I would buy the Integrated.
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David: Having used a variety of ARC products with my Daedalus DA-1.1's I wonder if you have considered other potentially more synergistic matches. While I have not heard the ARC Ref 75 with the LS17 (or even separately) I am familiar with their house sound which may be a bit leaner than some other similarly priced kit. I had an SP16, LS26 and 100.2, 150.2 and SD135 all rotate through my system and there are many things to love: great build quality, ergonomics, frequency extension, resolution and quiet operation. But the Modwright/Herron combo I am using now is far superior in most respects, particularly in capturing the musical energy and tonality of the event. There may be other less expensive options to consider as well, such as the Modwright integrated. If you are set on the ARC gear then I would guess that the separates will outperform the integrated but would step up the linestage to an LS 27 at a minimum--even if that meant going with a less costly amp.
Thanks guys, I know Lou at daedalus is sold on Modwright and I understand what he likes about them, but I just find the power amps a tad dry and solid state like. The ARC 75 has all the detail and dynamics, but just has more body, a fuller sound, that I like. I think I have always been sold on tubes. I will of course, try the amps out with my speakers first, but at a recent small, 4 room dealer show, I think everyone there was just entranced by what the reference 75 could do, better perhaps than the reference 150
I am going to compare them in the store, when the integrated is in, I will report back. To change the subject slightly. I don't know anything about the hierachy of ARC Pre's. I know the LS27 is better than the LS17, how about some older units like an LS 26, how would that compare with a 27. This is just if I do find the separates are clearly better than the integrated
Well I went for an audition today and unfortunately, it was'nt close. The VSi75 did'nt have many miles on the clock and the Ref 75 was matched with an LS27, not a 17, which the dealer did'nt have. The difference was really quite stark, the integrated was closed in, dull in comparison, lacking any drive. The Reference 75 which also was'nt fully run in was alive, a wide deep soundstage, great detail and tonal richness, just a wonderful sound.
So I ordered the Ref 75. Thanks for all your input.
I agree, I would have prefered to have heard it with the LS 17 or LS 17SE, but needs must. I still feel the difference was so dramatic, that much or most of it, was down to the amp itself. The dealer will come and install it and hopefully will bring a 17LS with him. In the short term, I will be using a Music First Audio Passive anyway, because I do'nt have the room or money for an ARC pre.
When HiFi+, reviewed the Ref 75 a few years ago, they did so with an LS 27 and Music First pre and found it different, not worse.
I should have added that the dealer had a second hand Ref 110, with K120 valves fitted, which is said to bring it close to the Ref 150. We compared the other 2 amps with the 110. The result was much closer, but I still preferred the Ref 75, a richer, fully sound, not coloured or lacking detail, just richer tonality
Just a quick update, the Ref 75 arrived recently, just leaving the small matter of paying for it. I think it is my most expensive purchase ever. Is it worth it? Yes absolutely, I think. Still worrying about the cost.
It has real drive and crispness in the sound, a deep soundstage, detailed , without being grainy. It really is a special piece of kit, I would recommend to anyone. I have sensitive Daedalus speakers, but still, I have'nt managed to move the power meters more than a micron, yet, bags of power.
The dealer domo'd the unit with an ARC ref 3, which was very nice. I managed to pick up a self build version of the Music First Audio baby reference, for $1200 and I prefer it. So a good passive pre is a good way to go.
Thanks for your advice
By chance, I think I can answer that. I have used SET's for years and the 20watt Ayon Spark is my backup amp at the moment. I like it a lot, clearly and perhaps suprisingly, better, in my view, than the Viva Solista I had several years ago.
It is perhaps unfair to compare it with a power amp twice it's price, but it is clearly softer, less dynamic, with a definite loss of detail and imaging. It is a typical tube sound, very slightly warm and lacking dynamics. The ARC retains the organic tube sound, but is markedly better in imaging, detail, base, dynamics, both macro and micro. I would say soundstage depth, which I value, is about the same. The ARC for me, is hard to fault, maybe soundstage width could be better, but depth matters more to me.
Comparing with a good SS amp and Lou, the Daedalus designer, likes Modwright, I'm afraid I just don't get it. I find even good SS, which the Modwright is, grainy and unmusical. It sounds like recorded music, not music, but that's just my view and priority
I find imaging quite accurate and life size, not overblown. Soundstage depth is good, better than the Spark. The dealer bought a reference 3 to demo the amp. I personally prefer my passive pre to the ARC, except image depth, which did seem better.
I tend to like opera to judge soundstage depth, you aften have various singers at different depths of the soundstage. It is clearly better defined with the ARC. Soundstage width is no different, but I value depth over width anyway.
The amp is not yet fully run in, so hopefully better performance to come, good though it is now.
I am maybe interested in the vsi75 for my Ulysses (I really want to stay with an integrated). you mentioned the vsi had very little hours on it, so not totally a fair comparison. I wish the unit could of been judged better. Do you feel it was due to break-in or do you think the unit is just not that great?
Is this dealer close to you? Do you ever visit there for fun? I am wondering if you would ever be able to go back some time in the near future to hear the vsi75 after it is fully, or closely broken-in? I know you know your stuff and we have the same brand speakers, so Im hoping you may be able to shed a little light...