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Thread: Question to owners of ARC Reference Anniversary and/or Reference 10 preamp

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    Question to owners of ARC Reference Anniversary and/or Reference 10 preamp

    ARC Ref Anniversary preamp and Reference 10 come with a pair of Sovtek 6550 tubes in the PS. Did anyone experiment with these tubes trying to use alternatives such as KT88, KT90, KT120 or even KT150? Ever since I bought my Ref Ann I never bothered trying anything different other than the Sovtek 6550. Does anyone want to share their experiences? Did anyone switch the Sovtek 6550 for a better alternative and stuck to it?
    Transport: Ultra High-End PC;
    DAC: Ayre DX-5DSD (modded);
    Preamp: ARC 40th Anniversary Reference (modded beyond recognition);
    Power amps: Ayre MX-R Twenty (modded);
    Speakers: Monitor Audio PL300 (mercilessly modded);
    Subwoofers: a pair of REL Stentor III (radically modded);
    Cables: Audioquest Dragon & Hurricane, Wild Blue Yonder, Wild Wood.
    Power: dedicated line+a pair of AQ Niagara 5000AP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ayreman View Post
    ARC Ref Anniversary preamp and Reference 10 come with a pair of Sovtek 6550 tubes in the PS. Did anyone experiment with these tubes trying to use alternatives such as KT88, KT90, KT120 or even KT150? Ever since I bought my Ref Ann I never bothered trying anything different other than the Sovtek 6550. Does anyone want to share their experiences? Did anyone switch the Sovtek 6550 for a better alternative and stuck to it?
    DO NOT USE KT type tubes in the power supply of ARC equipment unless you confirm directly with the factory. The tube is used as series pass element and during warm up this circuit can exceed the maximum voltage ratings of the KT's. It is why ARC are using 6550's in this position. Unfortunately the only alternative are NOS 6550 that are now expensive.
    Under construction around the DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack and a pair of Wilson XLF's : Forsell Air Force One, ARC Phono 2SE, cj GAT + Lamm M1.2 ref, TA OPUS MM2 +TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables and CenterStage footers ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    DO NOT USE KT type tubes in the power supply of ARC equipment unless you confirm directly with the factory. The tube is used as series pass element and during warm up this circuit can exceed the maximum voltage ratings of the KT's. It is why ARC are using 6550's in this position. Unfortunately the only alternative are NOS 6550 that are now expensive.
    Ok, that's important to know. What that also does is it limits the circle of contestants to various makers of 6550 out there. Is there an undisputed leader out there that would put Sovtek 6550s to shame?
    Transport: Ultra High-End PC;
    DAC: Ayre DX-5DSD (modded);
    Preamp: ARC 40th Anniversary Reference (modded beyond recognition);
    Power amps: Ayre MX-R Twenty (modded);
    Speakers: Monitor Audio PL300 (mercilessly modded);
    Subwoofers: a pair of REL Stentor III (radically modded);
    Cables: Audioquest Dragon & Hurricane, Wild Blue Yonder, Wild Wood.
    Power: dedicated line+a pair of AQ Niagara 5000AP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ayreman View Post
    Ok, that's important to know. What that also does is it limits the circle of contestants to various makers of 6550 out there. Is there an undisputed leader out there that would put Sovtek 6550s to shame?
    Many people praise the NOS GE highly. IMHO for this application low noise should be the key point - I still have not prepared my tube tester to check for noise in power tubes.
    Under construction around the DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack and a pair of Wilson XLF's : Forsell Air Force One, ARC Phono 2SE, cj GAT + Lamm M1.2 ref, TA OPUS MM2 +TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables and CenterStage footers ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    Many people praise the NOS GE highly. IMHO for this application low noise should be the key point - I still have not prepared my tube tester to check for noise in power tubes.
    I use the NOS GE in both my Ref10 preamp and Ref10 phono with very noticeable improvements in clarity and soundstage.
    Speakers: The Sonus Faber (Fenice); Amplifier: Pass Labs Xs300; Preamp: ARC Ref 10; Phono Pre: ARC Ref 10 Phono; Analog: TechDAS Air Force 2, Graham 10" Elite Arm, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Koetsu Coralstone Platinum; Digital: Esoteric Grandioso K1; Cables: Nordost Odin; Power Conditioning: Torus 90A Wall Mount Panel, Furutech NCF outlets; Equipment Rack: HRS MXR, SRA Ohio-Class XL Plus isoBase; Room Treatment: ASC Tube Traps and Stillpoints Apertures

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    So no one even used KT90 in the PS?
    Transport: Ultra High-End PC;
    DAC: Ayre DX-5DSD (modded);
    Preamp: ARC 40th Anniversary Reference (modded beyond recognition);
    Power amps: Ayre MX-R Twenty (modded);
    Speakers: Monitor Audio PL300 (mercilessly modded);
    Subwoofers: a pair of REL Stentor III (radically modded);
    Cables: Audioquest Dragon & Hurricane, Wild Blue Yonder, Wild Wood.
    Power: dedicated line+a pair of AQ Niagara 5000AP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ayreman View Post
    So no one even used KT90 in the PS?
    If people care to read the specifications of the KT90 - 1st grid negative voltage (max) - 200V they will not even think about it ...
    Under construction around the DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack and a pair of Wilson XLF's : Forsell Air Force One, ARC Phono 2SE, cj GAT + Lamm M1.2 ref, TA OPUS MM2 +TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables and CenterStage footers ...

