If correct, this is reprehensible behavior. What if you had lied and told them that you yourself were moving to Europe? Would they have done the mod?
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I've had similar problems with other vendor's as well. It's a common strategy to prevent products from moving between regions and actually introducing competition in the market place. I moved between Europe and the USA 4 times in the last 20 years and I've tried to get the multi-voltage tranformers installed when ever possible. What would they have done if YOU were moving? Ask you to throw away your investment and buy them new from the European distributor? I even had to provide one vendor a copy of my relocation agreement before they would complete the conversion.
I think they should be willing to do the conversion for you without such trouble. ARC is sometimes a little piggy about these things. With them, I was a little perturbed to find that: A) My local ARC dealer does not stock fuses for their equipment. They told me to call ARC, and B) ARC charged me $6 (cost + shipping) to send me the A FUSE !. That's a little over the mark in my opinion.
There was a problem with another high end company. Their equipment was being brought in from another country and sold here at considerably less than retail. I notice this company's equipment sells for 35-40% of retail on the used market. Probably next to impossible to get anywhere close to retail for it, meaning dealer's cannot survive carrying this line. I think this kind of situation is what ARC is trying to avoid. Their approach of refusing a single, original owner, is just plain BAD customer service.
I've owned ARC equipment and have called them for information about an older piece I was evaluating. The Arc rep skirted over it and promptly told me their newer equipment which wasn't even in the same league was better (old LS5 vs new LS16 preamp). And this with him knowing I had two ARC pieces in my system.
ARC is also notorious for expensive upgrades, that seem to come right after you purchase something. Always looking for that next buck, instead of offering reasonable mods.
You might try several ARC authorized repair people. I use Richard Gray (of Power Co fame) in New Orleans. Not sure if he does power conversions but I know he will replace hardwired power chords with plug in options and do a few other mods. I could check if you'd like me to.
Mes~ It's unfortunate to hear how ARC's reponsed to your request. It seemed to me that they're missing the big picture by wasting time their time on a miniscule assumption that they might to loose a potential sale in Europe that wasn't going to happen anyway. They failed to consider that you're only selling due to a personal reason and that you're more inclined to purchase their products again in the future. You figure they would be more considerate after your fork out $30K.
ARC has done very similar things to many of their customers. They screwed me as well on an upgrade. Leonard, their "voice", is the "beware of this company" red flag. He is quite inept and has the personality of a rock. While the products are ok, they have the worst customer service I have ever experienced. Dave, their sales manager misled me when I was interested in buying one of their products. I called him and asked him specifically if there was an upgrade for the REF2 in the works and he assured me there was not. Eighteen days after I recieved my brand new REF 2, the company announced the release of the REF2 MKII. Dave then told me I would have to pay the full upgrade price. After I made a big enough stink, he agreed to drop the price of the upgrade down by 50%, but the damage was already done for me. Every time I have dealt with them it has ended in misery for me. They never return calls and do not care about customers.
I recommend people not support this company, they will not support you.
Another thing that really bugs me is their tube prices !
From their catalog:
VT100, VT100MKII (8) MP6550 (8) 6922 $839.40
Other sources charge under 400 for these SAME tubes. These are bone-stock, modern day svetlana's and sovteks. You can buy them over the counter at over a dozen places in ANY major city. ARC's claim that their tubes are 'more tested' has little relation to reality.
I like their equipment. They use good solid engineering with readily available tubes and materials. (I also like the sound) It's some of their corporate policies that are just awful.
I live in the UK. Last year I bought a used ref2 from a private seller on Audiogon. Before the unit was shipped I telephoned Leonard at Audio Research to ask for the unit to be voltage converted to 240V at the factory. As described in posts above he refused to carry it out. I therefore had to take the unit to the UK distributor, Absolute Sounds. When I telephoned The MD of absolute sounds he reeled off a list of horror stories about the dangers of bringing in used goods from the States and did everything possible to dissuade me from proceeding. He quoted me a price of £375($525) for voltage conversion -outrageous but I had no choice. However, when I took the unit in, he told me that the conversion would actually cost £675 ( about $925)because they had to order extra "parts". The work involved in voltage conversion is minimal- even according to Leonard himself!
I feel that this kind of behaviour represents pure greed on the distributor's part- they cannot stand the fact that they have 'lost' a new sale even though I would never buy new hifi from the USA in Britain due to the extortionate mark-up ( $ price is simply changed to £ in most cases). ARC are in collusion with their distributors to prevent international trade in used products.
Also I agree that their introduction of costly 'upgrades' barely months after the introduction of a new product is reprehensible and insulting to customers who have made such an expensive investment.
Unfortunately the gear sounds good IMHO........
