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Audio Research REF160S

This should have been the simplest, swiftest review for me to undertake: I would simply drop the stereo version of the Audio Research Reference 160M [HFN Aug ’18] into my system in place of the Reference 75SE. Double the number of KT150s and double the power, a price tag of two quid shy of twenty grand, fond memories of the monoblocks still tugging at me after 18 months: the Audio Research Reference 160S should have been a doddle, easy to anticipate. But it wasn’t.

It has been Audio Research’s practice to deliver stereo versions of its monoblocks after a suitable passing of time. In theory, the differences should relate solely to general monoblock-vs-stereo amp arguments: total isolation of left-and-right channels and separate AC sources for both, versus shared elements in the stereo edition. But here it’s not straightforward because the new model – hitherto called the REF160S – is almost too good.

DANDY TRIODE

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