I think that a Rowland or some of the Classe amps might work well for someone who is inclined toward tubes but want SS as well... I'm sure you'll get a bunch of other suggestions too but I would at least check out the Rowland amps.
Hope that helps,
I'm doing the same price range and my short list is the Belles Ref.150 (2 in mono) or the BEL mk5 (current version) thats Brown Electronics Labs. Have heard good things about the Gamut amps. it's insane to buy without hearing the actuall amp in your system-there is no way to know which matches the best until you can hear them.
Spectron Musician III
Parasound JC-1 Halo Monoblocks
Mccormack DNA 2
In your case, I would definitely go for active bi-amping and keep the Graaf for the mid-hi. In that case, you'll need an SS that typically has a hefty PS and is stable into low loads -- but you certainly don't need a new, giga$ powerhouse, that's over-engineered to provide an extension from DC to daylight AND the best mids, highs etc:). Especially if you're crossing over at or below 200Hz.
So any 100+W/channel, (used) Krell, (used Lev), Bryston, Nad, Adcom, etc should do. Don't vmps offer an amp of their own, too???
I went from tubes to Rowland gear and have not gone back. Jallen
You may add Sunfire 600-II.
For the low end>>> An Eagle 4 or 7. As 'Hammer" used to say "You can't touch that". I have a 4 and I'll bet it can out-bass the list for 1k.
Aragon Palladium 1K monos - work great with my VMPS RM40's.
McIntosh MC352 or 402. See the 402-review in TAS April/May.
i would audition amps from classe, mcintosh, musical fidelity, and odyssey.
The BAT VK-1000, VK-600 or VK-500 for about 2200. I have seen the VK-600 for 4200 but only 2 and they sold quickly. My VK-1000 made a clear difference over my proceed AMP 5.
If your $4000 budget refers to your actual budget, and not to the MSRP of the amp, then you could consider either the Ayre (already mentioned) or a pair of Bryston 7B-ST monoblocks. These two amps have somewhat different "sounds", but both offer excellent performance and are fine values.
Thanks...I'll qualify the above by saying I prefer the warm
"tube" sound over the cooler analytical sound but want some bass slam that the Graaf doesn't deliver & therefore my most recent shortlist, based on research & talking to dealers include:
1) Spectron Musician III
2) Parasound JC-1
3) Jeff Rowland M201
4) Pass Labs X250
5) 2 Belles 150A Ref or 2 McCormack DNA 2
I run unbalanced Acoustic Zen RCA's also...don't want to invest in balanced cables unless someone can convince me it's the way to go...
The McIntosh suggestion intrigues me beacause of the autoformer technology. I am considering getting the Paul
Speltz Zero Autoformer to help the Graaf deal w/ the VMPS
4 ohm impedance. The Aragon suggestion is also intiguing because of the deals one can get...plus their design.
Ultimately...I've been led to believe I need a high current,
high power amp for the VMPS.
I would not classify the Parasound JC1 as warm and "tubelike." And I have listened to it extensively in a friend's system. It is not cool and analytical either. It is about as neutral as you can get.
the McIntosh MC402 has exactly this tube-near sound, while it is capable of delivering more than 100 amperes peak current.
Given your requirement for tube-like warmth, I'd say the Rowland is probably the front-runner from your list. Timo's characterization of the JC-1 fits my experience as a dealer for that amp, so much as I like it, I don't think it would best meet your stated needs.
Other "warm sounding" high performance solid-state amps include Accuphase, Warner Imaging, and GamuT (I've owned all three, and sell the latter).
Best of luck with your amplifier quest!
Since when is the Rowland M201 'warm sounding'? Maybe his older amps were but not this one - it's neutral.
if you want tube-like, get tubes. no ss is truly tube-like in my opinion. and yes, i've owned rowland
Please consider a GamuT D-100 or D-200 Mk. 3. These are wonderful SS amps. See TAS.
Possibly an upgraded Counterpoint from Mike Elliot@altavistaaudio,good luck,Bob
I went from Mcormack dna dlx to tubes and finily went to gamut d200 mk3 = the best I ever heard.
The Ayre V5x sounds as much like tubes without tube colorations as you will get. Extremely smooth and holographic. The Belles 350a or 150a reference amps are a logical choice also. I hate to say this but the JC1 is behind these amps sonic league. Yes, I owned a pair and they are powewrful indeed but no soundstage depth and too hifi sounding for my tastes.
Every system is different and only YOU can decide what meets your needs. A thread like this is like telling my wife what perfume to buy.
Yes, I owned a pair and they are powewrful indeed but no soundstage depth and too hifi sounding for my tastes.
I've always had tons of depth with the JC-1s as have my customers (I'm an authorized Parasound Halo dealer), but they do sound thin while they are not broken in. They reveal the character of other components in the system. It's all about system matching, and JC-1s may not be Sjhall's best option for other reasons.
Second the Sunfire 600 two, I have heard your speakers through a bi-wired Sunfire 300 two, and that is where its at. If your intrested I have a 300 two I will sell. Save lots. But if I were you go with the 600 two, with the impedence of the s/t/r you will have klipsch like Spl, and you can use the current source to your ribbons.
Brian, I'm glad you have had success with the amps you sell. However, I feel after over 35 years of stereo, I'm entitled to my opinion about the Jc-1's and that is exactly what I have given. I just don't think that, with breakin or not, they will catch up with the Ayre V5x's standard of soundstage depth. It really wasn't that close.
I broke them in 24/7 for 2 months and the Ayre had better depth out of the box new!
I do think the JC-1's are well built, etc. and a bargain at their price, just not the last word in depth as I'm sure the Ayre isn't either.
Because this thread is still running, I thought I would jump in with my two-cents worth.
If you want tube-like performance from solid state, try these:
1. Theta Dreadnaught II
2. McIntosh MC402/MC352
3. Ayre V5x
4. Sunfire Signature with tubed preamp
5. Jeff Rowland Design's earlier models
5. Conrad-Johnson 2500A
6. Mark Levinson 400 Series
Jeff Rowland 201's.
They are so good that I was ok with replacing my Kora Cosmos Reference Monos that out out 100 watts Class A Triode from each amp.
The Rowlands are quite as good in the midrange as a very good tube amp, but it smokes 'em in the extremes.
Find a way to audition a pair...I doubt they will go back.
I will third the Sunfire 600 -- Two. Heard that amp recently once more against the McIntosh MC402 and found the Sunfire the much more accurate, transparent, detailed, and open of the two while still sounding very musical.