Also take a look at the VT100s.... I personally prefer the tubes to the Solid State in ARC gear...
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The ARC VT100 tube amp (you did mean the tube ARC, right?) is the gold standard in tube amplification today. It is as good as the rest of your system and does everything amazingly well (I've owned one for about three years). Yes, there are amps that will do one-or-the-other thing better (see: Single ended triode), but for plug-and-play good for the next ten years amplification, your search ends with the VT-100 (or VT100 Mk II, or VT-100 MK III). It costs between $500 & $750 (depending on dealer ethics) every two years to retube (bummer) but the best is always more trouble (and worth it). Did I mention the amp is only as good as the rest of your system? Enjoy!
I own a ARC 100.2 And it a great sounding amp. When people think of Audio Research, they automatically think tubes. That is why this amp is so overlooked. I auditioned it along with a ARC VT100mk2, and if money is ANY consideration, get the 100.2. It sounds much more like a tube amp than a ss amp. The 100.2 is $3000 new and about $1800 to $2000 used if you can find one. Check out the ads on Audiogon a see how many VT100mk2's are listed compared to the 100.2. You very seldom see 100.2 for sale used. That's because people that own them love them so much. The 100.2 just sounds like music and you can't get better than that.
khokugo, forgive me, but i'm not sure what it is you refer to, when you ask about articles *on this*. my opinion about the 100.2 being "clandestine" cuz its a ss amp made by a company known for their toob-stuff is yust that - an opinion. my experience listening to the arc stuff driving the proacs is also yust that - *my* experience. i can say, tho, that its owner bought the arc gear cuz he already had & liked the proacs, & it's what proac recommended he buy for their speakers. he also told me he heard from a reliable source at arc that arc's owner uses this same amp-n-pre to drive proac 2.5's in his own home, but i can't swear this is true...
Ken, I've had some experience with S.E. and its been generally good. Of course the usual caveats apply: depends on the particualar salesman,day you go there, and making them understand that you are there for a serious listen(not that you're absolutly buying the product). If you are interested, email me and I'll give you someone's name who i've dealt with. Peter
Ken, take Peter up on his offer. I have only dealt with S.E. long ago, when I was looking for a used piece of equipment (they have a LOT of good used equipment); they were friendlier and more helpful than the other NYC high end Meccas (except Innovative Audio, to which I have sent numerous people starting out in this hobby because they are good at educating and at letting you listen). A friend of mine bought VTL MB 750s from them, used, at a great price and he was happy with the amps and the buying experience.
Khokugo, the ARC100.2 is an all-FET transistor design which in my opinion sounds somewhat veiled compared to solid state amps possessing bipolar transisitor outputs or even MOSFET outputs. The 100.2 has the same "problems" that older all-FET Conrad Johnson SS amps had, although in newer CJ's they've switched to bipolar output (keeping only the FET gain stage), for increased clarity while retaining some warmth. (See Stereophile review of CJ MF2500 amp for details.) If you listen a lot to classical and want to avoid the harshness of many bipolar amps (e.g. steely violin sections), you should try some MOSFET-output amps, which are being made nowdays much better than before (they used to be somewhat hazy and bass-wimpy). With MOSFETs you get the warmth & 3-D imaging of tubes without the etched/brittle sound of many pure-bipolar transisitor amps. There are many such amps available; do a search on AudioAsylum (using keyword MOSFET) for many discussions and recommendations. Finally, consider the new BelCanto EVo200.2 solid state amp (which I own, and can be found used for as low as $1600). It has a unique MOSFET-type switching ouput device, and is a great synthesis of solid-state and tube-like character. Of course, you could go in the direction of tube amps, but in my experience dealing with tube gear can be expensive and complicated. (Tube amps can sound wonderful, though...) Good luck in your search.