Do have anyone to purchase Audio Research REF 75SE in 2021?

Ref 75se has go off from their official website,and they are replaced by REF 80S. As  I do not have any  experience of 80S and I get some knowledge of pass labs online and how good it is,then  go listening  x250 and xp10. The listening  feeling I got is just water,pure water and lack of texture of the sound. so I go back Audio research and buy ref 75se instead. 
Am I made the right choice?
Is that the good time to buy this discontinued products?
Why in my listening, Audio research Ref 75se is much much better then X250? As I feel the singer is just standing  in front of me when we run Ref 75se.
I welcome any comments. As I think pass lab is a good SS Amp if we do not compared with Audio reserach Ref 75se.
Is it unfair to compare tube and SS Amp?

I have owned Pass designed ss amps for 40 years. I now own an Audio Research Ref 160. If I had realized how good the Audio Research amps sounded, I would have bought one decades ago. Many folks that I know have purchases REF160s but cannot get themselves to let go of their REF75se. Pass makes fantastic solid state amps… but ARC tube amps bring a whole new level of musicality and empathy a much higher level of emotional connection. The bass detail and midrange bloom blows away most solid state competitors.

I would be feeling really great about your decision! You will have years… or decades of great listening ahead of you. The human voice is a really great way to tell how great a component is. Your instinct was right on the money… the realism brought by the ARC is palpable.

If I can find a nicely cared for Ref 75SE I will be buying it ASAP! It is a generational ARC classic for sure. I have loved ARC’ since first hearing them in 1979. Some of the 1990 thru the 2000’s leaned a bit to solid state for me, but starting with the Ref 75/Ref150 series and Ref 6 preamps, I think that they have found their mojo again. Superb musicality with holographic imaging.

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After buying MULTIPLE products from them...5 figures each....I would NEVER do business with them again (The dealer referenced above).

Wait for a 75SE to show up on A-Gon or Audio Mart. They arent Rare. 5K is about what you should expect to pay,  Audio Research STILL sounds more like Solid State for a Tube product than any other company I can think of.  If your looking for a TUBE sound you dont want ARC. (I own or owned the 75SE/Ref 10/160M Monos)

Traditional tube sound is slow,that why a lot of people do not love tube sound,as slow sound can NOT make symphony music good,for the vocal is ok but still not accurate.

You know a lot of Audio Research sound,their sound is not that taste,They are NOT traditional tube sound. Traditional tube sound in my opinion is not a good sound. 

Some people think ARC sound is a sublime of the sound for most of SS amplifier,so as me. 

riaa, what was the issue/were the issues you had with Paragon as a seller?

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OP- I have a Ref75 and I was looking at a pass 250.8 to power my new Eggleston Vigintis, but you just saved me the trouble….I’ll hold on to the ref75. Thanks

without a doubt a great sounding musical amp. I had one in my Reference system while upgrading an Ayre VX-R to Twenty configuration. IF you want an SS amp that can do the Ref 75 se magic midrange but w better bass ( and more $$$$ unfortunately ) you should audition Ayre.

Best to all, enjoy the music and the journey.


I am a zero global negative feedback Robot

@phastm3  I do not know what is your pre amplifier. If the pre is tube pre,you should always looking for tube power amplifier.

All in one,I do not think anyone can get very good result for tube pre and SS power.

Some one might say the sound is ok with tube pre and SS power, they just do not have side by side compare.  It is my experience.


I have an audio research LS28 preamp. I’m bi-amping my speakers now with the Ref75 on the mids and highs…temporarily a crown 2002 on the woofers. 

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@swede58 Ss pre plus SS  power are good setup,as pass lab is  actually a good amplifier. What I mentioned is that  we should not coupled tube pre with SS power.

    Happy listening.


By the way SS pre plus tube power is also a good setup.

I can not tell you the internal theory,but it is the  fact.

And a lot of people waste the money on it.

I'm presently using a Pass .8 series stereo power amp as an "amp stand" for my ARC GS-150 which I LOVE.  Been through alot of equipment over the years but the GS-150 is a match in heaven with my Magnepan 20.7s.  May eventually upgrade to the ghost meter series amps but I'm enjoying this amp tremendously.  Superb.  Preamps are still Aesthetix outfitted with NOS tubes; phono stage is a Manley chinook.

@pwhinson  good setup for you. As long as you are enjoying the listening,you need not upgrade to something else. Audio research the company will not stop their pace,so we are looking to get more refined amplifiers in the coming days.In fact, the  step and step followers did  pay much more they should, although their direction is right.


interesting. Which Pass .8 amp are you

using as an ampstand and how would

you describe the difference between 

the two amps?


is true about move from SS to tube is bringing you to close live music.

me too have feel that motion .

own some Pass and then move to tube gear like AR and stay that way .

now use Japan made Air Tight set that satisfied me .

enjoy your tube gear 👍




nelson pass' amps can sound rather different from each other, based on version, power level, and topology... can’t lump them all together in my experience - different models give you something but you give up other things

arc ref 75 is definitely a special amp... se running kt150’s are an improvement in some applications, not others, as tube amps and their interface with specific speakers matters much in how the pairing sounds at end of day - once again, depending on the system and taste of the listener, the right pass amp can please as well or better than a ref 75 -- what we are dealing with here are absolutely top notch examples of products of their specific type

(i have both pass xa25/fw f5t as well as ref 75)

The Ref75SE doesn’t sound SS at all. It’s very musically convincing unlike former ARC products. 


A Pass 150.8.  It was plenty of power for my speakers (both the Thiel 2.4s and the Magnepan 20.7s) but the ARC amplifier just added tremendous refinement and delicacy and speed -- yes speed -- there is simply no comparison.  The ARC GS-150 is a great amplifier.  Of course it IS always about the amplifier speaker combo and perhaps the Pass matches some speakers better than others but the vast improvement with the ARC product for me was astonishing.

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That’s interesting as Pass amps are

known for being a great match with


Jim Smith wrote:

” Having worked at Magnepan, I still have some friends there. I know for a fact that some folks at Magnepan think that this X series - including the 260.8 & 350.8 - may be the best sounding amps that they have heard with their speakers. Of course, ymmv - but I doubt it.”

maggies need a lovely, pure sounding amp feed, and a lot current, to deliver the sound they are capable of

pass amps deliver both, as do hegels (among other top ss amps)

@swede58 I’ve spoken to -- I forget his name but he’s mentioned here frequently -- at Pass re whether the 150.8 was "enough" power to drive the 20.7s. I also talked to them back in 2019 at Axpona at the Pass exhibit. I listen to mostly classical and jazz. With the 150.8 the "needle" on the amp’s meter does move but most of the time just barely and occasionally on orchestral peaks it might move to 1 o’clock. Since the needle is moving, the 150.8 is clearly cycling from class A into class AB. That may be the problem. But Pass told me at Audiogon that the .8 series amp clip only at 3 or 4 o’clock so the amp is still coasting along. But once I put the ARC GS 150 in the system there was simply no question that it was better. I go to about 20 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concerts every year. When I travel (which hasn’t been much recently) I usually like to take in classical music. I KNOW what live orchestral music sounds like. The ARC has the Pass beat but I haven't heard the 260.8 monoblocks or the 350.8 or the XA series.