Soundstage Fine Audio

Where Music Matters

Soundstage Fine Audio
© 2017 Soundstage Fine Audio
Site last published: 2017-11-22
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Many audiophiles trace the origins of high-end audio to the introduction of Audio Research products back in the early 1970's. The Founder and President of Audio Research was the legendary William Z. Johnson. It was Bill Johnson who re-introduced the vacuum tube as the primary amplification device. This was then a radical move as the world of audio was very much a solid state affair. It wasn't long before audiophiles were talking about the incredible detail and rich, full sound of tubes. (They also spent a lot of time explaining the difference between AR - Acoustics Research and Audio Research;-) Audio Research products to this day continue to be the gold standard.
AUDIO RESEARCH REFERENCE 6 PREAMPLIFIER 18000 (inquire in person about introductory price)

The Reference 6 is new in every way. From the addition of two extra tubes (total of 6 premium 6H30 tubes) in the analog section, to the advancements in power supply, to a new volume control with finer step gradation. A completely new chassis has allowed for a more beautiful aesthetic. New circuit boards and new circuit designs. Numerous elements,such as transformers, capacitors, and even wiring are designs exclusive to Audio Research and the Reference 6. All these add up to better bass control, a relaxed purity, greater transparency, better speed and more continuity across the musical spectrum.
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The new GSPre is both a line stage and a phono stage with programmable functionality and flexibility. The phono stage is not an afterthought but a separate vacuum tube powered circuit providing enough gain for a variety of phono cartridges. The GSPre also has a headphone amplifier capable of driving a range of headphone impedances. The front panel is elegant in its simplicity while still clearly displaying all functions and information. It pairs very nicely with the also new G-series amplifier shown below.
The job of a preamp is to direct complex signals, provide attenuation and get out of the way. It's an incredibly difficult job but one that ARC's preamplifiers have excelled at for decades. This is the next nerve centre of your system. This is the next best chapter in ARC's evolution of preamplifiers.
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Challenging source material and difficult speaker loads are met with control and finesse with the GS150, presenting a musical landscape of breathtaking proportions. There is considerable buzz about this latest offering in amplification from ARC, some already calling it a 'classic'. Three meters across the front panel provide a window into the operation of the amplifier while also giving it a striking appearance. The circuit design features the new KT150 power output tubes for 150 watts of effortless power delivery. All four tube pairs are matched of course. This is an exciting product. Listen to it paired with the new GSPre and you'll hear music as it was intended.
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After four years of winning both acclaim and rewards for the Reference CD8, Audio Research has seen fit to replace it. A lot has changed in those four years. People still want play their CD's but they now also want to add other digital sources such as computer audio to their music systems.
Enter the Reference CD9 CD DAC. The REF CD9 combines a super high resolution compact disc player with a super high resolution digital to analogue converter that is stunning in its musicality. All four digital inputs are able to handle 24 bit / 192k resolution. Retaining the Philips PRO2R transport, still the best CD mechanism available, the REF CD9 utilizes quad 24 bit DAC's in mono mode with dual master oscillators. Additionally there is a selectable digital filter with either fast or slow rolloff. Audio Research claims the REF CD9 has five times the bandwidth of the REF CD8 with one tenth of the distortion, plus greater dynamic range and it's quieter. Sonically, the REF CD9 is in a new class, combining the musicality of tubes with new levels of transparency and aliveness. It sounds faster with greater transient speed, improved dynamics from top to bottom, much greater resolution of inner detail, with a focus and purity that is captivating. Available now for your listening pleasure.
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The Reference 5 SE is the latest model in a series of the finest and most successful pre-amplifiers ever made and with its introduction redefines state-of-the-art. Key components from ARC's celebrated Anniversary Edition have been incorporated into the 5 SE providing even more presence, weight and definition than its predecessor the Reference 5. The 5 SE also possesses great bandwidth and resolving power combined with a purity and naturalness that has to be heard to be believed - electronic artifacts and grain are simply absent. Bass impact, depth and control are startling as the music ebbs and flows with a dynamic life rarely experienced outside the concert hall. Aesthetics are typical of Audio Research, both reserved and elegant. The large display provides clear feedback from the unit and the remote controls all front panel functions plus other features such as 'tube hour counter' and the very thoughtful 'display brightness'.
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AUDIO RESEARCH LS17 SE Line-Stage PREAMPLIFIER was 7315 In Store Special
The LS17SE preamplifier benefits from a long tradition of exceptional preamplifier technology and shares many common traits with its larger peers. The SE treatment of the Reference 5 SE preamp and Reference 2 SE phono preamp have been applied to the LS17 SE. Internally SE upgrades abound including new new Teflon coupling capacitors. Two twin 6H30 Twin triodes are at the heart of the Class A audio circuit and a custom designed power transformer provided serious current delivery. A multitude of inputs (seven) and outputs (four) provide all the connectivity you require. The accolades for this preamp abound. Audition this yourself and find out why.
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This is one beguiling looking amplifier. And at a price that will bring it within reach of many audiophiles. While the Reference 75 proved to be a runaway best seller the newly upgraded Reference 75 SE is sure to follow suit. The primary upgrade is the utilization of the new, designed for the audio industry, KT150 vacuum tubes. These matched tubes are capable of higher power handling and current delivery. Custom designed capacitors couple the output of the tubes for the purest signal possible. Under each meter is a knob to switch from power output to bias monitoring for each output tube. Bonus, bias adjustments are accessed from the front panel too, a real convenience. Power, as the name suggests, is 75WPC. Available in Natural (silver) or Black.
