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RE: Ok... fair enough...

Fantja-I appreciate your interest. Good timing too, my two new KT150's from Upscale Audio arrived yesterday. As soon as I got home from work I replaced the two tubes at issue with the new and let my Ref 150se warm up for an hour. The two new tubes biased perfectly and I then went to all eight KT150s with my Fluke and had to readjust bias very slightly on the three other "master" tubes with all four slave tubes checking out fine and showing similar readings (right around 61mV as opposed to the "master" tubes at 65 which is all within ARC spec as I set out in my OP).
After replacing the PITA 16 screws holding down the amp cover, I sat down to listen to some records. The sound was good before even with the one bad slave tube running at 40mV but with the new matched tubes the sound was-well, sorry for the flowery word, but "magnificent" is the word I choose. I don't pay much attention to 98% of professional reviews but in Mikey Fremer I trust. He described the Ref 6 perfectly in his November '16 review-and it is carried out consistent with his review by the Ref 150se-incredibly wide soundstage with lots of inner detail not perceived previously-the predecessor preamp was an AudioPrism Mantissa and the amp was an ARC VS110-and to borrow Mikey's words, "familiar music makes more sense". Voices and piano sound palpably present in my room for the first time. The attack of notes are lightning fast and as Mikey noted, ever so slightly emphasized over the decay. I think I would likely rather have it the other way around, decay over attack. My other minor nits are that clicks and pops on vinyl are reproduced with startling speed and clarity too-my old gear kind of glossed over them with everything else. Also, very deep bass is still just a tiny bit fuzzy but I have only 15 hours on both pieces of new gear-the Ref 6 and Ref 150se. Plus, I hooked up my speaker with the 8 ohm taps and I have yet to try the 4 ohm which may be a better match with my Acoustic Zen Adagios. This experience has confirmed a hunch I have had for a while-truly top notch electronics can transform decent speakers (properly, methodically placed in the room as per Jim Smith's method) much more than most of us ever think. I love my Manley Steelhead even more now that I have the Ref 6 and Ref 150se. The new gear shows off what the Steelhead is doing. Just incredible with my restored Thorens TD124 with VPI 9T arm and Benz Glider SL. Digital from an Aurender N100H into an Uptone Audio via Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 into an Abbingdon Music Research DP777 is also similarly more rewarding than before and there is now closer convergence between the two-I am pretty much at a loss to say that one is better than the other now. Slightly different but so close. My digital files sound cleaner but slightly less warm and vivid.
I will end this with a shout out to Upscale Audio. Many years ago Kevin refused to sell me 6922's and told me he was reserving them for customers who had bought preamps from him-and I was a pre-existing customer. But I love the guy anyway because other than that one experience, he has always provided me with fantastic failure-free tubes. This time I dealt with Kevin's assistant because Kevin was in France. The only other guy I will buy tubes from is Jim McShane. Obviously, ARC's proclaimed vigorous testing procedures are not perfect. My new Ref 150se simply came with a bad tube.


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  • RE: Ok... fair enough... - FSonicSmith 09:15:46 08/08/17 (0)

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