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  #11  
Old 06-07-2016, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Dafos View Post
It's a great preamp, probably even edging my ref anniversary. What puzzles me is why arc decided to change the volume control tapering, with most of the gain achieved at lower volume settings, making it difficult, at times, to fine tune the proper volume level for a particular piece of music. For those doing an a-b, pls take note of this since the higher gain at lower volume sertings may lead one to believe its much better when in fact at a given volume level it's simply louder.
Very true. And it's not just a little bit, it's quite a lot. Typically 6 to 10 numbers less for the same volume, depending on the source.
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  #12  
Old 06-07-2016, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ctsooner View Post
I heard the Ref 6 with Richard Vandersteen's new amp, Vandersteen 7 mk2, Niagara 7000 power deal from AudioQuest. The whole system had top end AQ cabling. Source was mostly AMG's top tt/arm and cart. We also used ARCs top digital player. It was one of the best sounding systems I've ever heard. I was blown away at how natural everything was and how it truly felt like I was with Muddy Waters at the venue. Everything was there in spades. I'm very familiar with nearly all the ARC products going back to the early 80's. I've always like their gear, but there are some products of theirs that just stand out in their price ranges as being special. I think this pre is very special. I was able to listen with Doug Gordon, Richard Vandersteen and Garth Powell who invented the Niagara line of power conditioners. It was so much fun listening to these guys who made these products or were part of voicing talk about how great they all sounded together. They all share ideas with each other and incorporate various parts of each other's engineering into their products so it makes sense that they sound so awesome together. You can really learn a ton listening with these guys as they point things out that your brain is hearing that you don't even notice unless it's not there.

The ref 6 sounds to me, just like you pointed out. Thanks for sharing info on such a great preamp. The best part was that Doug said ARC may have a new owner, but they really are their own company and will continue to be. They will make some marketing decisions on the new owners, but the engineering is all aRC and will continue to be so.
I think you mean Dave Gordon. Great guy, although I was talking to him about the Ref5 and what will be replacing it just TWO WEEKS before the Ref6 launched and he claimed he didn't know when a replacement would come I guess he has to do that.

I love the Vandersteen amps too, I've heard them at RMAF.
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  #13  
Old 06-07-2016, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 2fastdriving View Post
Yes, the Ref6 has about 850 hours on it, and the Ref5 about 1500 hours, maybe 1600 now. I don't check that often. So they should both be broken in, yet not needing any tubes for a while.

Your 6550 tube is on edge of petering out at that many hrs especially if it's the Sovtek. You might want to replace the 6550 and go your shootout again. Some of the sonic issues on your Ref 5SE may well be that.
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2016, 01:19 PM
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Your 6550 tube is on edge of petering out at that many hrs especially if it's the Sovtek. You might want to replace the 6550 and go your shootout again. Some of the sonic issues on your Ref 5SE may well be that.
I think they say 2200 hours? It's just hitting it's stride. I wouldn't call them "sonic issues", I tried to be clear that the Ref5 sounds great, it's simply a different presentation, slightly more lush.
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  #15  
Old 06-07-2016, 01:22 PM
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I think they say 2200 hours? It's just hitting it's stride. I wouldn't call them "sonic issues", I tried to be clear that the Ref5 sounds great, it's simply a different presentation, slightly more lush.
Actually the manual says 4000 hours ...Dave Gordon once told me 2200 is ideal for the 6550, I think?
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  #16  
Old 06-07-2016, 01:33 PM
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Tho, we are talking new production Sovtek's here are we not, the long term "vitality" of vintage production 6550's within ARC power regulation duties, is quite entirely an unknown !

Last edited by Harlequin; 06-07-2016 at 06:12 PM.
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  #17  
Old 06-07-2016, 04:26 PM
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ARC recommends that Sovtek be replaced no
Later than 2000. The 6H30's go 4000. Trust me by around this point that Sovtek isn't probably full on any more. You've used about 80% of its recommended life in the circuit. Test it to confirm. Most guys start hearing issues with them by the number of hours you cite you have on it. It could very well be skewing your sonic comparisons somewhat. ARC runs those 6550 tubes hard in the power supply which is why they say replace it no later than 2000 hrs. Even with dual power supply channels in my Ref 40 so each tube isn't run probably as hard handling only one channel not both through the tube they say to replace no later than 2000 hrs.

As Harlequin notes, vintage GE, Sylvania or Tung-Sol 6550 tubes would last longer and sound unbelievably better but I'd still test them on a Maxi-Matcher around 2000 to confirm status of the tube.

ARC has to use and recommend the Sovtek as its the only current production 6550 that is robust enough really on a current tube production basis for them to be able to use at the current time with the demise of the Winged C which was a much better tube sonically.
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  #18  
Old 06-07-2016, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oddeophile View Post
ARC recommends that Sovtek be replaced no
Later than 2000. The 6H30's go 4000. Trust me by around this point that Sovtek isn't probably full on any more. You've used about 80% of its recommended life in the circuit. Test it to confirm. Most guys start hearing issues with them by the number of hours you cite you have on it. It could very well be skewing your sonic comparisons somewhat. ARC runs those 6550 tubes hard in the power supply which is why they say replace it no later than 2000 hrs. Even with dual power supply channels in my Ref 40 so each tube isn't run probably as hard handling only one channel not both through the tube they say to replace no later than 2000 hrs.

As Harlequin notes, vintage GE, Sylvania or Tung-Sol 6550 tubes would last longer and sound unbelievably better but I'd still test them on a Maxi-Matcher around 2000 to confirm status of the tube.

ARC has to use and recommend the Sovtek as its the only current production 6550 that is robust enough really on a current tube production basis for them to be able to use at the current time with the demise of the Winged C which was a much better tube sonically.
I'm not going to disagree with you, I know they do recommend somewhere around 2000 hours on the 6550, but if it were THAT consequential, please explain why it's not in the manual?
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  #19  
Old 06-07-2016, 06:24 PM
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I'm not going to disagree with you, I know they do recommend somewhere around 2000 hours on the 6550, but if it were THAT consequential, please explain why it's not in the manual?
It's on a separate page included in your box. Mine was with my Ref 40.
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  #20  
Old 06-07-2016, 08:32 PM
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Thank you for the comprehensive and candid review of the two pres.

Now if only someone would do a comparison of the Ref 6 and 40th Anniversary - both with NOS 6550 PSU tubes.
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