Saturday, September 24, 2005

Audio Research & Conrad-Johnson - new products

According to ARC Database, Audio Research continues to revamp its product line. Following the introduction of Reference 3 pre-amp and 610T mono-blocks, company will shortly announce two new products. The Reference 210 is a 210W mono power amplifier, utilizing three matched pairs of 6550C output tubes, two 6550C driver tubes, and a 6N1P vacuum tube in amplifying stage. The biasing system is with only two bias adjustments, like with the REF610T. ARC claims extrely wide frequency range of 0.5Hz to 240kHz. The 210 has the same, new industrial design, i.e. it possesses huge vacuum-fluorescent display screen like the one on the REF3 and REF610T.

I've no doubt that ARC's new products are great sounding, but I have to agree with Ken Kessler from Hi-Fi News (in October 2005 issue) that the new display is "so truly, hideously, sphincter-clinchingly grotesque ..." ... "ARC should supply with the REF3 a brown paper bag." Plus, the new industrial design has omitted those ARC distinctive, ergonomically perfect knobs and switches in favour of software controlled functions. BTW, Kessler pronounced that the REF3 is "... the finest-sounding pre-amplifier I have ever tried in my own system."

The other new ARC product is the new Reference CD7 CD player, see pictures here. My original post had some some errors, which Marc Mickelson from Soundstage! Network pointed out. Although CD7 has the analog section from the Reference 3 preamp, it doesn't have pre-amp section as I reported. But I rest my case, this is one product I look forward to.

The other esteemed American high-end manufacturer Condard-Johnson has also adopted new industrial design. Following the success of ACT2 pre-amp, company has annouced LP140M mono block 140-watt amplifier and the LP70S stereo amplifier (70 watts/channel). Although CJ has not updated its Web-site (why most audio manufacturers are soooo bad in marketing?), the company has closed the gap in its revised product line by announcing the CT5 line-stage. This baby-ACT2 features extensive use of Teflon CJD capacitors, same zero-feed-back circuit and the 6H30 tubes (2) as the ACT2. Good-bye for the Premier 17LS2 pre-amp.

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