It's an amazing amp. I've had one for years now and I can't get over just how much it does right. Even if I one day upgrade from it, I'll still keep it as a backup. It's just that good. Enjoy!
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Yep, a true "gem" indeed. After listening to it for a few weeks now, I love it even more. No grain, no harshness, just pure music that flows out of it. Seems to mate very well to many speakers (I tried 3 different pairs, Dynaudio, Sonus Faber, Magnepan). Really can't find any faults at all with it, to beat this one, you must go all the way up to the top and pay 8-10x the price (at the used prices it's selling for now).
I owned one for quite a while and only sold it because it I needed more power for my new, larger speakers . The sound was spectacular and I really did not want to let it go. I replaced the 100.2 with a 150.2 after using a buddy's 150.2 on a trial basis for several weeks. Despite some reservations about the 150.2 I published on the A'gon a while back, (after a flawed A-B comparison between the two amps), I have really found the 150.2 to be equal to the 100.2 while running cool as can be. The 100.2 has a slightly more tubelike presentation--warmer thru the midrange, totally grainless but with less authority and control in the bass than the 150.2. The newer 150.2 gives up only a little in the mids, being more neutral and clean but otherwise is as good or better than the 100.2 it replaced in all other respects. As a digital switching amp the 150.2 runs much more efficiently and, I suspect, is more durable over the long haul due to the low operating temperatures. I have to say that for my setup the 150.2 is really the better choice and the fact that it runs so cool is icing on the cake. Plus, the 150.2 doesn't have quite the cult following of the 100.2 and can therefore be picked up for the same or less money on the used market.
This is a real diamond in the rough. It has been working wonders in my system since hour 1 :) and it has not been that long since I bought it. It allows me to relax and take in a sound I have longed for since I caught the bug over a decade ago. Everything said about this amp is absolutely true. It is the most 'musical' amp I have ever owned. It continues to suprise me as i revisit old favorites, on some cd's that I think will sound like dirt and cause apprehension, they come out sounding just fine. To my ears it does not acheive this by being overly warm ( adding same coloration) or rolling off the top; rather, it is transparent, open and pure. In this sense it is quite remarkable. I think for the 1st time I am truly not listening to an amp per se, but to amplified music. I wish there were some published performance data to appease my technical side, for kicks; This amp's published power rating belies its real world performance. It is very punchy and capable of driving fairly difficult speakers (Dynaudio Contour 3.4 and 1.8 MKII's) to very impressive levels w/o becoming harsh, shut in, or collapsing the soundstage. Bravo ARC, Bravo. When can we see another classic solid state this good? Truly a remarkable value at the price of admission.
I fully agree with all the accolades for the 100.2 in this thread. By far, the best SS amp I have auditioned (out of dozens and dozens of amps) in just about every respect. I dare Audio Research to "bring it back" as a "classic series". But then again, I heard they "had to" drop it because it was outperforming their mega-cost tube amps at the dealers!
Stunning in every respect.
...How much truth is there to that statement about outperforming the higher end tube amps I wonder?
What are you guys using as a preamp for your 100.2. I have an LS-15 with EH 6922 tubes, and I am getting the itch to make some changes to the tubes. Any thoughts?
Also, what are the most difficult speakers you connected to this little gem, and had it totally surprise you?
I took it to a friends house and it surprised us massively in its ability to control his dynaudio S3.4s.