110 vs. Reference 150
have an Audio Research Reference 110 with the KT120 tubes and I like the amp a lot. Do you
still think the Reference 150 will sound better?
When I reviewed the Reference 110, it had the 6550C tubes, and I've not heard the
Reference 150 at all. Therefore, I don't have experience with the amps you mention. For
this reason, I consulted Warren Gehl at Audio Research, who knows both amps better than
anyone else. First, the main circuit differences (aside from the switch in output tubes)
is that the Reference 150 has double the power-supply capacitance of the Reference 110 and
it also uses improved coupling capacitors. According to Warren, all of this translates to
a more dynamic and resolved sound with better bass. Warren also described the Reference
150 as "fuller, sweeter and more natural" than the Reference 110 with the same
KT120 output tubes.
my experience, upgrades at Audio Research are not lateral, producing much more than mere
changes in sound. The easiest way to discover this for yourself is also the most obvious:
borrow a Reference 150 from a dealer. -Marc Mickelson
or Audio Research?
enjoyed reading your 2011 review of Allnics L-3000 line stage. I own Allnics
H-3000 phono stage, which I use in combination with Audio Researchs Reference 3
line stage. I noticed that you had an Audio Research Reference 5 on hand when reviewing
the L-3000. I thought about upgrading my Reference 3 to a Reference 5SE, and I'm trying to
understand how the L-3000 compares to these preamps from Audio Research.
would appreciate your opinion -- Allnic vs. Audio Research. I have heard the L-3000 in a
different system and was very impressed (L-3000 and H-3000), but I have never had a chance
to hear it in my own system in order to compare it against my Reference 3. I have not had
a chance yet to hear the Reference 5.
are two paths to consider here. First, the Audio Research Reference 5 (not to mention the
Reference 5SE, which is supposed to be a giant step closer to the Reference Anniversary)
was an obvious and very worthwhile upgrade from the Reference 3, sounding bigger, quicker
and more neutral. I don't think a switch to the Reference 5SE, therefore, would be a
misstep for you. Second, the Allnic L-3000 is the natural complement to your H-3000 phono
stage, having many of the same qualities, including the H-3000's spooky, holographic
presence. For you, the choice comes down to two different versions of better; I don't
think you will go wrong with either the Reference 5SE or L-3000, although, as I've
counseled in the past, one of them will likely be more right for you. -Marc Mickelson
driver size "overkill"?
my Acoustic Zen Adagio speakers, if I run dual subwoofers in a decent-size room, would
your recommend 10" or 12" drivers? Is there a huge difference? I'm running dual
B&W ASW650s now, both with 12" drivers. I wonder if that's overkill.
don't think your subs are overkill per se, although they could be, depending on how
they're integrated with your main speakers. Roy Gregory summed up the issue perfectly in
his review of the Gryphon Trident: ". . .when it comes to bass output, the one thing
worse than too little is definitely too much." With most music, you should be
wondering if the subs are on at all, and that's just as possible with units that have
smaller drivers. Thus, this is really a matter of setup. Be conservative with the output
control especially; the subs should enhance the main speakers, not overshadow them, even
with music that has prodigious deep bass. -Marc Mickelson
read with keen interest your great review of the Lyra Atlas. I notice you also have a Koetsu
Coralstone and was therefore wondering how the Atlas compared to the Koetsu in terms of
midrange richness and natural timbres. I am guessing that Atlas has a lot more detail than
best way to compare the two cartridges is to think of how the Coralstone stacks up to the
differences between the Titan and the Atlas. Either Lyra cartridge conveys more detail
than the Koetsu, but with the Titan the richness of the midrange could sometimes seem a
bit sterile. Especially on a rich diet of string music, I would switch over to the Koetsu
to bathe (or perhaps wallow!) in the lush, romantic sound. One of the strong suits of the
Atlas is its marriage of the virtues of the Titan and Coralstone. It combines the
litheness of the Titan with the opulence of the Coralstone to great effect. So yes, the
Atlas does have a more detailed presentation than the Koetsu, but in my estimation this
results in midrange timbres at once more accurate but also as rich as the Coralstone's.
about Tube Technology and Nola
are a couple of questions.
When will Tube Technology be moved to California? Will this move result in any changes to
their existing product line -- in particular the Synergy Carbon PPS integrated amplifier you recently reviewed?
