Ff116...I have owned the Ref 110 for the past 4-5 years (paired up with Ref 3 and Ref CD7). If there is one strong suit of the Ref 110 is its natural and realistic reproduction of vocal and instrumental timbres. That's one of the main things that drew me to it. It took about a few hundred hours to break-in and sound its best (not like the current model ARC amps/preamps which have the big caps in there which need more like 600 hrs to break in). Did you just buy a used Ref 110? If so, what preamp will you be using? How about speakers?
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FF116...give it some more time to break-in but one of the issues could be the amp-speaker match. The WP-8's impedance dips below 4 ohms between 20 and 40 Hz and between 60 and what looks like 120-130Hz on the impedance curve, reaching a low of 2.2ohm at 77Hz, causing it to be a very tough load on the partnering amp in the lower bass region and in the upper bass region. What you might be hearing is a bit of leanness in the the upper bass region because the Ref 110 is finding it tough delivering enough current in that 70-100 Hz range. Here is a link to the WP-8's measurement section in the Sterophile review: http://www.stereophile.com/content/wilson-audio-specialties-wattpuppy-system-8-loudspeaker-measurements
Here is a link to the Impedance and Phase curve across the frequency spectrum that shows the dips mentioned above: http://www.stereophile.com/images/archivesart/607WILFIG03.jpg
JA summs up his measurement section with the following quote:
It is definitely a difficult load for an amplifier to drive, which leaves me puzzled as to why Wes had no problems driving it with the tubed Cayin amplifier. The Wilson did sound superb driven by Ayre MX-R monoblocks on both of the occasions I listened seriously to it in Wes's room, but its idiosyncratic low-frequency behavior compared with more conventional designs will make matching it to the listening room trickya task best left to the Wilson-trained dealer who will be installing the WATT/Puppy 8s in the customer's room.
You may want to give both Wilson and Audio Research a call and ask them both about the amp/speaker match and what you are hearing. My guess is as the amp breaks in a bit further you will get better bottom-end heft which may add some weight and texture to the currently anemic presentation you are getting for certain instruments but I would certainly get Wilson and ARC's take on this as well. By the way, my speakers (Thiel 2.4s) are a tougher load than your WP-8s and I do not experience any "leanness" in the sonic presentation across the frequency spectrum, so hopefully it is just a break-in issue and the botton-end heft will fill out and add some weight and texture to the presentation.
You may want to run your speakers off the 4 ohm tap of the ARC. Also, don't be so quick to blame the amp, interconnects and speaker wire play a huge role in the sonic signature of your system. Maybe your hearing your system for the first time. Are you using older silver cables? When was the last time the tubes were replaced in your Ref3? Remember now that your system is resolving better, you need to be a bit more critical about the surrounding components that make up your system.
Hey Cmalak, checked out the Wilson phase and impedance chart. I was totally floored because it looked very similar to the readings for my Paradigm Signature 8 v2 (w/ Be tweeter). The curves in the bass region look like a double humped camel. Weird/???
I don't know if this will be useful to know, but my front end is an ARC Ref-5 and my amp is an ARC VS-115 (w/ KT-120 tubes). Although the Ref 110 sounds better than the VS-115, the two amps share similar power and other electrical attributes and my amp seems to drive my S8 fronts very well across the full FR. I use the 8 Ohm taps; tried the 4 Ohm taps, but the sound sucked. As an FWIW, I recall that ARC uses Wilson speakers in their sound room. So . . . I surmise that you should be getting superb results with your rig.
I would try switching taps as suggested by George (Hifigeek). Also, how old are your Ref 3 tubes. I believe that ARC recommends replacing the 6550C PS tube every 2000 hours and the 6H30 tubes every 4000 hours. If still no luck, call Cal at ARC.
Please let me know how you make out. Hey, at least you can ski on the impedance and phase curves, but only if you're expert skiier. LOL :)
My Ref 3 tubes are about 2200 hrs old, although the power tube was changed about 200 hours ago. The Ref 110 has about 185 hrs on it. BTW I'm using the 4 ohm tap currently.
I'm sure it is an unfair comparison but my Lamm ML 1.1s with the Ref 3 sounded full, and completely organic, with resolution that the Ref 110 can't quite match. You might say this is a bit of an experiment. Experience in this hobby has taught a bit of patience doesn't hurt. I was simply wondering if I could expect more in the way of improved sonics beyond this point. CMALAK I will check out the info mentioned, thanks.
Ff..., the REDF 3 tubes should be ok. Now, when you say you have 185 hrs on the Ref 110, is that all? IOW, is this the 1st set? If so, I think the amp is still breaking in.
You say that the speakers are hooked up to the 4 Ohm taps. Have you tried the 8 or 16 Ohm taps yet. It's ok to experiment -- you won't hurt the amp or the speakers.
If you're still not happy, call Cal at ARC. He's very helpful. If still no sparks, call Wilson.
All I can say is that there should be great synergy between the Ref 3 and Ref 110. And I've never heard a disparaging word about the Ref 110.
Please report on how you make out with the taps.
Ff... how have you loaded the Ref 3 outputs, other than the Ref 110? If you have hooked something else up to the Ref 3 outputs (e.g., a subwoofer), other than the Ref 110, what is the input impedance of the other devices? What phono and CD inputs are you using?
Also, if it's not too hard, I would double check the bias of the KT-120 tubes and make sure they are all lit up. Power tubes drift the most when new.
Just trying to cover the obvious. If you call Cal at ARC, at least you can tell him that you covered the regular bases.