Audio Asylum Thread Printer
Get a view of an entire thread on one page
|For Sale Ads|
In Reply to: RE: I'm a generation behind on ARC amps posted by plantsman on August 04, 2012 at 16:41:43
It's been a long time since I've owned ARC amps but here is what I recall.
The ARC VT100mkII sounded very powerful and robust in the mids on down. It had a pretty nice 'full bodied' sound but not quite as rich as a pair of Cary amps that also owned. It was indeed less 'colored' but still very much to my liking. I tried it with KT88s and 6550 tubes but went back to 6550's as they sounded more transparent to me.
The smaller ARC VT50 was a different story. It seemed a little lean in the mids and as expected not as dynamic as it's big brother. I really liked the VT100mkII but I couldn't get the midrange that I wanted from the VT50. I tried KT88's and 6550 tubes in it but neither got me there.
Can you describe what you're not hearing in the ARC VT100 that you like in the VTL and Atma-Sphere amps? I've never owned either of these brands. The closest to the VTL would be the pair of Manley amps I once owned.
The period when I was listening to these amps in known rooms on an almost daily basis is now ten to twelve years in the past so the vagaries of memory are in play.
The short version is that I thought the sound of the VT-100II and VT-200II was too close the sound of good solid state amps to justify the heat and cost of maintenance they involved. The sound was an extremely good reproduction but that sense of palpability or the suspension of disbelief was missing. The Atma-Sphere amps could deliver that without the euphonic distortions of many tube amps. If anything the Atma-Sphere amps in question (M-60 II.2 & MA-1 II.2) were slightly lean from the mid-bass down, they didn't embroider the very pretty but ultimately false sound that many tube amps produce.
The speakers used were primarily Magnepans, SF Amati Homage, Spendor SP-1/2 and more briefly the Vandersteen 5, Green Mountain Continuum 1.5i, the original Wilson Sophia and the Watt/Puppy 6.0.
I've never heard the big Manleys so I can't draw a comparison to them.
The Atma-Sphere M-60s are somewhat limited in what speakers they are truly happy driving. They are not so limited as most SETs but you still want at least a medium efficiency speaker whose impedance doesn't drop below 6 ohms and is typically at or above 8 ohms. The MA-1s, in my experience, are much more flexible although higher impedance loads are still preferred and they don't pair well with speakers that drop much below 4 ohms unless you use the Speltz autoformers. The Atma-Sphere amps are IMO the best tube amps I've heard, and perhaps the best amps period, that I could reasonably hope to afford but I haven't heard the ARC REF150 and several other relatively new possible contenders.
I always wanted to say that ARC's "house sound" is solid state sounding. I didn't want to get flamed from their many fans for saying it, I admire your courage.
I also want to add that Bob Carver was advertizing at one point, that he could make the same model amp sound like a typical golden age tube amp, or if the buyer preferred, a modern sounding tube amp. I think we can safely agree with Ralph, that it is the circuitry that determines the ultimate character of the amp. I imagine everyone except me, knew that already. That's from a guy that is an inveterate tube roller.
Where is Bambi when we need him?
I don't think the early ARC house sound was at all solid state sounding although it was more incisive and neutral than C-J products of the same era.
IMO it turned slightly more SS sounding in the mid to late '80s but still held on a fair chunk of tube virtues. You almost have to go product by product from this point on as the house sound was something of a moving target. Somewhere around 2000 the house sound took a definite turn toward SS IMO but I understand that the latest generation restores some tube qualities.
The driver tubes on Ralph's amps are (or at least were) somewhat tube rolling amenable.
Post a Followup:
Post a Message!
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: