Aerius i: Will CJ CAV50 or MV55 drive them ok??

I was wondering if either of these Conrad Johnson's
would drive the Martin Logan Aerius i?? I never listen
at loud levels but I do like a medium level just loud
enough to make things lively. Both amps are 45w/ch.

I like the idea of the CAV50 being an integrated as
I wouldn't need a preamp, but notice that the MV55
also operates at 22W in triode mode. Is this important
to an Aerius i owner? Could the Aerius i run on this
22W triode mode?? Now a stupid question from a current
solid stater, what happens if I clip a tube amp? Would
I blow tubes, blow up the aerius, or cause my house to
explode?? Not that I'm worried, State Farm is pretty
good about paying its claims. :)

I also am researching a used VAC PA80/80 at 80Watts.

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I have not tried these amps on the ML's, but I do own a MV-55. The amp is not switchable between triode and ultra-linear operation, it must be hardwired one way or the other by the factory (or a c-j approved tech). c-j reports that a high number of buyers who opt for the half-power triode option are not happy with it in the long run and have their amps converted back to full-power ultralinear, but I have not personally heard the triode version. I can report that the regular version sounds exceptionally good as is, and I do not wonder about triode. I can also report that I have auditioned triode-switchable Air Tight tube monoblocks on SoundLab DynaStat hybrid-electrostats, and the regular-wired output switch position was clearly preferrable with this combo (the system's owner concurred). Knowing what I do about the MV-55 (and the CAV-50 being essentially the same amp), I would not doubt its ability to drive the small ML's adequately to moderate lisenting levels in a comensurately-sized room, and to sound very good doing so, but as always, do arrange an audition in your own room before you buy, if possible.
Forgot to answer the second part of your question. Clipping a tube amp will not damage anything (this is the normal operating mode of tube guitar amplifiers, known as "distortion" or "overdrive", the resulting sound being considered desirable), but you wouldn't want to listen to a stereo system running at the clipping point, just back it off some if it starts to distort (a small panel speaker like the Aerius might actually exhibit disortion of its own at higher levels before the amp itself begins to clip). It's worth noting that a solid-state amp is much more likely to generate high-order distortion waveforms at clipping that could easily blow a tweeter compared to the more benign tube example (not so much a concern with a 'stat, but too-high absolute levels with any amp could cause excessive excursion that can tear the membrane).
Either will drive them fine, in UL or Triode. I drive a set off a 2x25watt Gaincard. also from some CJ Prem. 5s in both UL and now in Triode mode. Plenty of power.

I have a MV-55 and I completely agree with Zaikesman. Many of those who switched to triode prefered ultra and switched back. As far as service, Conrad-Johnson is 1st class when it comes to customer service and turn around time. To get the most out of the amp I recommend tube rolling with some NOS tubes. I recently had a post which you can do a search on. Once done, your tubes will be better than the ones supplied by VAC IMO. Good luck, Steve
Quite a few people have told me that NEITHER the
MV55 nor CAV50 (both at 45W) will have enough
power. Since I am going to buy used, I can't
demo first to make sure. Many have suggested that
the CJ 11a would be the minimum I could get away
with. I was also told the 11a didn't sound as
"involving" as the MV55.

I also got some suggestions to look at the Cary SLI-80.

So now my list has grown to 5 possibilities:

CJ MV50 45W
CJ CAv50 45W
CJ 11a 70W
Cary SLI80 80W
VAC PA80/80 80W

How to choose?? Again I will be buying used (blind).

I'm sure you will get responses to refute what I'm about to say. I have a 12 x 12 x 10 foot room. I'm driving Aerius i's with a Cary 300 sei. 15 watt/channel 300b output tubes. In a small room like this, the amp does a supurb job of driving the Aerius i at what I consider loud levels in the 85 - 90 db range (I have no desire to listen above 100 db in a small room). I've read an earlier thread re: amp recommendation for Aerius, and post after post insisted a large solid state amp was necessary. I don't think any of these people had actually tried the tube combination, (they were purely giving responses based on experiences with solid state)Previously, I used a high quality s.s. Audio Research D-130 with the Aerius. The Cary actual sounds better with my speakers. The base is stronger and more refined than ever before. Mids are lifelike, highs are natural. The impedence curve of the Aerius is actually fairly easy, especially in the base region which requires the most current from the amp. The impedence drops very low (slightly under 2 ohm) in the high frequencies, but is still at 4 ohm at 7 khz.
I have not tried the Aerius with the CJ, but if your room is not too big, I'd go for it. BTW. The president of ML uses Aerius in his home, driven by a pair of VTL tiny triodes at 25 watt per channel. If you search for the review of the VTL 25 mono's, you can read about it.
Anyway, good luck and I hope you try it. I almost didn't try my combination after reading the experts, but I'm glad I did. I'm now a firm believer in quality of power over quantity.
As for clipping, many tube amps will clip more gracefully than solid state. I do not have personal experience with the CJ regarding clipping.
I do not think that the MV55 or CAV50 is capable of driving the Aerius well. Electrostatics need high current and power amps as the impedance dips pretty low. U have to look at the impedance curve.

Driving the speakers is one thing, having enough headroom for different types of music is another. Classic music demands much more than simple chamber music. In very worst cases of clipping, you'd blow you output tube or even the transformer.

Give the amps a easy load and they will sound comfortable over wide genres of music. No point giving them a difficult load.