I don't think you are nit picking. It is noise that is being generated that is interfering with your music listening - which is unacceptable. I don't know if you can do anything about it but there is a way to minimize fan noise and still move some air if you work around the problem from the original design. One way to do it is to use two 120 volt motors in series (electrically) so they only see 60 volts each and run at reduced speed and noise. The two fans move less air individually than normal but the combined output may be close (may be more or less) to the original single fan but with less noise. I built a custom amp that I only needed to move a small amount of air in so I used a single 220 volt fan and applied 120 volts to it so it moved enough air but was silent unless you got your ear close to the amp. Sorry there isn't an easy answer but you might contact ARC and see what they have to say.
Two fans will lower the speed of each, but then you'll have the noise of two fans beating the air(no benefit). Place a 560 ohm, 10 watt power resistor in series with the fan, and it will reduce the speed significantly. Personally- I would remove the top cover, and raise the amp slightly with isolation devices(like Isoclean Tip Toes or something similar/taller) to increase the air flow/convection, and let it ride. Ambient noise sucks the life out of music listening for me too. A slight shortening of tube life isn't much of a price to pay for increased listening pleasure(to me anyway- My mono blocks only have half the 6550s of your VT-200).
I have found the fans in all AR product noisy and are very distracting when listening to music specifically on quiet passages etc. You would think by now that ARC would realize this issue and correct, all they have to do is put in a better fans.
You can order quieter fans from other sources, check out other AR threads for info.
I agree with rodman. Remove the top cover and elevate the amp. This will improve cooling.
I saw a mod a while back for fans that we're much quieter. I wish I could remember where I read it. I believe it used some high quality computer fans but, I'm not certain. Do some googling and you may find it. I have a VT-200 and have mine closer than you, in the medium setting and have not found it too distracting. It may be that your fan has gone bad and a new unit from ARC may fix it but, that's just a guess. You might even wish to call Steve Huntley at GNSC. He's worked on these and may have a suggestion.
All the best,
I had the same issue with a VT 100 MKIII and agree with Rodman as well. I believe the proximity of the fan to the bottom cover was the main problem as the air made noise as it passed through the slots in the cover. You could; detach the fan from the bottom and raise it up a bit, remove the bottom completely and place the fan on the shelf the amp is sitting on, or what I did was to removed the top and bottom covers and disconnected the fan completely. Added bonuses - prevents fan vibrations from affecting the amp and the amp warms up faster. I use a separate fan at the top of the case to extract heat during those long listening sessions - the noise is practically nil. Extracting air is more effective for cooling than blowing air into the case.
You are not alone regarding these fan noise issues, see below other members thoughts;
Mantis007 posted 11-18-08
I ordered some silent fans(7db) from overseas - I found them in the threat you told me about. I have the original fans disconnected and the covers off while I wait for the new fans.
Downunder posted 11-08-08
I had a listen to the ref 210's for a few minutes and even at low volumes in a cold room the fans were churning away LOUDLY.
I think the 210's sounded quite good, but I could not get my head around why the fans were so loud, especially since the amps did not seem hot and volume was low. I can only imagine how loud the fan would be at high volumes.
Is this normal for this amplifier??
Does cutting the fans out make reliability an issue??
Jc4659 you will find more too.
Elberoth2 posted info on how he put in XThermal (or is it Thermal?) BTF80Pro fans in a Ref 110 and liked the result. I did some searches on XThermal and found some references to the fans. They do not appear to be distriputed in the US. Anyone know if they are carried by someone in the US? Google search did not turn up much for me, plus I am looking for some other stuff.
Thanks everyone. I searched the forums and see that I am not alone on this issue. I will contact steve at gnsc and see what he has to say about it, I doubt ARC will offer anything better, and the last option which I would consider is removing the top cover and disconnecting the fan altogether. I don't have any little ones running around anymore who might be tempted to poke around inside.
I did not purchase the REF 110 because of the fan noise. On low passages it is audible at 9 feet and I could not move the amp further away in my room.
I got the BTF80Pro fans for my 210's. They are about dead quiet ;)
Mantis007, now why wouldn't AR do this in the first place.
How much did these cost, are they the same size with no issues regarding replacement.
So any thoughts regarding your 210's in comparison to other amps you have had.
Mantis- who did you purchase from and did it fit exactly and connect easily to existing connector?
I suffered the same problem of noisy fans with my ARC 120's & 150's and cured the problem by replacing the Taiwan made original fans with those made by Pabst, Germany. They are widely available in Europe.
I just bought fans covers for my ARC 610T's because I have inquisitive grandchildren and would not like them to touch the hot valves and I noticed the fans fitted are made in China but are very quiet - so far!
Dev & JC - I got the fans from specialtech.co.uk/spshop/customer/product.php?productid=5876&cat=0&page=1- they were about $50 shipped to the USA - I just cut the existing fan wires and soldered the new fan in - they fit perfectly with the existing screws & spacers. I can only hear the fans when I'm about 1 foot away or closer.
Dev: I like the 210's so far but they don't control the bass as good as the Lamm M1.2's BUT they sound more natural. It's tough to compare since the Lamm's are gone...
Thanks Mantis. Mine is on its way.