Audio Research I-50 Integrated Amplifier

$6,500 – $8,500 (config. Dependent)


Generating as much excitement as a new In-N-Out Burger restaurant, ARC’s I-50 integrated amplifier has taken about two years for supply to start to catch up with demand, and a review sample is finally available. In Midwestern fashion, let’s cut the pleasantries – this is a fantastic product in every way. It’s solidly built, functionally efficient, sonically excellent, and fashion forward. ARC returns to a tube compliment of 6922s and 6550s for an amplifier that sounds slightly less resolving than some of the current REF product, but arguably more musical.  And a lot easier on the pocket book, considering what 6H30s and KT150s cost these days. Think the GS series in a compact chassis.

The gap in pricing is due to the ability to purchase an integrated only, or with your choice of an MM phono stage built in and/or a BT streaming DAC with coax, optical and USB inputs. Both can be added later if you so choose, at a slightly higher cost. Thanks to the glowing tubes and ARCs Nixie display (updated for the 21st century), this an amplifier you’ll be proud to show off in your environment. And the sound is updated ARC classic – which is damn good. Whether you want to get off the upgrade merry go round, or just build an excellent system with a minimal box content, the I-50 is as good as it gets, and it comes in a wide range of cool colors too. What’s not to love?

Hard core audiophiles will snipe about being tied in to one phono stage or DAC, blah, blah, blah. Ignore them, and go for the Double Double Animal style. Buy it loaded, add a decent turntable and speakers and forget about it. The I-50 is the perfect music lovers’ product for someone who doesn’t want to be burdened by constant upgrades.