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Thread: Audio Research Reference 160M

  1. #31
    Addicted to Best! Bobvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Resnick View Post
    Congratulations on this amplifier purchase, Bob! That is very exciting! Enjoy them!
    Thanks Ron, I am very much enjoying the amps. I notice you had the pleasure to hear them at Alma. I am biased of course, but these are the best I have ever heard from ARC, and I am a longtime ARC fan. Adding these has elevated my system to a new level.

    I had wanted to hear a sota SS amp in my system/room to hear the “iron grip” in the bass everyone speaks of with amps like the Dags, for example. While it still might be fun to compare, the 160M’s deliver low end grip unlike I have heard from any tube amp before (and I have heard many but certainly not all).
    —Bob Vineyard, aka bobvin

    My system: Benz LPS, Einstein Turntables' Choice phono-pre (dual mono version), AMG v12 turntable, dCS Rossini DAC, Audio Research Ref10 pre, Audio Research REF 160M's, Wilson Alexia speakers. Transparent Ref MM2 & Gen5 signal cables, Shunyata Zitron Sigma, AlphaNR, Python, Anaconda, Cobra power cables. Shunyata Hydra Triton v3, Denali 2000t, Stillpoints. HRS. Acoustic environment optimized by Dr. Bonnie Schnitta of SoundSense.


  2. #32
    Site Founder And Administrator Ron Resnick's Avatar
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    I think you made a fantastic choice!
    Mono and Stereo - Senior Contributing Reviewer

    turntable: American Sound AS-2000; tonearms: SME 3012R, Schröder LT; cartridges: ZYX UNIverse Premium X-SB2, Air Tight Opus-1; tape: Studer A820 Mk II; phono stage: Aesthetix Io Eclipse; line stage: VTL TL-7.5 Series III; amplifier: VTL Siegfried Series II; loudspeaker: Gryphon Pendragon; cables: MasterBuilt Ultra; stands: Vintage Audio Nothing racks, Herzan TS-140/Taiko Tana for Io, Stacore Basic+ for amps; power: Torus AVR60BAL; room: 19' wide X 24' long X 14' tall; acoustic treatment: ASC IsoThermal Tube Traps, Lumitex drapes

  3. #33
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Just to add that last week I was listening to a system including the Audio Research Reference 160M , Reference 6 and the new Aida II at our distributor. The sound was excellent, very well delineated with great bass - they sounded like they had more than 4 tubes each. I was particularly impressed by the new Aida - faster and more communicative than the old model, that I have owned for some years, extremely musical and present, but probably part of what I was listening was due to the monoblock's.
    DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack, Metronome Kalista / Kondo KSL DAC, Soundlab A1 Px's , EMT927, SME3012R, ARC Phono 3, ARC REF40, VTL Siegfried II, TA Opus MM2 speaker and signal, TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables, CenterStage footers and Nordost Qkore8's!

  4. #34
    Addicted to Best! marty's Avatar
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    October's Stereophile just came out with Fremer's review of the new Aida. Surprisingly, it doesn't take much to read between the lines to learn that he seems to like it more than his beloved Wilson Alexx!! (especially the bass, which was a surprise, at least to me since he stated that bass performance is why he replaced his Alexandrias with the Alexx).

    Oops, didn't mean to derail the thread. Just wanted to comment on micro's comment re hearing the Aida II.

  5. #35
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marty View Post
    October's Stereophile just came out with Fremer's review of the new Aida. Surprisingly, it doesn't take much to read between the lines to learn that he seems to like it more than his beloved Wilson Alexx!! (especially the bass, which was a surprise, at least to me since he stated that bass performance is why he replaced his Alexandrias with the Alexx).

    Oops, didn't mean to derail the thread. Just wanted to comment on micro's comment re hearing the Aida II.
    Thanks - I also got the mail from Zinio, but did not download it. IMHO the bass of the XLF is far better than that of the Alexx, although perhaps in his room it was problematic. Although I know some people disagree, I globally prefer the XLF to the Alexx by a wide margin.
    DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack, Metronome Kalista / Kondo KSL DAC, Soundlab A1 Px's , EMT927, SME3012R, ARC Phono 3, ARC REF40, VTL Siegfried II, TA Opus MM2 speaker and signal, TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables, CenterStage footers and Nordost Qkore8's!

  6. #36
    Addicted to Best! Bobvin's Avatar
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    I don't usually post the same thing to multiple forums, but wanted to share the following:

    I had a few audio buddies over last night for some listening with the 160M's, and one thing I noted is the sweet spot is greatly expanded in my listening room... the increased resolution and placement of instruments in the soundstage allows for much better imaging even when not right in the prime seat. Sure, voices that are defined by equal volume from each speaker to appear centered when in the sweet spot are going to be shifted if you're sitting left or right, but other voices and instruments maintain pretty good separation even though shifted. This makes it more fun for me when having people over because I never take the sweet spot when guests are listening, and I didn't feel like I missed out.

    Everyone was impressed how much better my Alexias sounded. So far, I am listening mostly in pentode mode, it seems the Alexias really do love having the extra power. Triode mode is great too but the lowest octave control is a little softer in triode mode (not unexpected) and the impact of the Alexia bass has never been as clean and controlled (in my room) as with the 160s.

