Audio Research Reference 160 M - Most Beautiful Amplifier Ever Made

$21,999

Quite possibly the most beautiful amplifiers ever designed.

The meters look like they're floating in the air and the tubes are visible right behind them!

Utilizing KT150 tubes, this is about as modern and detailed sounding a tube amp will get. 

Both amps look practically new with JUST 325.6 hours on the tubes which is the same amount of hours in two weeks! And we know such an exact figure as ARC displays this right on the rear. We wish more tube amplifiers had this feature, as it's one of the most asked questions. 

Built-in auto bias means you never have to fuss around with the tubes. And tube rollers can play around with KT88, KT120, and 6550's without making any adjustments.

And this listing comes to you complete with all of the original Audio Research packaging and originally included materials.

These were originally put into service in April of 2019 and will come with a one year in-house warranty.  

MSRP is $34,000.00

More on these beauties from Audio Research:

After two years in development, the new Reference 160M (REF160M) Monoblock Power Amplifier is built like no other, looks like no other, and sounds like no other amplifier that you have ever heard, but it is unmistakably Audio Research. It features a refined audio topology with fewer and better components in the signal-path than in previous designs, switchable Ultralinear/Triode operation, proprietary auto-bias, output tube monitoring and protection, an advanced power meter, and much more. This array of features has never been offered before in an Audio Research amplifier.

The designers at Audio Research wanted to create a new style that would complement the look of the REF6 preamp while also featuring a GhostMeter™ that allows a view of the glowing KT150 vacuum tubes. While this GhostMeter™ allows you to see the output tubes, it also incorporates an innovative dual-layer construction with distinctively etched markings that create an integrated power meter. The power meter’s output-level markings illuminate via hidden LEDs, and the illumination brightness is adjustable. The REF160M includes a sculpted cover with an integrated fan to cool the heat generated by the four (4) KT150 output tubes and two (2) 6H30 driver tubes. Solid-state power regulation was chosen to provide increased efficiency, stability, and reliability. The power supply stage uses a newly developed High Energy Capacity Transformer and a hefty bulk storage-capacity network to provide extremely high current on demand for transient peaks and intense dynamics, as well as for prodigious bass depth and authority.

It is understood that the best path is the shortest path. Audio Research engineers created a new audio circuit topology with the shortest signal path and the fewest components. Those components are not only the best available, many are custom made for Audio Research. Incorporating these quality components is a special 4-layer circuit board that lowers the noise floor to unprecedented levels, and a design which was previously reserved for use in our preamplifiers. The result is a new benchmark in musicality in every criterion of sound quality.

The REF160M also features a proprietary auto-bias circuit that works with various tubes types, including 6550, KT88, and KT120, in addition to the supplied KT150 and works constantly to maintain precise bias of the output tubes, while also adjusting for tube wear. There is no need to check or adjust bias ever again.

The new REF160M breaks new ground sonically, aesthetically and operationally, and will be available in Natural (Silver) or Black finishes.

Electronic Specifications:

POWER OUTPUT

140 watts continuous from 20Hz to 20kHz. 1kHz total harmonic distortion typically 1% at 140 watts, below 0.04% at 1 watt. (Note that actual power output is dependent upon both line voltage and “condition” i.e.: if power line has high distortion, maximum power will be affected adversely, although from a listening standpoint this is not critical).

POWER BANDWIDTH

(-3dB Points) 5Hz to 70kHz.

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

(-3dB points at 1 watt) 0.5Hz to 110kHz.

INPUT SENSITIVITY

2.4V RMS Balanced for rated output. (25.5 dB gain into 8 ohms).

NPUT IMPEDANCE

200 k ohms Balanced.

OUTPUT POLARITY

Non-inverting. Balanced input pin 2+ (IEC-268).

OUTPUT TAPS

16 ohms, 8 ohms, 4 ohms.

OUTPUT REGULATION

Approximately 0.6dB 16 OHM LOAD TO OPEN CIRCUIT (Damping factor
approximately 14).

OVERALL NEGATIVE FEEDBACK

14dB SLEW RATE: 13 volts/microsecond RISE TIME: 2.0 microseconds.

POWER REQUIREMENTS

105-130VAC 60Hz (210-250VAC 50Hz) 400 watts at rated output, 700 watts maximum,
260 watts at “idle”, 1 watt off.

TUBES REQUIRED

2 matched pair KT150 (Power output V1-4); 2 6H30 (Gain stage V5 and V6).

DIMENSIONS

Width 17.25” (43.8 cm)
Height 10” (25.4 cm)
Depth 18.5” (47 cm)
Handles Extended 19.25” (48.9 cm)

WEIGHT

56lbs (25.5 kg) Net
73lbs (33.2 kg) Shipping

Click here for a PDF copy of the Audio Research Reference 160M Owner's Manual

Our Testing Process for Amplifiers (Tube) at SkyFi:

We start with a visual inspection of all internal components to make sure there are no signs of stress or aging. Capacitors are checked for telltale sings of bulging or leaking, resistors are checked for signs of overheating or cracking, and tubes are inspected for signs of stress overheating or cracking.

We then power up the unit carefully and run a simple 1k sine wave while monitoring the output on an oscilloscope for signs of distortion or noise. Finally we run the amplifier to its full rated power into the appropriate resistive load provided by our Sencore amplifier tester. If there is an issue, it will usually be noticeable at this point. If it all looks clean we will often test for THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) measured by our Keithley distortion meter, and compare it against the original manufacturers specifications. The amplifier the remains powered on to "burn in" on our test bench for a few hours to make sure there are no heat related issues. If there are balanced inputs available they will also be tested.

We also test all tubes for output gain and leakage on our calibrated B&K 747 tester against the original manufacturers specifications. If needed, the tubes will be replaced from our vast NOS (New Old Stock) vintage or modern inventory.

Final testing involves pushing actual music thorough the amplifier. We've learned over time that some issues are only noticeable to a trained ear while listening to familiar source material. Our test bench has reference vintage Kef speakers that we're very familiar with which quickly reveal any discrepancies. Some amplifiers will then move into our listening room where they are tested with our in-house reference speakers of choice.

Please click here for detailed specifics regarding our specialized packing process that separates us from the rest.

Item

Included

Original Box

Yes

Manual

Yes and Online

Remote

N/A

Cables

Yes - Power

Physical Condition

9

Working Condition

10

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