Ref-75-SE delivered ...


It arrived late yesterday via UPS. I had company over last night so I didn't hook it up 'till this morning. I had it playing by 7:30.

I sold the REF-75 early last month and was using my spare, which is a great sounding ARC- Classic 60. Man, if someone is looking for a musical amp at a reasonable price, the CL-60 would be a good way to go. It kind of has that vintage tube sound. Listening to music through it, is kind of like watching a good Technicolor movie. Hey, who doesn't like watching the original version of The Wizard of Oz? Its not right, but its beautiful. I mean, when you walk outside, Technicolor doesn't hit you in the face ... reality does.

Which brings me to the REF-75 and the REF-75 SE.

I bought my original REF-75 over two years ago, brand new, with KT120 tubes. What struck me about that amp was the lack of grain, the soundstage and the tonality. It played big and it played beautifully. That's what I thought until I swapped out the KT120's for a new quad of KT150's. Now that brought the amp up to a new level. Audio nirvana, I thought. Hummph, silly me.

Enter the REF-75 SE.

Fist thing, I let it cook for about a half hour in order to get the amp to stablize so I could check the bias. Good thing too because both sides needed biasing. The right channel was all way over to the "Caution" level.

Upon initial listening, I was really taken by how quiet this amp is ... I mean QUIET!! Not digital quiet, that kind of quiet just sounds totally artificial to me. What I mean is ... its a natural quietness unlike any tube amp I've ever heard.

For the first two hours, it was better than the REF-75 it replaced by maybe 20% or so. At the two hour mark, things really started to open up. Here's what my notes say:

Quiet!
Articulate.
Dynamic.
Decay of notes.
Presense.
Fast.
Leading edge of notes.
Weight in the lower registers of the piano.
Sustained notes - has me hanging on a thread.

So how does this play out when listening to music?

Like most of us, I have a little section of records (among thousands) that I use for reference purposes. They are the ones I listen to first when evaluating new equipment. I know every nuance of these records. Listened to them hundreds of time.

First up - Sue Raney on the Discovery label. The SE allowed me to hear the volume of air, and the force and reduction of force that was coming out of Sue Reney's chest and up through her throat. On the third cut, there is a triangle that the percussionist delicately hits. With all previous amps, I thought there was just one triangle. Turns out, there are three. For the first time, I could hear the slight difference in the notes. That was hidden before.

Second up- Sammy Davis Jr. Sings. Laurindo Almedia Plays. Reprise RS-6236.
Again, like the Sue Raney album, the air coming out of Sammy's chest and across his vocal chords and all of the subtlety of that was in his total control. Then, I realized that all of the really great singers do this and that's why they have the great instruments they do.
The guitar work being done here by Almedia is superb. Not my favorite guitarist, but on this album his playing grabs you by the emotions. BUT, through this amp ... a different world. The leading edge of the notes and the subtle decay of those notes make this album extra special now.

Keep in mind that we are only two hours in on this new amp at this point. The sound stage is still constricted and the 3-D imaging is on a par with the Classic 60, and not as good as the old REF-3.

Over the course of the day, I continued listening for a couple of hours each time. The more time that passed, the better the amp got.

Next Album .. about 4 hours in: The Norman Luboff Choir .. "But Beautiful" Columbia CS-8114. This is a demo quality record that has a tremendously wide sound stage. Its fun. The chorus is spread behind the speakers and goes from wall to wall. And now, I'm getting a 3-D image like never before. The articulation in each chorus member's voice has never sounded better ... not even close. There is a female soloist named Betty Mulliner who has her place behind and just to the left of the right speaker. With all other amps I've had, she has sounded diffused. The original REF-75 brought her out of the mist ... but not like the new SE. Now, she is in total focus and its like I can see her head move and hear her lips smack. I can get a true sense of her personality. Same thing on every vocal record I played today. Get this album if you like beautiful classic pop music from the 40's and 50's

Next: John Williams Paganni:Guitar trio - Hayden: Guitar Quartet. Columbia MS 7163. Again, this is a sound stage spectacular. I love this album, not just because I'm a classical guitar freak, but because its a great test of equipment when looking for correct tonality. Like the once vague female soloist in the last album, there is a cello in the right rear of the sound stage that keeps getting more refined as my system improves. With the REF-75SE .. gone is the vagueness. All of it. That cello is now in the room, tonally correct, and very moving. And John Williams? For the first time, I heard the strings of his guitar vibrate. The decay of the notes seemed to last forever. How may accolades can I pile onto Mr. Perfection on the classical guitar? Buy this album, you won't regret it.

