Audio Research Reference 80S

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Audio Research Reference 80S
Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Audio Research’s latest design, the Reference 80S stereo amplifier has arrived. The 80S is a KT150 tube based power amplifier with a specified output of 80 Watts per channel and many similarities to the Audio Research 160M monoblock including chassis size. 

The feature set is the same as the 160S, including a proprietary auto-bias circuit that adjusts for not only tube age, but for powerline voltage swings. There is fusing of the output tubes, single-ended and balanced inputs for flexibility, switchable triode-pentode operation to accommodate loudspeakers and personal preference, output tube monitoring, and inclusion of an hour meter so you know how many hours are on the tubes – like an milometer for your amp. This is a tube amplifier that does not require tweaking, it is meant to be enjoyed. The built-in 12V trigger turns the 80S on or off when connected to a preamp with a 12V trigger. 

Like every Reference amplifier before it, the 80S is a fully balanced differential design because it provides the highest performance and lowest distortion in its maker’s opinion. A four-layer circuit board is used to provide a separate ground plane, better circuit layout, and fewer noise-inducing point-to-point connections. 

A single shallow whisper fan is built into the bottom plate. Flexibility is built-in, too, with XLR and SE inputs, 4-8-16 ohm output taps, 12V input and output triggers, RS232 input, tube hour meter, switchable fan speeds, and defeatable auto-off function. GhostMeters float in front of four KT150 output tubes. Extruded panels, a vital part of the all-aluminium chassis, provide rigidity and beauty. The price in the UK is £14,998.