ARC-Ref210 vs ARC-Ref610T at medium levels ??

Hi, I am planning to upgrade my ARC Monos to a high-end model. I already decided to go for a new model, meaning the Ref-210 or the Ref-610T (and not the old Ref-300s or Ref-600s).

I would like to know if someone who had a chance to compare the Ref-210 and the Ref-610T amps could give me feedback about the sonic differences at medium levels.

I am aware of the other differencies between these two models (price, size, weight, power consumption, max output power, number of tubes,...).

I would like to ONLY know how they differ in terms of sonic QUALITY at MEDIUM listening levels in a medium sized listening room of about 400 sqft (and yes, you're right - in terms of max output level I do NOT need the 610T).
The other components are all high-level quality, so if there are sonic differencies I would profit from them.

I want to get a feeling if there is a significant difference in terms of quality of sound, and if there is any - is it worth the double price?

I do hear most styles of music (classic, rock, 70s-90s, only some jazz,...), so my question is not related to a special type of music.

Thanks in advance to everybody who might answer!
Unhappily, even at medium listening levels the Ref 610T sounds better than the 210.

There is a sense of fluidity, "easiness" and scale associated to the 610T that does not show in the 210.

I once heard the 610T with Magico Mini2 and it was hard to believe that such small speakers could generate such a large and involving soundstage, at the same time detailed and integrated. The 210s can not fully create this effect.
Hi Microstrip, thanks for the information (although it could cost me a lot of money)...
Ozatschek, there is a huge difference in the day to day operation in heat and expense between the 610s and the 210s and still a good sized difference between the 210s and the 110.

I assume you have thought about the amount of heat two Ref 610t amps put out and the cost of operation when they need retubing? I have Ref 210s and a Ref 110 and the 210s put out more that twice the heat of a 110 - there are more than twice the tubes. I my room is not small (17x27x10 feet) the 210s will raise the temp by 3 or 4 degrees and another 1 or 2 if I am listening at loud levels. Plus I retubed the 210s from ARC and it ran about $1,800 w/shipping. I don't know what it costs to retube the 610ts but I think it is at least $4.5K given the number of 6550 tubes needed. If I used only the 210s, I would need to retube every year and a half to two years.

As for differences in sound, I just placed the 210s back in service after using the 110 for 3-4 months and I like the 210s better on my Vandersteen 5As. For me its more about slightly different flavors than a clear winner but the 210s play louder and have more punch.

Do a search for davemitchell in the amp/pre forums. He has several great posts on ARC amps. He disclosed he was an ARC dealer and I found his comments on ARC VTM200s and Ref 210s amps that I have had to be on point. I am not in total agreement with the 210s vs 110, at least not with Vandy 5As but that could change with other speakers since the 110 is little more tubey sounding. I would email Dave if I were you.

FWIW, I recall running accross some desenting opinions on the previous Ref 600 series amps. Obviously there is more power for though loads. But I recall some wondering if there are issues getting that many output tubes to work togeather.

Good luck, Terry
My opinion is not to get the big amps unless you really, REALLY, R-E-A-L-L-Y need the power. The cost difference would be much better spent on a Tripoint Troy, great power cables, and a great preamp. These supplementary components would give you far greater benefit. Many people over spend on a single component and do not optimize. Plus, all those tubes are a big can of worms.
I actually owned the 610t's and Ref600 MK2's paired up ARC REF3 pre driving Avalon Isis, I also had VTL 750's in that same system paired up with a 7.5 pre.

I have heard the 210's but never in my own set-up.

I enjoyed all the above pces mentioned and never had any issues.

You are going to have hear for your self to decide but what I liked was when listening with any of those amps I mentioned when there were swings "dynamics etc. even when listening at lower volumns always offered the effect of startling you" Tubes are different than solid state and will come down to a personal preference, yes tubes are more maintenace but can offer you sonics that no solid state amp I have had in my set-up or heard offer such.

I'm personally looking forward to hearing the VAC Statement 450 mono's paired up with my MBL's.
Hi Dev, did you order the new VAC amp? Does the siren song of a mega tube amp beckon once again?
Hi Tdaudio,
thanks for your input. You are right - so many tubes are a heating source. Since my listening room is downstaires in the basement it tends to be (too) cool anyway, so a few degrees more might be welcome... Nevertheless for all the other reasons I tend to go for the 210 anyway, accepting that the 610 might be slightly better,
as long as they are not dramatically better (especially at low/medium levels). But I will check Dave's opinion on that topic as well.

