ARC Ref 2 MK 2 Pre w/ Pass X-600 monos?

Has anyone tried this combination before or can anyone comment whether this would be a good match in terms of impedance matching and overall sonic performance.

I currently have the x-600 matched with the Aesthetix Calypso and together they drive the Talon Khorus MK II. I like the overall sound but I find the low end rather anemic given the potential of these speakers. In addition, I have replaced the tubes 3 times in 4 months beacuse I keep getting a poppping and hissing noise in one of the channels. Changing the tubes corrects this, but I am ready to cut bait and move on to something else. Would appreciate any recommendations!

Many thanks and regards...
Are you sure it isn't the Khorus with the anemic low end?

As to your question, the Ref2m2 has low output impedance
and plenty of drive to mate well with just about any amp.
Should be a wonderful combination with your X600s. You need
to check one out in your system.

If you're buying used you should also check out the ARC
LS5m2. The Ref2m2 couldn't knock it out of my system in a
week-long head-to-head. A very minimalist line-stage that
might just be the best ARC ever designed. I've had mine
almost 9 years now.
Doesn't make sense. The ARC, if anything, provides an extra boost to the bottom end.
I second the LS5 mkll. I never put mine up against the Ref 2 but, I did almost make the mistake of switching it for the Ref 1. Thank goodness I auditioned the Ref 1 for a week first. The balanced only inputs are a minor annoyance but, Cardas adapters take care of that.
I have had my Calypso for 3 months and it has performed flawlessly. I have never replaced any tubes nor do I feel the need to do any tube rolling.
I have ARC REF2 (original, MKI) to match X-600's instead. There is no problem with the impedance matching. The matching rate is quite healthy at 55 (X-600/REF 2 = 22k/0.4 [XLR] = 55). I like this combo because REF2 could add a bit more sweetness/warmness to the top end which is IMO the relative weakness of X-600's comparing to my previous Pass Aleph's. ARC REF2 + X-600's combo presents a pretty balanced - warm, sweet, dynamic and detail sounding. And also, it should be able to drive any kind of speakers...

Thanks for all of your comments/suggestions. I will look into the LS5 MK II as recommended.

I hate to say it but my experience with the Calypso has been very unsatisfactory. It sounded good when it worked properly--and customer service was very responsive--but after my third set of tubes I can't live with it anymore. Even on its good days I found it kind of noisey and began to miss the Accuphase CL-2800 I had demoed for a few weeks. I have decided to stay with tubes however and I think I'll give the ARC products a try.

Meisterkleef brought up an interesting point though--perhaps it is my Khorus MK II that is anemic. They are absolutely fantastic with accoustic music and vocals--strings and the female voice in particular. Piano though doesn't have the livliness and percussive impact I have heard on other systems. Same problem with bass and percussion on rock CD's/SACD's. Sounds "boxy" and the mid range seems compressed or closed. The bass seems muted. I understand that most rock recordings are poorly mixed and the speakers are very revealing... Was wondering if I should add powered subs, but the Talons are supposed to be great with rock recordings. What's going on? I've been staying away from a lot of the music that I love because it just doesn't sound "right" to me--but how much Bocelli and chamber music can a man take?

I have digressed. I'll give the LS5 or Ref 2 a try. If that doesn't work.... I may be in the market for Vandy 5A's! I'll keep you posted.
HI -

3 points here:

1 - I avoided buying a Calypso because it is recommended in the OWNER'S MANUAL against pairing it to an amp with any less then 50,000ohm impedance. Since the Pass X-series amps have 22kohm impedance - less than half the recommended rating - I felt it was an inappropriate match. You might want to call the Aesthetix distributor to see if this recommendation should be taken literally or not and if it could be the cause of your premature tube failures and weak bass.

2 - I have Talon Raven C's, and have used them with both Pass X-series and Sim Audio amps. My experience echoes yours with the 'lightweight' bass response when using Talons with PASS amps - but NOT with the Sim. I even qualified my issue with Mike Farnsworth at Talon, who indicated that - for solid-state amps - his speakers seem to match much better with a Sim then a Pass. That was absolutely true in my case. It seems consistent that most people characterize the bass of X-series amps as 'tight, controlled, dynamic and fast'. The Talons ALSO seem to have the same characteristics - so this marriage of amp/speaker may simply be too much of a good thing.

