Get a big ass one as these speakers like power.
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I have Salons in my main system.
Larry Greenhill of Stereophile reviewed the Salons with 7B-ST's and was very impressed. That combo will certainly give you the oompf the Salons are capable of. At their price point, I would say that you would be hard-pressed to do better than the Brystons. I owned a 4B-ST for five years and believe it to be a fine amp with many strengths, particularly when used with top-tier interconnects and speaker cables.
The Brystons are obviously not in the very top tier of amps, however, as you certainly tend to get what you pay for in hi-fi. It sounds like they may be a stretch for your budget, but the Classe Omega and Omega Omicron stereo amps are said to work very well with Salons, as do the Pass X-600 and X-1000 monoblocks (I have no personal experience with these set ups, however). Those amps can be had used for $5,000-$10,000, depending upon the amp. As for tube amps, you would need an amp with outstanding power supplies and output transformers to get the requisite current to the Salons -- the best I am aware of in this regard are the CAT amps, either the stereo version or monoblocks, which have a relatively modest watt-per-channel rating of 100 w.p.c. continuous, but the figure is meaningless because of their outrageous power supplies and incredible output transformers (the amp weighs nearly 200 lbs. due to the huge power supplies and output transformers). I use VAC Renaissance Mark III 140/140 tube monos with my Salons, which, like the CAT amp, have serious power supplies and output transformers (I actually run them zero feedback with great success). Both the CAT and VAC amps are very pricey, however (there is a CAT stereo amp for sale with a $8,500 asking price on A-Gon right now).
The Salons were designed using Levinson amps, but I thought the Salons sounded lifeless the two times I heard them with Levinson amps.
My Salon dealer said that a really good 200 watt per channel (8 Ohms) solid-state amp is fine on the Salons in most rooms, unless you want ridiculous sound levels. My Rowland Model 6 monos, which happen to be +/- 180 watt per channel (8 Ohms) amps, sounded really good on the Salons (remarkably similar to my VAC's), but I ultimately put them in my second system because they worked better there than the VAC's. The Model 6's go for $4,000-$5,000 used these days (more with the batteries, and they do sound best with the batteries).
Although much of the equation obviously depends upon your listening room and other components, if it were me, I would figure out a way to pair at least the CAT stereo amp, and preferably, the CAT monoblocks, with the Salons (best overall sound).
To answer your basic question, however, I would say that the Brystons are indeed a safe way to go.
The only time I have heard the Salon's was at a dealership. They were teamed with Levinson gear. The Salon's had the most 'liquid' midrange I had ever heard. They sounded amazing. So good that I almost bought them. I would have bought them, but when I called back they had just been sold, and they didn't want to get another pair since these had sat on the floor for a while. I thought they were great speakers!
I don't know much about Levinson electronics but they sounded great at Flanner Audio when I heard them.
Thanks for you help. You are very very helpful. I gone back and did some research and the Pass Labs amp keep coming up as a good match. I would love to get a good tube amp, but I heard that the tubes can get pricey.
I was at a Revel dealer and they had a pair of 436 hooked up to the Salons. I must say I wasn't too impress by it. They sounded good, but they weren't great. Maybe it was the room or their setup. I know ML make some really great stuff, so I wasn't sure what was wrong. Maybe they just weren't for me.
Anyways I will look into the VAC and CAT as per your suggestion. The only problem is I don't think I have any local dealers that carry those brands. Thanks for the help. Anyone else have other suggestions?
I own Salons and have auditioned them with Krell 350 monoblocks (whatever the newest version is!) and they just sounded ok. I liked a friend's KSA-250 much better than the newer Krell stuff on the Salons. I audtioned the Classe CAM-350s for a couple of weeks and wasn't too impressed.
I have also owned a Levinson 336 stereo amp and that sounded very nice, but polite. I new the system needed more.
That is when I bought my first pair of ML 436 monoblocks. With these amps the Salons really started to shine. Which they should since the 436 and Salons were made to match. With the 436s the bass was much fuller making the room quiver, imaging was pinpoint, and the midrange was far from sterile and lifeless as some have described.
Do to unfortunate circumstances (which became fortunate!) I had at my disposal another pair of 436 amps. So naturally I had to hear the Salons biamped.
Holy Revel-ation! The Salons love power, they crave power. The more the better and two pair of 436s vertically biamped fits the bill.
The sound of my system now is amazing. From pppppppp to fortisimo one can hear every nuance. There is information recorded on CDs that one never hears with the Salons until they are biamped. Just put on Johnny Cash's CASH CD and listen to Hurt or Danny Boy. It makes the flesh quiver with the realism. Mr. Cash is in the room. In fact the recording studio is in the room because its "acoustic signature" is there. Put on the "Kill Bill" soundtrack and listen to Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang or the answering percussion sets on " Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" ,a sonic delight! Then try Holly Cole's Train Song from "It Happened One Night" you are right there in the audience. If you happen to have bought "The Mysteries of Egypt" soundtrack from National Geographics Imax film you're really in for a treat. This CD is killer and through the Salon 4X436 system you feel every movement and the sound is so pure, dynamic and undistorted. The room shakes! I have listened to some CDs hundreds of times and thought I'd heard it all but was wrong. The Salon 4X436 system energizes the room and transports you to each recording venue. I never realized that with only two amps driving the Salons how much distortion is caused by even one monoblock trying to amplify the entire musical spectrum.
So if you can, I would listen again to the 436's, see if you can hear them in your system. Purchase a pair from your dealer to reward him, than buy another pair on Audiogon someday when the cash and opportunity arrive.
You might also want to look at my current system. I've worked with my Salons for about 3 years now and each time I think I can get nothing more from my system, I find something new to try and the Salons will tell you "You did good or bad in no uncertain terms.". It has been a labor of love and hate at times, but if you have the patience the musical rewards are rich.
In conclusion, you know where my heart lies. If you didn't do the 436s, I would consider Pass or Bryston. I have also heard and like the sound of the Bryston equipment, but never have heard the Pass.
Hope this helps,
P.S. Now if I could only get my hands on 4 pair of #33s, and had twice the room, and owned Union Electric, and had a very strong back and had the $$$!!! That would have to be the penultimate Salon experience.
Thanks for all the help guys. I would like to take a listen to the 436 again, but they are way out of my budget right now.
After reading your comment, something dawn on me. I think it may not be the 436 that sounded ok, but is the recording. One thing I notice about the Salons is that like you said they will tell you everything, good or bad. What I notice on my current system now is that sometime it will sounds great and other time sounds bad. So thank you for helping me realize this. Btw are you using all ML gear? What preamp are you using?
Do yourself a favour and arrange for a home auditioning period of the Brystons and of another more expensive amp. Then let your ears decide. If folks stopped thinking of audio equipment less as trophies and more as machines that have a job to perform more time would be created to actually listen to music. Anarchy you are as precious as ever.
Yes the Salons are deadly accurate. If the recording is musical the Salons are musical, if the recording is cold and sterile so too are the Salons. They are true chameleons is this respect, and for that matter this is or was the philosophy at Mark Levinson as I think (hope) would be the philosophy at many high end companies and I wouldn't have it any other way. After a while as pleasing as some equipment's colorations are, to me it gets fatiguing.
As for my equipment, click on System below my response and you can view it and the lengths I've gone to for my Salons.
And yes I do use all Levinson including the #32 preamp.