Audio Research Ref75 se

Hey there! I’m new here :)

I have Vandersteen speakers model 2Ce.

now I came across a solid deal for an ARC ref75se.

sadly I can’t hear them combined, and a friend of mine told me it might wont have enough power to run my Vandys to their best since they are 86dB.

also if it can be a good combo for the vandy sound wise .

any suggestion about that would help, if not I have an other deal for Asthetix Mimas which I heard and was decent.. but I really like Arc and from what I read 75se is a superb amp, and I can get them for the same price.


thanks for the help!


I would say its hard to go wrong with 75SE. Even if it doesn't work out, resale of it vs other brands would be easy and most likely quickly.

It should  sounds great, as long as you don’t want to listen too loud. Vandersteen and ARC are frequently paired  together. In fact, I’d say that the amplifier is “better“ than the speakers, Meaning if you wanted to upgrade to a pair of Trio CTs, for example, the amp would still be fine.


as others have said, ref75se is a terrific, absolutely top drawer amp

whether it will drive vandy 2ce’s depends on room and listening level - in most normal cases it should do just fine

that said, as paul mentioned above, for the vandy 2ce (sigs i hope) i would err on the side of a nice solid state amp (think hegel, ayre, belles, pass labs) - the ref 75se isn’t ideally suited and frankly it is a class above the speaker and not a glove fit (better for higher efficiency higher impedance speakers imho)... you’d also save a grand or two and have as good if not better sound (especially in the bass region)

for vandy's i would err on the side of a nice solid state amp

Ditto, and I'm a tube guy.

I've heard the Reference 75SE with the 2CE signature III, it is a fantastic pairing.  For me, it was more than enough power and drove them effortlessly to painful volume levels.

Further, as others have said, if you upgrade your speakers down the road, the amp will sound even better with better speakers.

hey thank you all for your responses!

well the thing is that i tried to find some good SS gear but it couldnt or it was more expensive.

for example the 75se is for 6.1k$

 and i found PASS Labs for 2-3k$ more ax60.5 was around 8k i think.. might be more

cant find  Ayre anywhere .


so its either i need to wait for some used Pass or go with the tube 75se which i kinda like tubes anyway, even tho i can live with both SS or Tubes.

BTW @skucie I might be getting the new Signature III if i can sell my vandys and i will be adding just 500$ so its really good to hear u had good experience with them!

i found PASS LABS XA30.5 + XP-20 pre for 8.7k$ 

what do u think..? should i go with it or with the Audio Research

You shouldnt buy anything in that price range without listening/demoing with a purpose. You should, however, go listen to alot of different gear.

Where do you live? Are there dealers near? Make appointments. Decide if you are set on your speakers, if not, figure out what you want. Then determine appropriate electronics. I love, absolutely love, the ref75se. The ref75se will not be performing at its best with your vandys. I also have great appreciation for the pass xa series. My experience owning the 30.5 years ago was it was sloppy in the lower bass. The .8 series is better with bass. Im not terribly fond of pass preamps.




If you dont want to spend a little time and money to go and determine what you want, then by all means buy whatever you want.


Well the problem is that , sadly I can’t listen to all this gear.. but I came down to 3 amps.

I will say that, I want the amp to stay with me for the next years and that I will have room for update the speakers. atm I have to stay with my vandy’s and im quiete fine with it.

:so these are the 3 amps

1. ARC Reference 75SE


3. Pass Labs xa30.5

I can listen only to the bryston probably. might be also listen the pass labs checking it out.

Many Vandersteen dealers carry ARC…. for a reason. The REF75se is a superb amp and should you stay in the Vandy line will take you up to and especially suitable for Quattro ( because of the high pass and built in sub ). Depending on how old your 2’s are ( in continuous production AND improvement since 1977 ), you should consider the latest model, or as advised the more advanced Treo. I run the Treo CT with a 50 wpc tube amp and for a short time ran my 7’s with the 75 wpc ARC - definitely magic midrange. The Treo is an easier load than the II, but the II with acoustic coupler play lower but can reward a SS amp w better lower end control. The REF75 has excellent output transformers so it will also run the II well, within noted volume and room size constraints. You might want to join the Vandy owners forum on the Vandy site. There are many owners there, some w amps mentioned. You got good advice on visiting a dealer and listening to the combo. Rutan in NJ and Randy in Santa Monica both carry ARC and full line Vandy. Alan Jones at HiFi Buys Atlanta same. Think long term and the REF75se can anchor a state of the art system for many, many years.

best to you, enjoy the music and the journey 


I have heard Vandy 2c's with a Robertson 4010 which was 60w/ch.  Sounded great and plenty loud.

