Audio Research I/50 integrated?

I’m looking for a simple, but classic integrated tube amp for sensitive speakers. I have seen this amp, watched the Darko videos, etc. but I’m having a hard time finding reviews or opinions online. It’s a lot of money to spend even though the brand is credible and renowned. 

Obviously there are other contenders, PL, Ayon, Cary, Lab12, Icon, and Chinese brands like Line Magnetic, Willsenton etc. I keep going back to the AR, and maybe it’s because I’m in Minnesota. 

Anyone own this amp? Have opinions, positives or criticisms?


I looked at the I/50 very seriously, liked it alot...went with the Manley Labs Stingray II...The local Audio dealer by me had them matched with a pair of Atohm Floor standers.

Positives: Impressive across the Audio Spectrum, soundstage, clarity etc

Negatives: Optically for our room, just didn't make it...the dials didn't feel great (although neither did the Manley...I use the remote for sound)...the tubes with the #'s were a little gimmicky for me and hard to read...

From my chair, if your speakers are high efficient, you will be very pleased...Great company, like I said it was a strong runner up...

Best of luck with your decision...

Bumping this thread. Am curious about this unit and perhaps the Vsi75 as well.  

@poke33 I honestly don’t know how one can diss this one but endorse the Manley when it comes to visual impact. Unless i’m misreading what you mean by "optically".

Hey @mtbiker29 

Just an fyi,

There’s a new-in-box VSi 75 posted now in Agon for 6K, full warranty.



Thank you @sandstone that's part of what prompted me to bump this.  I did see one at my dealer later that day and it's a pretty physically large unit so a bit restrictive for the WAF needed.....but the i/50 could work.  OTOH I had a blast with my current setup friday night so i'm back to liking my gear, LOL.  

@mtbiker29 - I wasn't down on the I50  but I liked the Stingray looks far better.... personal preference. I have had the Manley now since July 4th... love it, very happy with my decision.... 

It’s a great looking and presumably great sounding amp, but the i50’s need to be re-biased (professionally) every time a tube set is replaced seems at odds with its intentions as the entry point into the AR tube family.



@yakbob ....Correct.... The Manley is easily biased by the owner... I have done mine several times... The amp comes with a meter and easy instructions to do this. Having to send the amp back to be biased would be a deal breaker