Need recommendations to replace ARC VT100 MkII

Looking to get an amp that is a bit easier to maintain. Also possibly looking to downsize/simplify:
I am considering two different approaches.
1: Sell both the VT100 MkII and my preamp (ARC SP3c) and replace with an integrated tube amp; choices would be
A. ARC VSi60. (Used), or
B. Primaluna dialog premium integrated
2: Keep the preamp and get a new power amp; choices would be
A. First Watt F6
B. Liberty Audio B2B-100
C. Primaluna dialog premium power amp

My speakers are Acoustic Zen Adagio.
Any thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks
As long as there is nothing wrong with your VT100, I would keep it and get a better preamp. That will make a huge difference. Also, what type of maintenance are you talking about? Aside from replacing the tubes every so often, you shouldn't have to do anything else to it.
The DC balance adjustments are somewhat of a pain. I love the tube sound, but the VT100 MkII is not particularly user friendly.
ZD542, what would you recommend for a preamp?
For a low maintenance tube power amp with great sound, look into the Music Reference RM200. Its tubes are mounted on the amps chassis, not circuit boards. Very bad idea, ARC.
I made the jump from Audio Research products to Jeff Rowland and really have not looked back. Certainly is nice not to have to worry about tubes, heat and reliability. This really is not a jab at ARC, it's just that the difference between quality solid state and quality tube products are in my judgment more a matter of taste than absolute sound at this point.
I can respond to Bpd24's answer, since I own both the RM200 and VT-100 Mk2 and have for the past few years.

The two amps share much more in common than not. In other words, they're not as different as you might think. The RM200 (with 6550's) seems to have a little better clarity and treble extension, and a more accurate-sounding bass. The VT100 has a fuller sound, while simultaneously maintaining good detail. Its bass is more authoritative.

Note that I've referred to 2 tube amps (well, the RM200 is a hybrid amp) with terms to describe their bass that you wouldn't expect of tube amps ("accurate" and "authoritative"). While you often expect to hear tube amps described as "loose" or "nonexistent", neither of these two amps has any problems with their bass.

The RM200 is certainly easier to tube roll (the difficulty with tube rolling in the VT-100 is either a pro or a con depending on your take on it). Note that the RM200 has ONLY balanced inputs, which is no problem for me as I have an Audio Research LS-5 preamp which has only balanced inputs and outputs. The VT-100 has both single-ended and balanced inputs.

You might find the RM200 to be more of your cup of tea, but in my opinion if you want a substantially different sound you might look to another amp (possibly SS).

That's just my 2 cents.

Honestly, I was thinking the same as you about a year ago. I sold my Quicksilver preamp and have my Silver Mono's for sale along with everything else I owned. I bought new Vandy's and ended up with Ayre integrated. It gives me the best of SS and Tubes. I love how it sounds as do others. I've had it at a couple of distributors and even they liked how it sounded. One was so blown away that he even let it slip that it sounded better than the amps he sells for a LOT more (tube gear). I looked hard and if the others sounded better, I would have strongly considered it. I've heard these integrates in a few different systems and they just sound right. I wouldn't leave off the Ayre integrates (balanced mode) if you are serious about sound and ease of use. JMHO

which cables/cords are you using? This is an important facet, which, most people over-look. Happy Listening?
Jafant, my cables and interconnects are Analysis Plus. I don't recall exactly which model. Thanks, Matt
Thanks for all your responses. Music Reference sounds interesting. I had not considered it before. I think Ayre may be out of my price range.
What is your range? I've seen the Ayre AX7e for around 1700 shipped (used). That's an integrated and the sound has beaten any integrated I've head it up against in stores etc...
My range is the value of my VT100 plus maybe $1k. Looks like Ayre is in my price range. I will put it on my list. Thanks, Matt
If you like the way your ARC sounds, I would just get an ARC integrated amp. That being said, you will not get the same bass impact that you currently get on the VT100mkII. The SP-3C is a superb preamp and I would think twice about replacing it. I would suggest a newer ARC stereo amp and keeping the SP3C.
"10-04-14: Mabonn
The DC balance adjustments are somewhat of a pain. I love the tube sound, but the VT100 MkII is not particularly user friendly.
ZD542, what would you recommend for a preamp?"

It all depends on what you like and how much you have to spend. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that picking the right preamp is extremely important. Its usually the one piece that makes or breaks the system. If you are not opposed to SS, an Ayre K-5 is a great choice. If you want to stay with tubes, maybe a better ARC or BAT. BAT works very well with ARC. Either way, make sure whatever you get is fully balanced. If you read through some of the threads, you'll find that quite a few people have issues mixing ARC products with single ended components. How does the VT-100 drive your speakers? The combo should sound pretty good.
Rogue can be a great choice for tubes as can the Quicksilver gear. I personally just switched after hearing the Ayre gear. It just gave me the best of all worlds as I don't want to roll tubes and I'm sick of taking care of them (that's just me). Personally, I felt the AX7e sounded better than most of the used Ayre stuff, plus it's smaller and needs one less cable. I too loved the sound of the AR integrated. The 100 I believe it was, but why get rid of your VT 100 just to go back to the same type of thing? Are you able to get to any stores to listen to see what they have to offer you? You may find a store that has great used gear too as most do and there you can figure out what sounds best with your gear. Just a thought.
Zd542; the VT100 accepts both single ended and balanced signals. The internal circuitry is different than the REF150 amp the other post was referring to. This amp works well with both single ended and balanced. The OP doesn't have to be concerned with only balanced pre-amp in this case. Quite honestly, I would keep the VT 100 if it sounds wonderful in your system. Checking bias may be a pain for this amp. Although I don't see it as that much of a problem for someone that is qualified to do so. But, if the resistors or bias check points are difficult to get to, either 1) let someone else check and adjust it, or 2) turn the unit off, let the caps drain, open it, attach the meter leads to the proper point, have long non conductive pot adjustment screw drivers handy (so it can't short against anything) and go for it yourself. this adjustment only is needed when you change tubes, or if the bias drifted (which should be rare). So, I would keep this excellent amp.

