Service from Audio Research

I recently brought a pair of ARC Reference 250 from a authorized dealer in Hong Kong. After one week, I noticed one of the mono blocks has problem turning on once it was switched off. It took at least a few hours, sometimes overnight before it can be turn on again.

The amp has been returned to the dealer for more one week and they have no idea what goes wrong. I tried to email to asking for help. They don't even bother to reply. This is very disappointing and bad after sale service.

I wonder if any member has similar experience with ARC?
No Tli. Your experience is not consistemt with my mine. Try calling Kalvin Dahl, ARC Customer Service, or Chris Ossana, Tech Service Manager. I would try Kal first since he does retail customer intake. If you can't reach Kal, try Chris.

IMO, ARC is a top flight company that places great import on customer satisfaction. In many ways, ARC considers folks like you and me part of the family.

Good luck. Please report back on how you fare.
I got a reply from Kalvin Dahl yesterday. He said he was so busy sometimes that he could not reply all emails. Fair enough.

He said he will try to help with the repair through the Hong Kong distributor. Let's wait and see.
Thanks for the update Tli. I'm not a techie so take this with a grain of salt. I got a funny feeling it's an easy fix, whatever the problem may be.
This should be your dealer's problem, not yours. Why else do we buy retail? I would be asking for a replacement amp, not a repair.

Ask your dealer for a refund and I bet things will move along faster..
My experience with ARC has also been excellent, albeit simply for fuses, tube recommendations, packaging replacement and such. I've not needed repairs. But Kalvin has been great about replying quickly and follow-up. I'm sure you'll be taken care of in good order, whatever the issue might be.
Money back
Have to agree with Brf...why the heck didn't they give you another amp, or at least start another new one on its the way if not in stock? A problem after 1 week screams "lemon". Screw warranty repairs on a 1-week old unit! So far this is very subpar value-added service for the retail pricing paid. Start pushing back asap (asking for a refund is not a bad idea to get things moving), since this is certainly no minor investment on your part.
If you live in Hong Kong and local dealer is not cutting it, I would seek a refund and move on to better supported waters.

From my limited exposure to ARC service to-date, for tube replacements and such, I'd say they may be quite successful and busy most of the time but customer service is good when properly engaged. Its your dealer's job to make everything work out in the end.

Would not surprise me if ARCs ability to work effectively with overseas dealers is not as good as with US dealers. Conducting business with other countries with different languages and culture is ALWAYS a challenge.
Yea call Nicky Santuro!
A dealer's primary obligation must be to his customers. In this case he should be communicating diligently with ARC to quickly resolve the issue without you needing to be involved. A dealer deserves to make a fair profit on the sale, and as part of that implicit agreement he has to be there for you if and when such problems occur, effectively taking ownership of your problem. If the dealer repeatedly ignores your requests or is very slow responding, your options are (1) let ARC know of your dissatisfaction with the dealer, (2) do what you have been doing and get it repaired by an authorized ARC service technician under warranty, and (3) sell the amps after they are repaired and move on to something else less troublesome.

This is not to say that instant response is due, just that weeks or months shouldn't pass before you have your amps back up and running.

Good luck and listening.
I finally got an initial response from the service department of the Hong Kong distributor. They said they have tested the amp in their workshop for a few days, switching it on and off several times a day but failed to detect any abnormality.

Apparently this "cannot turn on again" problem does not happen all the time. I have actually taken a video of the problem last time when it happened in my home and sent it to them. So it is now stuck. I shall give them a few more days and demand a replacement or a refund.
I have upload a video on youtube showing the problem. Members are welcomed to have a look and share your comments.

Title on youtube: Audio Research Reference 250 cannot be turned on again

If the distributor really can't reproduce the problem you may end up needing to troubleshoot your setup. I would start with the power being delivered to the amp, is it within the proper range and stable?

I noitced in your video that the power light inidcator remains on even though the meter lamp turns off. Is the amp actually powered down with the power light indicator still on?

I have ARC ref 250's and I would really want a fix or refund as well. At least the amps are warranteed for 3 years and only if a few weeks old, I'm sure if you take the amp back and it never happens again, then great! But if it does, then a replacement would be very appropriate.

I hope things get worked out for you. I'm sure it is frustrating. But the ARC Ref 250's are phenomenal amps that I hope you get to enjoy!
When I try to turn on the amp after it is switched off, both the power light and meter light are on. After one second, the meter light is off and nothing happens. The amp is dead, all the tubes are not litted and of course no music from it.

When I press the power switch again, the power light is off. It will cycle on and off like that for hours before it can finally be on normally. I like the sound from it but it is very frustrating.
Tli, I would reach out to Kal or Chris at ARC first thing Monday morning (Minn. time). I'm not going to stick my nose into the dealer aspect of the problem. But it seems to me that if ARC thinks there's a dealer angle to solving your issue, then I am confident ARC will sort it out.

I still suspect that there's a simple fix and that one of the ARC guys will make it right. Having said all of that, I share your annoyance that $26,000 of gear shouldn't be doing this.

Good luck and please keep us posted.
any lemon laws in Taiwan?
Hey Tli, got a dumb idea. Are you using the 12V triggers to turn the amps on and off through your preamp? If not, try tying the amps together using the triggers. If you are using the triggers, unplug em' and turn the amps on and off manually. Just an idea. Wondering if anything changes. At the least, it might help isolate the defective part.
On more thought Tli. Did you try switching your amp/speaker combo? I realize there is almost a zero possibility that a speaker issue is causing the fault with the amp, but what the heck, what does it hurt to give it a try?
No 12V on/off is used in my system and my speakers are passive. Only one of the two mono blocks is having problem.

