Audio Research Ref. 210 questions

just got these today and was wondering about a couple things. Has anyone tried power cables other than stock? I was told by the seller that the stock cables were the best. The cables don't look like anything special to me ;) I was also wondering about footers etc.. Do any make a difference with these amps? I have them on the Adona Nemesis amps stands. Any replacement fan options - I find the too loud... How about the 6n1p tubes - anyone replace them?? Thanks for any and all info.
Power chords will make a significant difference, tubes will make a difference, presumably feet will make a difference as well. . . but. . . until your equipment is fully broken in (at least 500 hours of real playing time) it will change sound quite wildly all by itself. . . if you start fiddling now, you will end up over compensating for temporary artifacts. . . and in the end you'll have to change every little tweak all over again because the amps will just sound. . . darn wrong. Guido
thanks for the reply. The amps were preowned and have been thur the first set of tubes. The current tubes have about 40 hrs so I guess they will need more time too..?
What speakers and pre-amp are you using these with? I would agree with Guidocorona's response.

Mantis007 you just sold your Cary CAD-211 AE's right, what sonic differences are you noticing being apparent right from the get go.

I have interest in the 210's also but I've been on the fence for a year now mainly because I just can't get over the noisy fans. I have heard these in a dealer's situation I can clearly hear the fans and if placed in my set-up I sit aprox 10ft away I would hear them clearly. What bothered me the most when listening to them was that on quiet passages or in between songs I could heard them which is distracting me.
hi Dev, I'm using a BAT VK52-SE pre and Usher BE-20 speakers. I did sell the 211's but had a totally different system at the time. The fans are real easy to replace and I plan on doing that. I have the covers off for now and the fans disconnected. The fan noise bothered me too - it only took about 5 min. and I disconnected them. The amps don't seem to run very hot either - not any more than the Lamm M1.2's I just sold. I'm really curious about power cables because they have made a huge difference with all of the previous amps I've owned. I may just get a 20-15 amp adapter and try my current Ridge Street Audio Alethias Cu PC's.
Mantis007, I was communicating with someone who has the 210's and uses Elrod power cords and said the difference was very positive.

Why did you sell the Lamm's and Cary's?

The Cary amps you had, what would you say the difference is between these and the ARC 210's and also Lamm. You have had some great amps in you system.

Thanks for the info. regarding the fans in the 210's, sounds easy enough and would resolve that problem.
Hi Dev, thanks for the pc info. As far as your question: I sold the Cary's because I bought some Innersound Kaya electrostats. I called Cary and they said not to use the 211's with the Kaya's. The Kaya's have a wicked dip to .9 ohm with a 75 degree phase angle. Not good for the 211's. I decided not to try it ;) SO, I got the Lamms because they are very good with a difficult load(Kaya). I sold the Kaya's and got the Ushers. The Ushers sounded VERY good with the Lamms but I wanted a bit more power and missed the sound of a pure tube amp. I'm still getting used to the 210's. I didn't really like them at first - their presentation is much more laid back and a bit distant compared to the M1.2's. I had to move my listening chair up about 1'closer to the speakers - things sound much better now. I do think the Lamms had better control over the Ushers bass. I can't really compare how the 211's sounded because I only used them with the Vandersteen 5A's I sold. The 211's are very nice amps, especially with upgraded tubes ;)
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??
Hi, the question I have is a bit off topic I'm afraid. Sorry for that.

Quote from Mantis: "The Ushers sounded VERY good with the Lamms but I wanted a bit more power and missed the sound of a pure tube amp."

Some people/experts believe that there is no such thing as "tube" sound or the sound of a pure tube unit in comparison with a pure solid state one (provided that both are very well executed high quality units). So why do many audiophiles prefer tubes over solid state? There have to be inherent differences in "sound" between the two basic concepts in amplification. I do not believe that the difference are only due to "colorations". What do you think?


I have tried to luv SS amps quite a few times but keep on gojng back to tubes. IMO a nice tube amp will always have over its SS counterpart
- 3d soundstage where SS in comparison can sounewhat 2 dimensional and flat
- tonal meat on instruments whereas SS tends to just sound thinner
- mids and high frequencies on a great tube amp seem to float in space, flow from note to note and still be very transparent
- SS bass when volume is pumped up very loud can have a tendancy to get tighter and tighter, whereas tube bass spreads a little to give a slightly fatter sound - whicj IMO sounds more lifelike

I agree with what Downunder said regarding the comparison and I have had top notch solid state and I still prefer tube but not the heat or maintenance issues.

When I listen to solid state even with a tube pre it just isn't the same as with a good tube amp. Ideally I would love to find a solid state amp (mono blocks preferred) that can do this so if anyone knows of any kindly let me know.