Finally a mono record to die for: Dave Brubeck's Jazz Impressions of The USA." This record never came out in stereo. Near as I can tell reading the liner notes, it was recorded sometime in '55 or early '56. This is Paul Desmond at his very best. Not as hard boppin' as the Oberlan College album ... but man 'O man ... the second cut "Summer Song" has Paul Desmond right there in the room. Its never sounded better than today.

So, that kind of gives you guys a hint of what was going on at my place today. The amp burned in for 12 hours, and toward the end the sound stage has filled out nicely, dynamics are startling, musicians were in 3-D relief, and most importantly to me, the instruments all sounded tonally correct.

My source tells me that at this point, the amp is only scratching the surface. He says ... wait until 200 hours has gone by before seriously writing any review of the new amp. I couldn't wait ... its that good. Bottom line for all ARC REF amp owners ... even at this early stage, I can honestly say... the SE kills the old amp. Go for the upgrade.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128oregonpapa
Nice review...😎
Very nice review.
Two questions though.
Upon initial listening, I was really taken by how quiet this amp is ... I mean QUIET!! Not digital quiet, that kind of quiet just sounds totally artificial to me. What I mean is ... its a natural quietness unlike any tube amp I've ever heard.
What the heck does that mean?

Second, don't you hate it when you make a mistake in the title and can't edit?
I was also clueless about 'Not digital quiet,...'
Can quietness be artificial or natural?

Define naturally quiet ---

----or digitally quiet ---
As usual, ARC has no information about the SE version on their website. Probably too busy revising their March Madness brackets ("oh, doing business is SUCH a bother!").
dweller, as far as i know they used to provide se upgrade kits with higher quality components and instruction on how where what to replace. that would save owner's funds.
nowdays or refering to ref 75-se, not sure.
Oregonpap ... Thanks for the initial impressions. I'm sure it's all uphill from here. You may not hear the real benefit until 600 hours have passed. Please keep the reports coming in.

Just had retinal surgery ... again. I am out of commission for a coupe of weeks. So, in the meantime, I will follow your post.

P.S. send a Help message to A'gon staff. They can fix your title.

Best,

Bruce
Digital quiet ... When CD first came out in the early 80's, I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. I bought one of those Phillips top loaders for $150.00. Yep, I was taken by the silence between notes and no surface noise just like everyone else. Then I started noticing the artificiality of the silence. It had no ambiance like in real life. In fact, on orchestral music, it sounded to me that changes in the volume of the orchestra was nothing more than a recording engineer with his hand on the gain dial moving it up and down. The early Telarc recordings were among the worst in this area. To be sure, digital has come a long way over the years. It was that artificial silence that I was alluding to in my initial post. Hope this makes a little more sense now.

Bruce ...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll get it fixed post haste.
Oregonpapa, are you aware of any shows coming up in the next several weeks that could slow down the factory in making SE upgrades?? I'm waiting for comments from another member before making my SE upgrade decision.

And please keep the comments coming in.
It's rare to see Norman Luboff mentioned anywhere...also, "naturally quiet" means quiet with some cricket chirps or distant frog noises included.
Bifwynne ...

The only show I'm aware of is the one in Newport Beach -
May 29 to 31. Its about 2 hours south of me down the I-
405, truly the highway from Hell. I go every year with my
Golden Eared buddy Robert and we spend the weekend
wandering around greeting old friends and asking the
audio demo-captains in the various rooms to take
Patricia Barber off of the turntable and play one of our
great thrift store record finds. Last year it was a Ravel
string quartet on the Angel label recorded back in the
early 60s (blue label). Truly mind blowing. In the best
ARC room (Optimal Enchantment), Randy was kind enough to
put the record on ... and there wasn't a sound from
anyone for the entire 20 minute side. That quartet was in
the room in full three dimensional relief. IMHO, that was
the best sound at the show and to date, the best
reproduced music/sound I've ever heard. Everyone had to
see the cover. We LOVE doing that. Folks in this hobby
really need to know that there is great music out there
beyond the 45-rpm audiophile stuff. You know, like
natural sounding recordings without all of the added
reverb.

The Newport show won't disrupt anything ... so I'd say go
ahead and send your amp in. I'm sure digging mine.
Oregonpapa... what speakers did ARC use to demo their gear?
03-27-15: Wolf_garcia
"naturally quiet" means quiet with some cricket chirps or distant frog noises included.

