Audio research vs audio valve

I have Sonus Faber Lutios and I want to get a tube amp to drive them with right now I'm considering an Audio Research VS115, Audio Valve Challenger 180s, or Audio Valve Avalons. I plan to use a Ayre preapm. Does anyone have any opinions, comments or suggestions on these and this set up or suggestions of other amps/ preamps I should consider? Your help is appreciated, thanks.
Hi Johnson, I own an ARC VS-115 and am extremely happy with it. Another factor to consider is factory support. ARC does a great job in that area. Any questions or problems, just call Cal.

Something else to consider is that the VS-115, like many other ARC amps in production, can use the new Tung Sol KT-120 tube. I suggest that you search the A'gon Forum to learn what other members are saying about the KT-120. I believe everyone who switched over is pleased, subject to the caveat that if one intends to use the KT-120 in another amp, you should check with the manufacturer.

I wish I could tell you that I compared the VS-115 to the other amps you mention, but I didn't. Actually, I bought it solely on the ARC reputation and past experience with other ARC gear. However, another A'gon member who is also an ARC dealer did post some very favorable comments about the VS-115, reporting that it performed at a level roughly at 85% of the now discontinued ARC Ref 110.

As far as preamps are concerned, I can only say that I own an ARC Ref 3, which again I am very happy with. I believe that there is a natural synergy between the ARC gear, which should be no surprise. ARC pre amp models (actually line stages; if you need a phono section, that's a separate add-on) to consider are the Ref 5, Ref 3 (only used because it's discontinued), LS-27 (recently introduced, receiving terrific reviews and comments) or the LS-17 (called a Ref 3 junior or baby Ref 3??).

As I have mentioned in other threads, most of my gear is either used, a factory refurbished model, or a demo. Based on current A'gon prices, in some cases the value of some gear, like my Ref 3 or PH-7 phono stage, increased in value over what I paid. I mention in passing that I occasionally have seen all of the ARC models that I discussed above listed for sale on the A'gon site.

Sorry for the long winded answer. I hope other members weigh in with their opinions on the Audio Valve and the Ayre gear you mention in your OP. The best comments will come from folks who have had the opportunity to directly compare the various lines.

Best of luck. Please let us know what you decided.

I have to totally agree. I have had the VS-115 in my system a couple of times and it is a very nice amp. I currently own a Ref 110 and the VS-115 is still a very enjoyable amp. I have not heard any of the Audio Valve amps so I can't comment. I can tell you that the Audio Research build quality as well as their customer service is second to none. They do not care whether you purchased the piece of gear new or used. You are like part of the family. They will do everything they can to help you. This can be very important if you have an older piece that needs service.
I like the VS-115 and find it easy to service and well built.