I notice that the pairing of Nola and Audio Research received a number very positive
comments from around CES 2013. Do you have any personal or recent experience with the Nola
loudspeaker brand? I'm curious to know if they're generally easy to drive or if they need
lots of power/amperage to get their best performance.
believe Tube Technology's move to California is underway now. Zia Faruqi was spending time
in the Manley room at CES, and I know he's anxious to begin manufacturing here in the US.
As far as I know, there will be no changes in the product line, although I would think
that different suppliers for the chassis parts would be needed in the US, something with
which Manley's resources can surely help.
listened at length to the Nola KOs at the Newport show last year. They were very fine
speakers -- amazing even, when you take their price into consideration. I can't recall
seeing Nola speakers used with massive monoblocks, and their sensitivity figures hover
around 90dB, so as a guess, I would say that they are pretty easy to drive. As evidence,
Nola used the 75Wpc Audio Research Reference 75 (a honey of an amp) at CES to drive a pair
of the massive Concert Grand References. -Marc Mickelson
read somewhere that Audio Research soon will release a new integrated amp, the VSi75.
Unfortunately that will be too pricey for me (I'm planning to keep my solid-state amp and
use the Audio Research amp during the six winter months here), but I guess I can find a
few VSi60s over here on the used market towards the autumn/winter. Do you think a VSi60
would work with my Wilson Duettes? It's only 50Wpc. My room is about 5.6 meters by 4.4
meters. I listen mostly to pop/rock, and the volume is never at nightclub level.
also heard about an upcoming new integrated from Audio Research, likely using KT120 output
tubes. Your room isn't cavernous and you don't play your music at ear-bleeding levels, so
I see no reason why the VSi60 wouldn't drive Wilson Duettes very well (people overestimate
how much power they need; with most music, the amp will be delivering just a handful of
watts). More than this, Audio Research and Wilson go together especially well, perhaps
because Audio Research uses Wilson speakers for testing at the factory. -Marc
have been looking into the Zanden Model 9600 monoblocks based on your review some time
ago, and I've also heard that one of your editors is familiar with the Conrad-Johnson ART
monoblocks. Any guidance for driving Wilson Audio X-1s? I listen to as much classical and
jazz as deep house, hip hop and blues. Extreme purity of tonality and midrange beauty come
absolutely first for me, and an immediate second is limitless bass. Would the Zanden amps
make "The List"?
I use both Zanden and Conrad-Johnson elsewhere in my system.
has been four years since I reviewed (and last heard) the Zanden Model 9600s -- too long
to know where they would stand among the very best amps I've heard, and therefore
impossible for me place on "The List." Nonetheless, I do recall their
spaciousness, glorious midrange and power output that would be enough for your speakers,
so they seem like a good match for you. The Wilson X-1s are renowned for their bass -- Ken
Stevens of CAT still proclaims it to be the best he's ever heard -- but I can't say for
sure that you'll be completely satisfied with the Zanden amps in this regard. I called
their bass "simply there without drama" in my review. It wasn't weak or anemic,
but I also wouldn't say it's "limitless."
believe Roy Gregory has some experience with the Conrad-Johnson ART amps, although he
hasn't reviewed them for The Audio Beat. -Marc Mickelson
been doing some research and reading and have come across your reviews of the Convergent
Audio Technology (CAT) gear -- SL1 Legend and JL2, particularly. I've been researching
gear to match up with a pair of Tidal Piano Contriva Diacera speakers, which, almost
completely coincidentally, you
also reviewed. I know you suggested Atma-Sphere as a potential good match for the
speakers, but I was wondering if you had a top-three that you think might be a spectacular
match with those speakers -- and if CAT makes that list.
I've reviewed the CAT gear and Tidal speakers you mention, though not together. It has
been a very long time since I had a CAT amp in my system (I still have a CAT SL1 Legend
preamp here), but I can't imagine too many speakers with which Ken Stevens' electronics
wouldn't match well. By chance, I was talking to Ken yesterday, and he mentioned again his
amps' ability to drive MBL 101 speakers, which are notoriously insensitive. Thus, power is
never an issue with a CAT amp. Sonically, the CAT electronics are among the most refined
around, offering a wide tonal palette and notable image dimensionality -- bass power too
-- that are rare among tube electronics. Again, it has been a while since I heard a CAT
amp in my system, but the CAT preamp is definitely in my top five -- even my top three. -Marc