Audio Research 250SE Versus VTL MB-185 Series III/MB-450 Series III

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#1
If you have compared directly these amplifiers in a familiar system please tell us what you think of the sound of each amplifier, and please compare and contrast the sound you hear from each amplifier.

On which speaker did you hear this comparison?
 

Salectric

New Member
Jan 15, 2012
15
0
0
#2
Ron, I don't visit this site all that often but whenever I do I notice that your system description is mostly "on order." It shows you have a power amp and cables, but everything else is basically a wish list. What gives here? Do you have an operating system? Perhaps you have simply not updated the component list in a long time. I am not trying to be snarky; this is a genuine question and if you have explained this elsewhere, I apologize in advance.
 
Jun 17, 2014
366
0
16
USA
#4
Hi Ron,

I’ve listened to the VTL Siegfried Series II and the ARC Reference 250SE with the Vandersteen 7 Mk2 speakers. I honestly preferred the Reference 250SE when it was used with the Reference 10 preamp. To my ears it had more ease and was more natural sounding. The Siegfried had more of a wow factor but for long-term listenabilty I would prefer the Ref 250SE. YMMV.

Best,
Ken
 
Apr 27, 2014
196
1
18
Orchard Lake, MI
#5
I wonder the same thing because he always has something on order, yet never gets anything. Basis was ordered for 2 years, but is on to something else. Please Ron go to Axpona this year so you can hear all the amp contenders under one roof instead of asking any ones opinion whom you don't even know.
 

spiritofmusic

Member Sponsor
Jun 13, 2013
6,415
65
48
E. England
#6
Jeffy, you’d hate me LOL for my ongoing requests for opinions on all things tt, Saskia, Spec and Audiosilente Blackstone.
Ron will potentially have one of the world’s greatest loudspeakers, is devoted to tubes, and has massive potential for getting this right...and wrong. No way is he easily going to hear all these combinations, even less chance hearing them at home once the spkrs are up and running.
Casting for opinions I guess at least keeps his shortlist becoming a very longlist.
 

GMKF

VIP/Donor
Aug 15, 2017
322
4
18
Munich
#7
Jeffy, you’d hate me LOL for my ongoing requests for opinions on all things tt, Saskia, Spec and Audiosilente Blackstone.
Ron will potentially have one of the world’s greatest loudspeakers, is devoted to tubes, and has massive potential for getting this right...and wrong. No way is he easily going to hear all these combinations, even less chance hearing them at home once the spkrs are up and running.
Casting for opinions I guess at least keeps his shortlist becoming a very longlist.
+1
 
Apr 27, 2014
196
1
18
Orchard Lake, MI
#8
Casting for opinions is crazy, he does not know what these people's taste are. So to me this is a total waste of time. Going to a show is the best choice better than peoples opinions even if it is not on your speakers. This is the best way to do it. Get off your bum, spend the money, and go to Axpona. If you can afford Gryphon you can afford to go to as many shows as possible. I have been to 22 CES shows and have a good feeling for a lot of electronics out there. I would have no clue with out this experience. I still think Ron is making a mistake by not getting the Basis with the new arm.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#9
Ron, I don't visit this site all that often but whenever I do I notice that your system description is mostly "on order." It shows you have a power amp and cables, but everything else is basically a wish list. What gives here? Do you have an operating system? Perhaps you have simply not updated the component list in a long time. I am not trying to be snarky; this is a genuine question and if you have explained this elsewhere, I apologize in advance.
No worries! I am glad you asked!

My last system, which I enjoyed without change (I am not an equipment swapper or frequent upgrader) since about 2000, consisted of a Benz Ruby 2 cartridge on a Graham 2.2 tonearm on a VPI TNT Mk. IV turntable with an Aesthetix Io using Transparent interconnects and Reference XL-V speaker cables to VTL MB-750s to Martin-Logan Prodigy speakers.

That system was set up in three different rooms: 1) an apartment, 2) a medium size room in a house and 3) a larger room in a house. After the system was set up in the larger room in my house (the room in all of the photos on my system upgrades thread) in 2012 I discovered that the house, including that listening room, needed to be repaired. Those repairs have been, and continue to be, on-going. I disassembled the system to enable the listening room to be repaired. We hope the repairs will be finished in the middle of next year.

Since then I decided that since I had to repair the house I also had the opportunity to upgrade the listening room. I decided to put together my best system ever. I sold my long-time analog front-end and the speakers.

Since then I have enjoyed visiting manufacturers, dealers, audio shows and audiophiles to audition components and systems, and I have enjoyed getting to know several of the people on WBF, and their stereo systems. So I have used the last five years to research, audition and plan (MikeL says, not without reason, "hatch") my next audio system.

Even when I make a component decision (I ordered Gryphon Pendragon speakers a couple of years ago) I cannot take delivery of the component because first we were traveling and now we are living temporarily in a small apartment. The speakers are in local storage.

There is no point in asking Jim White to build my Io and Callisto because I have no place to put them. Hence they remain "ordered." This is true of the turntable as well.

When I make a firm purchase decision but I cannot take delivery I consider that item to be "ordered." If I make a tentative decision which has not resulted in a purchase I consider that item "to come."
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#10
I wonder the same thing because he always has something on order, yet never gets anything. Basis was ordered for 2 years, but is on to something else. Please Ron go to Axpona this year so you can hear all the amp contenders under one roof instead of asking any ones opinion whom you don't even know.
I do not really think of it as "casting for opinions," although that is a reasonable way to describe it.
I am casting, at the end of the process, for narrow sonic impressions.

Hearing different amplifiers in different systems and different rooms at a show tells me little to nothing about the amplifiers.