LOL! Thanks for clearing that up for us Wolf!!
I love Sue Raney! She is one of my all-time favorite vocalists. Which album were you referring to? Was it perhaps Sue Raney Sings the Music of Johnny Mandel? That album is probably the best sounding of the ones I have.
What is the list price on the ref75se? I have a ref75 and just figuring the best route to the SE.
About $1100 more than the Ref 75.
"Not digital quiet, that kind of quiet just sounds totally artificial to me."

So now we are evaluating different qualities of "quiet." Oregonpapa, what exactly does quiet sound like anyway?

Me, I prefer artificial digital silence over real silence. I find that there's more "there" there.
Bifwynne ..,

It was the Newport show two years ago. The speakers were
the big Vandersteen speakers. Don't remember the model.
It was magic. Last year, with the exact same equipment,
except the ARC REF-250's were swapped for Vandersteen's
new amps, the magic simply wasn't there. Very good
indeed, but no magic. Sorry 'bout that.

Salectric ...

Nice to see another Sue Raney fan posting here. Yes,
that's the one I have ... "Sue Raney sings the music
of Johnny Mandel with the Bob Florence Trio."
Discovery Records - DS-875. It keeps getting better as
the system evolves. I saw Sue Raney in a live concert at
our local Civic Arts Plaza a few years ago. She
autographed one of her CDs for me. Man, that woman has
pipes. By the way, Salectric, if you like Sue Raney,
you'll also like Irene Kral. Look for her album
"Kral Space" on Catalyst Records - CAT 7623.
Recorded June, 1977, Alan Broadbent-piano, Fred Atwood-
Bass, Nick Ceroli-Drums, Emil Richards -Vibes &
Percussion. Wow, check it out ... I found one on Ebay for
you: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Irene-Kral-Kral-Space-LP-
NM-EX-Jazz-Vocals-Vinyl-/301149035944?
pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item461de19da8

Don't know if you're aware of the Super Sax albums, but
this one has some really good Sue Raney solos on it:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/SUPER-SAX-LA-VOICES-Vol-2-JAPAN-
LP-OBI-28-3P-522-Sue-Raney-kR4-/271321392556?
pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f2c03e5ac

Dbarger ...

List on the REF-75-SE is 10k. Gulp! Send her in. *lol*
Excellent synopsis of your new amplifier Oregonpapa. FWIW I knew exactly what you meant when you compared digital quiet with naturally quiet. Look forward to reading your your further impressions as the amp breaks in.
Oregonpapa, Nice to hear that Sue Raney is still performing. I only heard her live one time which was around 1990 at a small club outside DC called Cate's. (Alas Cate's is no more.) I have a number of Sue's LPs but my very favorite recording is a VCR tape of a TV broadcast of her singing a single song, an electrifying performance of "Dreamsville" at some event honoring Henry Mancini. That must have been in the early 1990s. That is easily my favorite performance of Dreamsville. Just thinking of it sends a chill up my spine.

Thanks for the Irene Kral recommendation. I hadn't heard of her before.
Oregonpapa, thanks for a great review. I intend to search out some of your references.

Last year in the spring I was listening to my system when i took a walk outside to the poolside deck. The pool was not yet opened and covered and served host to a myriad of frogs species. At this time the frogs were providing a symphony of the likes i have never heard, wonderful! My wife recorded it on her phone as her “ring tone”. Anyway, when the frogs paused, which they did in complete unison, I heard that natural silence, which included crickets. Thanks Wolf for the memory.
Think of digital silence in an analogous sense as a blackout, absence of light or any indication that it exists, like you were born totally blind like walking into a room at night without any windows. Natural silence would be as Wolf says hearing the distant crikets or at least, What is that? A realization that there is more ambience and background info than total absence of. It's those subtle details and by another name it might be defined as continuous resolution. Early digital was just that.
Tubegroover, it's really getting deep in here.
Tubegroover ...

