Audio Research Reference 160M monoblock power amplifier $30,000 Review

October 3, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“Of all the power amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, and pre-power combinations to have spent time in my reference system, the pairing of Audio Research’s tubed Reference 160M monoblocks and REF 6 preamplifier stands out as having sounded the most musically neutral and natural. Other components may offer more warmth and glow, or wider soundstages, or greater dynamic contrast, or more bass slam, transparency, and detail—but there was an inherent rightness to the sound of this supremely musical ARC pairing that puts it in a class by itself.

Since hearing the Reference 160Ms and REF 6 together, all of my preconceptions about the sound of tubed equipment have gone out the window. While choosing an amplifier will always be based upon many factors—economic means, personal taste, and the willingness to monitor and occasionally replace tubes among them—I’m convinced that the Reference 160M will find a home on many a solar- or wind-powered desert island. It’s that good.”

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