No other amp is built like it, looks like it, or sounds like it, says Audio Research. Paul Rigby introduces you to the ultra-high-end Reference 160M power amplifier, available here at £28,998 per pair.

Dream Machines: Audio Research Reference 160M amplifier

After two years in development, the new, high-end Acoustic Research Reference 160M (REF160M) Monoblock Power Amplifier features a refined audio topology that looks the business. Based on valve technology, it is switchable from Ultralinear to Triode operation and back again, to give you different sound styles. The REF160M includes a sculpted cover with an integrated fan to cool the heat generated by the six valves. Solid-state power regulation has been chosen to provide increased efficiency and reliability.

1. Top Valves
The 160M has four KT150 valves –widely considered to be the finest output valve, owing to its combination of power and finesse – and two 6H30 driver valves.

2. Lovely Meter
The stunning industrial design has a large frontpanel window, revealing the KT150 valves, and doubles as an illuminated power meter due to its dual-layer construction.

3. Take Control
You can control the amplifier via this neat four-button interface.

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