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    Senior Member Pb Blimp's Avatar
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    Ayreman, If you don't mind me asking a related tag along question to the thread, I would love to know if anyone is buying NOS 6550's that have gone through the rigorous testing, matching and pre-biasing that ARC performs prior to sale. If so what resellers do such testing (on the GE's in particular)? I have been too cautious given the content of the following ARC piece to try the aftermarket but am intrigued.

    Why buy vacuum tubes from Audio Research.pdf
    Paul

    Power - Torus 75 amp WMT. Furutech NCF Lines, Outlets and PC's. Star ground system.
    Cables - Nordost Valhalla 2 and Odin (phono).
    Analog Source- ARC Ref 10 Phono. Acoustic Signature Ascona MKII and TA-9000 Tonearm. Lyra Atlas.
    Amplification - Soulution 721 Preamp and 501 Monos.
    Speakers - Raidho D3.1
    Room Acoustics - Design by Acoustic Frontiers. RPG Bass Plates, RPG Absorption and Diffraction, and Custom built Helmholtz Traps.
    Stands - Solid Walnut by Timber Nation.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ayreman View Post
    ARC Ref Anniversary preamp and Reference 10 come with a pair of Sovtek 6550 tubes in the PS. Did anyone experiment with these tubes trying to use alternatives such as KT88, KT90, KT120 or even KT150? Ever since I bought my Ref Ann I never bothered trying anything different other than the Sovtek 6550. Does anyone want to share their experiences? Did anyone switch the Sovtek 6550 for a better alternative and stuck to it?
    I own an ARC 40th Anni Preamp and two friends of mine own the ARC Ref 10 preamps.
    We tested diff contemporary and NOS tubes on our preamps and all of us think that the NOS tubes are the best performers.
    The very best replacement for the original 6550 is definitely the Tung-sol black-plate made in 1950s.
    The second best is the Tung-sol grey-plate made in 1960s.
    We also bought and tried the popular NOS Winged-C 6550 but found that it was far inferior to the above two tubes.
    The 6550 supplied by ARC may have been burned-in/tested/matched so they are reliable but sonics-wise they are many leagues below.

    The problem is that ARC40 & Ref10 both need a pair of 6550 and the black or grey plate are quite rare. It's not easy to find a matched pair of good quality so we stock up spare pairs.
    ARC 40 Anniv preamp, MC2 S1400 monoblocks, Magico S5 speaker, CAS with MSB Platinum IV Plus dac, MSB UMT Plus & Signature Transport Powerbase, Furman isolation transformer.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pb Blimp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CKKeung View Post
    I own an ARC 40th Anni Preamp and two friends of mine own the ARC Ref 10 preamps.
    We tested diff contemporary and NOS tubes on our preamps and all of us think that the NOS tubes are the best performers.
    The very best replacement for the original 6550 is definitely the Tung-sol black-plate made in 1950s.
    The second best is the Tung-sol grey-plate made in 1960s.
    We also bought and tried the popular NOS Winged-C 6550 but found that it was far inferior to the above two tubes.
    The 6550 supplied by ARC may have been burned-in/tested/matched so they are reliable but sonics-wise they are many leagues below.

    The problem is that ARC40 & Ref10 both need a pair of 6550 and the black or grey plate are quite rare. It's not easy to find a matched pair of good quality so we stock up spare pairs.
    Thanks. Very helpful. So the only practical approach is to find the blacks and greys and check them yourself? Do you test the tubes yourself or do the matching by ear?
    Paul

    Power - Torus 75 amp WMT. Furutech NCF Lines, Outlets and PC's. Star ground system.
    Cables - Nordost Valhalla 2 and Odin (phono).
    Analog Source- ARC Ref 10 Phono. Acoustic Signature Ascona MKII and TA-9000 Tonearm. Lyra Atlas.
    Amplification - Soulution 721 Preamp and 501 Monos.
    Speakers - Raidho D3.1
    Room Acoustics - Design by Acoustic Frontiers. RPG Bass Plates, RPG Absorption and Diffraction, and Custom built Helmholtz Traps.
    Stands - Solid Walnut by Timber Nation.

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