Over many years Len has treated me as if I were royality.They stand behind their products and offer parts and service for any product they have made for the past 30 years. Only a few hi-end companies have been in business that long.They are not the product of the week.ARC has always been reasonable for any mods,parts and service which I have required and I have found the service,product and their people to be fair and honest.A very happy and satisified ARC customer Rosemke
ARC Service in my many years of experience has been truly exceptional ! They have gone the extra mile for me. Parts are supported to the last screw. In contrast: When I called Classe about a possible replacement faceplate on a power amp, I use in a second system, they responded that they no longer stock the faceplates. Age of the Classe? <4 years! An unrelated but still important issue: ARC still has living wages for their employees and just don't design a piece and send it to China, or some other low labor/environmental standard country, to have it built in sweat shops. My experience with Leonard has always been like a diamond in the rough. Fantastic! The company is not very big and must provide protection for itself or become just another to become owned by another mass market Japanese company like Madrigal and McIntosh.
Rosemke: Sorry to say you are one out of ten. I do not feel the mods, parts and service to be reasonable. When you deal with other companies, such as BAT or Aesthetix, the turnaround time on repairs or changes is lightning quick. With ARC, it may be months before a reapir is done and sent back. Those companies do not nickle and dime you... ARC does. ARC also appears to not care about anything but how to squeeze people for more money. Like clockwork, they release expensive "upgrades" just to milk the current customers until they get fed up and move to something else.
I am happy to hear that ARC finally has a happy customer - it is a miracle! I feel the company and the people who work there to be an absolute joke and an embarrassment to the rest of the industry.
No disrespect for what sounds like a very real problem, but I personally have used ARC products for years with incredible results. I've talked to Leonard several times and was treated very well. Actually, in my view, perhaps we should be proud of a US company that has in many ways managed to lead this 'finicky industry' for over 30 years!
I've delt with Mr. Leonard several times over the past decade and have always received EXCELLENT advice and service! He is a true gentelman. The company as a whole is rather tight assed and (except for their ravishing sounding equipment) backward. Isn't it great that there are so many alternatives here in the "Golden Age" of audio?
I've been in this sport over 30 years and am just awe struck
at the current level of (admittedly overpriced) achievement.
If you don't like 'em, go next door to the other guy -It's the only language they understand...
PS: Turnaround on ARC repairs in my experience and that of everyone I know (large Audio Research community where I live) has never been more than 3 weeks and on average about 2-6 business days (not including shipping time). When you have only been around making products for less time than it takes a child to finish the 6th grade (BAT included) you simply do not have as much out there to repair or if your equipment is as old as Audio Research's inception (1970) your equipment is not repairable due to lack of parts support (ARC is like a White Knight in customer support compared to the large percentage Home Theatre throw away electronic products that are not worth 20 percent of their original value 6-8 years from date of manufacture)or the company has gone belly up or been bought up. Included in this list are companies that made excellent performing products like Threshold, Coda, Kinergenics etc etc etc. ARC stands for lasting value in the face of landfill "home theatre" foder. Another case in point, my Rotel RHT-10's (their best tuner they made and one of the best period) remote, cosmetic pieces (like the case and face plate) are not available. So to those that spent $1500 on a NEW Rotel RHT-10 Tuner in 1993-1995 (dates of manufacture) give Rotel a call and ask about these parts. They will likely phrase it like they told me "we don't stock remotes or face plates and cases for that "old" tuner". That is Pride (?) or in Home Theatre vernacular "Virtual Pride". An upgrade at ARC most of time lets you keep you upgrade your existing equipment where upgrades at many other companies means a new model. There is always an upgrade cost. It, in part, depends how much "consumption of the world's (our) resources" you like to be (upgrade the internal parts) or throw aside heavy exploitative mineralogic costs of those thick faceplates and cases. However, toward environmental responsible purchases I will have to give the praise to Bel Canto for not making "ego" centric thick faceplates and their new Evo Technology being nearly 100% efficient (200 watts to speakers and ~200 watts from the wall). Compare that to Class A designs that are about 10% efficient (200 watts to speakers and ~1800 watts from the wall). Lets just hope that Bel Canto, if they are around in 30 years, will support their products like Audio Research. That will be a real winner for not just the listener but the entire planet.
