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post #26581 of 26590 Old 08-26-2015, 10:01 AM
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OK gents; I need some advice. There's no right or wrong answer; just opinions...though you do have to put yourself in my shoes a bit (scary huh ).

OK...I purchased this used ARC VT-50 tube power-amp; as I am wont to do. You know how I roll: something catches my eye, or I have a need; I buy, I try...and some stuff sticks, and some stuff flips...lol.

Now...this is an "older" unit; point being, it has "manual" biasing. I'm not the world's foremost expert on tube biasing; so before I even unpacked it, or fired it up...I brought the amp into my office...and had some of the "techs" help me with it. We turned it on, waited 15 minutes...and tested the voltage. Left side was stable and spot-on; right side was a little wobbly. So we waited another 45 minutes or so (per manual...you should measure at 15 minutes and 1 hour).

At the 15 minute mark, I had the "techs" do it...so I could watch, and make sure there wasn't much to it. You just take your voltmeter leads, and touch them to each side of a test resistor. At the 1 hour mark...I decided to give it a try. I swear...it seems all I did, was touch the 2 voltmeter leads to the test points; just as I had seen the other guy do it. But I must have shaky hands or something...because I got a pop that nearly made me sh*te me pants!

So I shut it down right away, and packed it right back up to be repaired at ARC. It looked to me...the untrained eye...that the damage was minimal; some noticeable burn, down on the tracer circuit...where things arced from the test point. And I talked to the previous owner, and he said he's arced a tracer board before (not necessarily on the same unit); so I didn't feel like a total idiot.

Of course, I was hopeful and optimistic...that the repair, and therefore cost, would be minimal. After all: I had just bought this piece used, to "try out"; and now was having to shell-out for a repair bill...before I even had a chance to hear it, and/or flip it.

I didn't hear from ARC for a spell; so I just dropped them a polite line, to see if they had an update for me. Word came back "technician says unit has extensive PC board damage and will need a tube set. [tech name] is in the process of working up an estimate. Should have more info later in the week”.

Yikes; not, at all, wanted I wanted to hear. I'm especially surprised...by the need for a new tube set? Describing the incident that occurred; it didn't seem possible I could have blown all 8 tubes!!?? I asked the ARC forum, from another board...if ARC is pretty reputable, for giving it to you straight? Not that I had any doubts. I mean...ARC has been around forever, and I happen to love their kit.

One guy in particular said "they ain't cheap; but...", and I'll paraphrase here...they're not going to rip you off, by padding the bill or claiming unnecessary repairs.

OK, well; with a statement like that...maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. I mean...I was prepared for the "worst", but hopeful for the best. You think I'd be making this post, if the news turned out to be the latter?

I don't usually get into numbers...but for this discussion; the numbers are important. $1100 is what I was quoted for the repair...and new set of tubes. Now I get it; a technician at a "reputable" house, like ARC...doesn't want to leave anything to chance. They want to replace ALL damaged parts...go ahead and put in a set of tubes, they KNOW they can trust (even though this incident occurred, when I was biasing the right channel. So even if I blew EVERYTHING on that side...which I wouldn't even bet on; I would be very surprised, if the 2 input tubes and 2 output tubes on the left side, were also "blown"); bias, tune...and send it back to you, knowing it's in tip-top shape.

Out of curiously, I asked the gal who is the admin for the Support department; if she could give me a "line-item" cost, on the tube set. Now again...let me reiterate: ARC...fine, fine company; and their policy and cost, is their policy and cost. I do not post this here to denigrate them; in fact...I usually keep my "dealings" pretty private (oh sure...I'll always tell you guys, I'm trying this or I'm trying that; but you NEVER know what I paid for it ). They want $560 for the tubes!

Now...when this amp was on its way; I was already thinking about rolling something into the 6550 slots. Of course, the "best" 6550 known to be going right now...is the Svetlana "Winged" 6550C. But I already had a problem with them of late...and even the guy from Upscale said "smart to stay away"; because evidently, as they were stopping production, they really cut corners on QA at the end...so it's a dice-roll. He recommended Sovtek 6550WE, and even said "that's what ARC is using...now that the Svetlana Cs are out of production". Cost? $32/per; and that's retail, from Upscale! Let me do the math for ya; that's $128, for the Quad...American!!