    Additionally, my room remodel is paying YUGE dividends -- the bass depth and control provided by the 160s may be much less apparent in a room that gets activated by so much energy. We certainly played some cuts last night with significant volume and my room didn't flinch, there was no overhang or sense things got muddy as the volume increased. As an example, we played a number of cuts from Robert Plant / Allison Krauss "Raising Sand" album, mastered by T Bone Burnett. This album has what I have always considered "over-cooked" bass and in my prior room up in Seattle I could hardly listen, the bass energy just activated the room and things went to hell quickly if the volume went up. Now, while still over-cooked (IMHO) the bass is clear and articulate, even when played at >95+ dB.

    Hell yeah, live concerts in my basement! This is as much fun as this hobby has ever given me. If you are ever in the neighborhood, do stop by for a listen.
    —Bob Vineyard, aka bobvin

    My system: Benz LPS, Einstein Turntables' Choice phono-pre (dual mono version), AMG v12 turntable, dCS Rossini DAC, Audio Research Ref10 pre, Audio Research REF 160M's, Wilson Alexia speakers. Transparent Ref MM2 & Gen5 signal cables, Shunyata Zitron Sigma, AlphaNR, Python, Anaconda, Cobra power cables. Shunyata Hydra Triton v3, Denali 2000t, Stillpoints. HRS. Acoustic environment optimized by Dr. Bonnie Schnitta of SoundSense.


  7. #37
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    Congrats again, Bob
    I'm enjoying our 160Ms a lot too! They are indeed fantastic with the Alexia 2s. Interestingly enough, the 160M review on Stereophile this month was conducted on a similar setup to ours:

    Alexia 2
    160M
    REF6
    dCS Vivaldi

    Don't want to spoil the fun of reading the review (done by JVS), but here are some bits from the conclusion:

    "Of all the power amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, and pre- power combinations to have spent time in my reference system, the pairing of Audio Research’s tubed Reference 160M monoblocks and REF 6 preamplifier stands out as having sounded the most musically neutral and natural. Other components may offer more warmth and glow, or wider soundstages, or greater dynamic contrast, or more bass slam, transparency, and detail — but there was an inherent rightness to the sound of this supremely musical ARC pairing that puts it in a class by itself.. Since hearing the Reference 160Ms and REF 6 together, all of my preconceptions about the sound of tubed equip- ment have gone out the window."

    So it seems JVS likes tubes indeed, in spite of his initial negative reactions to tube gear...

    cheers,
    alex
    Disclosure:
    Alma Music and Audio - San Diego, CA
    Air Tight - Aqua Hi-Fi - Audio Research - Audioquest - Audiopax - Auralic - Aurender - Bergmann - Brodmann - D'Agostino - darTZeel - Devialet - DEQX - ELAC - Evolution Acoustics - Hegel - iFi - Innuos - IsoTek - Kii Audio - Koetsu - Kubala Sosna - Kuzma - Larsen - MSB Technology - Music Hall - Ortofon - Roon - Solid Steel - Sound Galleries Music Server - Technics - Wharfedale - Wilson Audio - YG Acoustics
    [ http://almaaudio.com ]

  8. #38
    Addicted to Best! Bobvin's Avatar
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    Alex, don’t you have a Ref10 pre? The Ref6 is good, but a Ref10 with the 160s is pure bliss. I think any reservation of soundstage width/depth layering compared to other rigs would disappear if JVS was using a Ref 10.

    Another terrific LP we played from last night is the Cowboy Junkies “Trinity Revisited” and if you don’t have this it makes a killer demo disk (side 3 and 4, in particular). Ryan Adams, Vic Chesnutt, and Natalie Merchant provide guest vocals—serious bluesy rock’n roll. The first cut on side 4 has some great purposeful distortion (reverb?) that many systems just can’t resolve. Even my Ref75 struggled a little in that it just could’t provide the power needed (with my Alexia) to bring that “live” feeling. With the 160s, all I can say is ROCK ON!
    —Bob Vineyard, aka bobvin

    My system: Benz LPS, Einstein Turntables' Choice phono-pre (dual mono version), AMG v12 turntable, dCS Rossini DAC, Audio Research Ref10 pre, Audio Research REF 160M's, Wilson Alexia speakers. Transparent Ref MM2 & Gen5 signal cables, Shunyata Zitron Sigma, AlphaNR, Python, Anaconda, Cobra power cables. Shunyata Hydra Triton v3, Denali 2000t, Stillpoints. HRS. Acoustic environment optimized by Dr. Bonnie Schnitta of SoundSense.


  9. #39
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    Yeah, REF10 here too... I do agree that if he had a REF10, any remaining reservation JVS might had would be gone.

    Not familiar with the "Trinity Revisited", just the original "Trinity Sessions"! I'll check that other one asap

    cheers,
    alex
    Disclosure:
    Alma Music and Audio - San Diego, CA
    Air Tight - Aqua Hi-Fi - Audio Research - Audioquest - Audiopax - Auralic - Aurender - Bergmann - Brodmann - D'Agostino - darTZeel - Devialet - DEQX - ELAC - Evolution Acoustics - Hegel - iFi - Innuos - IsoTek - Kii Audio - Koetsu - Kubala Sosna - Kuzma - Larsen - MSB Technology - Music Hall - Ortofon - Roon - Solid Steel - Sound Galleries Music Server - Technics - Wharfedale - Wilson Audio - YG Acoustics
    [ http://almaaudio.com ]

  10. #40
    Addicted to Best! DaveyF's Avatar
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    Just read JVS’s review, at least this time he wasn’t allowed to screw up the impedance matching with the Alexia’s. The rep from ARC was pre-warned and made sure the guy couldn’t touch it, lol. Nice to see that ARC has finally got it into their heads to offer a single ended input, jeez took them long enough,LOL. Wonder how many sales they lost in the process...before they figured it out!

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