If I find someone who has owned both components I often will call that audiophile on the telephone to get a full understanding of the system in question and of that audiophile's sonic preferences and of how those preferences have changed over time. Asking targeted questions of people who have heard in one system the exact comparison about which I am curious -- once I understand that system and their sonic preferences -- helps me triangulate on what I am looking for and provides suggestions for further inquiry.
 
May 30, 2010
14,110
77
48
Portugal
#11
Hi Ron,

I’ve listened to the VTL Siegfried Series II and the ARC Reference 250SE with the Vandersteen 7 Mk2 speakers. I honestly preferred the Reference 250SE when it was used with the Reference 10 preamp. To my ears it had more ease and was more natural sounding. The Siegfried had more of a wow factor but for long-term listenabilty I would prefer the Ref 250SE. YMMV.

Best,
Ken
You are highlighting an important aspect - the importance of preamplifier-amplifier matching. Although I sometimes try mixing brands of preamplifiers and amplifiers, in the long term I always feel uneasy about the combination - something is missing from the full capabilities of any of the. For example, I have the feeling I have not listened to the Lamm M1.2R in best conditions until I manage to get a Lamm preamplifier to listen.

Although I like the ARC REF250 a lot - I have it now in my room - I feel it really asks for an ARC preamplfier to show its best.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#12
Jeffy, you’d hate me LOL for my ongoing requests for opinions on all things tt, Saskia, Spec and Audiosilente Blackstone.
Ron will potentially have one of the world’s greatest loudspeakers, is devoted to tubes, and has massive potential for getting this right...and wrong. No way is he easily going to hear all these combinations, even less chance hearing them at home once the spkrs are up and running.
Casting for opinions I guess at least keeps his shortlist becoming a very longlist.
Thank you, Marc! :)
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#13
Hi Ron,

Does a VTL MB185 vs Audio Research Ref150 on Usher D2MK2’s and Audio Acoustics Sapphire’s help out?
It is so thoughtful of you to suggest -- thank you! Unfortunately, I think it will not be that illuminating, as I hear consistently that it is the SE models which manifest most strongly this new, more tone-saturated ARC sound. And the MB-185 is actually of the era of my MB-750s. But thank you for asking!
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
9,002
102
63
London
#14
Casting for opinions is crazy, he does not know what these people's taste are. So to me this is a total waste of time. Going to a show is the best choice better than peoples opinions even if it is not on your speakers. This is the best way to do it. Get off your bum, spend the money, and go to Axpona. If you can afford Gryphon you can afford to go to as many shows as possible. I have been to 22 CES shows and have a good feeling for a lot of electronics out there. I would have no clue with out this experience. I still think Ron is making a mistake by not getting the Basis with the new arm.
Ron ordered the Basis but the designer passed away, so he then searched for a new one and ordered the American sound. There is a definite style to his hobby and search, which is not only to listen and solicit feedback but also to confirm to some design philosophies. He has ordered his speaker and TT, has his phono, his cart shortlist is pretty short, so what we are now all enjoying and being a part of is his amp search. And yes he currently has a broad list but the whole objective of these discussions is to narrow it down to something that he can then try at home to listen to. Eventually he will listen at home.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#15
Thank you very much, Kedar!

You stated that more informatively and more succinctly than I would have written!

Your travels and comparisons are a critical part of my amp search!
 

Salectric

New Member
Jan 15, 2012
15
0
0
#16
Ron, thanks for clarifying. May I make a suggestion about your system listing? Where you have decided to get a particular component but have not actually ordered it, can you say something like "Intend to Order" instead of "Ordered"? The reason is that it puts the manufacturer in a bad light when there appears to be an unfulfilled order dating back many months. That actually was my conclusion after seeing the longstanding "Ordered" note on the Basis, Aesthetix, etc. models.
 

gian60

Well-Known Member
Apr 17, 2016
1,261
33
48
#17
Hi Fi is very very complex,hundred of brand,hundred of combination,a wrong teaks or cable can change sound,so visit a lot of friends,see all the shows,read magazine and ask in the forum a lot of things,is not enough.
I visit 150 show in Italy,some in Munich Paris,and in 1990 i went also to Chicago exhibition with friends,i visit all the best shop,some producer and i have 20 friend with top system,and after 40 years i learnt something reading this beautiful forum in last 2 years
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#18
Hi Ron,

I’ve listened to the VTL Siegfried Series II and the ARC Reference 250SE with the Vandersteen 7 Mk2 speakers. I honestly preferred the Reference 250SE when it was used with the Reference 10 preamp. To my ears it had more ease and was more natural sounding. The Siegfried had more of a wow factor but for long-term listenabilty I would prefer the Ref 250SE. YMMV.

Best,
Ken
Well that is a bulls-eye! :) Thank you for replying!

Your system is almost identical to the ARC/Vandersteen system Randy Cooley of Optimal Enchantment demos at the Irvine and Los Angeles audio shows (but with Basis Audio vinyl front-end). Almost everyone loves that system!

Did you audition the Siegfrieds with the same ARC pre-amp (microstrip makes an excellent point)?

What do you mean by more "natural sounding" versus more "wow factor"?

Do you think one amp's sound is better for one type of music and the other amplifier is better for another type of music?
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,207
86
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#19
Ron, thanks for clarifying. May I make a suggestion about your system listing? Where you have decided to get a particular component but have not actually ordered it, can you say something like "Intend to Order" instead of "Ordered"? The reason is that it puts the manufacturer in a bad light when there appears to be an unfulfilled order dating back many months. That actually was my conclusion after seeing the longstanding "Ordered" note on the Basis, Aesthetix, etc. models.
I certainly do not want to be implying that a manufacturer has failed to deliver a purchased product in a timely matter.

I could just drop the order status detail altogether.
 

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