Amp upgrade for Aerial Acoustics 10T's? (


I recently picked up a very nice pair of Aerial Acoustics 10T v2’s to replace my ADS L1530’s. I love the AA’s for a number of reasons, but I’m worried they might be a bit too demanding for my amp. My current amp is a vintage GAS Ampzilla that’s had Mike Bettinger’s reference restoration with JFET input mods. It’s rated at 200wpc, but I’m not sure it has the current necessary to drive the AA’s through demanding, bass-heavy passages.

I rarely listen loudly, but when I have, I’ve noticed the amp’s power meters dimming on the heavy bass notes. The meters only indicate ~100wpc, but I don’t place any confidence in their calibration or accuracy. The amp also loses its composed and detailed presentation at these listening levels. I think it’s trying to tell me it’s being pushed a little too hard, and the last thing I want to do is damage the speakers or the amp.

So that brings me to the topic of this thread; can I find a suitable replacement amp for less than $1k? From what I understand, the AA’s really shine when driven by a high wattage, high current amp. I’ve been looking around for used alternatives and have found a few that may, or may not have potential.

Threshold S/300 ($900)
Nakamichi PA-7 ($890-975)
Bryston 4B-ST ($999-1150)
Perreaux PMF 3150 ($995)
Aragon 8008BB ($1175...yikes, easy to get over budget)

What do you guys think? What other amps would you recommend?


matt0404
Very interested in hearing peoples response to this...  

The Aragon 8008 will drive them just fine.  It has a lot of current available, and Class A to 26 watts.  That being said, the sonic signature is definitely very warm for a solid state amp.  All the detail is there, but it's definitely warm.  Warm thick bass and midbass.  Mids and highs can be heard as lush sometimes.

The Bryston is going to be less on the warm side with possibly more attack.  If you want to go this route, I'd suggest looking at a newer 3B-SST (one for sale for $1100).  At 200 watts/channel, this is more than enough for 10T.

Several of these amps are very old and you could be looking at re-capping them at some point.  You're definitely in the right ballpark in looking for high-current solid-state amplifiers with a big power supplies.

If you want something very new (within the last 5 years), maybe look for a Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 1 or Gen 2 amp and do a fuse upgrade.  Or there is a pair of Emotiva XPA-1L monoblocks on ebay (250 watts/channel).

Thanks for the detailed info @auxinput.  I'm intrigued by the Aragon as I feel the 10T's could benefit from a little added warmth.  I enjoy tube amps on some of my more efficient speakers, so the Aragon might be a good fit.

The 3B-SST is one I didn't have on my radar.  I have read that most consider the SST version an upgrade from the ST, even going from the 4 series to the 3.  I'll have to do a little more research.

I haven't heard any of the newer Emotiva amps.  They do have the benefit of being under budget and less likely to need service.  I wish I could find one to audition.

The need to re-cap/service these older amps is the main reason I'm on the fence about an upgrade.  The amp I have now has already had a $1500 restoration and I'm not likely to get that much for it on the used market.  Decisions, decisions...

If it's warmth that you like, the Bryston amps are probably not a good choice.  They typically have a very vast attack and can be on the cold/sterile side.  Not bad, but not as engaging as other amps.  It could be a good match to a very slow speaker that needs more excitement (not the Aerial 10Ts).  It appears that the new Bryston Cubed amps (i.e. 3B3) are very laid back -- Bryston has just recently changed their signature.  Obviously, the new Bryston amps are out of your budget.

The Emotiva amps are more neutral in comparison, but they are still very fast and engaging.  That being said, I feel that they really need a fuse upgrade because they can be somewhat bright/metallic sounding.  I found an Isoclean fuse will warm up the sound on the Emotiva and smooth out the brightness/harshness a good deal.  Or you could go with Furutech rhodium fuse if you are after deep powerful bass and very high resolution (very revealing).  I have not listened to their "Gen 3" amps as they are a completely different beast (using switching power supply and XPR-based amp boards).

I've heard that NAD amps are very warm and very nice.  There's a dealer demo NAD C275BEE for sale on audiogon for $999 OBO.  It might be somewhat underpowered for your situation though.

This next idea will definitely break your bank, but you could look into a Parasound A21?

What about the older Parasound amps?  The old John Curl designs like the 2205 or HCA-2003A?  What are your thoughts on those?
Don't take this the wrong way but if it were me I would hold off and reevaluate my budget if at all possible, before spending the $1K on something that may not end up being much of an improvement over what I already have. Or at least wait for a great opportunity to come up. The 10Ts deserve (and demand) clean solid power to show what they can really deliver. I've heard them extensively when paired with a pair of McIntosh 601s and they are simply breathtaking.  
What did you decided to do? I'm looking for amps for my Aerial 7b and CC3b as well. 

jrunr-


go out to your local dealer/retailer, and listen, listen, listen to the gear.

I still like those older parasound HCA series power amps. It will be a matter of newer vs. older technology.


Mark Levinson and Classe' are sonic matches for Aerial speakers.

I ended up buying the Aragon mentioned above.  It's a beast and delivers plenty of current, but the sound isn't to my liking.  Upper frequency detail and clarity are impressive, as is the soundstage and imaging, but, to my ears, it's lacking the midrange warmth and forward presentation that I prefer.  The Aragon also had a tight grip on bass, so much so that I found it lacking.  Clean, tight, and accurate, yes, but at the sacrifice of output in my opinion.  

So, after a brief affair with the Aragon, I'm back to my trusty Ampzilla.  I find it has most of the detail, soundstage, and imaging of the Aragon, but with a midrange forward presentation that is more pleasing to my ears.  A note on the difference in bass; with the Aragon, I briefly thought about adding a subwoofer, with the Ampzilla, I have to pull the speakers further out from the wall to tame bass output.

Keep in mind, these findings are strictly my subjective opinion of my system, in my room, and to my ears.  Good luck with your search, and keep us posted!
Jafant; it's hard to listen to his stuff at any dealers as my Aerial 7b speakers are not the most current models. That's why I'm asking