Amp / Pre-Amp for Sonus Faber Serafino


What are the recommended amplifiers for Sonus Faber Serafino. I am looking for something extremely warm and my listening is more on the side of classical, jazz, lots of vocal and world music. 

I am currently using Martin Logan speakers with marantz DAC and Primaluna Prologue premium as the amplifier. I am looking for a similar sound with better sound stage and detail, that's the reason i am going with Sonus Faber Serafino. I am inclined towards McIntosh MC352 or Primaluna separates. 

Please suggest. 
ganeshgswamy
ganeshgswamy

Serafino bench measurments:
Impedance phase angles at LF means that the Serafino’s minimum EPDR (equivalent peak dissipation resistance) is 1.9ohm at 272Hz, 0.2ohm higher than the Amati’s.
Great speaker and rightly put in the same category as the SF Amati’s
But 1.9ohm!! load the amp will see at 270hz!! dictates these speakers need an amp that can do good current down to 2ohms continually and be comfortable doing it.
Forget the Prima Luna it will be sucked up the speaker cable.
If you want a warm amp that can do this load and get the best from these speakers and be comfortable doing it, look at Gryphon’s integrateds or their poweramp/s.

Cheers George
Thanks George for the quick response. Gryphon seems to be on the higher side. Will McIntosh do a good job? I am thinking one of the following options, may work. Will McIntosh be too bright?

MA8900 Integrated
MA462 Power Amp and buy a good DAC
MA352 Hybrid (Tube PreAmp and SS Amp)


I power my Serafino’s until last week when I upgraded to Amati’s with McIntosh tube products.  Couldn’t be happier.  2600 pre-amp, 2152 Amp and 1100 Phono Pre-Amp.  I’m totally sold on the sound and the components are matched very well.
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ganeshgswamy OP
Will McIntosh do a good job?
It will make sounds, sorry I’m not a believer in degrading the performance and putting an output transformer on a perfectly good solid state amp.
The only reason to me to do it, is if the amps solid state design is poor and needs it to make it stable, or to make it idiot/bomb proof against owners shorting out the speaker outputs. Whatever it is it will never out perform a good solid state amp. To me the only thing Mac did well was the old 275 tube amps, even their speaker design is questionable


ganeshgswamy OP
Gryphon seems to be on the higher side.
I you want the best from those magic speakers and want a big "warm sound", why compromise them with the amp? Gryphon, it’s the way to go, the only tube amp that I know that "could" do it, is Roger Modjeski’s Ramlabs 100w RM200 which has a 2ohm output tap, "but" wattage is much lower from this tap and it may not be enough for you.

Cheers George
McIntosh is shown often driving SF speakers and get good reviews. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what George said regarding the output transformers.  McIntosh has been using them for 70 years and if it wasn’t any good, no one would buy their equipment and they would not still make them.  It is those transformers that gives McIntosh their house sound. 
I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what George said regarding the output transformers.
Back at ya sunshine, obviously technically inept.


Are you saying that McIntosh is technically inept and you are the know all, end all?
Are you saying that McIntosh is technically inept
No you, obviously can’t read either.
BTW you started the mud slinging
George, its always the same old story with you regarding McIntosh.  If you don't care for them, that's your business.  When you steer someone away from it because of your beliefs which don't seem to match McIntosh's beliefs, you do that person a disservice.  They may actually like their equipment.

Why am I technically inept, please enlighten me?  I am not an electronics engineer nor a DIY guy but I am curious as to why you think that?
 “When you steer someone away from it because of your beliefs which don't seem to match McIntosh's beliefs, you do that person a disservice”

Unfortunately this is a common practice regardless of the brand and not limited to any specific person. The question that was asked by the OP was about the sound quality not the design. He asked for a recommendation for “something extremely warm” and while I personally would not characterize McIntosh amplifiers’ sound as extremely warm but they do generally fall on the warm side of the spectrum.
Stereo5 many people dealers included don't like the concept that Mcintosh expouses. 