You've nailed it. Here's what I suspect. A lot of the times we are communicating with younger folks who were born after the digital revolution took place. Its understandable that they don't get it. Nothing against them at all. Hey, my grand kids think I'm completely crazy. I mean, why in the world would "Gramps" want to record his favorite records onto cassette tapes to play in his car when he has perfectly good MP3's available to him? hahaha ... their loss, is all I can say. And by the way, my car has a Mark Levinson sound system in it ... and with my analog recordings its pretty damned amazing.
To Salectric ... and anyone else who is interested:

Got up this morning and had the amp warmed up by 8am. Its at 25 hours from new now, and has kind of hit a plateau. Not surprising. My experience in breaking in the new ARC gear is that at times, for a few moments only, it can even take a backward step. But then ... there is a jump to a new level of refinement.

On the records. I'm really enjoying this thread because its turned into not only an amp review, but a review of some of my very favorite music. I love getting audiophiles away from the audiophile recordings, much of which has great sound, but not much in the way of soul. So, I'm going to continue to make such recommendations ... take them for what they're worth to you. Keep in mind that I'm an older guy, much older than most of you folks posting on this site. To give you an idea ... some of my mono Bruebeck albums, I bought in high school. I used to hang out at the Lighthouse Jazz Club in Hermosa Beach back in '55 & "56 while in the 11th & 12th grade. Yes ... I can still hear. *lol*

So, speaking of mono records ... The first record I put on to accompany my first cup of Guatemala's finest this morning was: Doris Day's "Day By Day." This never came out in stereo, but its the kind of mono record that get's you to thinking: "Hey, who needs stereo?" Like most young men at the time of Doris' peak in the movies, I literally fell in love with her. She was America's sweetheart at the time. She was known by most as a movie actress, but she was a terrific big band singer back in the '40's. Her voice is as sweet as her looks. The nice thing about a great piece of gear like the ARC-REF-75-SE, is that it allows us to get much closer to the performer. With vocals it gets us up close to the actual personality of the performer. This morning, I fell in love with Doris Day all over again. Add this to your mono collection ... you won't be sorry. She sounds like her face. I mean, who wouldn't want to invite her into their room. Take a look:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/DORIS-DAY-DAY-BY-DAY-MINT-MONO-COLUMBIA-RECORD-1957-/321708106730?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ae74c23ea
And then, after Doris Day ...

I put on Jo Stafford's "Ballad of The Blues." Here's another one of the 1940's big band greats. Yeah, I know, White girls can't sing the blues ... riiight. This album has so much going on within it ... its a great one to use when evaluating your new upgrades. On one cut, there is a traditional jazz band playing way back in the right rear of the sound stage. The original REF-75 brought them out pretty well. Prior to that, they were pretty diffuse. Well, the SE version brings the band into their own. Listening around Jo Stafford's voice, I could really enjoy what this band was doing and could follow every musical line. There is another cut called "John Henry." For impact, someone strikes an anvil. Well, with every amp I've had in the past, I THOUGHT it was an anvil. With the SE, I can clearly hear that its the percussionist striking a chime. He's dampening it somehow so that there isn't a decay like a chime would do, but so that it comes across like an anvil would ... deader than a chime. Maybe he's touching the bottom of the chime with his fingers or something. Any percussionists in the room? Maybe they could tell us. Anyway, that kind of tells you how defined this new amp is. I work on the weekends, so I had to tear away from the audio system. More listening tonight. Stay tuned.

On the Jo Stafford album: Try to get the six-eye stereo version. This is what you're looking for:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JO-STAFFORD-Ballad-Of-The-Blues-LP-re-Jazz-/300986199700?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item46142cee94

Happy listening ...
Abrew19 ...

Do you have anything positive to add to the topic or the thread in general??

Just wondering ..
Oregonpapa, the speakers you are referring to are the Vandersteen model 7.
Thanks, Taters ... Yes, that's it ... The Vandersteen 7's. Driven with all of the best ARC gear, I have never heard such realism from any audio system. That string quartet was right there in the room. Front to back, side to side, you could just sense the musicians moving about. But then ... 30k for a line stage, 30k for a phono stage, 150k for the turntable, 10k for the cartridge, 30k for the amps .. and I think the Vandersteens are over 50k ... it had better sound spectacular. And it did. Here's the good news: The state of the art in this hobby seems to filter down to the manufacturer's lower level products. The REF-75-SE a case in point. Not that 10k is chump change by any means. But hey, ARC's integrated amp is no slouch either. Other builders do the same as well. A friend of mine just bought one of Rogue's latest pieces ... and he's delighted. And Atmosphere's little 60 watt mono amps have a mid-range to die for. Had them in the system for over two years on a long term loan from a friend. Beautiful little amps.
Just one more thing. If you thought the Ref-75 SE is killer, wait until you hear the new SE mkII. My source tells me it breaks new ground in effortless pretentiousness. Don't worry regular SE owners, you are allowed to send in your SE models to ARC for the mkII upgrade... for a mere $5000.00 ...
Oregonpapa, you make a good point. At 300k it better sound good. And I also agree it was the best sound at the show.
03-29-15: Abrew19
Just one more thing. If you thought the Ref-75 SE is killer, wait until you hear the new SE mkII. My source tells me it breaks new ground in effortless pretentiousness. Don't worry regular SE owners, you are allowed to send in your SE models to ARC for the mkII upgrade... for a mere $5000.00 ...
Whew! Now I can sleep at night. Probably with KT170s.

