You may want to add the B&K 7250 or 7270 to your list.
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I use the Earthquake Cinenova Grande 5 Ch. amp. It has 300 watts per channel into 8 ohms and doubles to 600 at 4 ohms. The stats are great at .001% thd and 110 s/n ratio. These stats are comparable to the very high end stereo amps. It has five totally discrete mono block modules just like the Theta Dreadnaught. This is a good amp for very little money, especially on the used market.
I have been researching 5 channel amps to death myself...from what I have read, price & performance factors are steering me towards the ead powermaster 1000 myself. It seems to be getting great reviews all over...but then again...who knows. I just think that for $2000 it is a steal and that the other 5 channel amps that it is being compared to are krell and other ultra pricey amps. Another one that also gets favorable reviews is the simaudio line. Anyhow, happy shopping...also, I have noticed that when people put up a post with 4 or so choices that they have narrowed it down to...more often than not, people will add to your confusion by suggesting even more options...not to say that they arent recommending fine components themselves, but I am now realizing myself what an utterly exhausting thing it can be researching home audio equipment.
still...I would go with the EAD
I like my EAD PM1000. It is not as "quick" as my Citation 7.1 THX but has a warmer sound with more bass. I understand they have stopped making it in favor of the 8 channel version but you can usually find a used or demo unit on this site. See if you can demo them in your system, it's the only way to tell for sure. Good luck!
Better add the Belles 350A Hot Rod(up to 6 channels) by Power Modules, Inc. to your list. Their 150A Hot Rod amps have recived unanamously spectacular reviews and the 350A trumps it easily.
To quote Doug Blackburn's 10/01 Soundstage Review:
"The Belles 350A is the amp for audiophiles who want super-amp sound on an under-$4000 budget. It is a no-nonsense, yet well-finished amp whose sound is that of the recording unaltered. The 350A is for connoisseurs of accuracy and faithfulness to the original performance as it was captured to LP, CD or one of the newer high-resolution formats. There are no added colorations, no weaknesses that hide behind hyped detail or sweetened sound, something surprisingly few amps at any price can deliver. The 350A has a killer bottom end, and its incredible rejection of back-EMF from the loudspeaker ensures sound quality that is as true to the source as may be possible with current technology.
It doesnt happen often, but every now and then a reviewer is lucky enough to encounter a product that is so perfect that it is difficult to imagine anything being better in any substantial way. But what is unusual about the 350A is that it achieves this at the lowest price point Ive yet encountered. The Belles 350A is an instant classic, and if there is any justice, it will sell like hotcakes. It's definitely this reviewer's choice."
I have my 2 channel Stereo and Home theater seperated and I'm using a pair of the 3 channel amp Parasound HCA-2003A and it just makes my Monitor Audio Silver Series Speakers Sing.Like you I'm also using the B&K ref 30 for processing.
If I'm to buy a multi channel amp now I would go with the 7 channels amps as most of the new sound formats in home theater needs 7.1 channels. Sorry to add to your confusion.
I had three Citation 7.1's in my HT before the EAD Powermaster 2000. With out a doubt the EAD is quicker, more detailed more exciting and much closer to Class A two channel than the Citations. I was ready to toss the theater prior to getting the EAD. It certainly doesn't have the slam of the Levinson 335 in my 2 channel, but it's overall tonality, clarity and detail is exciting, but not fatiguing.
Hello, I agree with Sdcampbell and Rsuminsby. If your your budget allows you to the 9B is an excellent amp. I owned one for 1 year. I upgraded to the Proceed Amp 5. I believe the Amp 5 is probably the best no holds barred 5 channel amplifier for both movies and music. It drives my nautilus 802's effortlessly. Paul
If music is important I'd find a stereo amp that works best with the ProAc 1.5s and then buy a decent 3-channel amp for the center/surrounds. This way you get the best possible amplification where it's needed most(has its own power supply, not affected by 3 other amps, synergy with 1.5s) and you have the flexibility to upgrade the stereo and/or 3-channel amp as needed in the future. Downsides are possibly higher cost and 2 boxes instead of one, but you don't get something for nothing. Best of luck.
I agree with Tim (the other Tim ... well, this one too unless I'm schizo). I'd guess you are setting all your speakers to small (running less than full range), in which case many of these amps are overkill wrt power. You could downsize and put more quality (this is not to say any of these rec's are not good to great quality)in the front pair for the same $.