A proper solid state amplifier doesn't need an autotransfomer which robs the amp from being transparent, the resulting sound is warm and punchy but lacks detail.

A proper solid state amplifier can provide enough current to arc weld.

If you design a robust enough output stage you can power any load easily.

We feel that Mcintosh makes good gear but we would take our direct coupled Krell or the T+A gear for higher end products. 

We sell a ton of great gear, Coda, T+A, Electrocompaniet,Unison Research's intergrated are amazing tube solid state hybrids all of these devices are warm and are all direct coupled.

Yes you can have your cake and eat it to.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Sorry Dave, but I never heard a Krell I liked and T & A doesn't tempt me.  I have been into this hobby before you were born (I think) and after 50+ years of buying equipment and always upgrading, I realized I should have bought McIntosh since day one.  I had the same attitude everyone else seems to have regarding Mac, but that all changed when I took a chance on a used MA6600 200wpc integrated amp that I purchased at Audio Classics.  When I inserted I into my secondary system, for me it was a wow moment.

My personal taste runs to the warm side of neutral and I do not care for the overly detailed sound.  The Mac MA6600 is a perfect match for my GE Triton Ones.  I liked McIntosh so much I bought one of their SACD players and a Tuner which replaced a highly regarded Magnum Dynalab.  
My main system at that time had just received the GE Triton Reference speakers and using my Conrad Johnson MF2550 (250wpc) amp made the entire system sound slow, thick and syrupy with no defined highs.  I found myself hardly playing the system, so I bought a McIntosh power amp, tube preamp and their top tuner, again all from Audio Classics.  It was another Wow moment and I am thrilled beyond thrilled.  I ended selling off the Conrad Johnson amp, Rogue RP5 tube preamp and Magnam Dynalab MD102 tuner and recouped some of my money.. Back from 1970 until 1985, I was an audio salesman in a mom and pop store and although we sold a lot of mid fi, we did sell Accuphase, Bozak, Rectilinear, Empire plus others I can't remember.   I am telling you this so that you don't think I am someone who doesn't know how or what to listen for and  who is clueless about putting together a fine sounding system.

On Sunday, someone from the Gon stopped by my house to pick something up.  He has Pass equipment plus a lot of other expensive  pieces.  He kept saying how unbelievable my system sounded and was raving about the imaging.   This guy also had McIntosh at one time but sold it and purchased Pass equipment.  His parting words were that he never got that kind of sound from his Mac system and never knew how good the McIntosh equipment really was.


Peace...………….


This is what the OP wants (warm) and what is the right amp for his speakers to drive them to what they’re capable of, and sorry that doesn’t include Mac’s.
I’m sure having this caliber of speaker $33K aud he doesn’t want them compromised with inadequate amplification.

Serafino bench measurments:
Impedance phase angles at LF means that the Serafino’s minimum EPDR (equivalent peak dissipation resistance) is 1.9ohm at 272Hz, 0.2ohm higher than the Amati’s.


Cheers George
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Appreciate everyone's opinion and knowledge. I hope, i did not start a debate here. I am sorry if i am responsible for the confusion here.

I have been listening to music for more than 2 decades and started using professional audio equipments only since 2017. I am happy with the music quality i am getting in my existing system (Marantz + PrimaLuna Prologue + Martin Logan), placed in a small room.

We moved to a new home few months back and the new speakers (SF Serafino) will be kept in the living room (40 ft long and 20 ft wide) (larger room). The living room interiors have been chosen with the acoustics in mind.

My music preference is Jazz and Classical on the western and tons of Indian classical (variety of instruments and vocals).

An example for my preferred music would be (sorry for posting the songs, if that is not required / inappropriate)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE4dwGS_1q4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqA4epWyBe0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en4PBZ1Wzno

I would like to get the best out of SF Serafino for the music i listen to.

