My Audio Research experience

To all you goners out there, here is my experience with Audio Research.

Approximately four years ago I purchased an AR Reference 75 power amp.  It was on special at the time and I bought if from a dealer in Brisbane, Australia.

I used the amp for the rear channels of my home theatre system which I only use occasionally because I travel a lot for work and I mainly listen to music.

One night I switched the amp on and a white flash and burning smell came from the amplifier and it didn’t power up.  I thought it may have been a tube, and because I had no spares, I reported the problem to my Brisbane dealer and via email to Audio Research.  A copy of the reply sent from AR on the 5th March 2016 follows:

'Thank you for choosing Audio Research and the REF75. I suspect you had an internal tube arc. The internal tube short can also take out a plate or screen resistor. So just replacing the tube will not fix this problem. The resistors also need to be replaced. You can confirm this by checking the bias for this tube. If the bias reads zero, a resistor is open.  This is an easy repair that our distributor in Australia can do.

The SE update for the REF75 comes with a complete new set of tubes including a new set of KT150s.  This is the only way it is sold. If you so choose, Our Australian distributor can also install this SE upgrade for you while the amp is in for repair.'

I then proceeded to order some more tubes to see if a replacement tube would fix the problem.

I ordered the following tubes:

2 x Electro-Harmonix 6H30Pi Gold with Matched Triodes (Balanced)

4 x KT150 Power Vacuum Tube - [Matching (10+ tubes)]

4 x KT120 Power Vacuum Tubes - [Matching (10+ tubes)]

When they arrived, I tried the new tubes but they didn’t fix the problem as the amplifier failed to switch on.  I then contacted my dealer and freighted the amplifier to Brisbane for repair.  This was done in June of last year.  I included all of the above tubes in the package in case they were needed.  I also would have liked the amp to be upgraded to SE status using the tubes supplied if possible.

In September/October last year I enquired about the status of the repair and before Christmas enquired again. After again emailing AR, I was contacted by the Australian Distributor who told me that the service agent in Brisbane had been trying to get parts for the wrong amplifier and that the amplifier would be transported to Melbourne for repair.  I asked them to get me a price for the upgrade using my tubes.

In January/February of this year, I was contacted by the Australian Distributor and had to supply proof of purchase because there was a dispute over whether the amplifier was in fact under warranty when the fault occurred.  I again asked about getting the upgrade using the supplied tubes which were still with the repair agent in Brisbane.  Eventually I was told that I could have the upgrade using AR tubes only, for the heavily discounted price of $3,000 Australian.  Nothing like gouging your customers!!!!!!  Especially when I could have bought a small car for the original cost of the amplifier in Australia.

I chose to just get the original amplifier repaired under warranty which I was told needed a new main circuit board.  This week my amplifier finally arrived back home after nearly 12 months away for a repair under warranty.  The original tubes have been put in a box with ‘Faulty Old Tubes,’ written on the box.  The tubes I sent with the amplifier have not been returned, and no replacement tubes have been included.

I am amazed that the initial fault destroyed six tubes, so I have asked how the Distributor tested the tubes to determine that they were faulty.  I am now left with an amplifier that doesn’t work and 10 expensive vacuum tubes missing somewhere in Australia.  I am also left with a conundrum, if when I finally get my tubes back and use them to ensure the amplifier works, what happens if it doesn’t.  Will AR then blame me for any fault that occurs on power up because I haven’t purchased tubes from them at their heavily marked up prices????

For me I will never touch another Audio Research product for as long as I reside on this planet.  I will be telling all my audiophile friends and putting this report on every forum that will publish it.  Best of luck for the future Audio Research and may you drown in your policy mess!!!


Hello triode 12.

I now have an amp I am told has been repaired but currently have no tubes to check this assertion.  It hasn't been upgraded to SE status but I am told the original board has been replaced under warranty.

I am told my tubes are at the dealers in Brisbane and will be sent back.

I am told that if I use these tubes and the board or other parts are damaged I won't be covered.

I am not sure if this matters because the amp is out of warranty anyway.

I have to phone Synergy today to find out the cost of tubes from ARC but I don't know if there will be any further warranty if I do buy those tubes.

The amp took nearly a year to repair.  This is the point that seems to have eluded everyone and the only one that really matters.

Apparently if I believe the comments, this is because I didn't send the amp back to the distributor.  I am sure now that the next time my car needs warranty repairs I will drive it to the Melbourne distributor because my 'Dealer' won't be able to fix it.


The amp was new when I purchased it.  I live in North Qld where the climate obviously doesn't agree with ARC circuit boards as it is the only board that has ever failed in 30 years of ownership of amps like McCormack, NAD, Denon, Carver, Ayon, Allnic, Anthem, Krell etc. etc.

I am then accused of spilling fluid blah! blah! blah!

Why don't you read my thread to determine what Is said and separate it from the other frivolous comments.

I have had personal dealings with Steve McCormack, Kris Jeter, Rob Graham and Kung Su Park over the years and all have been helpful, accommodating and especially good natured and helpful about their products.  Steve McCormack sent me parts and a circuit diagram on two occasions when I had problems with two of his amps.  These arrived in record time. I praise their products but because I have an issue with an ARC product I am at fault.

If this is typical of the threads about ARC as you claim, then no-one should ever buy their products.

I am sure that it is not typical of ARC but I will never again buy one of their products.  My choice!!!  You choose or believe what you want to believe but I didn't write this thread to upset ARC fans although I have done plenty of that apparently.

I bought the amp second hand from a guy in the US when the Aussie Dollar was higher.
thazeldean, I guess you meant preamp?
With all repairs for ARC in Australia, there is one authorised service tech in Australia that does the repair. Your dealer should have sent it back to Synergy at his or Synergy's expense. He seems to be the cause of this whole debacle by trying perform the repair on his own. It may be possible that the tech he employed to fix your amp may have caused the fluid spill and put the blame on you. The repair should have been an easy job consisting of a few resistors if the problem was actually failed tube. Moisture from condensation would not have been the cause of the issue unless the amp was sitting under an leaking aircon blower. The Ref 75 has horizontally a mounted main board and is not prone to condensation issues.
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