I have owned most of these amps over the years. I have heard the VS 110 but never owned one. I currently own a Ref 110 and I am very happy with it. If you can get a Ref 110 for $2900, you are getting a steal. At $4000. it is still a good deal. The Ref 110 is one of my favorite ARC amps. It hae a "rightness" the VT series of amps do not have. You can also easily use KT120 tubes in it. And the tube odometer lets you know exactly how many hours are on the tubes.
The ref 110 is being advertised at a very low price by someone with no feedback and not in the usa.
If its to good to be true.....
That Ref 110 is priced in Euros. Assuming the seller is legit it will probably run you somewhere around $4300 with shipping. That would still be a very good price if the seller was in the USA. The Ref 110 is the way to go. Be patient. One will show up in the USA. IMHO anything under $5000 would be a fair price.
The realistic price of an Audio Research Ref should be somewhere around $5000. This Ref 110 looks far to good to be true. I would not buy something From another country to start. It was probably not set up for the electrical requirements here in the US. It could very well be 220v and not 110v.
I also would not pay $4000. for a VT100 mk3. That seems way to high. I sold my VT100 a few years ago for around 3000. Good luck!
I would tend to stay away from the VT100mkII. The mkIII is fine but I agree, the Ref110, which I'm working on at the moment would be my choice. Well behaved and reliable for the most part provided you don't go over 2000 hrs. on the output tubes. Unfortunately, the owner of this amp went over 2000 hrs. and now I'm having to replace a circuit board.
Gary (Hifigeek), as you may recall, I own the VS-115, w/ KT-120 tubes. Your comment about the Ref 110 fryed circuit board obviously concerns me. Is the VS-115 as susceptible to damage as the Ref 110? Also, any views on how close the VS-115 is to the Ref 110 sound quality-wise. My question is predicated on the thought that if I was to upgrade my amp, is it worth jumping to the Ref 110 or should I wait for the Ref 150s to hit the used market?
Bifwynne I can't answer that question. This amp had Winged C 6550's in it that were quite old. I am putting KT-120's in it once it's repaired. Regarding the Ref110, I would wait for a used Ref150.
Thanks Gary. Btw, have you had a chance to listen to the Ref 5 SE?? If so, any comments on sound quality? The comments on the Gon' say the SE is a major improvement over the Ref 5.
I've become a little skeptical since trading up to a PH-8 phono from the PH-7. ARC and others on the Gon' are of the view that the PH-8 is discernably better than the Ph-7. Ditto a while back re the Ref 5 versus the Ref 3. Been there and done it with the Ref 3 and 5 too. Are there improvements between the upgrades. Yeah, I suspose so. Are the differences day and night. No, IMHO anyway. Bruce
Maplegrove, another thought which may save you a grand is the VS-115. I've read that it's better sounding than the VT100 Mk III. OTOH, the VS-115 is not quite a REF 110. But I've also read member comments that say it's not that far behind, ergo Gary (Hifigeek) response about the wisdom of me upgrading to a REF 110 versus waiting for a used REF 150 to hit the market.
Any thoughts on a ARC preamp for these models ?
If you decide to stay with an ARC amp, I would be biased [sic] on picking up an ARC line stage or full function preamp. There's a natural synergy that's hard to describe. As I mentioned above, my set up is all ARC: Ref 5 line stage, VS 115 amp, CD-8 player and PH-8 phono pre. Everything just works very well together.
But to better answer your question, how much do you want to spend and do you run vinyl. If not, you don't need the phono pre. Also, if you are heavy into digital, you may want a DAC.
To illustrate, on the ultra high side there's a used ARC Ref 40 for sale now -- ask price is about $16K (original retail $24K I think). I see some ARC REF 3's coming up now and then for about $5K. The LS 27 has received quite a bit of great press -- some say almost as good as the Ref 5. I think used LS 27s are listing for about $5K.
If you come back with answers to my Qs, I can make some ARC suggestions. I'm sure others will have their own favorites.
Bought a VS110 new 5 years ago, it's a beautiful amp for $2,700 used. Had numerous opportunities to trade up to a Ref 110 and haven't done it so far, actually I no longer have interest in changing it. Changed to KT120 which brought it up a notch I think (6550 had more than 1,500 hrs, the difference was very noticeable). With the money saved you can buy yourself a Ref 3. These two can sing together.
Bifwynne to answer your question, I really don't get much of an opportunity to compare ARC equipment. I just fix it when it breaks. I do like the build quality of the REF series but then who wouldn't.