Thanks again...
CORRECTION

I stated above I never heard a Krell I liked, but it isn't so.  I once was loaned a 50wpc Class A Krell in the early 90's time or so.  The amp was warm sounding with a lot of oomph behind it.  I had forgotten about that amp.  If I had the dough at the time I would have bought it.  I was using a Classe' amp at the time.  Sorry for the confusion.
"I would like to get the best out of SF Serafino for the music i listen to..."

In that case, you may want to try D'Agastino Momentum M400 Monoblock amplifiers. They not only sound excellent but will also add a lot of "sparkle" to your listening room. I've heard them paired with the SF Aida speakers and the sound was truly exceptional. I think they were paired with Audio Research Reference6 preamplifier but I'm not sure.
Good luck with your search.    
In that case, you may want to try D’Agastino Momentum M400 Monoblock amplifiers
True they would be nice also, but the price for the OP is way too much compared to say the Gryphon 120 or 300, and I’d say they would be warmer sounding as well which he wants..

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/i-listened-to-the-gryphon-diablo-today-what-an-experience
Take a day, take a trip, take some time, and listen to what both of them will do on the Serafinos. The Sound Environment in Omaha sell both Gryphon and McIntosh, as well as Sonus faber.

I am a sucker for meters and always lusted after McIntosh. After what I heard, The Gryphon gets my vote; no hesitation at all. I got over meters real quick.

Just sayin'...
I haven’t heard the Gryphon 300 but based on the reviews and owners’ input it is supposed to be an excellent integrated amplifier and most likely better than the McIntosh integrated amplifiers out there. The high end T+A integrateds also seem to be very well liked as well. I agree the OP’s speakers do deserve something really good.
Stereo5, sorry but your story, with the guy liking your Mcintosh/Golden Ear over his Pass  isn't an endorsement for your Mcintosh setup being better than Pass it is an endorsement that your system has synergy and perhaps his does not. 

The only Mcintosh setup tha we have heard that sounded quite good was the tube C22 reissue MC 275 mono block resissues.

Dont know the CJ solid state amp your tired except that is was a very late issue amp from them we sold the original CJ solid state series the 2300,2200, and they were terrific solid state amps in the time. 

As per Krell not sounding good, the new sound of Krell is totally different than the older series of Krells. We have owned and sold those as well, in their day they were quite good, great bass, excellent dynamics, the midrange was a bit dry and the amplifiers didnt have an organic flow.

The new Krell XD series products sound like a tube amplifier in the midrange, the overall sound is stunning and liquid if you liked a KSA 50 you would love the new sound of Krell.

Stereo5 most people have not heard T+A audio they are not that well known in the US the sound quality of their gear is among the best in the world and are reserved for the ultimate audio brands, Gryphon, CH Precision, Ypsilon and other similar products and usally their cost of entry is much higher than Mcintosh T+A least expensive integrated amplifier costs $12,500.00 with their next model at $23k and the separate amp and preamp combo costing $40-$54k depending on if you get the additional power supply.

The T+A integrated amplifers all run to about 30 watt pure Class A and the circuits run on high voltage rails that emulate the sound of tubes the sound is open, fast, totally clean with a slightly rich midrange. 

Kalali, the T+A gear sounds as good as the Dag gear for half the price. 

Look at this review comparing the $23k T+A 3100HV integrated to the $50k Dag Mom integrated

https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/ta-elektroakustik-3100-hv-pdp-3000-hv-sacdcd-...

"

Paired with the Strads, the PA 3100 HV ($21,500) quickly reminded me of my two favorite integrated amplifiers, the D'Agostino Momentum ($45,000) and Vitus RI-100 ($13,200). Yes, I realize from a price perspective that this is not an apples to apples comparison. On the other hand, we all know that price is not always an indicator of sound quality and system compatibility. Of the dozen or so analog integrated amplifiers that I have reviewed over the last four years, these three are clearly the premier performers based on my ears and biases.

