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Old 09-16-2012, 08:51 PM
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Default JV's take on Ref5SE/Ref250 combo vs. CJ GAT/ART combo...

Jonathan Valin of TAS had a preview blog on the Ref 250s here: Audio Research Reference 250 Monoblock Amplifier | The Absolute Sound

In the commentary section at the bottom of the blog, I asked him to compare the CJ GAT/ART combo which he reviewed so favorably earlier in the year with the Ref 5SE/Ref 250 combo (official reviews to come in the coming months) and here is his reply:

Quote:
cmalak,

The ARC gear has more energy than the c-j gear, top to bottom, as well as more inner detail and greater presence. The Ref 250/5 SE may be a little darker in overall balance than the very neutral, slightly more "civilized" c-j ART and GAT (quite a change from ARC's usually brightish sonic signature) and, like all ARC gear from go, on spotlighted vocalists or instrumentalists it is a bit more "forward" than the c-j, though it gives up nothing to the c-j gear in overall stage width, depth, or height. Both have lifelike density of tone color (though the ARC may be a little richer) and are very low in noise and grain (a hallmark of c-j's latest electronics). The ARC has particularly excellent grip, definition, power, and extension in the bass (very solid-state like here, albeit with tube color, texture, and bloom), setting a new standard for bass reproduction in my experience of tube amps. That said, the c-j duo was no slouch in the bass.

Both the c-j duo and the ARC one are superb examples of latter-day tube electronics, and I could live happily with either, although if push came to shove I would opt for the ARC, as I am a long-time fan of this marque.

Jon
He pretty much thinks they are both at the top of their game. If push comes to shove and he was made to pick, he would go with the ARC combo by a smidgeon but to be fair he has been a long-time ARC fan. Hope this is an interesting read for folks.

I was especially interested to read that he found the ARC combo to be a bit more tonally dense/rich than the CJ combo because the ARC sound has traditionally been more about open, airy, 3 dimensional but somewhat lean sound whereas CJ gear has been known for its tonal richness but it seems that CJ and ARC's most current offerings have been converging in terms of sonic attributes.
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Old 09-16-2012, 09:56 PM
joeinid joeinid is offline
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Thanks Cyril. Interesting comparison. I don't know if I'd like the ARC gear being "forward". For my taste and speakers, forward would be too much. I guess I'd have to listen for myself. I do like the fact that ARC is balanced. I wonder how the REF 5SE would play on the 911's and XA100.5's? Thoughts?
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
Thanks Cyril. Interesting comparison. I don't know if I'd like the ARC gear being "forward". For my taste and speakers, forward would be too much. I guess I'd have to listen for myself. I do like the fact that ARC is balanced. I wonder how the REF 5SE would play on the 911's and XA100.5's? Thoughts?
Joe...on the 911s not good! In fact most tube preamps will not be good with your 911s especially through balanced connections given the input impedance of the amp is so low (1 Kohms). I think you need a very low output impedance SS pre to match the 911s. I would stick with a Burm pre with your 911s especially through balanced ICs. I believe the input impedance through single-ended connections on your 911 is 10Kohms which gives you a bit more to work with in terms of partnering pres but still most tube amps will not do since they normally have higher output impedances.

The XA100.5s input impedance is 20Kohm/30Kohms (bal/SE) and ARC recommends a minimum 20Kohm load for the Ref 5SE, so I would say you are on the cusp there as well. If you look at most of ARC's power amps, the minimum input impedance is 100Kohms so they can play nice with their tube preamps.

This is all on paper. I don't think you should try out ARC with your amps. If you ever get the hunkering for it, I would try out an all ARC amplification chain and compare it to CJ or Dart or Burm but that's the only way I would recommend you explore that path Joe. I think your SS amps are a bit too difficult to drive for most tube preamps (don't know the specs on your Dart amp though which seemed to play nice with the GAT).
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Sources: Basis 2001/Graham2.2/Nagra BPS/Benz Micro Glider SL, ARC CD7, Oppo BDP-83 SE
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:30 PM
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I used my Reference 5 then 5SE with my Bel Canto REF1000Ms and I thought it was a good combo. The BCDs could sound a little lean in the midrange especially with my Thiel CS3.7s so this combination was great. I've since switched from the BCD to Electrocompaniet Nemos and the REF5SE continues to impress. There's just some magic that the tubes impart to the soundstage that's just hard to get with solid state preamps.

