Audio Research 160m

Guys, I am being offered a trade-in of my BHK300s for a couple of Audio Research 160m. Since I live in Brazil, I will not get the opportunity of pre-auditioning the amps.

Right now, I am using a P10 (soon to be a P20) - DS Sr. DAC - Pass Labs XP-30 - BHK 300s - Kef Blade 2.

I am pretty satisfied with my system right now, but I am only reading the highest praise to the ARC amps. Stuff like: the best ever amps.

Do any of you have any experience with the ARC 160m? i wanted to hear your thoughts.

Just saw your post, 7 months later, lol. Wondering if you went with the Audio Research amps afterall, and whether you also looked into their tube preamp to complement the amps.

I went for it. Could not be happier. Those KT150 are something special. Forget the tradicional impressions about tube amps. These ones have nothing floppy, warm or without bass control. The sound is transparent, precise, with great dynamics and texture. From the tubes you get that lovely “round” character, that puts you away from the sometimes “analytical” character of the SS.

Big improvement over the BHK (for double the price, to be fair).

And yes, I went for the Ref6 as preamp. Also, great synergy between them.


Yes, when listening to tubes, critical listening fades away. Congrats on your system!! I have older Conrad Johnson tubes with a warm sound (and yes, sometimes overly warm), but also reasonably refined, with violins that sound like real violins, and female vocals with a wonderful bloom. I have just a glimpse of how good your system must be. For classical and jazz, the tubes are in the system, for most other music (in particular anything with deep bass) the PS Audio equipment is in the system. I assume with your system that all types of music can sound good?

Lets put it this way: I dont feel the need to make changes in accordance to the music genre, except in the volume settings. You see, the ref160m does have two settings: triode and penthode. When you want something more relaxed, go triode. More powerful and tight, penthode.

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I, on the other hand, have to, for best musicality. Boz Scaggs, for instance, sounds sooooooo much better with PS Audio SGCD and M700 versus the CJ tubes. Bass is simply deeper and cleaner with PS Audio. Boz’s vocals also bloom quite nicely with the M700 monoblocks. Anne Bisson’s vocals, sound equally refined on both PS and CJ. Norah Jones sounds great with PS, but even better with CJ tubes. So I am continually switching things around for now.

Wow! What did you do with your XP-30?

Traded in with my dealer. I have developed a very nice relationship with him throughout the years.

Hi @jvvita , quick question, do you still have the AR 160M’s? Did you compare to any SS amps or do you typically go with tube. Also, about the Ref 6, do you like the Ref 6, or is there something about it you wish it could do more. I am for some odd reason looking at a pre and then started looking at amps…it snowballs.

Wait–what?? What happened to “Mr Integrated”? :grinning:

It’s still there, which is half the problem! I bought it with a DAC inside which was a lot extra and then I was looking for a headphone amp which snowballed into a Bartok, which has morphed into a look around for a preamp which then has me questioning why I would spend so much on a preamp and then have an integrated and not an amp. Its a horrible cycle to be in!

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Some people refer to that as the “rabbit hole”


What’s bigger than a rabbit hole? It’s that.


Down a big and fat rabbit hole was my destination.

Right now, I am using an all Nagra HD system. Sold everything (including my Vivaldi stack), and got HD DAC X, HD preamp and HD amp.

Regarding your question: the Ref160 is the most quiet tube amplifier I have ever seen. Not with my ear to the tweeter I could hear any noise.

the biggest difference I experiment with the Nagras is the dynamic, specially in the bass section. As good as the ARC transformers may be, it does not compare to the Nagra grip to the woofers. Also, the ref160 does not have that midrangey sound, sometimes tube amplifiers present. Yes, the mid-range is a bit more nuanced than the Nagras, but that is it.

I would say that the 160m is probably the tube amplifier that I heard that gets closer to a great SS.

Hope that helps.


It does help a lot. Bass is quite important to me, tight, snappy Bass. Thanks very much. It’s hard to get a good non reviewer take on it!

I told the dealer I would have to take my Diablo 300 in and demo side by side