The overall tone, timbre, and performance of the PA 3100 HV fell somewhere between the Vitus and the D'Agostino. In my system, the Vitus was always very close to neutral with plenty of speed and detail along with a magnificent amount of muscle and authority in the low end. The D'Agostino was no slouch in bass performance, but what stood out for me was an additional fine layer of rich harmonics and a wonderful sense of liquidity.

The PA 3100 HV exceeded the Vitus in terms of blunt power and slam while yielding almost the same rich timbral purity of the D'Agostino. The best of both worlds? These three are so close that I would be very careful with system matching before making that final call. Needless to say, the PA 3100 HV can compete with the very best."

So yeah we would say that T+A gear is pretty special if a $23k T+A sounds as good as $50k Dag piece that is pretty impressive.


Dave and Troy

Audio Doctor NJ Krell, T+A dealers





I agree with the recommendation for the Gryphon 300.  I use this Gryphon amp with my SF Amati Traditions.  I also heard this amp with the SF Serafino speakers at my dealer and was very impressed.  Great speaker control, wonderful clear sound, and excellent power with just a hint of warmth. I can listen to this system for hours at a time.   Would be difficult to find a better combination.
David, I never said my McIntosh was better than Pass, nor did he. He said he never heard a McIntosh system ( mine) sound so unbelievably good. He said he couldn’t get his McIntosh system to sound anything like mine.  He moved on to Pass.  
I am not going to discuss the virtues of Mac over other brands. McIntosh does for me what I want to get out of my system.  I am thrilled and don’t think about upgrades.   For the past year or so I have enjoyed my system every day and I play usually 4-5 hours listening to it and some days much more.  

I’m out of this conversation.  You know the old saying,  “You can’t beat a dead horse.”
I’m out of this conversation.
You come on here and attack personally in your first post. (which wasn’t warranted.)
You’ve been told by others now.
"Your Golden Ear Triton Reference Speakers are infinitely much easier to drive 93db and has 1500w active bass!!! compared to the OP’s full range SF Serafino’s"

You know the old saying, “You can’t beat a dead horse.”
Now you "run" for the hills, because you can’t ride your "dead horse", which is on the nose.

For the past year or so I have enjoyed my system every day and I play usually 4-5 hours listening to it and some days much more.
Good so long as your happy doing it

George, we all are entitled to our opinions.  McIntosh has sold tens of thousands of their amps with auto transformers over their 70 year run.  With yours and Audio Doctors way of thinking, we McIntosh owners must all be deaf.  That is your right to think that and I apologize for the attack in my first post.  It wasn't warranted.

Stereo5 we never said the Mcintosh amplifiers are bad just that they tend to favor warmth and punchyness over transparency.

Now we are not saying that your setup doesn't sound good, we are saying that there is a sound to Mcintosh that some people love and others don't.
 
We even said that we heard a Mcintosh setup that we liked, and we also adore the Golden Ear loudspeakers for what they do for their price range.

We would take a T+A 3100 HV integrated any day over the comparable Mcintosh amp and preamp. 

As per Gryphon vs T+A the Gryphon has a bit more slam the T+A tends to be a more organic and dimensional presentation two of the best high performance inegrated amplifiers out there today.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 
George, we all are entitled to our opinions.

Well don’t come on with your first post and start personally attacking people, put up a technical argument instead


