Test Session – Pairing Speakers with the Audio Research I/50 Amplifier

The key to a great system is often the synergy between components. Matching the amplifier with the right pair of speakers can make a huge difference to your enjoyment.

We recently received the new Audio Research I/50 valve integrated amplifier. The company told us in their press release that “The I/50 gives 50 watts per channel with a substantial power supply and high current design, it is able to give a dynamic sound even on difficult speakers.” We believe, as specialists, it’s our job to put this to the test. We tried the I/50 our with a number or appropriate speakers in our demo room. Here we run down our favourite matches.

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 2

This has always been one of the most popular speakers in the shop. At £8,950 per pair, this is a suitable speaker for the I/50 in terms of price.

We felt these two were really well matched. The I/50 easily powered the speakers giving good depth and was able to get the best of their signature warmth, giving texture and great dynamics.

The most impressive part of this duo was the width of the soundstage and the separation of the instruments.

Harbeth C7ES-3 XD

We found this to be the best match out of the Harbeth range. It gives a very clean sound with a nice natural mid-range. Strings and vocals felt very real. The valves work well to add a bit more depth to the presentation. Bass is good and there was a nice snap in the highs.

We used the Harbeths on Ton Trager stands which we believe really helps opens things up. This was evident again in this test.

Franco Serblin Accordo Essence

Imaging on this combination is excellent. The speakers provide a nice warmth to them. It is a laid back sound but very clear and detailed. Overall a very musical partnership.

We found the floor standing Essence model to be a better match than the smaller Accordo stand mounts.

Wilson Audio Tunetot

Gives as much of the ‘Wilson sound’ as a speaker of this size can. Tight bass, very natural sound with excellent richness. Very enjoyable, you want to keep listening all night.

We believe this combination gives a great starting point, and the speakers are so good that it gives room to upgrade to a bigger amplifier later without changing speakers.

Piega Premium 701

The Premium 701 speakers gave a very clean sound. It is sweet, works excellent with genres like folk or vocal jazz. The ribbon tweeters produce a ‘live’ sound and the warmth of the I-50s valves give the Piega added depth. This was a great combination for the price point.

Overall we would definitely confirm that Audio Research are correct in their statement that the I/50 can drive difficult speakers. We were very impressed with how well it did, easily powering large speakers. It is clear that this is a very capable amplifier for its money and we believe if paired with any of the speakers above, you will have an extremely enjoyable system.

We have the I/50 and all these speakers on permanent demonstration on our Central London showroom, please get in touch to arrange an audition.

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