I would also recommend IF you go solid state to listen to low or no global feedback amplifiers like Ayre, Simaudio Moon, Belles… also a typical brand carried by many Vandy dealers for a reason, along w Aesthetix.


Sunil at Sunny Components in W. Covina ( LA ) carries Vandy and Bryston. i have not heard this specific amp so i won’t risk my reputation, but i do use two 60 wpc Bryston monoblocks in a mobile recording rack with a variety of speakers and i can say neutral and VERY reliable.



tyvm for your detailed response , i will join vandy forum for sure.

also i have heard my vandy with Aesthetix Mimas and Atlas. the Mimas sounded great but not close to detail and imaging of the Atlas, the Atlas was better all the way noticebly


well some are private and some are in dealers shop. for example the REF75SE is private and he wouldnt move his current speakers an inch... idk he just dont want to connect my speakers to his expensive system by his words.

anyway I will be listenning to the Pass labs and as for the Bryston i get it with BP-6 pre and BDA-3 dac all bryston set for the whole weekend :D

im really trying to listen to a lot of gear, some ppl dont appreciate it and feel like im not serious wasting their time.



The Atlas is a Bad A amplifier and has two additional possible future upgrades thru the factory the Signature and Eclipse. All three superb and as you may know have a built in high pass filter compatible w Vandersteen powered bass models. 



here are a number of solid state amps (some integrated) i think would work GREAT with vandy 2ce sigs, are commensurate with the level of that speaker, and cost effective too (compared to 6 grand for the arc amp)

these will all give you great sound with your speakers and will match very well in tone, and ability to drive them properly, esp on the bass end -- at these prices, you can enjoy, and resell at minimal loss if they don’t suit your fancy (i have zero affiliation with any of these, do your due diligence on seller and condition)

that said, if you like tubes, prefer eye candy to sonic/system synergy with the 2ce’s, and/or plan to move onto better more expensive speakers, by all means the arc ref75 is an absolutely wonderful amp to own

all the amplifiers you are considering have a reputation as reliable. All come from long standing storied firms in the industry. w reputation for quality. A tube amp will wear out tubes eventually…and when tubes fail something has to give, typically a fuse. The ARC tend to use a sacrificial resistor on the amp because they feel fuses have a detrimental effect on sound quality. You can research this or talk w ARC owners, there are MANY on this site. 


I have the Ref 75se and use it with Sonus Faber speakers rated at 90 db. I usually don’t play over 80db in my small room and the meters don’t even move off zero.

One thing to note is this amplifier only accepts xlr/balanced inputs. I don’t see what you will be driving it with.


@mike30 ,

I replied to your post on the Vandy forum.

As @tomic601 mentioned, just about any amp utilizing zero feedback will be a good match for Vandy speakers. Don't ask me why, they just do.



One thing to note is this amplifier only accepts xlr/balanced inputs. I don’t see what you will be driving it with.

excellent point - hope the newbie op sees this... important...

+++++ Audio Research Preamps… I have been using them for 25 years… really good choice. I found the more Audio Research in the audio chain the closer to the concert hall you get. They are really synergistic.

I’ve heard numerous AR + Vandersteen setups and enjoyed them all. Personally I have VLR CTs powered by a AR VT 80 SE and love it. It is hard to go wrong with AR and Vandersteen.

What size is your room? Also you could get a regular ref75 for way less and pop in kt150’s for 90-95% of the sound quality of the SE version..

Vandy 2Ce and AR Ref75se will be a wonderful pairing of an amp and speaker. Cannot say enough good things about both products and the companies. As noted in a post above, make sure your preamp has XLR/balanced output because 75SE accept only balanced inputs. 2Ce is rated at 7 ohms nominal with 4 ohm minimum. Use 4 ohm taps on 75se and you will be richly rewarded with a truly musical setup that will give you hours and hours of listening pleasures!

For a no bs option the Bryston is a solid choice. Ensure the original box and receipt of purchase are included. The 20 year warranty is very nice. Bryston also offers the trade up program. Trade up on any 4b amp for the latest and greatest and they credit a very handsome amount. 

I’m still waiting to hear the amps

but another 2 joined for the race. It is the Ayre ax7. And the Ayre Vx-5 twenty With the KX-5 pre

ANYTHING ARC is probably better than anything else, with caveats, of course.  No company is perfect.  This one is a true GEM.  An ARC pre-amp would complete your system with the highest quality products available.  As you know, ARC pre-amps are, and have always been, considered the best of the best.

