amp suggestions for Aerial 7b

just starting the process of upgrading from my krell s-300i integrated to separate amp. listen to rock 20%, alt-rock 40%, jazz 20% and classical 20%. need something with plenty of power as these 7b's aren't the easiest speakers to drive. 7b's are rated at 6ohms but i've been told the behave more like a 4ohm speaker. thinking *minimum* 250 watts into 8ohms with double down capability to really make the Aerials sing. i do tend to listen to music on the loud side of things. also....something that can drive almost any speaker in case i upgrade the 7b's next year(like i plan to).

will be using the amp exclusively with my ps audio perfect wave transport and perfect wave dac. gonna try the PWD as my pre-amp for now. will consider adding a pre-amp later if i don't like the pwd as a pre. will be buying used and budget for the amp is roughly 4-5k max. (prefer single box but will consider mono blocks also). i'd be more then happy to spend less though.

have focused on room acoustics for the last 2 months and think i have a good foundation now. acoustic panels, corner bass traps, carpet and heavy drapes really seemed to help with the forwardness my current system use to have. room is 15x23.

want something as neutral as possible with good detail. not looking for "warmth" but don't want harshness either. smooth highs and tight slamming bass are a must and again...detail.

so far the list is short. Pass X250.5, older Levinson 335 or 336 and maybe a Mcintosh of some type...402 maybe??. comments on these 3 amps with the 7b's are welcome as are any other suggestions. since i'm buying used, i won't be able to do any in home demo's. will have to make a decision based on in store listening.

thank you


If you're going to upgrade your speakers I'd do that first, then find the amp that works best for them. If you buy an amp that works well with your 7Bs there's a good chance the synergy will not be as optimal with the new speakers and you'll find yourself back in the amp market yet again.

Failing that, I'd add the GamuT D200, McCormack DNA 500, and Clayton amps as potential candidates given your preferences.

Best of luck.
Oops, forgot to mention Marsh A400S as another potential option.
Another option to consider is Plinius, excellent soundiong amps in my opinion. I had a pair of Aerial model 8's that my Plinius 9200 integrated drove with ease and sounded great. I think Aerial and Plinius amps is a nice combination, very netural sounding. There is a Plinius SB301 for sale on A'gon in your price range.. Good luck with your search.
Soix, i appreciate and agree with your comments. the speaker upgrade is just a long term plan and not written in stone. one of the reasons i'm buying used is for your stated reasoning. poor synergy would allow me to dump the amp at minimal loss to get something that works better.

furthermore...any speaker i get will sound alot like the aerial 7b's which i really like. the only thing lacking in the 7b's imo is low end grunt(which is why i currently have a velodyne dd12 sub). ultimate goal would be to upgrade to something that would allow me to get rid of the sub but still have the mid and highs of the 7b's. i'm kinda hoping more power might give me the added bass extension i'm looking for in the 7b's, making the speaker upgrade moot (just hoping...not counting on it)

Brian...good call and timing on the sb301. was just talking to my favorite dealer about it this morning (Ron @ Liquid Hi-Fi). it's a contender and one i need to take a closer look at. don't see them too often used but if i'm patiant....i'm sure one would pop up.

thanks again fella's

Lev, given your speakers tend to dip into the somewhat more difficult to handle nether impedance regions, you may want to consider one of the class D amps that have a high damping factor but are also very musical. In your price range you may want to consider the Bel Canto Ref 1000M, previously called Ref 1000 Mk.2. I have reviewed it on issue 43 of Positive Feedback and it can even handle my difficult Vienna Mahlers without breaking a sweat. . . and it can generate loads of controlled bass. It's a monoblock amp, but being only 8.5 inches wide per chassis, 2 chassis are only as wide as a standard component. See the review at:
The power rating is 500W into 8 Ohms, doubling into 4. If the 1000M were too powerful for your application, look at the Ref 500M, very similar to the 1000M but with half the power rating. One significant difference is the 500M is not balanced in the output stage, so that only the positive speaker terminal carries an active signal, while the negative lead floats. This may yield a little less bass control for a difficult speaker, but may let you connect your Valedine directly to the amp outputs if you chose to do so. G.
Good suggestions here. I currently have several pairs of Aerials including the 7Bs. I've tried a lot of amps on them. Some made 10% of the CDs sound phenomenal while raking the others over the coals while others made 90% of them sound average but not bad. I've settled on two amps that I think do a great job but they do sound different. First I have an McIntosh MC-402 - smooth, emminently listenable, nice overall sound. Secondly I have a Bel Canto S-500 on my 7Bs in my bedroom system. Sounds very good. The bass is good, detail good, not grating.

