Modwright KWA100 SE. Not overly colored, a hint of warmth and purity/sweetness. So many choices out there these days it’s difficult to keep up. Just a suggestion is all
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Coda has been around for over 35 years making excellent
U.S made Audio ,known way back as Threshold -Stasis with Nelson Pass ,all his engineering team with 3 choices of wpc, even amount of pure class A ,great 10 year warranty ,very fairly priced and very musical and well balanced. Less monies then Pass Labs
and every bit as good.
The Pass Labs X150.8 has beautiful mids. I sold an Audio Research VT80SE as it was almost a wash, with SS not needing new tubes every two years. I have pretty flat impedance speakers. I wouldnt match either with anything with wild swings. Theyre not their best in those situations.
i had the Modwright KWA 100SE it was pretty good with the mids and had an amazing bass character. I wouldnt say its as sweet as the Pass but it did orher things which endeared it to me. It was also half the weight of the Pass amp.
Thanks for your wonderful suggestions guys, keep 'em coming!
To maybe help me narrow my search, I'd like to add that a tube preamp is a must in my personal system, and since the majority of tube preamps are single-ended and output-capacitor coupled, I'd like to specify that ideally, the power amp should have high input impedance and have RCA inputs!
For reference, my current system consists of:
Rockna Wavelight R2R DAC
Vacuum Tube Audio SP14 6SN7 linestage
PASS labs X250.5 power Amp
ATC SCM19 v2 speakers
+1 for darTZeel.
very low noise, no global feedback, minimal parts count in the signal path, swiss built like a tank.
darts don’t sound solid state, and don’t sound like tubes, they sound like music.
3 years ago i brought 2 really spendy tube amps into my system, the Lamm ML3 mono’s and the VAC Statement 450 mono’s and compared them for 4 months, to my darTZeel mono blocks. preferred the timbre and textures, realism and transparency of the dart and those went away.
your OP does not specify price range only mentions $5k related to the Quad amp. you can find used darTZeel 108 stereo amps in the $8k-$14k range. the newer 108 Mk2 version lists for around $40k. the Mk1 versions with the SNCP upgrade are better dynamically....most have been done. and that early version of the 108 has the super pure and harmonically complete mid range, and amazing soaring sweet highs no other solid state can quite touch. and if you value a grainless and liquid musical viewpoint, no solid state is in the league of the darts.
Well, I'm sitting here listening to my vintage Quad.......405-2. Having owned the Quad 909 before, I much prefer the 405-2. It has the midrange, but it also has dynamic power and smooth upper frequencies, far from rolled off. The bass is nowhere near as deep as my class D amp but it has an unforced, realistic quality. It's a finer quality. As for the soundstage, there is a cohesion of presentation that doesn't have the piano left and right hands separate, nor is the voice forward of the band, but it can still create those startling stereo experiences of sound coming from outside the room.
Quad 909 back in the day had a reputation for the best mids running up to $5000. I've used it in the past and I would definitely say that the mids were the highlight on that amp. It wasn't overly coloured, a hint of warmth, but it had a purity and sweetness to its mids. Unfortunately, mostly everything else was okay at best, kind of rolled off at both ends and congested stage-wise.
Does anyone have experience using Ayre single-ended? I realize that best results are achieved using a fully balanced set-up when it comes to Ayre gear, but my tube preamp is single ended, and it’s going nowhere. I think my Rockna DAC is internally single-ended as well.
@sumaato thanks for the tip on the quad 405-2, I will buy one to keep as a back-up amp, and possibly even my main amp if it's much better than my old Quad 909!
@avanti1960 Nope! While this post is to help me decide which direction I want to move for my next amp, it's always great to learn more about the all-time great amps of yesterday. Buying used is also always an option.
@mikelavigne I deliberately didn't include a price range, because I just want to learn more, not necessarily decide which amp next right away,
The lingo with which one uses to describe a piece of their system amuses me. Certainly in different systems with different room treatments will always generate a different sound, you either like it or you don’t. Kind of like a waste of time…Warm, soft, in, out, up, down, light, dark ? I use vintage Yamaha pc5002m / pc4002m together, to date I’ve had nothing better.
@hedonism, the obvious answer to your question is, it depends, to some extent, on core component matching and, ultimately, on the business end of any sound system... the speakers. If 100 watts (or thereabouts) and $5.000 (give or take a little) are the strict parameters, you might want listen to what Simaudio Moon has to offer or seriously discounted or used McIntosh gear. I'm sure the other recommendations are good, too, but I try to refrain from recommending stuff I haven't heard myself and liked.
You might like the Circle Labs A200. Here's a recent review in Positive Feedback: https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/circle-labs-a200-integrated-amplifier-thank-y...
If you prefer separates, the M200 is the equivalent power amplifier.
Heads up that I import Circle Labs products into North America.