Now...I don't know what ARC is using in the input slots (4 x 6922s); but I doubt it's anything "exotic". A) "stock" tubes usually aren't, and B) those "tech/engineer" types; they usually don't even think it makes any difference, lol. They often choose, based on reliability; not any audiophile mumbo-jumbo about NOS glass magic, lol. So let's say...they were going to go with something, like the EH Gold Pin? Cost? $25/per; and again...that's retail, and that's at Upscale, etc., etc.

So how can ARC justify charging me, $560; for $228 "worth" of tubes...retail? Well, like I said; they do what they do...and if you want to play the game, which is have them stand 1000% behind the work. You have to pay the price of admission.

So I asked them...is there any way, for them to repair this thing...without the fresh set of tubes? I mean...I understand they need tubes to test it, after repair; but couldn't they use some kind of house "testers", and then send it back tube-less? I mean...this might end up staying. I actually bought it, because I have a Wyred STP-SE pre-amp...that I think has potential; but needed some warmth, in the way of a tube amp. OTOH...I might just want to sell this thing (as I am again, wont to do).

On top of everything else; I actually already have...(4) 6922s I could use. So I'd cut my repair bill in HALF, and at worst...I'd be looking at ~$130 for a new quad of 6550s. Or...I might just cut bait, sell it advertised as repaired by ARC; sans tubes...new owner, roll your own.

Sure...if I treasured this amp, and were going to leave it to my kids; I'd let ARC do their thing, and know I had a finely-tuned machine...that I wasn't going to have to turn around and bias again (at least not right away). But this ain't that.

I wasn't even sure ARC would consider it; but I got word today..."Per our technician, you will receive NO SERVICE WARRANTY WHATSOEVER, if you choose this course of action. If the unit is damaged as a result of your tubes, you will be fully responsible for another repair and shipping both ways.” CYA and fear of god accomplished, lol

I don't know; it's sure attractive...to cut that repair cost in half (for the record...the full cost of the repair, is damn near what I paid for the amp to begin with!)...get some tubes, and some HELP! And just very carefully, try to get this thing back in good working order; without losing my shirt.

What say the group?? If you made it all the way down here...thanks

Founder-E.S.A.C. esac.club

Last edited by CDLehner; 08-26-2015 at 04:59 PM.
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post #26582 of 26590 Old 08-26-2015, 07:11 PM
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Doesn't the XEO 3...also have an analog Line In? So...if you felt like you could "better" the DAC, that was included in the XEO; you'd go Line In, instead of digital.

Plus the advantage, of an all-in-one...like the AAM for example; is you'd no longer be limited to 24/96...or whatever the XEO handles. You could do 24/192, plus Single/Double/Quad DSD; and play lossless files, like FLAC and WAV, etc.
Analog is converted to digital. Same way with my Anthem receiver.
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post #26583 of 26590 Old 08-26-2015, 08:29 PM
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Chris the SED and Svetlana are out of business due to production problems. Sovtek is current from Russia. Arc does test their tubes more than most manufacturers. I will agree with ARC meaning you need to replace everything that has been damaged. But that said I don't know what you could have done to cause that amount of damage. You should post your concern on Agon because Hifigeek1 is an authorized Arc repair technician. One thing ARC does that is different is they have master and slave pairs for the output tubes when it comes to biasing. It could be you have/had tubes that were out of the ARC specs (which are very tight tolerance hence the price). My gut feeling is you were sold an unit that had problems and you got to see the aftermath. Usually only the plate resistor goes when there is a tube that saturates the plate current (and can normally kiss the tube goodbye too).
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post #26584 of 26590 Old Yesterday, 06:40 AM
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Arc does test their tubes more than most manufacturers. I will agree with ARC meaning you need to replace everything that has been damaged. But that said I don't know what you could have done to cause that amount of damage.

My gut feeling is you were sold an unit that had problems and you got to see the aftermath. Usually only the plate resistor goes when there is a tube that saturates the plate current (and can normally kiss the tube goodbye too).
Well...I thought about that too; once I was told, the extent of the damage. Trust me...if I messed-up at all; it wasn't by "much". What I mean is...if you saw a picture (and I have one), of the test resistor; it's not that complicated of a procedure. If I "slipped"...and I'm still calling it an if; it's not like I flung the damn voltmeter, into the heart of the amp...lol. To have "blown-up"...what appears to be the entire right side I was biasing; IDK...seemed "unlikely", at best, and "suspicious" at worse.

