Amp suggestion for Legacy Focus

I have started upgrading my system and would like some suggestions on amps for the Focus. The amps I'm interested in are, not in any specific order: 1.Jeff Rowland Model 2 (this would probably be bi-amped). 2.Classe CA-200S. 3.Marsh A-400S. 4.Bryston 4BST. I'm actually leaning towards the Marsh. As of right now my system consists of: Yamaha line of 1000U components (amp, pre-amp, cd, tuner). My turntable, which will be staying, Denon DP2000 with an SME series III tonearm and Denon 103S cartridge. Legacy Focus speakers (my first upgrade from Infinity Kappa 8's).Interconnects are Monster's Reference line. I have built my own speaker wires, which are 12gauge fine copper, terminated with banana plugs (which are crimped and soldered with high silver content solder), which will be staying also. We listen to primarily rock, but also classical, jazz, big band, orchestral, no opera... yeeeesh. If anyone has any other suggestions they are definetely welcomed. The upgrade after the amp will be the pre-amp, and so on back through the chain. Thank you in advance for any help.
All selections are good. The Legacy line of speakers are designed to sound best with high current amps.
The Marsh Amps are good. The Adcom 5802 modified by Stan Warren for 350 dollars sounds incredible. This Amp sounds smooth and sweet with lots of power.
I would suggest looking at your sources next instead of the "backbone". Knowing the tonal characteristics at the front and the rear of the signal chain will help you to fill in the middle ( preamp and amp ) with more certainty. After all, if you "voice" the system with a power amp and preamp now and change sources after that, you'll be starting off with a completely different "beginning". This will surely change your "end" result. Sean
I own a pair of Legacy Classics and I'm driving them with a Classe CA-200. I find the match a good one, the Classics are high definition with the ribbon supertweeter and can sound harsh with some electronics. The Classe with its rich full sound matches well with these speakers.
I was wondering about that. It seems there are two schools of thought regarding which way to go on up-grading components, front to back or back to front in the signal chain. As Jmcgrogan2 says, the focus can be a little strong on the top end and I would like to match accordingly. If I can go from the speakers back I would really like to. I like the amps I mentioned and would like to match my upgraded equipment to them, if that's possible! What do you think? Thanks.
Since an amp / preamp "should" simply amplify what is fed into them, it is important to find a source that gives you what you want in terms of sonics in the first place. If the source is "junk" to begin with, you are kind of "forced" to band aid it all the way down the line whether you want to or not. At the same time, i am a firm believer that a system is only as good as its' weakest link. This means building a balanced system and not concentrating on any ONE specific component. You might be surprised at what finding the "right" combo of components can do, regardless of price or "name brand". I would highly recommend starting with the source and working backwards. With that in mind, i think that the Classe and newer Bryston pieces offer somewhat similar sonics. I've owned both and don't think that either would mate real well with Legacy's. Keep in mind that this is MY PERSONAL OPINION ONLY, so don't take my word on it. For the record, my Father owns "Classic's" for mains and uses "Studio's" for center and surrounds, so i know what to expect out of their products and am not just talking "out of my hat". When i brought over one of my Classe' amps to his house, my Father absolutely HATED it when mated to his speakers. I would tend to agree that it was a poor match IN THAT SYSTEM. I am not familiar with the Rowland stuff first hand and if the Marsh amps sound like the solid state preamps, they are definetly on the warm and full sounding side with good depth to the soundstage. You might want to CAREFULLY listen to the treble on the Marsh though and see if it is to your liking. Out of curiosity, you did not mention a digital source. Do you have or use one or still looking ? Sean
PS.... Does this mean that i'll get negative votes from all of the Classe' and Bryston owners ?????