Mantis007 regarding the three amps, Cary, Lamm and ARC I would have thought the Cary's would have given you want you are wanting with your Ushers, it's too bad you did not get to try. So far your listening experience with the 210's was what I found also, I thought possibly this was just with the dealers set-up but know you have confirmed what I heard also, most defiantly is a different sound of love or hate. I personally found the bass just wasn't there also and felt the highs rolled off but again this was in the dealers place but I still wasn't out ruling getting a pair to actually demo in my own space as there were to many other factors in play and did not want to out rule them. I would think that the Lamms you had would be a whole different beast, sounding totally different but I still feel that the Cary's you had could have been a great fit for you. You mentioned upgraded tubes in the Cary, what tubes did you upgrade. The Cary's when hooked up to your Vandy 5's I believe you really did not get to listen to their full potential mainly due to your Vandy design having the powered bass etc.

I am really interested in the Cary's can you give me some more info on how they sounded, how warm or hot do these run. Are they noisy? Strengths and weaknesses.
Dev, it seems the 210's really need time for the listener to become accustomed to them. I find them very musical and not rolled at either end - just very enjoyable with 3d wraparound quality. The soundstage is quite a bit wider than the Lamms in my system. Before the Cary's I had the Supratek Burgundy 4 chassis amps. They were outstanding but lacked a little drive. They ran out of steam pretty quick when pushed. If not pushed they were very nice. The Cary's had much more drive that the 100wpc Supras. The Cary's ran pretty warm but no more so than the Lamms or ARC's. I have a good size room thats open to the rest of the house so heat isn't a major factor. The Cary's were very quiet thru the speakers but did have a bit of transformer hum. I did find them just a little slow sounding at times but very enchanting. Hope this helped a little ;)
Mantis007, you might want to read Elberoth2's threads another member on Gon. He had the same Lamm's, he had Cary amps but the Cary 500 solid state and then REF210's and now 110 amp. I'm sure his thread will be helpful giving suggestions, he is currently using Wilson Sofia 2 speakers.

Thanks for the info., reading into your reply I did not see any real passion towards the Cary so I take it was not all that for you.
HI ALL, has anybody have any problems with these amp? ie, blowing up resisters, tubes etc etc? My pair has blowed up once from new (appro 6 months old , with 550 hours), both pair!! Also the stupid fan is anoiying! Also, my REF 3 got problem too with resisters when it was delivered new..
Hifi223, boy are you having bad luck. I have owned a few ARC pces REF 300, 6OO and 2 MK2 pre. and have been very lucky not to have any issues what so ever but about three years ago I did have some problems with my first REF3 I purchased but then replaced it with another one which I currently own and never had any issues.
Yes, the early ref 3 had problem with some resisters that they used...the problem sounded like valves noises but its the resisters instead..Now, i have the later version for 6 months and seems to be ok..But the ref 210 really "P" me off.!! The service department here in Sydney, Australia says that its the power tube...

that's exactly the issues I had with my first REF3 but in the beginning they said the same thing to me "oh it's only a tube." I feel for you regarding your issues you are having and it is most frustrating but most of us in this hobby have been there at some point in one way or another. If it's a power tube then it's a pretty easy fix, let us know if it is just that or something else.
I am going with McIntosh MC2103s because I could not get over the fan noise from thr Ref 210s.

BTW--Downunder, how do you like your new JM Lab Novas?


you realize you can resolve the issues of the noisy fans right, just refer to other threads regarding replacing them with better ones which make no noise and do not cost much. ARC really needs to address this already, it's such an easy fix.

McIntosh MC2103's very nice amps, would be a interesting comparison but boy do they ever throw off allot of heat.
I changed to Nordost Brahma power cords and found a significant uplift in clarity of sound.
You could try sourcing some Pabst fans, they have run really quietly for me when I changed them in other ARC amps.
The Ref 210's didn't have enough output to drive my Soundlab U1-PX and I traded them for ARC 610T's, like night and day. I have just ordered a set of JPS Aluminata power cords with the necessary 20A IEC plugs and will see if they make any change.
I can tell you the ARC ref. 210 is a better amp then the Mcintosh 2103. I sold my Mcintosh Mc2103 for the ARC ref 210. I wasn't even close. Mcintosh is to slow and the midrange sounded foggy compared to the Ref 210. The Ref 210 has more dimension also. I'm convinced that Mac puts all those pretty lights on them to sell them because they surly don't sound better then other no flashy brands.
I heard the McIntosh MC-2301 monoblocks 300 watts per channel and they sounded wonderful. Transparent and musical. I heard no fog.
I finally got some new power cables. I chose the Fusion Audio Impulse power cables. They improved every aspect of the 210 sound. The Impulse are a silver/copper foil type cable. Very much worth the $$$.. They only have about 30-40 hrs on them and I'm sure they will improve even more.

One other question: can the 210's use the KT88 tubes instead of the 6550?
Somehow missed this thread before. Anyway - there is an easy fix to fan noise problem in Ref 110/210. Either leave them open with fans disconnected, or get some very good quality, 7dB fans from ebay for $15-20 each.
Thanks , everyone.. anybody fitted Kt88 to the REF 210??
Sorry folks--I meant MC 2301--not MC 2103 in my post a few back.