As for your speakers, I have no idea what those boxes sound like, but maybe in the future you can purchase some Magnepan speakers and then you will actually be listening to what was recorded on your source info.

Get the ARC amp and never look back.


Oh yes, don’t give it a second thought. I have my McIntosh MC30s driving Sonus Faber Venere S’s which recommend a 40watt min..  I have no problems, let your ears be the judge. 

Have you looked at the Luxman 509X.  This supplies Class for part of it's output so it won't overheat.  I think this would produce plenty of power.  Be curious what others in this group think.

Have been listening to Vandersteens for over 30 years starting with 2ci's to 2ce's and now Quatro CT's with numerous front end brands along the way. In my own system and in many dealer demos I've found ARC tend to be very synergistic and bring out the best in Vandersteen speakers. Agree w/others above should be more than enough power presumably you're listening at moderate sound levels (otherwise 2ce's would not be a good choice).

But as others have noted the ARC REF75SE may be more amp than required for the 2ce's. Personally I'd say that if you plan on staying with the 2ce's long term, you might be better off with SS amp and perhaps using tubes just in the preamp stage.

On the other hand, if you like the Vandersteen's sound and considering trading up to Treo or Quatros (which are both quite a step up IMO) in the not too distant future, then the REF75SE would be a more justifiable investment. 

Pay close attention to reminder about need for balanced XLR's and be willing to familiarize yourself with tube gear which requires more maintenance than SS. If you're going for tubes ARC is a wise investment, probably more so than some other tube brands mentioned above which can be more, let's say finicky.

Good luck


I have Vandersteen model 2 signature series iii.  Very revealing and can show you the difference better amps/sources give you. Not sure how your series speaker responds to gear, but also not sure why posters are saying too much amp for speakers- to me that's like having too much horsepower in you car-may not be able to use the excess horsepower all the time, but sure is fun to have anyway!  You can always upgrade speakers later if they sandbag your system. 

I have had a bunch of integrateds including Rogue Cronus magnum ii (tubes), a Krell 400xi, Krell Vanguard, a Mcintosh 6900, Naim Supernait 2, Ayre ax-7 and finally for the last year, an Audio Research dsi200.  The key for me was a passive pre amp with Vandersteen.  The ayre ax-7 had a passive pre, but ran out of steam at higher volumes for me.(may have had another issue internally tho) The AR is my keeper which has a passive pre as well, and has the power for very accurate, deep bass that the rogue tubes didnt have. It showcases the Vandy's "honest" sound as well.  Friend of mine ran a Creek 4330 se with his model 2's and it was fantastic as well(also a passive pre)

Johnny Rutan from Audio connection recommeded to me the Aesthetix mimas, anything AR, as well as the Ayre ax5-twenty.  He is a Vandersteen guru and you could reach out to him for advice possibly. Very nice guy. These are my findings- hope it helps!

I’ve had a REF75 and a REF75SE for several years in my system and agree with all the points mentioned in the discussion, it is an excellent amp. It is a low maintenance model (for a tube-based amp) and it can drive many brands/models of speakers really well (I had Monitor Audio Platinum II which impedance curve can go low and it had no problem driving them). Obviously if your speakers have low sensitivity and you have a very large room, you may be disappointed if you want to crank it but many people who have listened to my system have been surprised of this was ’just a 75W amp’. Bass is strong and detailed but still ’rounder’ than with a SS like Bryston. But in term of sound refinement, it is much better than most options at this price point. Its replacement model is out so it’s possible to get the REF75SE for less money on used market and like someone said, a REF75 + KT150s give you 90% of the SE version for far less.

Synergy is important to get the most out of it (had paired it with a REF6 and the combo is great unsurprisingly). I’ve moved up the ladder since then but really enjoyed my time with this ARC combo and resell value is very high. Highly recommended.


I heard the Ayre VX-5 Twenty lovely amp really precised fast and natural.

vs the REF 75 se... and that one would be my AMP.. it just blew me away i felt like the speakers aren’t there anymore and every thing felt so right and musical.

even tho i have to admit that the ayre was doing better at some segments . the ARC was just more musical.. maybe im just a TUBE head idk :D

It had more life to it and the vocals were by far superior

Probably why, now that I can finally own whatever I want (after fifty years of working, financial constraints are removed), all my gear is Audio Research. Each piece adds a more “real music” sound and end to end ARC is wonderful.

@ghdprentice arc truly awesome!!

It was the difference between looking at a beautiful picture to falling into that picture.

now I need to look for a preamplifier to match the Ref 75 SE