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Audio Research calls the REF150 SE "a breakthrough in stereo power amplification". Replacing the REF 150 it offers more power, greater dynamic thrust, a more vivid and resolved presentation, greater finesse and quieter operation. Power-supply energy storage has been doubled to 1040 joules. All new interstage coupling capacitors effortlessly link input stage to output stage, the latter being driven by two matched quads of new KT150 output tubes driven by 6H30 twin triodes. Power output is rated at 150WPC into 4, 8 or 16 ohm speaker loads. 4-8-16 ohm output taps with 12v triggers are on the back. Each channel is very quietly fan cooled with selectable fan speeds. Internally a small LCD display indicates tube hours. Listening to the REF 150 SE the immediate impression is of greater speed, power and control. Bass extension, harmonic delineation and speaker driver control are simply superb revealing inner harmonic structure and dynamic realism that you've not heard before. Prepare to be astonished. Available is Natural (above) or Black.
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The Reference 250 SE is a large monoblock amplifier which, as its name implies, delivers 250W into a 4, 8 or 16 ohm load. The REF 250 features new enhancements outside as well as major performance advances inside. As with the other REF SE amplifiers the Reference 250 SE is outfitted with the new Russian KT150 vacuum tubes. The power supply is 50 per cent larger than its predecessor. An analog meter, with adjustable illumination, displays power output and tube bias settings. The Reference 250 SE is both visually and sonically breathtaking. From the moment the music begins sound emerges that reveals performance cues and micro details reserved for live performances. Substantial bass underscores the event with both resolutions and textural accuracy. Space surrounds performers. Groups of instruments stretch before you onto a lifelike stage with both scale and body. Dynamics swing from silent passages to grand fortissimos without effort or strain. This is the definition of high definition. Available in Natural (above) or Black.
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Looks only a mother could love? Named Stereophile's 2010 'Product of the Year'. Not 'amp of the year', 'PRODUCT of the Year'. How's it looking now? To the sonic purist it is beautiful in all respects not the least being it's, as Stereophile said, "… glorious midrange with clean detailed high frequencies and outstanding low-level dynamic articulation". Built by hand the VSi60 is rated at 50 watts per channel.
50 watts may not seem to be much in the way of horsepower until you notice that in addition to the
8 ohm taps there are also 4 ohm taps. This amp has been designed to handle the hungriest of full-range monitors. A supplied remote controls all the functions. There are also other nice touches such as four pairs of voltmeter test points to ensure accurate bias. Stereophile also commented on its affordability and compared the VSi60 to products costing many, many times more. Still can't get over the looks?
An optional cage is available - for $500 - and shame on you for even thinking of getting one.
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The VSi75 continues the series of open chassis design yet incorporates elements from the Reference series to combine a visually striking sonic phenomenon. For power output the VSi75 uses the KT120 tube. The KT120 is bigger and stronger and draws a little more current than the KT88. As a result the VSi75 outputs 75w from each pair of KT120’s. As Alan Sircom from hi-fi+ summed up, “Let’s put this into perspective. I could improve on the sound of the VSi75 within the Audio Research range, but I would struggle to improve significantly upon its performance from two boxes anywhere near the same price. No, that’s too sanitized. If this were real life, I’d be leaning in and I’d be whispering this; don’t let anyone know, but every fibre says this is Audio Research Reference amplifier combination-grade sonic performance, but with £10,000-£15,000 lopped off the price.”
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Building on its predecessor the Reference 2 the SE incorporates important features from the acclaimed Anniversary edition and offers an extensive feature set. There are two separate sets of inputs with selectable gain between Low and High and seven loading selections including a 'Custom' which can be factory set according to your needs. In addition to standard RIAA phono equalization the Reference 2 SE also includes early stereo Columbia and Decca equalization curves. Of course there is more to be discovered about this unit. Suffice to say it is built with all the quality components and design to be worthy of the Reference designation. As ARC itself says, "More than 27 years after the introduction of the compact disc, we continue to discover how much wonderful musical information lies within the grooves of our beloved vinyl collections." In a world of outstanding turntables, tonearms and cartridges the Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE is the perfect pairing to take your system into another realm. BTW we have all those wonderful turntables, tonearms and cartridges here at Soundstage Fine Audio;-)
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AUDIO RESEARCH LS27 Line-Stage Preamplifier 9975
Positioning itself below the Reference series the LS27 nonetheless benefits from the developments in the Reference series. ARC's goal with the LS27 is to offer a level of performance not obtainable in its price range. The LS27 not only offers remarkable resolution, musicality and dynamic impact, it is extremely flexible and is able to adapt to most any situation. For example, there is selectable High/Medium/Low gain settings for each input. Tube hours can be monitored. There is even a 'processor pass-through' for home theatre applications. The display is dimmable to the point where it can be turned off. The LS27 is a pure Class A design with zero feedback. Boasting a new transformer and new output and bypass coupling capacitors the LS27 sounds very much like the Reference 5 albeit on a slightly smaller scale. And that makes the LS27 a stunning value for sure.