But...I don't think I have any recourse. The seller has solid feedback...and said the unit left his house, "in perfect running condition". Now, granted...that could mean "it was playing music fine"; but maybe there were underlying issues...lurking...as OD_D suggested. And I just happen to bring them to the light of day, with my mishap. Bad luck for sure

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You should post your concern on Agon because Hifigeek1 is an authorized Arc repair technician.
Thanks; I think I will! One other suggestion I've been given...is asking ARC if they will repair, and bias; with my tubes. The 4 existing 6922s I have...and a new Quad of (reputable) 6550s, I would purchase. I think that's an excellent compromise; but IDK. Is that a little like bringing your own steak to a restaurant...and asking them to cook it for you? You know...because their mark-up is too high

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post #26585 of 26590 Old Yesterday, 07:50 AM
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Well...I thought about that too; once I was told, the extent of the damage. Trust me...if I messed-up at all; it wasn't by "much". What I mean is...if you saw a picture (and I have one), of the test resistor; it's not that complicated of a procedure. If I "slipped"...and I'm still calling it an if; it's not like I flung the damn voltmeter, into the heart of the amp...lol. To have "blown-up"...what appears to be the entire right side I was biasing; IDK...seemed "unlikely", at best, and "suspicious" at worse.

But...I don't think I have any recourse. The seller has solid feedback...and said the unit left his house, "in perfect running condition". Now, granted...that could mean "it was playing music fine"; but maybe there were underlying issues...lurking...as OD_D suggested. And I just happen to bring them to the light of day, with my mishap. Bad luck for sure



Thanks; I think I will! One other suggestion I've been given...is asking ARC if they will repair, and bias; with my tubes. The 4 existing 6922s I have...and a new Quad of (reputable) 6550s, I would purchase. I think that's an excellent compromise; but IDK. Is that a little like bringing your own steak to a restaurant...and asking them to cook it for you? You know...because their mark-up is too high
The 6922's shouldn't be a problem but I'm pretty sure they won't go for your 6550's. I've read a couple of threads on the Gon regarding users supplying their own tubes with no problems and a couple that had problems (they did their own tube swap). What I don't get is that with a fixed (manual) bias any tubes should work where that may not be the case with auto bias. It's the master/slave pair I don't understand.

That said when I had the Octave I had some bias drift that followed the tube location. It was loose pins in that socket (simple fix). It also was most likely caused by Vintage TS 6550's which I later found out had pins that were ever so slightly thicker than current production tubes.

Best of luck
George
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post #26586 of 26590 Old Yesterday, 01:09 PM
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Analog is converted to digital. Same way with my Anthem receiver.
Really? No offense, but...yuck .

I wonder if they'll ever firmware update that thing; or if the focus is on XD now (no pun intended).

EDIT-

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Plus the advantage, of an all-in-one...like the AAM for example; is you'd no longer be limited to 24/96...or whatever the XEO handles.
Just read it's limited to 24/48? That's why I don't buy internal DACs.

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post #26587 of 26590 Old Today, 09:12 AM
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Really? No offense, but...yuck .

I wonder if they'll ever firmware update that thing; or if the focus is on XD now (no pun intended).

EDIT-



Just read it's limited to 24/48? That's why I don't buy internal DACs.
Speaking of dacs cd,how do you like the SOTM?personally...I am eagerly awaiting the release/reviews of the chord DAVE,way out of my price range though

7.2-Cary audio cinema 12 , focus xd 600, confidence centre, excite12, neat iota, Cary 500.1 monoblock, anthem mca-50, 2 Jl-audio fathom 112s, 65 inch Panasonic 3d plasma, marantz-blueray
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post #26588 of 26590 Old Today, 02:48 PM
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Speaking of dacs cd,how do you like the SOTM?personally...I am eagerly awaiting the release/reviews of the chord DAVE,way out of my price range though
The SOtM was awesome!

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post #26589 of 26590 Old Today, 02:59 PM
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The SOtM was awesome!
Keyword = was

Meaning, certainly not good enough to stay!

SOtM is not cheap stuff for being Chinese, off-brand. Better to go with Chord!

Current HiFi: Dynaudio Focus 260 | Meridian Direct DAC | NAIM SuperNait 2
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post #26590 of 26590 Old Today, 04:55 PM
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Really? No offense, but...yuck .

I wonder if they'll ever firmware update that thing; or if the focus is on XD now (no pun intended).

EDIT-



Just read it's limited to 24/48? That's why I don't buy internal DACs.
Not offended. Just a little system for my girls' playroom that I get to use occasionally when my wife is studying.
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