Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Audio Research Reference 610T mono amps

Source: Prestige Audio Video (French) September 2005

Seems to me that quite many hi-fi magazines nowadays try too much to provide "Industry First", "World Premier" etc. reviews - you know, to review the latest gear before anybody else. Why I'm not providing any synopsis of listening notes of this particular review (OK, they were impressed) is because personally I find this kind of reviews utterly useless.

Why? Primo, listening venue was in Sofitel hotel room and as such, reviewers had no previous familiarity with the acoustic properties of a room. Secundo, the associated gear was equally unfamiliar for them: Audio Research's latest Reference 3 pre-amp, CD3 mk2 from the same vendor and la cerise sur le gâteau, Wilson Audio Alexandria S2 speakers. Do the math, that's close to €200.000 system. Tertio, the reviewers jubilantly confessed that the 610Ts were brand new, with less than one hour of burn-in.

This review gets my J'accuse 2005 Award (the World Premier of its kind!). How in Earth anybody can make any conclusions how an audio gear sounds when listened in an unfamiliar environment with associated equipments of which personality is equally unknown? And yet we all audiophiles eagerly read hi-fi show reports where reviewers make equally farfetched conclusions how certain components sound. Furthermore, think how often we hear/read assertions by an audiophile how he/she was able to distinguish and assess the sound of a particular component in a equally unknown system. I can certainly hear the difference (not always an improvement, just a difference - if there is any) when testing primary or secondary (like cables) components in my own system, yet I always exercise caution when presenting a generalisation. My system sounds OK, your system sounds OK, and that's OK. We all appreciate different virtues, but lets not make the authoritative conclusions when there are way too many unknown data points.

Closing remarks. Nevertheless how corny the review was, but looking at the pictures of these €55.500 a pair, 77.2 kg per unit mono amps made me drooling. And BTW, there are 23 tubes per unit, but don't worry. According to ARC Web-site "This means fewer tubes to replace, and a much simpler biasing system: two bias adjustments instead of the 16 required in the REF600 series."

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