transparent and refined in the higher frequencies with just a bit more openness and liquidity. The VS115 actually sounds a bit more meaty and punchy, though, which is great for rock and jazz. This amp also has superb impact and control in the bass.
Since the discontinuation of the VT100mkIII (my longtime favorite) ARC hasn't had an amp as good for anywhere near $6500. Now they have one that's noticeably better and is knocking on the door of the REF110, so I'm going to get one for myself.
I'm an ARC dealer.
Cuwatch1, my VS115 has just crossed 300 hours... and I assume you are asking about the overall sound quality vs tube life (per Soundoc)? I'm just returned to the high end, so don't have the vocabulary or recent experience of owning other high end parts, but as for "my" VS115 the sound changed radically after about 200 hours. When I first installed the amp I was a little freaked out -- the base was boomy, and the sound was conjested and everything just seemed "off". I almost took it back for a Ref110, but the dealer advised just letting it cook by leaving it on for a week 24/7. That made a huge difference - things started to sound pretty damn good and overall the sound seems to be coming more and more into focus.
Yes Bobvin I'm curious about the sound and if owners are still happy with the amp. I had a vs110 that had fantastic tight, detailed bass when brand new but after it was broken in the bass took on what I consider to be that classic bass sound. Full, less detailed, and fat at times which wasn't what I was looking for. I did purchase the vs115 (and cd5 at the same time to go with my year old ls26) but only have 100 hours on them. So far I like what I'm hearing especially over the cd3mk2, sp16 & vs110 combo I previously owned. I like hearing what owners think prior to the "formal" reviews coming out in the press. I wish I could afford the electricity to keep it on 24/7 (for even one week) to speed up the break in, but due to the heat and additional load on my A/C, it'll be a slow process with me listening as it "cooks" in.
With regards to Soundoc experiencing a loss of "bounce" after 500 hours of tube use, I never experienced that with the vs110 and those tubes had 1300 hours on them.
Thanks for your responses.
'I'm curious about the sound and if owners are still happy with this amp.I have only 20 hours on them, mated with LS26 and PH5/vdH the Condor cartridge.When I first installed the amp compared to my old VS55 the sonic character is ARC and the sound was superb (very close to REF110) with controlled, detailed bass.Mids are very smooth. Focus is not so good but its only 20 hours.
Thanks for your input./'
Basile, my experience is similar to yours. I have not had time to listen much due to family and work responsibilities. However, when the system is turned on, magic appears and everyone stops to listen. In my mind, when busy people stop what they are doing to listen, the music has made an impression with its interruption.
I believe the VS115 is an exemplary amp in the right setting with the right speakers.
I have just bought a VS115 with LS17. This is an addition to my Jeff Rowland Concentra Integrate MK2. My speakers are Sonus Faber Guaneri Homage (the original one). My CD player is Audio Resolution modified by Great Northern Sound.
Without running in the new pre and power amps, I noticed some significant improvements in the sound qualities, deeper depth, wider stage, clarity, transparency, tighter bass, and most important a very neural sound allowing hours and hours of un-fatigue listening. I am listening with a big smile :)
I have a question regarding the bias adjustment. There are 8 x 6650C tubes, and there are 8 pairs bias checking ports (4 of them for V1, V5, V2 & V6 are marked 'Set V# 65mA', and 4 of them for V3, V8, V4 & V7 are marked 'Check V# 57mA-73mA' where # is the corresponding valve number) at the back. But there are only 4 bias adjusting holes at the top of the cover. So how does the bias adjusting work? When I am adjusting the bias, which bias testing pair should I be using? FYI, there are bias adjusting holes between V7 & V5, V3 & V1, V4 & V2, and V6 & V8.
Normally, I expect to have one bias adjusting hole for each pair of bias testing port. Maybe VS115 bias adjustment is for a matched pair?
Your advise is appreciated
[Hi, at 20 hours I checked the Bias and every thing was ok all tubes 065 mV. After 45 hours I measured again.
The V2 had 067 mV and V4 was at 064. All other tubes were at 064-065. I adjusted the V2 back to 064-065 and I measured then on V4 only 059 mV
After 2 hours I measured again 066 on V2 and 062 on V4.
On first use the VS115 matched with LS26 was very close to REF110. Then after 10 hours it exhibited a darkish character, without the tubey warmth, dry and mechanical sound. After roughly 55 hours things began to change and soundstage opened up, detailed and smooth.But i think i have to wait for ca. 150 hours to break in for full improvement. The sound of LS26 also evolved during the break-in period and i heard no further changes after 160 hours/]
So, you can only adjust 4 of the 8 tubes. In fact, I adjusted V1 to be 65mV but V3 then measures at 77mV. Do I then tune down V1 so that V3 falls within the advertised range of 57mV and 73mV?
Anyway, I found out that my VS115's right channel is causing my speaker to crackle (noises within the hiss), quite noticeable even during the day time. I even swap all tubes between right and left channels. The crackling still comes from the right channel. So probably not faulty and bad tubes. I tried all sort, changing power cable, use different sockets in my house. With my Jeff Rowland, no crackling just very low hiss.
Anyway, it is going back to the dealer, a 5 hours round trip though.
[Hi Zekor,yes, you can only adjust 4 of the 8 tubes and check if the matched parallel tube falls within the range.
For my V4 at 059 i asked the Customer Service of ARC. They told me that its ok in the range, but if i don't like the sound i can change the tube v. my local dealer. Now after 60 hours the V2 stabilised at 066 and V4 at 062.
I would say it is better to contact directly to ARC and don't swap the matched tubes.
Good luck, looking for your reply/]
My amp now is nearing 1000 hours... I decided that would be an appropriate amount of time to have elapsed and decided to check the bias. At first, I too was a little confused about the test points and adjusting screws, but it became obvious after a few minutes of thought and testing the various points.
I "set" the bias to 65mV on the appropriate tube, then checked the matching tube and found it fell very close to, if not directly on, 65mV. The amp was on for several hours before I did this ensuring everything was warmed up and stable. For three of the four set points, the bias was very close to 65mV, only off a couple mV at best. On the fourth point I found the value to be 59mV, and the matched tube was at 73mV. When I adjusted the "set" point up to 65mV, the matched tube came down to 66mV. Not having had the pleasure to measure bias for anything before, I was happy to see this was quite simple with good results. I just wish the plastic adusting screw driver thingy had a bigger end for my fingers -- as I lingered over the hot tubes my palms got a little sweaty and it was hard to get a grip on the adjuster.