Hi Dev,
thanks as well for sharing your personal experience. It is good to hear that all these components are great (and reliable). This is why I am stuck with ARC - I like the sound, and all pieces I have owned during the upgrade cycles have been really good - and I too never had any issue with one of them. The only question remaining is: which one is best? I have a Ref-5 preamp at home since last weekend and could compare it with my Ref-2MkII in identical environments. And although the Ref-5 is clearly the better one, I have to admit the also the Ref2 is a
really great preamp still!
Hi Rtn1, yes I have been so smitten with my Vac pre over any others I have owned or had in my set-up that these darn amps have been on my mind constantly. The issue being the crazy list price of addmision 72K and not being able to hear prior along with the waiting periode due to the work to manufacture such one you commit. Time being given, next year late Feb. so we will see. I read you went from the big Karan mono's to the Pass and are now in the mode of cable exspearimentation.

Hi Ozatschek, I also enjoy ARC. I actually owned the same pre Ref-2 MK2 for many years and enjoyed it but then moved onto the Ref3 which I owned for many years also,at one point I compared the Ref5 to the Ref3 and the Ref3 was the sweethart of the deal. Pairing up the the Ref5 with either amps you mention would be most interesting but when I owned the 600 MK2's they are big and I found it nicer having the 610T's being a tower design, my preference between the two and the tubes being exsposed allowed for better ventilation. If you could read into my thoughts I feel it's like driving a car which has lots of power on tap and when called for it's there, you are cruzing arround effortlessly and when you push the pedal down look out, to me it's like listening to music it's so effortless and over all just sounds more relaxed, better flow working better.
But in the end it will be your choice so enjoy your journey.
Hi Dev, I know what you mean. This is why I drive a Mercedes 12 cylinder, a Bentley and an old Rolls Royce. They drive more relaxful at lower speeds, you dont hear them, yet you know: if you need power, it is simply there, silent and mightyful. Its the same with big tube amps. I dont need them due to playing at maximum levels all day long, I want them because the low/mid levels sound so great, they dont mean any effort to such systems. Interesting that you once prefered the Ref3 over the Ref5.
I never heard the Ref3 (because everybody says the Ref5 is better anyway). I just can say that the complete sound "image" differs enormously between the Ref2 and the Ref5: when I heard the Ref5 the first time (it already had 300 hours on the tubes, so reasonably burned in, no excuse there) I was close to being disappointed. The sound quality was excellent, but the Ref2 was much more direct, wormer, unbalanced in a nice way. And the Ref2 has a bit more bass level at the lowest end. Having "corrected" the bass level (by adjusting the subwoofers differently) I concentrated on the mere sound differences. The Ref5 is much more precise, first impression is a bit analytical (as far as this can go with a tube preamp). The soundstage is wider and deeper and seems to be a bit more away from my listening position. It is more neutral, better balanced (in terms of voice vs instruments). The voices and instruments are a bit clearer, everyting seems to be better "seperated", less "mixed up". But it does not miss the ARC/tube sound as well. Once getting used to the Ref5 sound, the Ref2 sounds less clearer, the bass too whoppy, and the whole sound picture unbalanced (more bass, voice determines more) and somehow more "mixed up".
But I am not sure if the Ref5 would always win against the Ref2 if someone has only limited time and can only do a short comparison. The Ref2 is easier to adopt when hearing it the first time (especially when upgrading).
Anyway, I am now adict to the Ref5, so the preamp decision is done. The issue with the power amps is simply that is it much less practical to test them at home, simply because the transportation is a project by its own. Also switchin from one amp to another one is an issue of cable lengthm stand position,... With a 13kg/27lbs preamp that
is easy... I usually try to have components fro ARC that are from the same "generation", so I would prefer the 210s for that reason to the 300/600. They also have fewer tubes, need less input power,... Nevertheless the 610 still might be an intersting option. I will try to find an opportunity to compare them one to one (even if is not in MY listening environment, but at least it should be the SAME for amps). Thanks for all your inputs! Enjoy the music!!
Hi Ozatschek, nice cars I also have a couple of Mercedes AMG models and really like Bentley and Rolls.

I did not mean to come across the I prefered the Ref3 over the Ref5 just that if you were looking at the cost factor the Ref3 is a real deal although now that the Ref5 has been out for a while the used price has come down. When listening too the two I would not say "BEST" but differ just as you refer to your Ref2. Audio in general is like that, really going to come down to your preference, rest of your components etc.
Hi Dev, good to know that you did like the Ref5! But you are right: the price difference became rather small: a
one-year old Ref5 with 300-600 hours on the tubes and still 2 years of warranty is approx 7.5k€ (some 10kUS$), and a 3 to 5 year old Ref3 with much more hours is around 5k€ (some 7kUS$). I think the price difference between the two models is not so much - and it will stay in that order of magnitude, so once I upgrade to the Ref-Anniversary (oh, I have to sell the Royce...) I will get more refund for the Ref5....