VAC 160i SE vs Audio Research GSi75


Hello all.
Looking for anyone who has experience with these two fine integrated's. The ARC does have the (dis)advantage of a built in Dac which is handy as I am mostly digital at the moment. Both roughly the same wattage, not sure of current ratings. Can pick up either in the used market right now for very similar prices. Want to know what are the sonic differences here? Do they sound a lot different from each other?
Pro's and con's of each. Does one have more weight/heft to the sound? More air, upper and lower end extension and all the good stuff we look for? Is one really a lot better than the other?
I listen to a lot of different music. Mostly classic rock, hard rock with blues, jazz, vocal land instrumental, pretty much the works. Room size is 12' by 18' with 8' ceiling. This opens up to a kitchen and hallway on one side. Aprx 350 sq. feet.
Other equipment would be a streamer probably Lumin. Speakers I currently have are PSB Imagine T3. However looking to upgrade as well to possibly PMC, Gershman Acoustics, Wilson Benesch.
Any info is appreciated.
Cheers!
47748c7c 03fe 4cbf be13 2bc58ededab5scar11
If it's me, I'd get the speakers squared away first and then pick the amp.  What works best with the PSBs won't necessarily be best for your next speakers, unless you want to choose your next speakers based on the amp you have. 
Hey Soix thanks. I was wanting to get one of these amps and will get speakers around that decision. 
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I owned the vsi55 years ago & didn't care for it.  Ballsy but not quite 20/20 vision if you get my drift.  Cant imagine the 75 would be that much different.  I'd definitely go VAC having heard their products a few times and talking w/Kevin who is quite approachable and so is their service after the sale if needed.
VAC is a great company and sounds more musical than ARC.
I’d go Vac between those 2. Great company, better built and a much fuller sound then Arc.
If I could afford one I’d buy that exact integrated. 
The lumin is also fantastic. I can’t comment on your speakers because I haven’t heard them. 
I’d bet that vac would sound very good with any of them. Good luck and congrats. 
I used to own vac integrated great amp if its enuf power ....alas was not enuf for my harbeth 40.2 for all my music listening but for much of it was sublime 
I owned both amps albeit with several years in between and the systems were in 2 different homes, different speakers, sources, wire, etc. With that caveat, they are both terrific but very different. The Vac, built like a tank, exceptional company and amazing support. The GSI75, same thing. Both had fine phono stages although I never used the one in the GSI75, it had variable cartridge loading, etc the VAC’s stage was tubed, the ARC was not. The DAC inside the GSI75 was terrific, a very fine dac. The VAC, of course, had no dac and had a few more options at order time like balanced ins, etc.

The sound of the VAC was very smooth, a very traditional and nuanced amplifier. The ARC was more dynamic, authoritative and transparent but I certainly wouldn’t characterize it as traditional or tubey sounding. Textured and transparent yes, tubey, nope.

if they were priced the same and I were in the market today, and as much as I deeply respect Kevin Hayes of VAC, it would be no contest, the GSI75 is a superior amplifier. Lets keep in mind they were developed years apart, the ARC being newer and the VAC being an evolution. YMMV
Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm leaning towards VAC however ghasley raises some valid points. Anyone else who has recent experience with these two amps is encouraged to chime in.
Cheers!
I home demoed ARC and VAC. ARC sounded more solid state and VAC more old school tube like.  I much preferred the VAC sound which is what convinced me to move from a Diablo 300 over to tubes.
 I have Vac paired with a Lumin, a Chord Dave Dac and Magico speakers and it sounds magnificent. 
Go listen and decide for yourself.    Preference is dependent on speaker load and SQ priority.
Would love to. No dealer anywhere close to me unfortunately.
scar11"No dealer anywhere close to me unfortunately."

Get out from behind your keyboard get in your car or on a bus or train go visit a dealer and do some listening for your self rather than expect others to explain, define, and characterize the world of Music Reproduction Systems for you personally.
Nearest VAC dealer is over 2000 miles away. 

Another that you may want to consider is the Octave 80se with the super black box.  I was recently considering a VAC 160i, but really loved the bass control and liquidity of the Octave with my focal sopra 3s.
Don't conflate new ARC vs. old ARC (post-Ref 75). Very different sounds and the whitish-SS nature of the several decades prior is gone. I feel new ARC > VAC, but would recommend a TVC + Ref 75SE vs the integrated. Wonderful combination. 

That all said, I haven't owned a Vac amp since the Phi 200 (which incidentally Ghasley on this thread purchased from me).


Can't comment on the amp as I have a Raven Integrated Reflection Mk2 tube amp.  However, I can comment on Lumin.  I have owned the A1 and now the X1.  For ease of use and sound quality I will not consider any other music streamer.  The Lumin Ap is great.
Sometimes if you call a manufacturer they can hook you up with someone near that will give you an audition. Good luck in the search
Yes @keithr thats when we met, fortuitously so. After that amp, I bought the 160i integrated and have had a few Avatars of various vintages through the years. The Avatar should still be in production with only el34’s but I digress. The GSI75 is the better amp over the VAC 160i.
I preferred old ARC preamps and power amps that used 6992,  6dj8, and SED 6550C tubes vs the newer ones. Warmer and more tube like sound. If it has tubes it should sound like tubes.

The newer ones sound more SS and “white ish” IMO.

Yes, @ghasley the original Avatar is an all-time classic!