I am also happy with ARC service. They have always been good with dispensing schematics, which in turn has allowed me to ask the right technical questions (which have always been imediately answered). The cost they charge is not always in line, but they always have the part you will need. They do not always have "Lexus Dealer" charm, but if you are a "resistor head" and know what you need, they usually come through pretty well. I have had much worse luck from other vendors.... Plus, there equipment sounds pretty good out of the box and is a fabulous platform to tweek if you have a soldering iron, engineering experience, and access to higher grade component parts than ARC is willing to use. You have to be proactive and utilize them for what they are good at... Don't want to pay $847 for a tube set, plenty of others sell them for 1/2 or less with the same quality and matching. Need an ARC schematic -- Leonard's your man. Need an alignment procedure, Chris is your man. Can't legally obtain proprietary procedures elsewhere... Worried about not having the latest -- find a source of information -- ARC is not going to tell you.... Good Audio Dealers will warn you of upcoming upgrades and equipment discontiuations... There are benefits to staying 1 generation behind... Cutting edge and the newest stuff is cool, but the cost and heart ache just isn't worth it to me...
Opps, made enough grammatic errors in my previous response I felt obligated to clean it up enough so that it was at least readable by most:
PS: Turnaround on ARC repairs in my experience and that of everyone I know (large Audio Research community where I live) has never been more than 3 weeks and on average about 2-6 business days (not including shipping time). When you have only been around making products for less time than it takes a child to finish the 6th grade (BAT included) you simply do not have as much out there to repair or if your equipment is as old as Audio Research's inception (1970) your equipment is not repairable due to lack of parts support (ARC is like a White Knight in customer support compared to the large percentage Home Theatre throw away electronic products that are not worth 20 percent of their original value 6-8 years from date of manufacture)or the company has gone belly up or been bought up. Included in this list are companies that made excellent performing products like Threshold, Coda, Kinergenics etc etc etc. ARC stands for lasting value in the face of landfill "home theatre" foder. Another case in point, my Rotel RHT-10's (Rotel's best tuner they made and one of the best period) remote, cosmetic pieces (like the case and face plate) are not available. So to those that spent $1500 on a NEW Rotel RHT-10 Tuner in 1993-1995 (dates of manufacture) I encourage you to give Rotel a call and ask about these parts. They will likely phrase it like they told me "we don't stock remotes or face plates and cases for that "old" tuner". That is Pride (?) or in Home Theatre vernacular "Virtual Pride". An upgrade at ARC most of time lets you keep your existing equipment case where upgrades at many other companies means a new model. There is always an upgrade cost. It, in part, depends how much "consumption of the world's (our) resources" orientation you like to be (upgrade the internal parts like ARC offers) or double the mineral exploitation costs of making a new 20 - 40 pound faceplate and case. However, toward environmental responsible purchases I will have to give the praise to Bel Canto for not making largely "ego" centric thick faceplates and their new Evo Technology being nearly 100% efficient (200 watts to speakers and ~200 watts from the wall). Compare that to Class A designs that are about 10% efficient (200 watts to speakers and ~1800 watts from the wall). Lets just hope that Bel Canto, if they are around in 30 years, will support their products like Audio Research. That will be a real winner for not just the listener but the entire planet. (hope this is a tad more readable)
It is nice to hear that there are a few happy souls that have dealt with ARC. How do many of you recent product owners find the support? They seem to support product that is no longer made better than the current production items. Maybe it is because current production items are warranteed and ARC has to eat the parts and labor versus out of production units that are in need of repair are paid for by the customer.
I am sorry that I seem so anti-ARC, but I am telling it like it is. Just too many bad experiences with them.
I was both surprised and distressed to hear of the difficulties experienced by Mes, especially for such a large expenditure. With no intention of spinning or detracting from Mes unfortunate experience, I can report that in the USA, I have received solid customer service and dealer support for ARC gear for 18+ years. I have purchased a sequence of ARC gear/upgrades since the eighties, starting with a SP-6B and D-90 up to now, with a LS25 and VT100MKII. By obtaining a return authorization # prior to shipping, all upgrades were timely and each piece has been reliable (with the exception of a tube-flaming D-160 I owned). A reliable dealer has always advised returning products for upgrades at a slow time, i.e., summer months or at a time when a new product is not being rolled out, thus shortening turn-around time. I readily admit that both upgrades and discontinuation of products without an upgrade path (e.g., personally, the SP-14 and D-125 come to mind) have been frustrating and expensive for me also. Despite my regular auditions of other amps/preamps, I still come back to the sound of their gear. As mentioned above, a less expensive and far less frustrating way of navigating the ARC upgrade path is to stay away from the current product line.
I really could not imagine an "audiophile" life without ARC equipment. I have used ARC as my reference equipment forever. This company is truly one of the industry leaders and rarely have they not lead in the best sound category. As for Leonard Gustafson, at ARC. He is an old school gentelman that, will not make a decision for you. He will follow company policy, and should not be faulted for this. The unfortunate situation that MES has experienced certainly leaves a bad taste in your mouth towards ARC, but as Nanderson so rightfully reminds us, your equipment is never obsolete or unfixable, no matter how old, with this company. I am not sure, even McIntosh can say this.
