Newbie needs help on Audio Research and DynAudio Quality

Hello all,


I am a newbie to high end home audio and need help from all of you audiophiles out there. I was actually into high end car audio back to when I was younger so I kinda understand what sound quality level can be considered at audiophile standard. I bought this set up (2 mono amps Audio Research Classic 120, Audio Research LS22 preamp, Dynaudio Contour 1.8 mkII, Rega Planet CD player) 4 years ago and did not have time and room to put them up to enjoy until recently. After setting them up last week, I was very disappointed at the performance. The sound was harsh and I would get tired after listening to 2-3 songs. I remember when I picked up the speakers, the previous owner played a couple of songs using his turntable and it was warm, clear and enjoyable (I could not remember what equipment he had back then). I have another set of solid state stuff to play around which includes Luxman M-12 amplifier, Sansui CA-2000 preamp, JBL 4311B, and same CD player Rega Planet. The sound quality is much better compared to ARC set. I expect that the ARC set at least has to be at entry level of audiophile but what I got out from it is disappointing. I need help from you experts to point out what is wrong or what I should expect from Audio Research.

Best Regards,


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You could even try running the JBLs off the ARC amp. The 8 ohm JBLs are inherently more tube amp friendly than the 4 ohm Dyns. Worth a try! You never know what you will find to sound best. In general amps tend to have higher distortion levels overall into 4 ohm nominal impedance loads than 8. You could then try both the 8 or 4 ohm taps of the amp and compare. Whatever you end up doing trying various combos of what you have is definitely worthwhile. You never know exactly what you will hear until you hear it.
Don't overlook your room either. It has an enormous impact on the sound. Try getting the speakers well away from the walls and listen in the nearfield. Do you hear the same harshness? Maybe, maybe not. If not, than you can start looking at how to better place the speakers and improve your room acoustics. 
The LS-22 is one of the very few ARC preamps I’ve ever heard criticized in the forums (many years ago) as mediocre. Suggest replacing it with an Ref-3, Ref-5SE, even an LS-2B.
I’ve owned a number of ARC units and hold them in high regard.
Also, what wire are you using? I use OCC copper exclusively (YMMV).
"Also, I checked and see one of the big tubes in one of the amp is not lighting up."

I am surprised that the amp plays anything if an output tube is bad/blown, my Classic 150 will go into protection mode (indicated by dimming of Screen LED).

The Classic 150 has a 7 position terminal block on the rear with taps from the output transformer connected to it internally, see your owner's manual for the 4 ohm terminal combination.

My Dynaudio Mirage were 4 ohm and I had no issues as I stated above 

Good luck