Audio Research Ref 250s for Magnepan 20.1s?

OK, I'm thinking about taking the plunge into large tube amp, upgrading. Will the ARC Ref 250s have enough power for the Magnepan 20.1 speakers? Anyone using this combo? The Ref 750s seem too far out there for me but I would like to hear if someone has experience with either of these? Right now I have ARC Ref 3 preamp and Ref 8 CD player along with Pass Labs XP25 phonopre, VPI table with dynavector cart, and Pass Labs X600.5s. I have plenty of power but had an eye opening experience with a friend's Cary Audio 60 watt triode stereo amp. Nowhere near the power needed but it had qualities I desire such as midrange bloom and wide soundstage without harsh upper end. It was bass shy but I do have Nola subs. Should I sell the pass 600.5s and get ARC ref 250s? or 750s (god forbid)?

Why not borrow a pair of 250s from an ARC dealer and compare them in your current setup. That is the only way to know for sure. The ARC Ref amps are far more neutral. They don't have quite as much tube coloration as Cary amps. The Pass X600.5 are very fine amps. My ARC dealer also carries Pass Labs and I have been very impressed with their line. If I were to move from tubes to solid state, Pass Labs is were I would go.
You can't compare the Cary 60 watter with the 250 ARC. Not only different power but very different sound.
If you like EL34's, you might consider Wolcott 220's. VTL 750's would be great with the Maggies - the older models are more affordable.
If you buy Refs be sure to have a significant budget for replacement tubes.

MG 20.1s require biamping to be at their best, which is often overlooked.
They did a great job of driving the 20.7´s at a show in Sweden a couple of weeks ago but according to the dealer the Lamm M2.2 is even better.
The Pass XA.5-amps are also considered a great match.

I don't think the ARC Refs have the sound you are looking for: "qualities I desire such as midrange bloom and wide soundstage without harsh upper end." They do not have the traditional "tube sound".

In general, top of the line tube amps probably sound more like your Pass amps than the Cary.

You might want to keep the Pass amps and experiment with lower priced tube amps from conrad-johnson, BAT, McIntosh, Quicksilver, Rogue, Cary, etc. until you zero in on the sound you want and then spend the big bucks for the big power.
Hand made in the USA, all point to point wiring, USA, 2 ohm tap, easy to bias, runs fairly cool for a tube amp, 7 year transferable warrantee. for good priceing.
Any tube amp with a board makes me nervous. The Carver is getting good press. They should be good. The asl hurricane are also very good. If you can tolerate a board, the manley 250 or 500 can get the job done. Audition is a must. Do try pass and bryston. Try biamp with a marchand xm 26 bryston 14 or 7 bst on the bass and 4bst on top. That sound opened my maggies like never before. Open, dynamic, powerful and so majestic.
I would certainly contact the manufacturer and ask them. I'm sure customer service can help you with this.
Magnepan used to drive their 20.1s w/ an ARC VT200. The Ref 250 will drive the 20.1 to varying effect depending upon the acoustic environment, which means you need to listen to them in your system. Unless someone responds to your post who owns the Ref250s driving 20.1s these threads are mostly a listing of brands that others think are a better choice than what you actually inquired about.
Djcxxx...."these threads are mostly a listing of brands that others think are a better choice than what you actually inquired about".

"eye opening experience with a friend's Cary Audio 60 watt… " If the OP is looking for a similar presentation as the Cary then suggestions other than the ARC are certainly to the point.

