Audio Research REF160S Tube Power Amplifier New Generation

New Generation

ARC's REF160M monoblocks [HFN Aug '18] might have shared the same prefix as earlier classics including the REF75 [HFN Nov '12], REF150 [HFN Feb '12] and REF150SE [HFN Dec '15] but its design and technical performance was clearly influenced by more recent models, including the KT150-equipped GS150 [HFN Jan '15] and inaugural autobias model, the VT80 [HFN Oct '17]. Warren Gehl, responsible for the amplifier's 'voicing', together with the late Chief Engineer Ward Feibiger, navigated the move to the beefy KT150 output tubes that are now seemingly de rigueur for all 100W+ valve amps with audiophile pretension.

Noise aside, the new REF160S really does offer everything that the REF160M monoblocks deliver but at two-thirds the price. Moreover, the pair of large power meters are now more accurate than those we tested on the REF160M. Perhaps Audio Research reads HFN's Lab Reports after all, because where the 160M's meter read 0.015W for a true 1W/8ohm (8ohm tap) output, and 10W read 0.15W, and 100W read 1.5W on the 'Ultralinear' scale, the REF160S's meters are calibrated to read 1.5W for a 2.2W/8ohm output and 15W for 12W/8ohm output. So these meters are no longer purely decorative! PM

Audio Research Corp
Minnesota, USA
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909