ARC Ref-300 or 600 or 210: Which sounds best ?

I currenty have an Oracle CD-Transport, a Jadis JS1 D/A converter, ARC Ref2 MkII Preamp, ARC VT150 Monos, Triangle Magellan Grand Concert and two Triangle Meteor 0.4 subwoofer.
I will upgrade the ARC Ref2 MkII preamp to a ARC Ref5.
Regarding the Monos I would like to know which one is SONICALLY best at low or medium gain levels: the old 300 or 600 or the new 210? I am well aware of the many differencies between these three models regarding age, max output level, power consumption, weight and size, number of tubes,...
In terms of price they are (as used equipment) somehow comparable (all three are in the 10-14k$ range for the pair).
But which one SOUNDS best??
I anyone has personal experience with two or three of these models in comparison I am thankful for sharing it.
Thanks a lot in advance!
What a great problem to have!! ARC stuff sounds so freakin good.

I vote for the new 210, only because it's new. But I have never heard any ARC amps that were not stellar. Very buttery smooth sound, with great dynamics and extension.

Good luck.
Do you need the extra power of the Ref 600? That is a lot of tubes and a lot of heat. If not I would tend more toward the Ref 300 or 210 amps. I have not heard the Ref 300s in a while and never side by side with the Ref 210s. I have listened to the Ref 210s and the Ref 110 quite a bit. I own a Ref 110. If it were me I would probably choose the Ref 210s. I don't like power tubes mounted horizontally like in the Ref 300s and 600s.

All in all I chose the Ref 110 for myself because I did not really need the extra power of the 210s. The extra tubes, heat, and digital display were not worth the the slight difference in the sound to me. But both are great amps and I would say much better than your current amp. I am not a big fan of Audio Research Amps of that period. Though the VT150 is one of the better ones.
I'm envious, that Ref5 will change your life.
Hi, thanks for all your posts.
@Macdadtexas: I agree, they all sound well!
@Mitch4t: I got a Ref5 for testing today, will listen
extensivly next weekend. The dealer promised that the
difference to the Ref2MkII is huge!
@Lostbears: I do like the VT150s, but usually newer ARC equipment is better equipment...
No, I dont need the power of the 600s.
Did you ever have a chance to listen to 300s or 600s (even if not side-by-side with the 210s?
I am just curious if the extra power generally improves the sound, also at lower listening levels?
I am looking for the best sound - if that means more tubes and heat, it is ok as well...
Thanks very much!
I wish I had the Ref 110. I hope I get enough money to buy one before they end production. But then I need to get a balanced preamp too....
Where does the vs115 fall into the category ?
Is the vs115 close to the sound of the Ref 110 ?
Is arc pre-amp necessary to get the most out of these amps ?
Ref-210. Awesome dynamic slam due to the 6550 drivers. Relatively simple circuit too. Great amp.

In the mid 1990's Audio Research was trying to go more mainstream. To that end they designed their gear for a lower price point. The big black boxes. I remember that the United Audio by me was carrying their equipment for a while.

I have heard the Ref 300s but it was a number of years ago. I remember thinking they were very good but I don't remember any specifics. It was at the dealer and not in my system. They were way out of my reach at that point.

More power does tend to sound better. I bi amped a pair of VT100 mk3s for a while and it was an definite improvement over just a single VT100. But I am not sure how much of a difference there would be between the Ref 300 and 600. It would also depend on how efficient your speakers are. The 210s are much newer and even with more power I am not sure the Ref 600 would be better

If it were me I would choose the Ref 210s. They truly are great sounding amps. Mated with a Ref 5 they would just sound incredible.

Nolitan, The VS115 is a very nice amp but not as good as the Ref 110. Then again the Ref 110 is not quite twice the price of the VS115. I have always liked the idea of having my amp and preamp from the same manufacture and from the same time period. They were designed by the manufacturer to work well together. From a manufacturer such as Audio Research, it can give your system a wonderful synergy.
Lostbears, thanks for the inputs. appreciate it.
Lostbears, thanks a lot! You and Hifigeek1 give me confidence that going for the Ref 210s will be the right decision (especially given the Ref-5 being the preamp).
In terms of weight, heat, measures, number of tubes, power consumption... I am not unhappy with going for the 210s and not for the 600s (or 300s).
Looking forward to this weekend, where I will replace the
Ref2MkII with a Ref-5 (having been used already 300 hours,
so i tshould be burned in by now...).
Thanks again!
If you do not need all the power, go with Ref110. Not only cheaper, but overall sounds better in a medium sized room than Ref210 IMO.

Ref 110 + Ref 5 combo is amazing. Or better yet - Ref Anniversary + Ref110 - this is a killer combo (and only $5k more than Ref 5 + Ref 210 ...).

(ex. Ref 3 + Ref 110 owner here - moved to darTZeel since, but thinking of going back !).
Well, if the VS115 sounds as good or better than the VT100, then it is all I would need to be 100% happy. Then I could just worry about speakers and digital players . :)
Hi Lostbears,
Could you please desrcibe vs115 is not as good as Ref 110
i own a vs 115 mated with LS26 , PH7 and proac d28 and i have always liked the idea to bi amp in order to improve soundstage
Thanks in advance