For sake of clarity, this problem does not manifest itself on well recorded cds or vinyl, but on average and below average quality recordings and on some sacds. Thus, I suspect junk in- junk out. That said, what will break in bring?
I would agree with the junk in junk out. I spent a lot of time auditioning the Ref 110 when I was amp shopping and found it to be very neutral and revealing, with perhaps a bit of dryness in the upper mid range, it could be heard as thin. I think however that it was perhaps the speakers I was hearing and that the amp did not forgive, (hide), poorly recorded music.
Preamp? Source? Cables? Speaker?
While I appreciate that everything is system dependent, my question is, for those of you who have broken in the REF series amps, is this characteristic inherent in the break in process?
As far as I know, an amp does not make sounds without a little help. A power cord can make an amp sound quite different. If you had enough love of music to purchase an ARC Ref 110 amp, you should understand that generalizations are worthless. How the amp reacts to it's connected components and cabling is as varied as human hearing acuity is variable.
My Ref110 sounded a little thin and un-engaging during the break-in period, and it was only after the 300-400 hour mark that it blossomed. I remember feeling a little worried then, but I look back at that time and laugh. It is now staggeringly transparent and natural, and so totally superior to anything I ever owned before.
OTOH, the Ref110 is not one of those tubey tube amps with ultra-lush mids, so if thats your thing, then choose partnering equipment accordingly.
Hope this helps
And, the Ref 110 replaced what? Are the cables the same, have you tried anything different? Does it sit on the same rack or stand? Have you tried different equipment supports/isolators?
I have two VAC amps that I swap back and forth and for each to sound its best requires subtle system changes. One of the bass traps needs to be moved 1 inch back, speaker cables slightly damped (via sandbags), DAC feet change from brass spikes to Still points. You most likely need to make some minor changes. You cannot simply exchange one amp for another and expect it to perform its best. I don't believe in long break-ins (over 100hrs). So, if it sounds bad, it probably really is bad, so give it some help.
Thanks guys. The only reason I hesitate to list all components is that over the years in this hobby, I believe I know the character of each component I own and how placement of everything (all on isolation devices), cables- pcs (Shunyata) ics (Stealth Indra), etc. impact the sound. Since I have tested many items and changed the system over the years a number of times--all to work the synergies to my liking, I do not want to run a long thread in which I get numerous suggestions (try this cable, that isolation device, move the speakers)--all of which have been done too numerous times to mention prior to getting this amp and a few times after. So, with that in mind, I wanted to know if this trait was part of the break in process so I don't go crazy making adjustments and then find that the amp will become more relaxed and less shrill on these items over time causing me to readjust. As this is the only change in my system in the past year and I have had other amps that did not exhibit these traits including most recently the McIntosh MC2102 (which is smoother and rounder but less neutral and transparent than the REF 110), the first question is-did my past amps mask some thinness in the average cd and badly recorded records that the REF 110 reveals such that I am now hearing it. I believe this to be the case. Now as for the new found issue, will this character be somewhat ameliorated by the mere passage of time with the REF 110? I believe from Mickey sg' response that I must wait about 300 hours to pass judgment. Rest assured if the problem does not go away, I will be back with hat in hand and an examination of other components and synergies will ensue. Are there other ARC amp owners who agree with Mickey sg' s opinion?
I can say that compared to the VT 100MKII and VT200MKII combined with my LS25 and Ref2 MKII, the newer Ref designs are more solid state like in their presentation, albeit with increased dimensionality and huge soundstaging. For me, the advent of the 6H30 tube/crcuit has coincided with my recent decrease in interest for ARC, BAT gear...yes, I owned a Ref 3 and sold it. Why? Because it sounded solid state like in tone color and was a bit soft down low and up top.
Mickey sg, looking at your system, it is amazing to me that with the MIRRORS behind your system that any amp through any speakers would sound anything but thin and 'shrill'!
Perhaps locating the whole system in a better location or alternatively damping/covering the mirrors with some kind of major absorbtion would go a long way to helping your problem.
Holy Cats! I aqree with Janeb. With an entire wall of mirrors behind your system, coupled with the tile floors and the large glass coffee table, I'm suprised you're not driven out of the room. Maybe two pairs of Holograms would be the ticket. One pair behind the speakers about a foot away from the mirrors, and another pair behind and on either side of your listening chair would help. I know they transformed my room for the better.
Good luck ...
Hi Oregonpapa and Janeb,
I think some wires got crossed here: I am Mickey, and yes, thats my room with the mirrors, but I'm not the original poster, who was complaining about shrillness. Just for the record, my room doesnt sound bright, as you might suppose. The only thing that suffers is depth of image.
I think I did confuse you with Gpgr4blu,since he doesn't
show us his system. However, i am still amazed that what I and Oregonpapa said about your system doesn't apply!
I can't imagine a worse room for listening to music than a super reflective room that it appears you enjoy.
As a follow up to anyone reading this thread--after 400 hours on the Ref 110 and 100 hours on a Ref 5 pre, I can only say that these components have broken in beautifully. So much so, that I am now amused by my original post. Transparent, neutral, liquid, dimensional, etc. What remarkable pieces of equipment. Shrillness that was present during break-in has completely vanished. Not as chunky/ palpable as a traditional tube sound, but wow! A true paragon of macro and microdynamics. Tradeoff is not the word. Might try Ref 210s to drive Watt Puppy 7s---not that the 110s are deficient, but more power (current) down below might provide more slam there. They say the Ref 5 can use a few hundred hours of break-in before it is performing to full capability. If that's true, I will be even more thrilled than I am now.