Two very different amps that both sound good with Aerials. I'm thinking about picking up a pair of 500Ms as there was a price drop recently. I may move my S500 to a third system with a pair of Aerial 6s. I've A-B'ed the 6s and 7s on the Bel Canto and the 7s do have more bass and my wife let me leave the 7s in the bedroom so who am I to argue. :)

If I were still looking for amps (I seem to be off the proverbial merry-go-round for now) I'd try a McCormack or a Plinius. Also had an Electrocompaniet that sounded very good on the 7s. One thing I love about the Bel Canto - you can leave it on and it's not using any power to speak of... something like 17 watts on idle.

If I were you, I try the Bel Canto before trying something super heavy (lbs) like the Pass or the McIntosh. BTW, I tried the Pass 250 on the 7s and although a very competent amp and maybe the best customer service around, it just wasn't quite what I was looking for. The heat the thing throws off is incredible. My wife said "there's something wrong with your new amp, the whole room is heating up." It was true and is normal operation for the Pass. The McIntosh heats up only a minimal amount. The McIntosh may not have the dynamics and bass you desire. I think the Pass sounds similar to the Mc but maybe a little more detailed.

Let us know what you go with.
I can't say enough good things about the Bel Canto 500 series. . . They are marvellous amps. BTW, recently Bel Canto has changed the nomenclature for its 500 series devices without changing internals. The Stereo is now called Ref 500S, and the monoblock version is Ref 500M. G.
I have the 9s and love them. Classe sounds great w/Aerial. While many do, I don't really like Mc amps with the Aerials, ok, but inferior to other options in their price range. I heard the Bel Cantos others have mentioned (w/Joseph Audio speakers) and they are great; if I was not a tube geek, I would strongly consider those.

BTW, despite their reputation, I have never found Aerial's hard to drive. While I am running a big SS amp now (Classe CAM-350), I powered them with a 150w integrated (Classe CAP-150) for about a year and it had more than enough power. Just this past weekend, I auditioned a 40w triode amp (Dehavilland 50a) and it sounded great, really great. Granted, that particular amp is designed to power hard to drive loads, but still-just 40watts. Amazing sound w/the Aerials, even had pretty deep and tight bass; probably not your cup of tea, however, as it does clip at really high volumes (higher than I play music).
thanks for all the suggestions guys. wanted to stay away from tubes and class d this time around. tubes because of heat, dogs, cat and some cigars. class d because i can't get past the mental hurdle =).down the road i might change my mind. class a or ab is really what i'm looking for

had a chance to listen to a couple amps on the short list(for the most part...kinda). in store demoed a mac 402 and levinson 436. they had an older pass x250 but the rep said the newer x250.5 is so much better that i shouldn't even bother. still wanted to listen to the x250.5 but it would have involved a very long drive. no chance at demoing a Plinius.

mac 402 and ml 436 both sounded great. incredible amps....the best this greenhorn has ever listened to. however, the ml436 gave me an instant ear to ear grin. we all obviously have preferences as what our music should sound like. the ml 436 hit my target's bullseye. it sounded fantastic imho.
Cool, have fun with the new amp. You are putting together a pretty great system. Aerial deosn't get as much love on the Gon as I think their sound merits. Really great do-it-all speakers imho.
i agree Shredder. seems some speakers do certain things great but fall short in some other area. the 7b are good across the board. well put...."a really great do-it-all speaker" imho too. my personal taste makes me wish for a tad more low end grunt but otherwise....the 7b's are near perfect for me.

hoping a few hundred extra watts makes them perfect!

thanks and cheers!

i also 2nd the Classe on the Aerial speakers. They are a great match!
I believe it was the Bel Canto 500M that Jeff Joseph paired with the RM33 a couple years ago at CES that I heard. That was the only solid state amp I heard at the show that didn't shout SOLID STATE. They gave a very natural and listenable sound and were the only solid states I heard that I didn't mind.
My own rig is a Lamm LL2 Deluxe into an Art Audio Jota and they have no trouble driving my RM25ii. I've had this set up for six or seven years and it sounds good to me.
Parasound A21 or the Bryston 4b sst. You can't beat the Halos for the price.
I drove the 7b's with all VTL electronics. ST-150 (150 watt tube amp) and a tl5.5 or tl2.5 preamp. The sound was the best I had in my smallish living room while listening at moderate levels.