845 SET? deHavilland / Art Audio/et..al.

Any impressions on the deHavilland Aries and Art Audio Carissa? How do they compare? Comparable 845 based amps that should be considered? How do they compare with those mentioned? And finally, and thoughts on the difference in sound between the dH Aries monoblocks and the stereo IOS? My speakers are Merlin VSM-MXes, should that enter into the equation. Thanks.
Hi, i've heard both 845 amps and think the Carissa sounds better. The Carissas or signature version amps are on Agon for really good prices. I have not heard them, but the Consonance 845 monos for $4k seem interetsting, the Mastersound compact 845 or monos(depending on budget) also look interesting. If $$ is an issue, the chinese make good 845 amps. I have an Audioromy 845 integrate that is excellent, especially for under $1K! Just some thoughts.
Enjoy, Alan
Alan, are the Carissa the best 845s you've heard?
Here's the best this reviewer has heard:


Well, the article does make me feel that if I try SET, the 845 tube is probably my best choice with my speakers, and that deHavilland is a contender. Thanks for the link.
Hi Pubul57, yes the Carissa Signature is the best 845 i've heard, but i haven't heard too many different 845s. I've heard the Bel Canto i40,and it was very good, but it's been a long time since hearing it, same with the deHavillands. If you are buying new, you should be able to demo one in your system, that would be best.
Regards, Alan
I would recommend Unison Research, their 845 monoblocks were excellent, when I heard them. I believe one of their large integrated amps are 845's. The Viva line is really special too, I have been using the Solista, a SET 845 integrated with 22 Watts, for some years. Truly excellent build quality, dynamics, neutrality. There larger monoblocks, the Auroras are 845 too i believe
So some of the contenders are: Art Audio, deHavilland, Unison Research and Viva. Well, I'm going to do a bit more research. Thanks for the input.
Pubul57,I am a very happy owner of the deHavilland Aries 845G
Its the best amp i have owned in my quest for nirvana.With the Aries G you also get Kara as an extra bonus.
The Viva Solista is very,very close IMHO.but this would take your Joule-Electra 150 mk11 out of your system.
Are you unhappy with your CAT amps or just want that SET sound
Best of luck with any decision you make
Just for the record, I understand that Mastersound is also a contender worth considering.
What kind of speakers are you using. I've been wondering if the Aries would be a good match with my JM Lab Mini Utopias (91.5db). I don't want to just scrape by with the power; I like it to sound easy. Also, I'm currently using a cj premier 11a and I definitely don't want anything warmer or lusher.

Phaelon,my speakers are 4ohm,87db.The Aries 845G drives them with ease in my 12x21 room.It has all the SET purity and yet I have never thought this amp to be warm or lush.
I have tried a 250 watt solid state and a 200 watt digital amp
with these speakers, and they couldn't drive them the way the Aries G does.The only downside if any is the 845 tube is more costly then the EL34 or KT88 tube.
I hope this helps.If you would care for more info email me any time.

New Audio Frontiers also has a good reputation
I'm keeping the CAT, just interested in adding to the mix. Want to see what SET is all about, though I suppose 2A3 or 300B would be truer to the genre, but with my Merlins it is not an option. And of course OTL is on the horizon.

Goldenerguy, do you mean that with the Joule the Viva the combo would be to warm? too lush?
Pubul57.No,what i meant was that the Solista being an integrated amp has its own preamp.You could use the Solista
as an amp only and use the joule-electra for the pre, but that would mean you are paying for something you wont be using.
Sorry for the confusion
Thanks for the clarification.
Well, I have sold the CAT JL2, and am now really focusing on the Art Audio Carissa and deHavilland 845-G for use with my Merlin VSMs. Would appreciate any additional thoughts as try to settle on one or the other. Am also considering an Atma-sphere M60 as a possible option.
Hi Pubul57,
Well, I'm probably the last person who should try to get technical but here goes: From all that I've read, I've come to think of output transformers sort of like window glass. We want windows so we can enjoy a view. The cleaner and higher quality the glass, the more lifelike the view. That said, the glass in the window also serves the purpose of sheltering us from the elements. If we had no need of this second purpose, the best view would be enjoyed by having no glass at all. Likewise, if your speakers have a sufficiently benign impedance, OTLs seem to make sense to me IMHO.
845 amps
Top Tier:
J.C. Verdier

New Audio Frontiers
Art Audio

Dehaviland (tried their GM70- great on vocals; jazz; fell apart on rock' more complicated stuff). Perhaps Aries superior in this regard?

The Rest:
ASL; all others