I thought you and your dead horse, were outta-here

You think because they are good with your very easy to drive Golden Ear speaker they are automatically going to be good also for the OP’s speakers?? Sorry your wrong.
For the Original Poster - If you are in or around Atlanta, there is a great dealer that can hook up and do direct comparisons between McIntosh and Gryphon with a pair of Serafino’s.  Let the sound be your decision point, not the debate which outlined here.
@ganeshgswamy  Have a listen to one of Jeff Rowlands amps. He has a model that will likely work very well with your speakers and your room size. If budget allows..listen to a model 825. There were a pair of 725s2's on the used market recently, they would also be a great match. 
OP, I currently have SF Amati Tradition that replaced the SF Serafinos.
For about 10 month I was driving Serafinos with latest Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated. Great integrated, dynamics, micro details, timber. But it requires careful cables match - especially power cables and speaker cables. When I had Gryphon I had top of the line  Shunyata Sigma speaker cables and the sound was if I can compare it like a very strong coffee, - too much meet on the bones overshadowed micro nuances and speed. It was mistake to have Sigma speaker and power cables with Gryphon and Sonus Faber. I had to sell Gryphon for the reason  that in case of any issues you can ship it only by freight - since it comes in the wooden box that has strange assembly - no problem for others but it was a bothering potential issue for me. Currently have pass int-250 that drives SF Amati Traditions and I love it. Why? Pas int-250 is very good, and I was able to find a great matching speaker cables  for it - Audience Front row, so synergy is very important. The Accuphase on 12/01 will start production of their reference integrated E-800. This will be very interesting integrated to hear. But unfortunately for many if us the Accuphase pricing is insane. In Japan it will cost around 10K here the msrp will 21k.  
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To OP,

What did you end up with finally? I also have Serafinos hence curious.
If it is not too late you should consider Raven Audio.  They have a family of integrated tube amps that produce the sound you are looking for.  I had the Sonus Faber Amati Tradition Homage speakers tied to a Raven Reflection MK2 tube amp.  The sound is warm, crystal clear and like you were at a right in front of a classical concert.  Call Dave Thomson at Raven.  He also has some of the best tubes in the world.  
Many folks told me not to use tube amps with Sonus Faber Serafinos as the speakers are already warm sounding. Also I was wondering if anyone have tried vintage Marantz or Pioneer receivers with these speakers. I heard Marantz 2270 at my friends place with regular polk speakers and it can distroy many best in class amp/preamp combos. But not sure if they will have enough power to drive Serafinos? 
This is an older thread, but something that runs through most audiophile discussions is a certain viciousness against certain brands. Brand loyalty is akin to political party identity. For example, Apple is a religion in computer circles.

The statement that triggered this debate against McIntosh was:

... I’m not a believer in degrading the performance and putting an output transformer on a perfectly good solid state amp.
The only reason to me to do it, is if the amps solid state design is poor and needs it to make it stable, or to make it idiot/bomb proof against owners shorting out the speaker outputs.

Them there is fighting words. Inferring Mac owners "idiots" is not exactly friendly nor innocent. Poor design? Not "perfectly good"?

Where is the substantiation for these comments? It is one thing to share your opinions and preferences. It is quite another to insult an entire group of folks with ad hominem attacks.

I have Amati Traditions on a Mcintosh MC462 (C2700 tubed pre-amp). Sonus Faber Serafinos is what the original post was about, and the Amatis are the "big brother" in the same Sonus Faber Homage Family. Sonus Faber and Mcintosh engineers work closely together to form a "sonic family signature", to achieve a seamless sonic compatibility when matched.

Mcintosh amps in the context of any Sonus Faber speaker discussion makes perfect sense. In fact, it would do the original poster a disservice to NOT mention Mcintosh in the context of Sonus Faber. Present the facts and let them and their ears decide for themselves.

Audio Research amps also fall under the same cooperation of engineers as Mcintosh and Sonus Faber, and this brand was also mentioned by a poster here.

My feelings are not hurt by the negative analysis here. In fact, it confirms my choice in a sense. Here’s why: Mcintosh is the favorite target of those who have something to prove, it seems to me. They have been around the longest and hence become the "Establishment" in the mind of those who have a need to demarcate themselves. In other words, being "enlightened" is conflated to mean "cutting edge" which again is conflated to mean NEW. Or at least foreign. Or both.

This is what turns me off: the attitude in which an opinion is shared. The original post was asking for PREFERENCES--not insults. What we got was in large part political theater--not sound audio advice.

Thank you.