I found the old 5 needed to be cranked up to around 40+ on the dial before it sounded alive. The 5SE doesn't need that high a level but still around 30+ so make sure the gain on the power amps and your speaker sensitivity is not too high so you can run it at those levels. I couldn't crank my Plinius to above 30.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:33 PM
joeinid joeinid is offline
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Thanks again Cyril. The new ARC gear does look amazing, I am sure it sounds the same way. While I am gravitating back towards the GAT, I really want to explore the Dart NHB-18NS preamp with my Dart amp. The Dart amp is, so far, the only amp I really enjoy on the TAD CR-1's wholeheartedly.

Sorry to go OT on this thread. I appreciate the help.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:34 PM
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For the record, the input impedance of my power amps are:
BCD REF1000M - 100kOhms
Electrocompaniet Nemos - 330kOhms
Plinius SA Reference - 47kOhms

Also I've found that the ARCs ideally should have a full XLR balanced path from source to amps to sound their best.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doggiehowser View Post
For the record, the input impedance of my power amps are:
BCD REF1000M - 100kOhms
Electrocompaniet Nemos - 330kOhms
Plinius SA Reference - 47kOhms

Also I've found that the ARCs ideally should have a full XLR balanced path from source to amps to sound their best.
They should all work well with the Ref 5SE on paper, especially the BC and Electrocompaniet amps
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Speakers/Amp/Preamp: Thiel CS2.4 / ARC Ref 110 / ARC Ref 3
Sources: Basis 2001/Graham2.2/Nagra BPS/Benz Micro Glider SL, ARC CD7, Oppo BDP-83 SE
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
Thanks again Cyril. The new ARC gear does look amazing, I am sure it sounds the same way. While I am gravitating back towards the GAT, I really want to explore the Dart NHB-18NS preamp with my Dart amp. The Dart amp is, so far, the only amp I really enjoy on the TAD CR-1's wholeheartedly.

Sorry to go OT on this thread. I appreciate the help.
Joe...I would try that out too before the GAT Any way you can get an in-home audition before shelling out the bucks for it? Better yet, any way to get both for in-home auditions and then deciding which may be the better match?
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Sources: Basis 2001/Graham2.2/Nagra BPS/Benz Micro Glider SL, ARC CD7, Oppo BDP-83 SE
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:49 PM
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I'm working on it
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmalak View Post
Jonathan Valin of TAS had a preview blog on the Ref 250s here: Audio Research Reference 250 Monoblock Amplifier | The Absolute Sound

In the commentary section at the bottom of the blog, I asked him to compare the CJ GAT/ART combo which he reviewed so favorably earlier in the year with the Ref 5SE/Ref 250 combo (official reviews to come in the coming months) and here is his reply:



He pretty much thinks they are both at the top of their game. If push comes to shove and he was made to pick, he would go with the ARC combo by a smidgeon but to be fair he has been a long-time ARC fan. Hope this is an interesting read for folks.

I was especially interested to read that he found the ARC combo to be a bit more tonally dense/rich than the CJ combo because the ARC sound has traditionally been more about open, airy, 3 dimensional but somewhat lean sound whereas CJ gear has been known for its tonal richness but it seems that CJ and ARC's most current offerings have been converging in terms of sonic attributes.
Cyrll,
Thanks for posting this and for directing me to JV's reply on the TAS site.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to how he can compare the two effectively without simultaneous side by side comparisons and only from memory. Regardless, he's long been a fan of ARC, and it could be because he gets to keep their and Magico's gear "on loan" longer than other mfrs. Reminds me of the MC 2301s that HP's had on review loan for over a year and a half now. I"ve heard that he actually doesn't own any or much of the gear that comprises his "reference system" and that his listening room is quite small...who knows?

Regardless, it reminds me in a way of sport motorcycle reviews....what was hot last year has been superceded by what's hot this year. And so now last year's superb motorcycle is somehow less superb....
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Last edited by Puma Cat; 09-17-2012 at 01:09 AM.
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