Color me impressed. Change is hard for any established audio brand, but when it comes from a company as important as Audio Research — I’m willing to take a much deeper dive. Do not adjust your phone or monitor settings. The colors you are about to look at are real. The Audio Research I/50 Integrated Amplifier signifies a major shift.
While I was sitting in Rosh Hashanah services earlier this week, I was kicking myself about a particular piece of used Audio Research gear that I passed on earlier this summer. Finding a reliable used tube pre-amplifier that is more than 20 years old for under $2,000 to work with an Aragon 4004 MKII Power Amplifier has proven to be harder than I thought it would. Audiophiles understand the value of Audio Research equipment and its latest range of equipment is way too expensive for my blood.
The problem for Audio Research is that its appeal tends to be restricted to those who can only afford mega-buck high-end systems and very few of the products are forward thinking or colorful. Until now.
Older Audio Research equipment looks like something your father once owned if he couldn’t afford the McIntosh equipment on display and it’s probably not lost on anyone that the two brands are no longer part of the same parent company.
The brand new I/50 Audio Research Integrated Amplifier takes music listening to a whole new experience.
Purists will see an Audio Research amplifier offered in a myriad of colors and roll their eyes — I see something that would look insanely cool in my living room; and likely deliver the sound quality that the brand became famous for.
Hand-crafted in Minnesota, the I/50 is built with the same attention to detail as all other Audio Research products – each one even gets its own listening test with sonic designer, Warren Gehl.
Available in six colors, the I/50 features Cerakote finishes for a beautiful and long-lasting look. The modular design allows for the installation of two audio modules – a Phono Stage, and a D/A Converter (to come in 2022). The high current, 50 watt per channel amplifier is capable of driving a wide variety of speakers. A headphone jack allows for personal listening time.
The I/50 is designed to be easy to use, and has three controls on its top panel – Power, Input, and Volume. Two LexieTubes® provide display information for input selection and volume.
Two matched pairs of 6550WE vacuum tubes, along with three 6922 tubes, stand in front of the perforated transformer cover. Three single-ended inputs and one XLR input provide connectivity for most systems, along with 4- and 8- Ohm speaker taps to accommodate your speaker of choice.
One input can be assigned for pass-through function. A full-function metal remote control provides further functionality and operation. An optional tube cage will be available.
As with all Audio Research products, the I/50 is built entirely in our Minnesota facility by a team of skilled technicians and expert craftspeople. Offered in six colors, the I/50 is the first product completely finished in-house.
The Audio Research finishing lab encompasses a purpose-built painting facility and laser imaging and marking machines to produce a luxurious finish normally found only on much more expensive products. The Cerakote finish is not only beautiful, but designed to be enduring and easy to maintain.
The performance of the I/50 belies its compact design. 50 watts of all-vacuum tube power energize your speakers with beautiful and lifelike music. Designed by the Audio Research engineering team and fine-tuned by Warren Gehl, the I/50 has been given the same level of care and attention as their Reference Series products.
The ability of the I/50 to reconstruct a musical experience will thrill and excite all who hear it. Thanks to the substantial power supply and high current design, the I/50 provides controlled and dynamic playback – even on challenging speakers. The Phono module provides 42 dB of gain, allowing a wide choice of moving magnet and high-output moving coil cartridges.
The D/A Converter will have multiple connection options and an array of decoding formats to accommodate the wide spectrum of music formats and resolutions. The I/50 is a truly integrated product while providing renowned Audio Research performance and sound quality.
Power Output: 50 watts continuous from 20Hz to 20kHz. 1kHz total harmonic distortion typically 1% per channel, below 0.1% at 1 watt (Note that actual power output is dependent upon both line voltage and “condition” i.e.: if power line has high distortion, maximum power will be affected adversely, although from a listening standpoint this is not critical)
Power Bandwidth: (-3dB points) 10Hz to 22kHz
Frequency Response: (-3dB points at 1 watt) 7Hz to 30kHz
Input Sensitivity: 1.25V RMS for rated output.
Input Impedance: 100K ohms Balanced, 48K ohms Single Ended
Output Polarity: Non-inverting. Balanced input pin 2+ (IEC-268)
Output Taps: 8 ohms, 4 ohms
Power Requirements: 105-130VAC 60Hz (210-250VAC 50Hz) 252 watts at rated output.
Tubes Required: 2 matched pair 6550WE; 3-6922 (1 input, 2 driver).
Width 16.5” (42 cm)
Height 7.25” (18 cm)
Depth 13.5” (34 cm)
Weight: 40 lbs (18.1 kg); 51 lbs (23.1kg) shipping weight.
Availability: Late September / early October 2021