I do have a digital source, it's also the Yamaha CDX1000U model. I will be upgrading this also at a later date, or maybe sooner. You definitely have my attention on upgrading the sources first. I'm going to give the upgrading the source first more research. Would like to know what your father has matched with his Classic's, and do you like the sound of that match? I know alot of people aren't quite fond of the Focus sound, but my wife and I do enjoy our Legacy's. I'm also thinking that matching a tube pre-amp with the SS amp will smooth out the top end a little (mellow out the brightness some). I don't want to get too warm of a SS amp that I lose too much of the detail. Does this make sense? Sean, Thanks for the suggestions.
My Father started out with a Counterpoint tube preamp driving an Adcom 5800 for 2 channel use. To supplement this for HT use, he has an Adcom GSP-560 "surround processor" with its own 3 channel amps for the center and surrounds. Front end was and still is a $1K Denon CD player, Magnum Dynalab's 101 Tuner, and a 3 head cassette deck, etc... Video is supplied by a Pioneer Laser Disc player and now a Philips DVD player. He does not use vinyl, so no TT. Since i thought that this sounded like crap, I have since "manipulated" him to unload the Adcom power amp and i replaced it with a Sunfire amp. As a matter of convenience, space and sonics, the 2 channel Sunfire along with his tubed Counterpoint preamp and the GSP-560 will be "going the way of the wind" pretty soon. I'm working on a new set up for him as i type this. It will consist of a modified AGI 511A preamp, an outboard surround processor and a Sunfire Cinema Grand 5 channel power amp. I have tried about a half dozen preamps and power amps in his system and this combo seems to work quite well. It also has some special attributes that work to his advantage in terms of personal tastes and set-up. Speaker wires are currently Audioquest for the top end ( to soften the sound somewhat) and heavy Monster on the bottom. We'll be changing that too once he's all settled in. He'll be moving in June, so we're going to wait until then to see what lengths we'll need. Probably either some Kimber 8TC or Goertz MI-2 for the top and some cable of my construction for the bottom end. Keep in mind that not ALL tube pieces are smooth and soft. Concentrate more on "system synergy" instead of concentrating on a "pre-conceived notion" as to what you think will work best. Your ears will tell you what is good and what isn't. Sean
You want an amp that does not interact with your speakers. This mean a high damping factor. You want a flat frequency response and high enough power to not clip - probably a couple of hundred watts a side. Distortion doesn't seem to be very important or people wouldn't like tube amps. Of course this description includes everything from an old Phase Linear you could get for a few hundred bucks to multi-thousand dollar amps. If two amps really sound different then at least one of them is malfunctioning.
Stevemj, more like your ears are malfunctioning. Your being blissful again.
People that think amps or other components all sound the same are simply showing how nieve and inexperienced they are when it comes to trying out various pieces of gear. Sean
A friend of mine finally stopped his search with the Bryston 7B monoblocks, Theta digital, LAMM pre and XLO cabling to feed the Foci. The 7Bs are more power than he needs right now and as I recall those speakers are highly efficient so with that in mind you might want to audition the Bryston 4B. Good luck.
Hi Joysjane, Sean has given you excellent advice as he always does but I would like to add that the Marsh 400 is not warm and full more like clean and a bit lean. A very good amp but may be a bit cool for your system. Good luck to you.
Thanks all for the responses. Will let ya'll know which way I went and how it turned out.
Well, it took a while but I've purchased the amps. Simaudio W-10's. WOW! Those Focus have come to life! Thank you everyone for the suggestions. I went with high current and damping factor. What a difference.
Glad that you found something that you absolutely "love" : )

Out of curiosity, would you mind sharing with us the various amps that you considered, which you ended up trying out ? Where there any special traits about this combo that really seemed to stand out to you ? I have to assume that there is "something" special about this combo as you ended up buying them : ) Sean
What made you finally choose the Simaudio? I have followed your thread because I have gone through similar choices. I also had Infinity Kappa 8's for almost 10 years. I didn't think I would ever replace them. People always claimed they were had an engineering flaw with their impedance problems but I used a McIntosh MC2205 on them with no problems. Once I finally upgraded to a pair of Legacy Focus, the fun began. The Focus doesn't appear to produce the lowest bass frequencies as the Kappas but the Focus are much more detailed and dynamic. The McIntosh is a sweet sounding amp but it is a little too ambient sounding. On the Kappas, I guess I liked that since they through sound around all over the place, completely filling the room but the Emit K's could be a little bright. I wanted more of a tube sound without the hassles of a tube amp so I tried a Mark Levinson with about the same power as the McIntosh. Both amps bring out the details on the Focus but the Levinson produces more of a linear sound at all levels. With the Levinson, it doesn't matter if I am listening at low volumes to fall asleep or loud volumes to shake my living room - it always stays crystal clear and all frequencies are reproduced at the right levels relative to one another. With the Levinson, I can easily focus on any instrument at any level.

