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.
Price is for a pair of 160M Mono amplifiers.
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.
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
I’ve played with a number of Audio Research amps over the years, many of which have been some of the most memorable musical experiences I’ve had, but I can’t shake the notion that this is the best of them. It’s so musically faithful yet so musically entertaining and enjoyable, this takes the already high standards of Audio Research and raises them to new levels. It delivers grace, space, and no small dose of pace, too. This is a rare jewel; one of the best ever! more...
While choosing an amplifier will always be based upon many factors—economic means, personal taste, and the willingness to monitor and occasionally replace tubes among them—I'm convinced that the Reference 160M will find a home on many a solar- or wind-powered desert island. It's that good. more...