"Magnepan used to drive their 20.1s w/ an ARC VT200"
Magnepan Tour
If it were me, I would sell the 20.1's and buy a new pair of 20.7's. Then I would pick up a really good used powerful SS amp, something like a set of Cary 500 monoblocks or a pair of Magtechs...
I have Ref3, Ref8, Ref210's with Magnepan 20.1's.
These are in a dedicated Listening Room which is 20' x 24' x 9'.
I mostly play orchestral music full orchestra and small groups. I also listened to Patricia Barber, Diana Krall type stuff.
The Ref 210's drive the Magnepan very well, they produce a very musical sound which is a replication to a degree of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra which I hear often. Playing a Mercury Living Presence CD or LP my setup seems easily powerful enough.
I can play Patricia Barber at any level I need with no compression.
While I have a ARC D400 solid state AMP (though 18 years old) it sounds more powerful, BUT it doesn't sound nearly as good and musical. The bass is tighter, but IMHO too tight and not real.
The 20.1's with the ARC equipment can transport you to the musical event.
I will say I think I am limited in power if I am plying solo piano, something like Sheffield drum and track but does not bother me too much. I suspect that the Ref 250 will be far more powerful sounding than the 210 and still retain the ARC tube musicality.
I have never tried the larger Mac's or Bryston.
I suspect I am giving you only 50 - 75% of the answer.
I want to thank all for your responses. I think my future plans will include getting the Ref 250s and eventually upgrading to the Maggie 20.7s. If I decide to keep my Pass 600.5s, I may pick up a used Pass XVR crossover and try bi-amping and just take my double bi wire configured audioquest speaker cables and make them singles again to make it work. These are the dreams. 1 step at a time while enjoying the music. That is why we do all of this crazy stuff in the first place. It is safer than getting into motorcycles.
If you try bi-amping, I'm sure you'll like the incredible flexibilty of the XVR-1 not to mention it's minimal sonic signature. You might consider sticking with the 20.1s, bi-amped with the Ref150s as an alternative to the Ref250s and the 20.7s.
I think Barrysandy's suggestion is a good one. That has potential to sound incredible, stunning. And save you money on both the speaker upgrade and the cost differential between Ref250 and Ref150. Good luck. Good choices!
Sorry to arrive late to this thread, but I am driving 20.1 currently with both ARC VM220 and VTL MB450, as well as other solid state options. I agree, less tubes work fine, especially if you were to biamp. But I am satisfied with both aforementioned tube amps as standalone amplifiers with my freshly rebuilt 20.1's. although I had given some thought to the ref 610t, I am glad I didn't do it. Too mant tubes, runs too hot, and I am very satisfied with why I have. I have a small room, however, perhaps if I had a 1500 sq ft. Great room, I would need more power! But if I did, I would biamp, 200 tube watts driving mids and tweeters is a lot if power!

Ps, arc tube amps run hot! You can sure tell the difference as opposed to the VTL, which are much cooler running...
I ran my 20.1's with two pairs of MB450's to good effect. I found the bass on the 450's to be very organic sounding - I liked it a lot more than several good SS amps I tried in that position.
Just a thought...the only large ARC amp that I have heard that has some of the magic Cary midrange...ARC Classic 150??? triode
Ref250's are awesome amps and I definitely recommend them.
I definitely recommend you audition a Sanders Sound Magtech amp. Very transparent and fast with 900w/ch into 4ohms. An audio bargain

From the qualities you said you want, midrange bloom and a big soundstage without a harsh upper end, I would suggest that a simple substitution of another tube preamp might do the job for you.

Your ARC Ref3 is a very nice preamp, however, I don't think many would say it has midrange bloom or that it attenuates the upper treble to reduce harshness. I would pose that most would describe it's qualities as being more similar to solid-state, in that it is accurate and neutral in nature, rather than what has been traditionally considered 'tubey'. This seems like a better starting point than jumping into tube amps right from the getgo.

I'd see if a local dealer can let you home audition a few different brands/models so you can attain the qualities you're after.Just an alternative suggestion.

Thanks and good luck,
Take a paire of REF 250s home and demo them in your system. Any dealer worth their salt will let you take a pair home for a week or so. You will find these amps to be absolutely wonderful. Also, if you are listening solely to vinyl, then you might want to demo a tube phono stage before getting rid of the pass amp. Take your time and demo equipment first before purchasing. The Audio Research REF Phono stage is the best I have heard and the REF 250 is really nice. But, I would bet that the Pass amp is also really nice, so first demo a tube phono stage and if you aren't happy, then demo the AR REF 250 amp.


How about getting your midrange bloom from a warmer tube preamp and send that bloom to a set of the fabulous Merrill Audio Veritas monoblocks. I have had experience with both ARC and Pass Labs equipment, and while I respect each of them, I am now getting everything you say you want using a Cary Slp-05 and the Veritas monoblocks. A beautiful top end and a soundstage beyond the wall with a great recording. Your Maggies will thank you for providing the quickness and punch they deserver to sound their best. And you won't have to deal with a pair of space heaters in your listening room.

I have a similar system with 20.1s Ref 3 and a tubed CD player Lector.

I use ARC VTM 200 mono locks and am very satisfied. I have also used Merrill Audio Veritas class d delivering 700 watts per channel which also enhance the Maggie's

ARC units do require tube replacement every 2000 hrs. I prefer the ARC tubes. You will be very happy with the Arc 240s but I would audition the Merrill Veritas before deciding
Jafo100, could you elaborate on sonic differences experienced with your Maggies driven by Merrill Veritas and ARC VTM 200?