Look at the post right above yours! Krell seems to be the answer--except, according to posts below yours, Krell is going out of business. Good luck
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There have been a number of posts on driving Sophias, so you may want to do a search or look at the amp/preamp section on this subject. I had a pair of Sophias, now Watt Puppy 7's, and drove them with an ARC VT100 Mark III, which I believe Wilson also uses to voice the speakers. Big push-pull tube amps are a great match with Sophias, which are easier to drive than the WP. I also heard the VTL ST150 driving Sophias at my dealer and the soundstaging, like that of the ARC amp, was fantastic. I could hear the bass drum coming from another space than the bass guitar, and instrumental images were focused well. Tonality was great with tube amps I tried, which also included the Conrad-Johnson Premier 140. The only thing you will give up using tube amps is the last word in bass and dynamics, definitely a Wilson forte, but the problem with most SS amps is lack of soundstage size. This effect is less with the Sophias than with WP's, but the only SS amp with soundstage size approaching that of tubes is Essence amps which are extremely difficult to find. I haven't tried the Pass amp, but reportedly they are good with the Sophias. I did try a BAT VK500 and VK600 and wasn't impressed with spatial detail; in fact, it was a real shortcoming. Maybe the SE version is better but I would look elsewhere based on my experiences with BAT SS gear.
If going for the Pass amp, go for the X250.5 for the Sophias. This is the newest version of the X250 and supposed to sound smoother in the highs and more natural than the older X250, although I haven't heard the X250 I love the X250.5 in my system.
Also, I would recommend a tube pre if you are going with solid state amp for the Sophias.
Jond. Look at the recent threads. There was one the other day, just "two down" from this one that raised the question of Krell going out of business. You should be able to find this thread with some kind of search--unless the gon gods pulled it. It wasn't a short thread by any means. I have no idea of whether Krell is going down. But there were lots of opinions expressed. I was simply tieing the one thread to the other...
Why the combination of a Pass Labs amp and a Boulder preamp? Since you know about Boulder preamp, what do think of Boulder amp? What do you hear differently between a Boulder design for amplifier versus that of a Pass Labs or an Ayre? I am more interested in amplifiers for a Watt Puppy, but Sophia sounds sufficiently similar.
Because this combination gave me the best result. I would buy Boulder 1010 pre or 2010 pre but not any Boulder power amplifier. Same rule applies to Pass Labs. Nelson Pass makes power amplifier best but not preamplifiers.(as far as I know he doesn't design pre amplifiers) As long as Boulder amps concerned , only 1000 and 2000 series may drive any load below 8 ohm, 800 series will not double their output when load is below 8 ohm. On the other hand Pass Labs .5 series double their output when load drops to 4 ohm. That is very important if you deal a speaker, 4 ohm, 89 db. Wilson Sophia 2. Btw, Boulder power amps has a such a characteristic sound neither solidstate nor tube. They are built for Class AB operation. I prefer heavily biased class AB or A amplifiers. Pass is good according to my taste but not boulder.
I listen at fairly loud levels as well but also like to have great sonics at low levels for quiet listening nights after working too hard. :-) So I asked one of the audiogon pros for their advice...
Albert Porter guided me to VTL MB450s. These were an excellent choice for my room and preamp (a new Audio Research LS26) and Purist Audio Cabling. Sources include Ayre CX7e, Linn LP12 (all current updates through end of 2006).
FYI: I purchased a new pair of Wilson Audio Sophia Series 2 speakers in Oct 2006.
I heard Pass Labs X.5 series behaves like a class A at low volume. How low a volume must it be? I usually listen in the range of 70-85 db. Secondly why stop at such lowly 250W X250.5? Wouldn't an X600.5 sounds better? I heard power doesn't have to be for loudness. It also means more juice for non-woofer components to do their thing. Both Sophia and Watt Puppy are rather large speakers as well.
hmmm, I would say around 47-50 db, it will be in Class A operation.(also depends on source, cd, xrcd, Sacd, voltage of the cd player, recording.....) X250.5 will give first 35 watts in Class A mode. This is for sure, than, if you raise volume (-55 db ) it will switch to AB when it needs realy a bass slamm. If the meter of X250.5 starts shaking time to time, it means bias is not fixed, amplifier needs to switched to AB.
X600.5 will sound better with more demanding speakers from Wilson range, but not with sophias. Building a Hi-End setup is tricky thing:In this case, If I could find substantialy better amplifier, I would have bought it. (cost is no object , even my speaker cable is expensive as my Pass Amplifier)
I hope this helps.
failry loud levels? most likely the pass 250.5 may not do it for you. the next one up, the pass x350.5 is capable of bringing more to the sohpias [are they the original version or the 2's?] the x350.5 puts out 50 wpc class a, which will probably give you beautiful quality for low and med low listening volumes. you will need the power of the 350 wpc if you require moderately loud listening levels without strained bass. keep in mind, the sophia doesnt extend down to the very bottom end as a full range speaker does. you may want to look into source and cables that excell at tight bass response otherwise you may find yourself pushing up the volume in an attempt to get the depth that the speakers are not designed to give. sub woofer may help in that area. IMO, if you achieve a tight lower end and excellent upper bass clarity, you may find yourslef listening at lower volumes as the clarity will be there.
i also suggest emailing vtl and arc and pass directly. they all will respond with suggestions within your pricerange. then do a followup call. i have found all 3 companies very available, especially vtl and pass. i dont think the vtl st150 will give you enough power. i also dont think the arc ls 16 will give you the clarity you wish to hear with mostly accoustic instruments. i have little familiarity with BAT.
with the sophia, you may want to look more towards a s/s amp and a tubed preamp. the s/s amp, or a hybrid amp, may get the best out of the mid bass of these speakers. i found that true when i auditioned the sophia 2's and an all arc amp/pre, the pass x350.5 amp excelled $ for $. i also agree with previous comments that the x.5 is a better mate for the sophias than the x250 (or x350), especially the original version. cheers.
I have the Sophia 1's in a similar room. My room, however needs a significant amount of power to adequately pressurize the space with lifelike bass. The bass characteristics of your room need to be a primary issue in your choice.
The Sophias LOVE tubes. If your room is easy to pressurize, the Audio Research VT 100 will be a good choice. I needed more power and picked up a demo pair of Audio Research VM-220's. A gorgeous combination of accurate tonality , great. huge stage and great bass. I had a Cary V-12 with 50 triode watts and 100 watts ultra-linear. Small scale music was gorgeous with the 50 triode watts, but large scale performances never achieved life-like scale with 100 tube watts.
I was never able to audition a Macintosh amp with the Sophias but one of the customer service guys at Wilson Audio felt his favorite combo with the Sophias was a tube pre-amp and a MAC power amp.
I felt the Pass X250.5, while good, lacked the tube magic that my Audio Research Monos have.
The only solid state amps I auditioned that I liked a lot were the Jeff Rowland
201 mono-blocs. They are slightly recessed in the high frequencies, which, depending on the characteristics of your room can be a great match. The Sophias tend to be "revealing" in the high frequencies so careful matching is the key to the phenomenal realism they are capable of producing. Listen to many amps and the proper choice will be obvious.
I think the X250.5 is more than enough for the Sophias power wise. Sophias are much easier to drive than my B&W N803 and the X250.5 absolutely handles the N803s without any hint of running out of juice. I listen to music on loud levels. The Pass amp is effortless, clean, zero strain and keeps great separation of instruments at high levels. Be it rock, jazz or the large scale orchestral.
I do agree though that a tube preamp is a good idea with Wilsons if the amp is solid state.