Very happy with late generation Pass X250 with MS4's, past 3 years. Also use Rowland Capri.
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The thing that really wowed me when I was out auditioning was the midrange presence and texture, paired with smooth highs and bass slam. My main demo cut is Cassandra Wilson covering U2's "Love is Blindness". With the Dalis, I felt like I was listening to her singing in the room versus other speakers where it just sounded like I was listening to a pair of nice speakers. With the EAR amps, I could hear the saliva in her mouth--a little creepy, but impressive nonetheless. The bass on the Wilson track is very loose, but I heard other drum tracks where there was great transient response and weight.
So I guess you could say I'm looking for the bass control of a typical solid state amp paired with the midrange of a good tube amp. I'm pretty sensitive to high frequency grain as well, and that was also a big factor in my speaker choice.
You might want to try a tube preamp with a solid state amp. The combinations are endless. I don't know if you will get the same sound quality that you heard with the big $ amps but you can get very good sound with amplification in the Dali's price range.
Also, if you can't stand digital harshness you should check out cd palyers with minimum phase or apodizing filters. EMM Labs, Meridian, Ayre, PS Audio and Esoteric have these filters in some of their players.
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not familiar with the terms you used for the CD players, so I will do a little research on that. Another option I'm seriously considering is getting the Modwright tube upgrade for the Oppo BDP-83SE and running that into a preamp or integrated.
In the meantime, I decided to take a step backwards in digital resolution so I could reintroduce the Meitner Museatex PA-6i into the system, and I've been pleasantly surprised by the results.
I have the PS3 (PCM 44.1kHz & 48kHz) optical running into an Entech Number Cruncher 205.2 and on to the PA-6i. I didn't really sit down and listen critically, but this combination has more "body" and better soundstaging than the upsampled HDMI going through the Onkyo. I had some music playing in the background while I was working on the laptop, and I kept getting distracted by what I was hearing--that's a good thing. It isn't the last word on anything, but it may delay a new amp purchase for a bit.
So the Pass INT30A didn't have a problem driving the speakers? I thought I would have to go with one of the bigger Pass amps (X250/250.5 or XA100) to get enough punch and bass control on the Dalis.
Guess I'm a nerd for staying up late reading about jitter, and this is getting off-topic to a degree, but I found the discussion over at AVS in the Ayre DX-5 thread highly enlightening. It's great to read some really brilliant people discuss the design process so openly. Now I just have to wait a year for those things to start showing up on Audiogon for $4k instead of $10k.
I don't know your listening habits so the INT30A may not have enough power for you. I guess if you're not sure then it probably doesn't. But that's not a problem because there are many good more powerful amps around.
Spend some time reading reviews and this and other forums, and listen to as many players and amps as you can and you will find the right ones for you.