Posted on 12th April, 2018

They say change is as good as a holiday. Well, Audio Research's designers are handing you your plane ticket with their latest amplifier that's been two years in the making.

The Reference 160M (REF160M) is a monoblock amplifier that Audio Research says “is built like no other, looks like no other, and sounds like no other amplifier that you have ever heard”. Unquestionably it's from the audio Research stable.

Livio Cucuzza, the creative genius responsible for Audio Research’s new aesthetic told StereoNET:

The new REF160M is the apex of the Audio Research design language, and the first step in a new era of products. With its transparent meter, we are giving shape to the most renowned Audio Research sound characteristic: transparency. As an enthusiast and Audio Research customer, I can say that REF160M is the coolest tube amplifier on the planet!

To achieve a new level of perfection Audio research employed a refined audio topology with fewer but higher quality components in the signal path. The REF160M features switchable Ultralinear/Triode operation, proprietary auto-bias, output tube monitoring and protection, an advanced power meter, and much more.

There's likely no one on planet earth that doesn't appreciate the glow of a warm valve, so AR's designers incorporated a transparent faceplate that showcases the glowing KT150 vacuum tubes. Audio Research in its wisdom took it one step further though by cleverly etching the faceplate to create an integrated power meter, illuminated by hidden LEDs.

For a continuous power output of 140 watts, a complement of four KT150 output tubes and two 6H30 driver tubes is kept under control by solid state power regulation which was “chosen to provide increased efficiency, stability, and reliability.”

Cucuzza continued:

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.

An aesthetic and audio perfect match for its REF6 preamplifier, according to Plymouth, Minnesota based company the REF160M has “been designed for the absolute highest sound quality, convenience, reliability, and worry-free operation.”

To integrate with any system, the REF160M features both single-ended RCA and Balanced inputs, plus there's an RS-232 input for external control and as a 12V trigger for remote power control.

According to Warren Gehl, Design Engineer and Aural Evaluator for Audio Research:

The REF160M elicits the most compelling musical realism of any Audio Research amplifier to date.

That's a big statement, but that's exactly what Audio Research's Reference 160M Mono Amplifier is - a statement piece.

The downside is we'll need to wait until at least June/July to be able to hear them and they will sell in New Zealand for $50,000 RRP.

For more information visit Audio Research.

Originally published as Audio Research's Most Musical Amplifier Ever


Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder and Publisher, born in UK and raised on British Hi-Fi before moving to Australia where he worked as an Engineer in both the audio and mechanical fields.

Posted in:Hi-Fi
Tags: audio research  denco audio