May i ask what put you off?
Honestly, I found the reliability and internal build quality left a little to be desired for an amp of it's price and with such a good reputation. They had plenty of power (and clean power at that), but both of my XXK's failed on me in the time that I owned them:
* The 1500-XXK sent a loud 'thump' through my sub and then let out puffy white smoke because I changed the crossover switch from 'High Pass' to 'Full Pass' while the amp was running. I realise now that you probably aren't supposed to do that, but every person (highly reputable installers included) I've spoken to since then has told me they have done the same thing a million times and never seen an amp blow because of it. Doesn't give me major confidence in the durability of the amp when it dies from something even a Jaycar amp can live through.
* The 2100-XXK died seemingly out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. I gave it to my installer as a temp backup while they tried to get the 1500-XXK fixed (a mission in itself) and the next day they called me asking me when the last time I used it was, because it was dead. I had last used it about 2 weeks before that, no problems at all. I would have suspected foul play if not for the fact that they were highly reputable installers who definately knew what they were doing.
The 2100-XXK got repaired easilly enough, never had a problem with it again. The 1500-XXK on the other hand was an absolute mission...my installer apparently contacted ARC Audio and was told that the model of tripath chip was discontinued, and they basically couldn't do anything. Nicely left me with a RRP $1,599 paperweight.
Aside from the reliability issues, when I opened up the 1500-XXK later on to check what model chip it used I found the internal build quality left more then a little to be desired for a $1,500+ amp. Not only were components crooked in places, but there was white powder (looked like liquid paper) all over the place. I thought this was probably just remnants of the amp blowing, until I saw photo's on the internet of another XXK amp with the same nasty white powder all over it.
THEN i went on to find out that the $1,600 amp was really just more or less a fancy rebadge of a $800 or so Clarion amp - same output, same tripath chip, identical internals. A little more research and turns out it was quite widely known that these are clone amps, but some people claimed the ARC used better quality internal components - to me they looked exactly the same.
All of this was pretty dissaponting considering ARC had such a fantastic reputation for quality overseas and locally. On the outside the build quality was flawless and they backed it up with performance, but as I said the 'behind the scenes' parts kinda left a sour taste in my mouth. Especially considering the XXK series were ARC's flagship range prior to the release of the new SE amps.
The biggest dissapointment out of all of that was the fact that I have owned more amps the I can count on two hands over the years, and of all those amps the only ones that ever blew were one cheap/nasty Jaycar and those two ARC's. Most of my amps were bought second hand including a 5 year old Helix I got from the UK, a 10 year old Rockford I swapped for the damaged ARC (needed a 4channel desperately) and a >10 year old Denon I bought for something like $150. After the experience with the ARC's I always waited fo these amps to blow, but they never did - the Rockford and Helix are still running strong, and far as I know the Denon is too for it's new owner.
Now I am perfectly open to the fact that I may have just had really stinker luck with these two ARC's, especially since I've never heard any other people complain about them. Maybe those two amps dying were just examples of bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if this is true though, the whole 'rebadged Clarion' scenario combined with the rough internal presentation still left a sour taste in my mouth.
One thing I can tell you without hessitation is that while they WERE working they were brilliant, and I loved them to death. The 1500-XXK was an absolute powerhouse (1 x 900W @ 4ohm) and amazed me with how well it controlled my IDMAX, and the 2100-XXK sounded clean and balsy. They looked fantastic, they had quality connections (not those nasty clip in RCA's that pull out under pressure) and up until the end they were just a pleasure to own and use. Just unfortunate that it ended the way it did.
As such, you can probably understand why my view on ARC amps is a little...polarised. Try to visualise the stunningly attractive girl that (when she's around) does everything right, but she seems to dogs you 90% of the time and you just never feel like you can depend on her. She's utterly fantastic, yet utterly dissapointing at the same time. But then how can I talk - I bought an Alfa!
Edited by muzzy66, 04 April 2012 - 07:48 PM.