Audio Research introduces Reference 80S stereo valve-powered tube amplifier

As you doubtless know, HFC is all about the ace and affordable but every now and then we like to forget how skint we all are and drool over a piece of gorgeous kit well out of our price range. Feel free, then, to fantasise over Audio Research’s new Reference 80S stereo valve-powered tube amplifier, built by hand in the company’s Minnesota facility.

Available in either natural silver or black finishes, outwardly, the 80S shares the same dimensions as the company’s 160M. A single shallow whisper fan is built into the bottom plate and there are XLR and SE inputs, 4, 8, 16ohm output taps, 12V input and output triggers, RS232 input, switchable fan speeds and a defeatable auto-off function.

The 80S might not boast the same level of output power delivered by its siblings, the Reference 160S stereo and 160M mono amplifiers, but continues their design ethos, including dual GhostMeters that float in front of four KT150 output tubes. Meanwhile, extruded panels – a vital part of the all-aluminium chassis – provide rigidity.

The feature set includes 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 a meter so you know how many hours are on the tubes – like an odometer for your amp.

The company says a four-layer circuit board is used to provide a separate ground plane, better circuit layout and fewer noise-inducing point-to-point connections.

Audio Research's Reference 80S stereo valve-powered tube amplifier is available to buy now for £15,000 and you can find out more about it here.

Absolute Sounds (UK distributor)