Got 600 hours on my Ref250. Plan to get SE upgrade when tube needs replacing for a mere $9000. Tubes probably need another replacing around SE MKII is out for another mere $9000. Perfect timing!
I had a long talk with Kalvin over at AR about the upgrades to the Ref 75, and the Ref 150 (which I own). He has heard dramatic improvements in the SE upgrades to both units. Although a bit skeptical I decided to bite the bullet and my Ref 150 arrived at AR last Friday. I should have it back in 2-3 weeks and will report what I hear.
Actually, there won't be a REF 75 SE Mk11...there will be a REF 85, LOL.
Will put out 10 watts more /channel and will make the REF 75SE sound like a boat anchor. Nice thing is that the REF 85 will ONLY cost 50% more than the REF 75SE and will be available by the time you read this.
Every other year I will upgrade my Amp + Pre Amp + Dac and spend 20k-30k for upgrades alone . If I purchase new ones I will end up spending another 20-30K. I am forced to upgrade as every upgrade brings 50% improvement in sound. I heard they are coming with new technology next year , implants in inner year which will give 50% improvement and on and on...

I upset with this whole industry. When they upgrade, they should tell us what they are upgrading so that we can decide. Not just tell you will hear serous improvements in sound. When I have spend 25k on Amps and 9k on upgrading I want to know what they are upgrading.
03-29-15: Janeb
Actually, there won't be a REF 75 SE Mk11...there will be a REF 85, LOL.
Will put out 10 watts more /channel and will make the REF 75SE sound like a boat anchor. Nice thing is that the REF 85 will ONLY cost 50% more than the REF 75SE and will be available by the time you read this.
That's ok too. I drive a car now and NOT ride a horse, haven't use ATM for 10+ years ... when time comes, I'll either upgrade or buy a new one. LOL!!! Keep up the good work ARC!
Every other year I will upgrade my Amp + Pre Amp + Dac and spend 20k-30k for upgrades alone . If I purchase new ones I will end up spending another 20-30K.
and who's fault is that?

I am forced to upgrade as every upgrade brings 50% improvement in sound.
Who is forcing you to upgrade? Where do you live? North Korea?

I upset with this whole industry. When they upgrade, they should tell us what they are upgrading so that we can decide. Not just tell you will hear serous improvements in sound. When I have spend 25k on Amps and 9k on upgrading I want to know what they are upgrading.
This is true with all commodities. For example Apple releases a new iPhone every few years and I only upgrade when there's a feature I want. I upgraded from 4S to 6 Plus for larger screen, LTE ...
One opinion: I feel ARC's product cycle, with a model update every ~3 years, is a good balance between moving forward and keeping a stable product line.

Much better IMO than than Cary (flagship preamp now 10 years old), or Lampizator (tons of new models and options in the company's 5 year history).
My source told me to simply ignore the trolls and Negative Nancys posting in this thread, but I just couldn't resist. Sour grapes, anyone? :>)

Herb1 ... Good choice. Please post here when you get them back. I've "heard" that the first pair of REF-250s that were sent in for the upgrade were completed and sounded "amazing." Hopefully, all of the guys getting their amps back will post the results here.
I have to say from a business point of view ARC is very smart. They know that a fair percentage of their clients will buy the upgrade. I think is what keeps them in business. I don't think they are getting to many new customers in 2015.
St this point do we really know if arc has done any hardware changes except tubes and wire ?
I was just sarcastic :)
I think Taters hit the nail on the head. I prefer Pass Labs' product cycle approach. They are very deliberate in their R&D and only release a new product that is fully mature and will be viable for at least a handful of years (i.e. more than 3 ;-)).