I think the problem is due to a faulty thermal sensor which is too sensitive to shut down amp and only reset itself after it is completely cooled.
Tli, you may very well be right. Last easy suggestion. Check all your tubes. I doubt a bad tube is at issue, but again, no harm in checking.

If still a "no go," call Kal or Chris first thing Monday am. ARC **will** make it right for you. I'd also ask the dealer for a loaner if the amp goes to a service center. I think you've been put out long enough.

I'm a very loyal ARC customer and fan. Please keep us posted on progress.


I'd like to second Bifwynne's suggestions.
Another two days have gone and still no news for my ARC Ref 250. I don't mind waiting but at least they should give me an account on what is going on. I emailed Kalvin and there is no reply.

It is very bad to take away a new amp from user for two weeks and nothing happens.

I was a loyal ARC user and fans. My first hi end pre amp was ARC LS1 25 years ago and I am now using the 40th Anni Ref. This experience is going to turn me away from ARC.

Kind of sad.

Have you asked your dealer for a loaner amp?
Forget the loaner amp, ask for a complete refund.

If I dropped $25,000 for a pair of brand new amps that were defective from day 1 and with no resolution in sight, I would not hesitate to go down to my dealer and demand a complete refund.
The dealer has sent me a pair of Mark Levinson 436 to use at the moment, but they are nothing like the ARC Ref 250.

I shall call them again tomorrow to demand a proper resolution within this week.
I suggest you show some patience. The time line seems to indicate that two weeks have past since you returned the amp and in that time period the dealer has provided you with a high quality replacement amp. You purchased a complex product from an overseas manufacturer. Both of these factors can greatly increase repair times. If you're interested in long term satisfaction you should give them the time to properly fix the amp. Apparently it's not an obvious problem to address and the problem may not be easily reproduced on the test bench. What your local distributor should be doing is keeping you fully informed of what is happening with the diagnosis and repair.
Fine Sound Group, who owns ARC, Wadia, Sonus Faber, McIntosh and Sumiko also owns the Asian distributor Fine Sound Asia located in Hong Kong. You are effectively dealing with the owners of ARC.

Have your dealer demand a replacement amp be provided and let ARC deal with their problem on their timetable. Hong Kong surely understands the luxury market and I am very surprised by the level of the service offered on a $25,000 amp.
I agree. Just tell the dealer to replace the amp. Keep the loaners until the other new ARC 250 comes in. Sucks to have another 2-3 week wait for the new amp, but it's the best option. This really sounds more like a dealer behavior problem than an ARC one.
They have tested the amp for many days now and still hold the opinion that there is nothing wrong with the amp. I have told them to return the amp if they think it is good but they don't.

After much negotiation, the dealer has agreed to replace one amp and said it will be delivered in the next two days.

Let's wait and see.
Why only one amp? How do you know that the replacement amp is from the same production run? Having a pair of mono amps that do not have consecutive serial numbers may devalue resale.
Good point. I shall bring this up again with my dealer. The whole thing has spin out of proportion.

What suppose to be an enjoyable purchase has turned into a real headache. Thanks to ARC.

Happy listening.
The dealer has replaced both amps today. They are now running nice and sound. Glad that this has finally settled for now.
Glad to hear it! You went about it the right way it would seem.
To all: please take note that Tli started this thread on May 8th. Today is May 15th -- just 7 days later. I realize the OP said the problem preceded the date of the original post, but what the hay! I think this good ending speaks volumes about ARC and its well earned and deserved reputation of being a premier company.
True. ARC is really trying to help. It is the local distributor that is very slow in solving problem and not communicating with their client.
Audio Research recently had a lot of troubles with their service department.

I told them that I owned previously top products designed by Bill Johnson. They had no longer spare parts for the M-300, D160-A, and Reference 600 ( yah the MK1) and they couldn't sell me spare parts.

Audio Research was bankrupt and was sold to the Fine Sounds Group. Bill Johnsons goal was always to keep parts available no matter when their amps were designed, but due to the fact Bill Johnson is no longer there and they were also in heay debut with the Fine Sounds Group Audio Research stopped selling spare parts mainly for equipment designed by Bill Johnson.

In clear words this means that any amp designed to 2006 -- there is no guarnatee of the availability of spare parts.

Audio Research is no longer the company they were years ago.
Stephanovitch ... I have no information about ARC's finances and cannot validate or dispute anything you just posted. All I can say is that I hope you are misinformed.

When I was a young'in back in the 70s, ARC stood for something ... uncompromised quality. It would pain me to learn that a new generation of young turks denigrated a great company.
I do not want to push the edge, but Kalvin Dahl is repsosible for service calls.

He said that my products are around 30 years old and the company is doing the best to keep those parts avaialble.

Due to the fact the costs for the inventory for all of their products to high they stopped selling and producing parts mianly for the older models.

The volume pot for the SP series of preamps is no longer available as well.

The list is countless!

Audio Research stood for the worlds best, but they are no longer the company they were back before.
Sad to hear, like my ARC stuff, planned to keep it forever and just get it serviced. Guess that's not gonna happen
Audio Research was bankrupt and was sold to the Fine Sounds Group. Bill Johnsons goal was always to keep parts available no matter when their amps were designed, but due to the fact Bill Johnson is no longer there and they were also in heay debut with the Fine Sounds Group Audio Research stopped selling spare parts mainly for equipment designed by Bill Johnson.
Well, maybe the GOAL contributed to the bankruptcy? When you have dead capital tied up with low ROI, company cannot survive.

I'm glad ARC is now run as a company so they can continue releasing excellent products. Passion alone doesn't pay the bills.

Companies have to evolve and adapt to changing business environments. I'm not aware of any successful companies having the same operation as 30 years ago? Well maybe in land of oz.