Audio Research Classic 150

Fellow audiogoners, I can't find anything about this amp anywhere on the internet aside from a few technical details. I found some opinions/reviews on the Classic 60 but not this pair of amps. I am considering pulling the trigger on a pair but am nervous because of age of these (ca.1989?) Is this still worth pursuing? Are these good amps? (Sorry for the sweeping generalization-type question but - I'll take any opinions at this point) Thanx in advance.
Please do a search on these amps here in the forums. I have written much about these amps after owning them for over a year. And hopefully others have as well.

The CL150's were so highly praised in their time (1989) and to be honest, I just don't get it. The Counterpoint NPS series amps are one example of an amp that just walks all over these behemoths at less than half the price on today's used market.

If you want the rich dimensionality so often brought on by tube amps, it's not here. If you want great amounts of power reserve for tough speaker loads like Magnepans, it's not here. The 150w rating here is very misleading compared to other amps I have owned at similar or even less power output..... 150w does not always equal 150w. If you want a natural non-fatiguing presentation which is tonally coherent through the frequency range, again, it's not here. Sad to say: I never could identify a single attribute of this amp that outperformed the competition for much less cost. Enough said on this.

Perhaps someone else here has a completely different experience with these amps. I am not here to bash ARC amps as I had the 110wpc VT130 and this was so incredibly musical; I often wish I had kept this. I just feel the Classic series and the V70/140 that followed it to just be too analytical sounding to my tastes.

Facinating! Thank you very much. I never would have guessed...Not to put you on the spot but, I was going to trade a pair of Cary SLM-100s. NOT, an upgrade right (If, you know)? Either way, thanx for your response. BTW, I searched the forums here but didn't turn up much. Maybe my search parameters were the problem. Hmm.
I have,and have owned many ARC products.The Classic 150's I owned some time ago.I drove my Avalons with them,and thought the sound was fine!The MAJOR problem I had was that they kept,literally,blowing up.The tubes would go,and take a resistor with it.I had plenty of tube experience,but this was too much.I sold them,and have never looked back.I must say that as these were very pricey amps,it left a bad taste for ARC tube amps,though I'm sure the others in the line are fine.Only I,myself am a bit gun shy as of now!
im currently using a cl 150 and im quite happy w/ the performance of this amps driving my snell type A2 speakers. i find them more tube sounding than both my D79B one w/ 6550a output tube the other w/ kt88s, and also in comparison to my D250 mk2 servo.they sound musical w/ incredible imaging.the only problem is it goes to some sort of auto shut down ( i think its related to the tube saver circuit but im not sure about this) when the amp clips or when there is a sudden surge or spike in the power line.i use to bash the classic series amps when they 1st came out during the early 90s specially when they were using chinese 6550s. but when russian 6550s were use they sounded very good and i swallowed my pride and bought this flagship.currently using an arc sp10 mk2 to drive my amps.
theyre reliable and dont have regrets.
Sorry to revive an old thread... but I have to go out on a limb, as I own a pair, and to be honest, I'm in love. I have them on a Magnepan 20.1 system and they are fun to listen to. I think they do a fairly credible job of driving the 20.1 (i sold my 3.6 Magnepans before these arrived). They're sweet and very musically satisfying. Bear in mind that my room is small, but _in my room_, they sound terrific. There's something about Triode (or pseudo-triode, if you must) that is kind of awesome. (I have VTL MB-450 and MB-300s and love them).

The classic 150 seems to have lots of bass -for a triode amp-.

The tube saver circuit is something of a party killer, but I haven't tripped mine in a while.

One of mine had a problem once, it was a $1.50 part and ARC did a sweet job fixing it and getting me going again. Their service is a class operation! (thanks Kalvin and the gang!). It was a total of two hundred dollars, maybe less. I'm kind of a cheapskate, and i didn't mind paying. I think mine were made in 1988... That was twenty five years ago. They're entitled to a hiccup now and then. I'm keeping them.
I'm not a big fan of these amps. Check to see if the units have the old grey Mepco Filter caps in the center of the amps. If so, they must be replaced. The Classic 150 followed the M300. It's basically the same amp except the CL150 has a triode connection at the output tubes. It is Fet transistor except for the outputs making the amp ARC's first hybrid amp. The M300 was later connected triode at the outputs because of tube issues at the time. Philips/Sylvania had stopped making 6550's and the only tubes that were available at the time were awful Chinese coke bottle 6550's which failed often. The filament stayed lit but the tube would fail to conduct. The tube that followed, the Chinese KT-88, was just as bad. Since it was easier on the tube to run the 6550 pentode as a triode, the CL150 was born. M300's that were turned into CL150's have larger power and output coupling transformers. Otherwise both amps were the same.
Actually the amps in triode lowered the noise floor considerably.

Not sure about the smaller transformers, our audio club has m300s running in Triode, but I cannot see a physical difference between them.
HiFiGeek1, I know what your qualifications are and I respect you and your words and opinions completely, and I don't want to get in an argument with you...
But ARC techs tell me that the transformers are exactly the same. I live in Minneapolis, and we have really good access to ARC people.

I do, as I mentioned, respect you and your word(s) completely, and your experience. Just saying what they said to me.

You're right, they're hybrid amps. The low noise of the Fet gain stage makes them very quiet amplifiers, the noise floor is super low. In my local area, Minneapolis, they're considered one of the best kept secrets of the audio world, actually... but I have my pair, and I don't mind if the price increases. there really isn't any noise in them, they just have a tube output stage... the combination of the two sounds really good! To say that they sound like a tube amp without tube noise would be accurate, because they are, but many tube amps have little to no noise in the gain stage (this is why we replace the stock Sovteks in an amp's gain stage with NOS tubes, or a quality new production tube, or at least use the Sovteks as followers, where they do no harm to the signal...)

It's interesting that, in this particular iteration, ARC decided to go the opposite way of most amp manufacturers and make the GAIN stage FET and the OUTPUT stage tube... Usually its the other way around.

ARC tried putting the tubes in the gain stage and FETs in the output stage in its "Hybrid Drive" amplifier... And I have seen several examples sold as-is, needing repair... and several others, freshly repaired, up for sale. The amount of those on the used market, and the underwhelming prices they sell for, as well as the reviews I've read, as well as the relatively short production run of that product, indicates that it might not be a successful product... But as always, YMMV.
Which onetook out your tweeter, EBM- the Classic 150 or the HD-220 Hybrid Drive?
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