Audio Research ref 150 vs Carver 180 monoblocks

I'm thinking about upgrading to one of these amps. I'm currently running a Arc vt-100 mkIII. I can pick up a mint condition ref-150 for around 8000.00. I can buy the Carver amp new for 7400.00. Does anyone has experience with these 2 amps?

These are very different types of amps. What is the rest of your system? T owned the VT100 mk3 and never thought it was one of ARC's best. I currently own a Ref 110 which is a much better amp. I have also heard the Ref 150 and it is truly a great amp. I lust after the Ref 250's.

The Carver amps have more your classic tube amp sound. I prefer the more detailed ARC sound so it would not be on my list. I went there with Cary mono blocs some years ago and ended up selling them a few months later. You really would need to hear the Carver amps in your system to see how you like them.
While I have listened to various ARC components at shows, in stores, and at other households, their sound left me a bit shallow compared to the Citation and Marantz 8B and 9's I owned in the past. Not having them in my own system I don't trust this limited experience to comment on their presentation other than to trust the general consensus.

The VTA180s have a somewhat similar middle frequency presentation to the old Marantz gear which can be altered by decreasing the feedback. The 180s differ greatly from the old Citation / Marantz sound at the extremes which is considerably more extended. I would agree with the periodical reviews that have been published so far.

Rolling the input tubes and replacing the attenuator creates a noticeable improvement. A capacitor upgrade is said add further improvements but violates the seven year warrantee at this time.

My speakers have caused some regarded 200 watt solid state amplifiers to become congested and fatiguing at realistic listening levels. The VTA 180s simply loaf along at these levels and generating very little heat for a tube amplifier.

The tube sockets are mounted on the chassis and hand wired as there are no printed wire boards. There is no costly thick aluminum casework. I purchased mine new at a discounted price worth a call to more than one dealer.