Audio Research versus McIntosh tube amps: anyone experience or compare both?

As stated in the title of this thread, considering both brands.  I'm looking for a new or near new tube amp to run my Joseph Audio Pulsar's.  Have been using a Pass XA25, which sounds a little lean with this speaker.  Looking for a touch of tube warmth and bloom, but still good detail.

Considering a new McIntosh 275 MkVI or possibly a preowned ARC Reference 75SE.  New ARC costs more than I want to spend ($6K range or less).  Preamp is ARC Ref 2 MKII BTW.

Would appreciate any insight for those who have experienced both.  Thanks!


Some of the statements about the sound of each amp mentioned above my post are generally true.  This is the best advice I have read.  Pick up an ARC D-79A or D-79B.  Even used, a lot of people think it was the very best amp ARC ever produced.  BUT you have to have them modified.  We recently upgraded a D-79B and were amazed at how it sounded once upgraded.  BUT it is a big beast! LOL.

I don't see your source so I am thinking you are getting your sound quality from the source and not as much from the amps but I am not there to help you evaluate that part of your sound.

Happy Listening.



Very nice account of your experience with ARC. Very similar to mine although I have spent the last few years with the Ref 160s and 160m.

Judging by your comments on your main system I must highly recommend the Woo WA5 headphone amp. If you can afford it add a pair of Takatsuki 300B tubes and you will be in the the same headphone nirvana which all ARC does to your main system,

I've moved on from ARC gear. Ime it sounds superficially impressive, plenty bass, dynamics, big soundstage but lacks musicality when compared to the best. I'd be happy to have it in an AV system. Macintosh are midfi at best and don't belong in a reference system.

An earlier poster suggested mixing a valve pre amp with solid state power amp. For me this is audio nirvana, i would suggest a VAC pre with a Boulder power amp.

This would give the warmth you enjoy and the bass you crave, with added musicality. A mailed fist inside a velvet glove.


I like searching for deals ; )

Echo Hi-Fi is a great group to deal with and have a BAT VK-75SE.

I have no experience with this brand but this seems like a nice option for consideration.