The Focus definitely has a smaller sweet spot compared to the Kappas and the Levinson allows you to get completely lost in the music when listening within the sweet spot.

In summary, I am very happy with the Levinson on my Focus as main speakers in my living room setup with also consists of a Krell 3-channel amp on the center and surrounds. The Krell is supposed to be a good match to the Levinson according to many people I have talked with. I am in the process of locating a Legacy center and Legacy surrounds to properly compliment the Focus and replace my Kappa video center and Kappa 7 surrounds. The McIntosh ended up in my bedroom on a pair of Legacy Studios and only gets played at low levels to go to sleep. I am thinking of adding a powered sub for my bedroom but my priority is first to locate Legacy speakers for my living room setup.
Gordon: Why not try your Studio's for the surrounds ? My Dad is running Classic's for his mains and Studio's for his center and surrounds. Personally, i like the Studio's better than i do the big speakers. Sean
For Sean and Gordonghekko,
Well, as for why. First I had limited ways of demoing (is that a word?) amps. I live in Idaho and you can only guess as to what's available locally. So, I had to purchase the amps I was interested in (from alot of reading and what I was looking for) and then sell the ones that I didn't like. Needless to say this can be rather costly and time cosuming since you have to keep them all until the choice is made. That being said... I listened to the Bryston 7BST, Legacy Monoblocks, and the Moon W-10's. This is what I found with "my" Focus in "my" listening room. The Bryston's had great bass extension with excellent imaging but were overly bright on top (a little harsh with the Focus). The Legacy's were excellent overall but lacked the extra octaves in the lower frequencies, losing some slam. The Moon's had it all. Bottom end was awesome, not bright on top, midrange oh so sweet. One thing that impressed me with the Moon's were you could just keep cranking them up and they would just make those Legacy's come alive, more as the volune increased. Let me say this, all these amps were great midrange producers with the Focus speakers. Their imaging were comparable with each other. If you're doing some critical listening, there's a small sweet spot with the Focus. Neither amp lacked in this area.
Gordongekkho, I'd like to know about the lack of bass you're talking about. I found the opposite to be true. I still have my Kappa 8's and hooked them up to all these amps when I was doing my listening. I found the bass to be much more present with the Focus with all these amps than my Kappa's. Not only stronger with more slam but reaching lower in the frequency extremes. At quiet and loud listening sessions. The reason I did this was that I wanted to see what the Kappa's were capable of with some quality amplification. The Kappa's still sounded good, but they just weren't in the same league, in my opinion. I would have liked to heard these amps with the Kappa 9's however, but, when I purchased my 8's my finances weren't quite able to afford the 9's.
Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone that's put up with my newbie questions in the past. I've learned alot here on Audiogon. What I found to be the most important thing is that you have to learn what to listen for. I'm really enjoying the tuning of my system. For that education, I thank everyone. And now on to some more cable demoing... there's that word again.
Oh yea, I'm purchasing an SACD/DVD-A player and can't wait to start some listening sessions. I have quite alot of Lp's to compare, and want to see if what they say about the new formats are true. CCR SACD's here I come!
Glad that you were able to find something that worked for you. I know that it was probably a pain and financially stressful in terms of buying to try all of these amps, but it is also a lot of fun and can be a very educational experience. I know that i've learned a LOT simply by doing component comparisons. It looks like you did too : ) Sean