Is it best to stick with one manufacturer for the pre amp and power amp (eg. Simaudio P-8 pre amp and W-8 amp) or can I get better results by mixing a tube pre amp with a solid state amp (eg. Audio Research Reference 3 pre amp and Simaudio W-8 amp)?
thanks for you comments!
Theres a heck of a good deal on a Supratek Chardonnay in the classified.Im a bit biased as I love mine!
I'm very Happy with PASS x250 amp and Pre for my Revels....
I use a Levinson #431 with my Salons with good results , but the Simaudio / Revel mix seems to be a match made in heaven , the W8 or W7 would be my choice .
What is your budget?
ARC also works well with the Ultima 2 line. I'm driving the Salon 2s with the ARC LS27 and DS450. Extremely happy with this combo.
Thanks for the input! A Simaudio P-8/W-8 is stretching my budget so ideally Id like to spend less.
i do think Sim and the Studio 2s are a good match. a local dealer is selling an ARC Reference 3 and associated ARC 220 amp on consignment which I may also try out.
Auditioning the Mac 452 and Levinson 532h today. Will post my thoughts.
What don't you like about the i7 driving the revels?
Nothing, actually. That's a good point! But when I heard the more powerful W-8 drive the revels there was a greater sense of control and space. So I guess I'm going from very good to excellent performance.
Tried out a bunch of diffent combinations of Mac, Usher and Levinson amplification yesterday. Aside from the fact that I learned that Mac is not the sound I'm looking for, there were a couple of surprises:
1) The combination of the Levinson 326S pre amp and the Levinson 532h power amp does not work well. Very dull and kind of washed out in terms of sound. Strange - you'd think that all gear within a brand would work well together - not the case here. On other occasions I've heard the 326S pre amp with the 532 dual mono amp and the 53 monoblocks, and both were extremely good combinations...
2) The Levinson 326S pre amp and the Usher R-6.0 power amp (only $3,600 for 150 wpc amp) sounded fantastic! Huge open soundstage and slightly warmish, engaging sound. The only thing that was missing from the sound coming out of the Revel Ultima Studio 2s was the lowest of low frequencies. The Usher R-6.0 is a real sleeper, high value product that's worth checking out!
On my first point above, I just heard from my dealer who said his 532h had a bad output stage, which solves the mystery of the poor performance I heard with the Mark Levinson 326S and 532h. Apparently it's not a synergy issue between these 2 ML products after all!
It may still be a synergy thing with Levinson . I've owned half dozen Levinson components over the last ten years or so , still own two ( see system link ) , I have always felt there pre/power amp combo's were not a good match , a little dull or lifeless for me anyway . So far I have kept my #431 power amp but sold the #320S preamp . First I went with an ARC Ref 3 preamp for three years then traded up to the Ayre MX-R , both were considerably more synergetic than the Levinson pre . The #532h is a great sounding amp , I will likely upgrade to it or the full #532 , but I would not recommend using them with one of Levinsons preamps .
interesting insignt! Thanks!
how did the ARC Ref. 3 compare to the Levinson Pre amp?
What Mac gear did you try and what didn't you like about it? Was it in the same room/system as the Levinson/Usher gear your heard?
Never got to hear the ARC Ref. 3 pre-amp, unfortunately. It was for sale used on consignment...I would be interested to hear it some day though. There seems to be a solid chunk of audiphiles who believe strongly in pairing tube pre-amps with solid state amps!
I listened to the Mac C50 pre-amp and the MC452 amp (all solid state Mac gear). I did hear the Levinson/Usher gear in the same room and on the same speakers (Revel Ultima Studio 2s) as the Mac gear (same CD player - a Levinson - and cables too). I found that the Mac gear had a different sound that I'm used to from my current Simaudio gear. The Levinson/Usher combo was closer to the Simaudio sound.
I perceived greater "soundstage depth" and "space" with the Simaudio, and particularly the Levinson (the pre-amp threw a huge, deep soundstage wheras Simaudio is a tad more forward) gear whereas the Mac gear sounded more "direct" with more "body" or "presence" to the music but less depth. Tough to describe in words but you'll hear a significant difference if you do the comparison.
Funny, my Simaudio dealer sells both Mac and Simaudio and he said "If you like Simaudio, chances are you won't like Mac." - it comes down to what you prefer but the two brands are quite different in how they present the music.
another vote for Levinson. just tried my 432 with the salon 2's and it sounded wonderful. would have to guess the studio 2's would sound great to. see my previous post on this topic at
This post is 7 years old!
Studio 2 is still current!
What amps, have folks found after all these years are best with studio 2 as of now.
Up for consideration:
mc275 x 2
pass labs various
Would like to see some responses to this also...
I'm using McIntosh 601's and a c47 driving my Salon 2's. My listening room is somewhat on the small size, but fairly well treated. For me, the room treatment was the key to a really good sound stage, deep and wide. The speakers pretty much disappear. The sound is on the warm side. That said, all of the detail is present, but the warmth may take away some of the perceived detail in the upper mid range. It's just the McIntosh sound, but I have always preferred it. I will say, you can run the Salons for long periods of time and the amps stay relatively cool. I had my last McIntosh amp (mc2500) for 30 years and never had to have serviced. All of the above mentioned amps are really good. Just different sound
I don’t really find the Studio2 to be nearly as hard a drive as the Salon2 which is a few dB less efficient and has a rather brutal impedance curve. That said, the Studios do respond to good clean power, but can be driven successfully with any high quality amp that supplies decent current. I think I had heard of a pair being driven by a Pass xa30 that the owner was more than happy with the volume levels in a normally sized room. I think most any product from Pass would work well as would the aforementioned Levinson products particularly the 532h amp or 535 integrated. Not too familiar with the Simaudio offerings but have heard good things about them and their top of the line stuff is very nice but quite expensive of course.