Cost Effective Audio Research Combo

Hi folks. I'm really looking for some guidance putting together an Audio Research amp/pre combo. I'm a former Naim user that wants to move to more power and different gear. (The good Naim stuff has just gotten way too expensive). I'm considering a Bryston 3BSST/BP20 combo or something used from Audio Research. However, while I can talk to you up and down about HiCaps, SNAICS, etc, I know little about the AR brand and some of the better products of the recent past. (Other than the fact that the SP9 was panned by Stereophile some years back). Here is what I am after:

About 100-150 Watts of Solid State power amp.
A nice tube or hybrid preamp that runs cool and has a GREAT phono stage.
I don't want any gear that's more that 5 years old.
I'd like to spend around 2000-2500 on the used market for the pair.
Comments about how what you are suggesting stacks up against the Bryston combo mentioned above

Thanks so much!
bat 3vki or 30vki for pre. comes add phono and remote.

pse studio v mono's. 120 wpc with balanced and a good match with above. it took a pair of classe cams 350 to displace them in my listening room.

hope that helps.

Hi Mike,

1. ARC quit making combo phono + line stages a quite few years ago until the SP16. This is a good sounding preamp is priced out of your budget.

2. Buy an ARC 100.2 amplifier. Outstanding sound. Much better than the bryston, krell, levinson in every parameter. An ARC sleeper.

3. The preamp will be a problem. First choice is an LS-12. Underrated pre-amplifier often sold for less than it is worth. Second choice is LS-9 or LS3.

4. Phono pre try PH3SE or pick up a used Krell reference used or a Clearaudio basic. (I know this puts you over budget)

5. Use wireworld gold or eclipse interconnect series or later.

6. Tonearm cables make a difference. Use VPI JMW Series 2 tonearm cable.

7. Now sit back and enjoy...

agree with etbaby On the arc ls-12 and the arc vt100 mk2.

great gear suggestions..the ls-12 it is "the most neutral" preamp i have owned to date ( the unit is solid state). it is literally passive with gain... i know it is hard to believe but it is true. i would suggest adding a (3db or 6db kit- i dont remember??)) upgrade that arc offers if you use unbalanced in.

the vt1000mkii is a ballsy, beautifull sounding stereo tube amp has has got balls, bass, and dynamics galore. please note the combo etbaby suggested will be very high resolution and low in coloration ( ie not romantic).

the vt100ii goes for $1800-$2000 & the ls-12 goes for $800-$1200.
Thanks guys. Anyone have experience with the ARC 100.2? I'm thinking of that with the SP16. Can't do tube amp and need stuff that runs cool. Thoughts are appreciated.
I have had many SS power amps and the ARC D200 is an excellent sounding piece, strongly recommended. I really enjoyed its sonic qualities. Also the Odyssey Stratos with the cap upgrade really shines for the used price. Very transparent, well built, and sounds gorgious with a quality tube preamp. Oh yes and runs very cool, even driving a 4 ohm load!
Bryston amps are great but I was never fond of their preamps, lean sounding and from small powered high res Naim to these combo, might not be for you.

Try Audio Research combos, there are so much out there.
Solid state and tubes, LS7 / LS3/ LS3B / and their tube powers are just next to none!

Good luck,
Look for their VT100's and the tube Pre's they have.
You wont need any amps for a long long time I assure you.

I had alot in my life..........Krells - Rowlands - Pass - BAT -...............the cream of the crop in solid states and pricy too.

What speakers do you have? Will help?

I vote for the ARC LS3B as well. Magic in a box.Got it.
If you're looking for a cool running ARC amp, The only ones available are the 100.2, 150.2, and 200.2. These are all class T designs which means they utilize digital switching. I have a ARC D-240 MKII amp and a LS-9 preamp. Both are solid state. The preamp runs cool and sounds great. The amp runs very hot as do most ARC amps. The SS ARC class T amps that run cool can be very expensive on the used market because they are relatively new. If you can deal with one that is older and runs hotter, you can save significantly.
The 100.2 is not a digital amp. The 150.2 and the 300.2 are. Never heard of a 200.2???

The 150.2 actually retails $1,000 less than the 100.2 and can be found on A-gon for about $1800.00.

I have a 100.2 and indeed it is one of ARC's best.
Magnepanmike you are correct. The 100.2 is not a digital switching amp. As such it runs considerably hotter than the 150.2. That being said, my comparison of the two amps led me to purchase the 100.2. Absolutely fantastic amp. I'm running it with a SP16 and really digging the sound. Thanks everyone for all your help!