In contrast, my current Sim Audio Titan provides the deeper, fuller and more sustained bass and warmer mid-bass that the Talons seem to need to fill in the notes fully. But please do NOT assume that means it is slow, flacid or dull.

3 - I have had GREAT synergy with this setup, which now features the terrific VAC Renaissance preamp. This pre was a dramatic upgrade for my system. After going through 3 other pre's and researching the ARC LS25Mk2 & ARC Ref2, BAT VK-31SE & VK-51SE, Calypso, Supratek and 1st Sound, etc, I went forward with the VAC, and could not be more pleased. My reservation about both ARC and BAT models involved the use of the 6H30 tubes, which do NOT allow the preamp to present a 'tubey' sound. Well, if I wanted a solid-state sound, I would buy an SS preamp and not bother with a tubed unit that sounds SS.

I have been so encouraged by my results with the VAC preamp, that I now have a pair of VAC Standard 220 monoblocs on their way to me right now. These will be my first tube amps, which is definitely a gamble because I bought them without auditioning. So, I am anxious to compare/contrast them with the Sim. Talons are supposedly MAGICAL when mated with some of the great tube amps - Rogue, Joule Electra, VAC, etc.

- We'll see -

disclaimer - Your Opinion and Hearing May Vary -
Bhouser, thanks for your thoughts. I actually had a chance to meet Mike at the San Fran HES show last year and he pretty much told me the same thing about the Sims. In fact he had Sim gear running his flagship Firebird loudspeaker, or whatever the thing was called. The thing was that I had already owned the Pass monos, which I got an incredible deal on.

So what you are really saying to me is that the problem with my bass response is my amps? This is not a pre-amp issue? ...BTW, listening to the Al Dimeola/J. McLaughlin/P. DeLuca 'Friday Night in San Francisco' SACD through the Talon's as I write this, and they are indeed magic (with this type of accoustic material)!
Msaines -

I listen primarily to 'fusion jazz' as well, or whatever is left of it these days (damn-hard to come by lately...).

Anyway, as for your Pass having a 'problem with bass', I wouldn't blame it on the amp specifically. Rather, it is more a situation of synergy, and the BIGGEST match that you must overcome in ANY system is between the Amp and Speakers. Though impedance matching, gain matching and sonic signatures are certainly important between Pre and Amp, the Amp-Speaker match is even more important. Unfortunately, it is also very hard to predict how things will mate up here because it has little to do with tangible numbers. In fact, there are MANY speakers that work terrifically with Pass amps, just not the Talons.

Believe me, the last thing I wanted to hear Mike tell me was that my prized, newly-acquired Pass amps were not typically the best match with Talons. But after getting the Sim Titan and comparing directly, I can only say that he was completely right. Keep in mind that I haven't heard the X-600's specifically, but I did own the X-250 and X-3, which should have a very similar house sound.

Finally, if you plan to stick with the Pass amps, the best synergy will probably be with a Pass preamp. It won't change the basic sonic nature of the amp, but an X1 would be terrific with it, if you can deal with sacrificing that tube midrange magic.

Just a little update on this thread:

I finally sent the Aesthetix Calypso back to my dealer, and have been running my Accuphase DP-77 directly into the Pass monoblocks. Oh-my-god what an improvement! In addition, I re-focused the Talon's bring them closer together and closer to the wall and the improvement in bass response has beeen shocking. They sound wonderful, and I know they could achieve even more with more precise placement. Altogether the difference is stunning and I found myself listening to a lot of recordings I found otherwise unlistenable before.

On the pre-amp front, my dealer (who detests solid state equipment--i think even his toaster runs on tubes) sold me the Ayre K-1x, and I eagerly await its arrival. He says it is the only solid state pre he has ever liked.

Stay tuned...

I feel very comfortable saying that better than 90% of pre-amps do more harm than good.