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RE: audio research REF 210 monoblocks vs REF 150

I have not heard the Ref 150s but the Ref 210s are not so great, IMO. I did a demo with them in London with a pair of Wilson Benesch Arc monitors, Krell SACD standard cd player and ARC Ref 3 preamp. The sound really did not gel and when I complained about the quality (I was thinking about the speakers for a small office system) the dealer shocked me by saying that it was the Ref 210 monos that were to blame for the relatively poor sound. I couldn't believe this because they were easily the most expensive part of that system.

I later came back with my KR Audio VA350i amplifier and we hooked it up to the same Krell SACD standard player (so no ARC gear at all in the system) and the WB speakers and ViolĂ , superb sound. It was so good in fact that a random guy who was in there shopping for some new Sonus Faber speakers perked up his ears and asked if he could come over and join me in the listening session! I said sure and then we also played some of his music. 30 minutes later I wrapped it up but that guy stayed glued there the whole time. In the end I didn't buy the speakers (I got Odeon Orfeo monitors instead...more lively sounding) but it left an impression on the shop as they asked me to leave the amp there with them for a while (I had a second one at home) in the shop so they could try it out.

By all accounts the new Ref150s are supposed to be good but my experience with the Ref 210s + Ref 3 was not so impressive.


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