And then they only introduce new models or improvements when they have something truly significant to share that will move the game forward in a meaningful way. They don't play games with their loyal customers.

P.S., sorry for diverting this thread and taking attention away from what I know is a very fine product. Actually this is a very fine review of the Ref 75 SE, if a wee bit over the top with some of the noted audiophile ostentatiousness. I apologize for letting my inner troll take over too much, but I couldn't resist poking a little fun. No real harm intended, Oregonpapa! :)
Herb ... add me to the list. Upgrade-itis hit me. I'm shipping my Ref 150 to ARC tonight for the SE upgrade.

There are so many other bottlenecks in my system (e.g., room, speakers, quality of source material, etc), I wonder out loud if this is a good use of money.

Oh well ... at least the SE kit comes with new tubes. That stands for something I suppose.
I don't know about you Abrew but to me an ostentatious audiophile is one that would pay large for something because it is expensive without regard for how it sounds, how pretentious is that? I noted none of that in the review but an enthusiasm for the improvements over the REF 75, a fine amplifier for sure, and an honest attempt to convey that to all that would read it. Particularly using music examples which gives index points on perceived differences. I suppose language in describing what we hear can come off that way at times, i.e. the late Harry Pearson at times, but I didn't detect that here. Of course YMMV, have a nice day!
That's why I build all my own gear these days. When I get the itch to upgrade I pick it up, bring it to the basement, make the changes, and voila, it's now the Ait-SEMarkII edition. And I pay the exorbitant markup to myself and take my wife out to dinner!
Here's what I don't get about the prices of some tube amps (note my 3 year old
factory upgraded kt150 loaded Jolida 502p is my current hifi fave that is still a
great deal bought new)...I bought a class A single ended hand wired Burriss
Royal Bluesman guitar head with tube rectification, el84s and 12ax7s, spring
reverb tank, made in USA blah blah that lists for about $1100 bucks (bought for
500 used). You can pay maybe $2300 for a high powered 4 channel hand made
in USA (only noted to compare to USA hifi amps) Mesa Boogie head that is a very
sophisticated monster, and that's pretty expensive relative to what's out there in
the guitar amp world...I've read the glowing reviews of the ARC REF 75 and
thought..."I want one...maybe"...why does it cost 10 grand? Because
that's what people will pay for it. Does it sound better than my el-cheapo Jolida?
Doubtful, although this opinion is based simply on listening to one in a shop, not
in my rig. I don't really get it, but am comforted by the fact that I can find things
for WAY less dough that work really well, and fit in the real world of what things
should cost.
I won't be going for the upgrade, a year ago I would have, probably!. That's retirement for you, it certainly changes your perspective, quickly. My pension will keep me pretty well and comfortably. Well apart from last months bout of gallstone pancreatitis, that nearly finished me off.

Luckily I am pretty happy with the rig, which just leaves replacements of worn out kit from time to time.

It struck me that many of us are the left overs of the high water mark of "HiFi" in the 70's and 80's and are facing retirement and reduced finances. Perhaps the industry is going to have to face that new paradigm. Many of us don't have the readies for big purchases anymore. Sorry to be gloomy.
David 12, makes a good point. The baby boomers are at retirement age and most are not going to make big purchases anymore. The generation after the baby boomers have no Interest in high-end. They didn't grow up with it. I have no Idea what these high-end companies are going to do. They definitely have a serious problem. I could see them going on for about 10 more years the way they are doing business now. If they want to survive they are going to have to change. If not throw in the towel.
Whilst I would agree that the price point for upgrading the REF75 within CUSA is almost compelling, for owners of an REF150 and in particular REF250's perhaps the exponential cost of upgrading may require a little more consideration.

It also remains to be seen whether the SE upgrade pricing structure elsewhere in the world will be reflective of market currency rates, as for instance, should it prove to be £5000 / EUR 5000 and £9000 / EUR 9000 respectively, then even more of a serious consideration for some.

There is also a point with regard to the 1 year warranty as mentioned in the recent announcement, which as per par for the ARC Crazy Golf course is not exactly definative in the detail as to whether this purely covers the specific element parts of the ES upgrade alone, or an additional 1 year warranty on the amplifier as a whole ?

For the time being, I think that I shall remain on the fence with this one.
Wolf_garcia: The reason things cost what they do is so you can buy one when you want. If a Ref75 SE cost $1000, they would be back ordered for years.

David12: It's true that many are retiring and have reduced incomes but how many are inheriting their Parents estates?