Vienna Acoustic speakers are very transparent and sensitive to their source equipment. I would go for the higher end amps with them. If solid state is your bag, I would look at the Pass labs Aleph series as well. I like those better than the x series.
You might look at some rowland amps - like the concentra. Those tend to 'back off' a little and would be a nice match to tame the vienna acoustics a bit. Also, check out the Adcom 5802 and 750 preamp. The preamp is world class transparent, and the amp has a nice, forgiving nature. Nelson Pass did the base designs for both pieces.
I was looking several years ago at the local high end stereo shop for something I was needing for my system and I heard a system that had the Wilson Watt speakers and a Levinson amp and several weeks later I heard the same system with the Pass amp and just had to say the Pass amp TOTALLY TRANSFORMED THAT SYSTEM INTO SOMETHING SO AWESOME I can not even in words describe how good it was ! So forget the rest PASS is the way to go ! JB
I would love to own a pair of Vienna Acoustic Beethovens! If you can afford it, go with a quality amp like Pass Labs but don't skimp on the preamp. I was not impressed with the so called Stereophile "class A" rated Adcom GFP-750 compared to many other preamps. Yes, the design was licensed by Nelson Pass but even Nelson says the component selection was not of the highest quality in the Adcom to keep the cost down. I've owned and tested nearly a dozen preamps in the past couple years and although the GFP-750 was decent I don't see how Stereophile gave it a "class A" rating.... but I don't agree with Stereophile on many of their findings.
Aleph will sound like a tube system without the tube hassle. Incredibly soaring sound qualities. Did I say WOW!
Downside of an Aleph, slower than some ss amps, not overly but apparent.
All in all ask yourself do I listen to music or a ss attack.
I am trying to suggest components that are not an enormous step pricewise from what is already present in the system. I agree with stereophile giving the gfp-750 a class A rating. I had it at the same time I owned the ARC Ref 1 and the Pass labs Aleph P. It was considerably more transparent than the ref1 & almost as transparent as the aleph P. While I think the Aleph P and ref 1 do sound a little better, they were all in the same general category. Personally I think they are one of the best bargains in high end audio.
I don't think the alephs are slow at all. They are about the FASTEST amps I've ever heard (spectral is possibly a little faster). I've used mine with audio physic tempos, virgos and avanti's (all fast speakers). Usually with nordost cabling. I've also used them with magnepans, spica's and vandersteens. Did you hear them with big speakers ? I know that the aleph 2's did make my vandersteen 3's sound a little less authoratative in the bass - I could understand from that perspective. They cannot control a large speaker that well.
I do agree that they are about the only solid state amp out there that sounds as smooth as a tube amp (an ultra pure one). A tube amp still has a little more magic and life to it.
All the above is mean't in good tone. Don't mean to be ornery, just my opinion.
I agree with the posts above. I have auditioned the x-1, x-2, x-150, x-250 with my Thiel 2.3's. I own the x-1,x150 are a perfect match. I believe that 60% of the sound is from the pre-amp. I'm saving for the x-250. I concur with the TAS review on the x-250; you get the best of both worlds tubelike performance with the power of SS.
best of luck
I own the Beethovens and have EAD epquipment running them in my home theater. You said this is for 2 channel. First thing I would do is look at the speaker cable,any type of monster product is going to cut you short on performance. Have you called Sumiko in California. If I am not mistaken the use Plinius amps.
I use the Aleph P through Nordost Red Dawn to Aleph 2 monos through Red Dawn. This amp system is quite fast, detailed, ULTRA-quiet, and linear. I too checked out the GFP750, and despite cousin Wes's review in S'phile, I was so put off by Adcom's poor customer service and the knowledge that Nelson simply sold them a design that I chose to buy a used P for $1800 instead of a new 750 for $1200. Nicest remote in the world, too!
The Akeph 2s pack 200w/ch into 4 ohms, so I don't experience the anemic bass some ascribe to the smaller Alephs. Far from it, as they power those incredible woofers in my Parsifal Encores to prodigious orchestral groundswells.
Alephs will also run in a dead short, and supposedly are indestructible. I would think that a used P and maybe an Aleph 5 stereo could be had for under $4k; $5-5500 with monos. I can't imagine I'll ever up(?)grade.
Some have criticised the P as being uninvolving. My experience is that it is simply extremely quiet, dynamic, and especially LINEAR. So if you need to "flavor" your system with a tubed pre, etc., then a P is not a good choice.
The P is SO revealing due to vanishing noisefloor and one-stage amplification that cable changes upstream are easily heard, as well digital artifacts that some creamier preamps can mitigate. Now that I'm running an ultraclean, resolving
front end (EC EMC-1) I no longer can fault my system for being ruthless up top. A much higher percentage of recordings sound great!
To capsulize, the Aleph combo will reveal the transducers' virtues and foibles at the ends of the chain quite clearly.
You probably love your speakers. The Alephs can do no harm there. I would then concentrate on a front end complement that is complimentary (oy!).
And then fine tune with cables. Just my experience, but it worked well.
I would tend to agree w/Flemke. I own the Plinius SA-250 mkiv and this amp is awsome. But, in your case, I would recommend McCormack. I've heard both the DNA-125 and the '225 and both are excellent sounding amps. The '125 is cool and clean w/ very good detail and the '225 is the same w/a little more depth and more brute power. I beleive, IMHO, either of these amps would be a wonderful addition to your system. I've also heard that they are as smooth as tube amps. I cannot comment on this though, I've never listened to a tube amp. Now, if you wanted to step up the money some, plinius, again IMHO, is the best amp.
The Aleph P is wonderful and the Aleph 5 is also fabulous. Where I was coming from on the slow side was the generally undamped effect the 5 has in the bass side of things. I believe this is one of the reasons for the enjoment of the music, my system doesn't have the unrelenting signature of an SS system. Generally allowing the music to float and not be so driven! The 5 is alot of amp, previously I enjoyed SF Power 2 and the 5 easily keeps up with it on the power side and both do sound similar. I gave up the $800 tube bill for the 5 and have found a very good compromise in a SS amp.
Go with the Pass. It's a great amp, and the Beethovens are great speakers, I know, I own 'em. Take your time upgrading. Buy the Pass, even if it makes you wait a year or so until you can upgrade your preamp. It'll be worth it to take your time, and do it right. I have a Classe CP-60 preamp and a Threshold T400 amp driving my pair through Tara Labs RSC Master Gen II cables, and I'm very satisfied.
You have great speakers, take your time and build up your system around them.
I've also heard the Beethovens sound good with Classe amps.