My advise to MES is to contact former ARC ace technician Steve Huntley at Great Northern Sound. He will surely be able to help,and will be, most likely cheaper, than ARC. He will have ARC credentials to satisfy your overseas customer. Good Luck..........Frank
Frank: I appreciate the fine experiences you have had with ARC and am glad to see you have not been as poorly treated as Mes and I have. While Leonard may be following company policy, he, being the "front man" for ARC, should have a bit more tact and understanding as to the needs of customers. MES is a human being who is currently going through some unfortunate circumstances. Isn't there enough for him to worry about without having to deal with the petty politics of a company he gave $30,000 to just a short time ago?
Let's try and keep this in the right perspective, he bought brand new Ref 300 MKII monoblocks in mid-December. After listening to them for a short time, finds himself having to part with them, against his will, to take care of family matters. After not being able to find a buyer in the US willing to pay "fair market value" for them, finds a buyer from Europe who will buy them as long as the amps can be converted prior to shipment. ARC (Leonard and others) heard the reason for MES having to sell the amps and refused to help him, due to bullshit politics. Is this a company worth supporting?
BTW, Your suggestion of contacting Steve Huntley is a fine one that I think MES should persue as well.
Hasse, I was aware of the LS16 MKII when I purchased the LS16 on the cheap. I got full factory warranty and much better price than any LS16's currently listed here on Audiogon. In fact, I paid only slightly more than many used LS15's.
I can't imagine the LS16 MKII being a huge improvement over the LS16 (but of course AR will have you believe it) so I feel I made a good purchase.
Great to hear that you´re happy with your purchase Abecollins. Did you compare the LS16 to any other preamps before you decided on the ARC? The LS16 (MKII) is on my shortlist but I had some trouble with a hissing noice when I tried it in my system.(McCormack DNA-1 dlx/ Maggie 3.6/R combo) Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
This ones for Abe and Hasse (& any one else who cares) The LS16 I had home to audition was embarrassingly noisy. I actually run a completely balanced system so I was hearing the '16 at its best. My favorite low-noise NOS 6DJ8 alternatives from Amperex, Tele-, and Siemens along with some ultra low noise selected Sovteks didn't seem to improve things much. I was not impressed. My previous pre, an LS2B was way quieter.
Hasse, just about every tube preamp I have listened to has a slight bit of hissing noise in the background but usually only noticeable if you place your ear up to a speaker. I noticed this with CJ PV-12, CJ PV-14, and AR LS16 but once I back away from the speakers its gone. I believe this is normal background hiss generated by the tubes. If its a real loud hissing sound, there might be something wrong. Otherwise I think its normal. My solid-state preamps had no hiss or noticeable background noise but done of them has that magic tube sound either.
In addition to the tube preamps listed above, I have owned Classe CP-45, Classe CP-35, and Adcom GFP-750 solid state preamps. As you can see, none of these are real "high-end" preamps although the AR LS16 is the most expensive (LIST).
Here's a brief summary of my findigs as they apply to my system.
CJ PV-14: Nice warm smooth midrange with good sound stage but slightly rolled off frequency extremes, top and bottom. I won't mention the CJ PV-12 because its been so long since I've owned one I barely remember what it sounds like.
AR LS16: Not as sweet in the mids and compared to the CJ PV-14, it barely sounds like a tube preamp. Good sound stage and air, much more neutral sounding, recovered some of the top and bottom end I felt I lost with the CJ PV-14 in my system.
Adcom GFP-750: Better than either of the Classe preamps I've owned. Doesn't sound at all like a tube preamp because its not a tube preamp. Compared to the AR LS16 it has very solid bass slam and extended highs, maybe just a little "bright" especially compared to the tube preamps and no midrange warmth at all, not quite the soundstage or the ability to separate the instruments like the AR LS16. I am still very impressed with the Adcom but I wanted more of a tube sound and even though the AR LS16 is fairly neutral, it still has some of that tube magic. For my system, it is currently my top choice but the modest Adcom GFP-750 is a keeper.
Main system components: Cary CD-306/200 192/24 CD player, AR LS16 pre, Conrad-Johnson Premier 11a tube amp, Thiel CS 1.5 speakers. I like the more neutral AR LS16 combined with my CJ Premier 11a for this setup.
I am writing to see if you might know someone who is a design engineer of sound systems.
I have a search firm in Mpls and our client is seeking a design engineer with "cradle to grave" project experience in audio components or systems. Thank you for taking time to respond to my message. It is much appreciated.