"10-08-14: Ctsooner
Rogue can be a great choice for tubes as can the Quicksilver gear."

If you want to stay with tubes, I don't think Rogue is as good as you VT-100. Quicksilver would be a great choice. I put my VT-100 next to a pair of V4 mono amps. I thought the Quicksilver was better.
Z, I was throwing out Rogue as some like their name/look. For the price they are nice. I agree that they aren't as neutral as the VT100's. Heck, I went with Quick gear (the Silver Mono's that I"m selling off now) over AR years ago. I was more musical than the amp that was closest to them in cost. I got accommodation price back then too so the cost differential wasn't huge. The dealer thought I was nuts until he came to my house and brought the AR amps and we A/B'd them both. Quick just sounded best with Proac Supertowers (selling these as I have new Vandy Treos). Most speakers have tipped up high ends in these price ranges and the Quicks are just musical and right. The AR gear can often be very very neutral and that's why folks love it, but they don't sound 'tube like' at all and most folks need that and don't realize it. Those V4's took things to a different level for Mike Saunders.
"Personally, I felt the AX7e sounded better than most of the used Ayre stuff, plus it's smaller and needs one less cable."

That's probably due to the fact that the AX-7 doesn't have a preamp. Back in my first post, I mentioned that the OP would probably be better off with a new preamp. That's why. The VT-100 is a good all around amp. So, in the OP's case, I still think a new preamp would be a much better move.
I am on the road so I haven't checked in for a couple of days. Thanks for all your replies. Zd, what would you consider a good step up from the sp3c in the ARC line?
Get their ref I would agree that you MUST have a great pre or NO pre ;).....It's funny as I am selling off a bunch of systems that my brother, parents and I have had over the last many years and I have been hooking things up and listening to them to make sure they work. One of my least expensive set ups years ago was the Mod Squad passive pre with the B&K ST 140 amp. Honestly, it helps open that dark amp up and makes it listenable even by today's standards. It's that Mod Squad pre that is pretty awesome and will be a pre that is dirt cheap right now and a great start if pared with an amp that can handle it. Like you said, Ayre does the same with the 7. I LOVE the 5 also. That said, I heard the Ref ARC pre with Ayre TOL mono blocks with AQ Wild balanced cable with Vandersteen 7's and the Musical Surroundings TT/arm and I don't know the cart.....It was the best sound I've ever heard. That ARC pre was just surreal. I've heard the same set p with the ARC ref amps too and it was glorious, but I couldn't AB it or anything. I really have liked the ARC stuff, but to me it's not 'tube like' at all. If you need something to the warm side of neutral, then go to Quicksilver.
"10-12-14: Mabonn
I am on the road so I haven't checked in for a couple of days. Thanks for all your replies. Zd, what would you consider a good step up from the sp3c in the ARC line?"

I have mixed feelings on ARC preamps. To me, they sometimes sound great, but they can also sound bright or harsh. Its usually the more expensive ones that I end up liking (go figure). I don't know what your budget is, but I feel that the entry point for an ARC may be a little high. Another option would be to go with a different brand. Possibly a used Aesthetix or BAT. BAT would probably be the most realistic, and what I like about them is thy're entry level preamps are very good. I would definitely take an entry level BAT over an entry level ARC.

Minorl gave some really good info in his post above. I mentioned that a lot of people are having trouble mixing ARC and non balanced equipment. If the VT-100 is designed differently that some of the other amps that give problems, there's a great number of SE tube preamps that should do a great job for you, as well. Normally, its not such a big deal mixing balanced and se components, I was just being cautious given the problems with other amps. Unfortunately, I never ran my VT-100 se, so I can't give you any first hand info on that.
What about Audible Illusions? I have really loved them for the cost. You and I agree on the ARC preamps. I had one many years ago and got rid of it pretty quickly and ran a CJ. When I got my Quicksilver full function pre, THAT'S when I realized HOW important a great pre amp was. I would spend more on a pre than the amp when setting things up. Honestly I would get rid of the ARC amp and buy the Ayre AX7e like I just did. I lucked into mine through a friend, but it was the integrated I was going to get. It cuts out one component and a set of interconnects. It's balanced which is worth switching over to. It's just an inky black background and subtly sounds proper. Piano sounds like a piano and it has the speed and quickness to make the Vandy mid sing. The Treo's mid is the same as the 5 and is as quick a mid as you can find. You must have the electronics that can match it's speed or you lose the true musicality of it. I've heard it with a few different brands and the Ayre 7 and 5 integrates just make them sound right. I took my Ayre to hear speakers at a dealers showroom and it made all their CJ top of the line gear and their Esoteric amps not sound as good. That made me smile.
Lot's to think about and explore when I get home. Thanks for all your inputs.