If you get a chance, pick up a used Atmasphere S30 or Transcendent OTL amp.
I had the Atmasphere and Decapo combo for a while and can tell you they work great together.
I suspect that an Atma-Sphere S-30 amp would be wonderful, if you can find one used at your price. I think the retail is about $3,000. I haven't heard them paired together, but on paper they look good together.
I run mine with a bryston 4b-st and it's a pretty good match. I've heard them w/ classe, gryphon, mcintosh, rotel, essence, and ati. I'll have to say the gryphon and essence opened them up the best. Although the speakers are so good they make lesser quality amps sound good ;).
I've been thinking of selling my Cary preamp and going with a Cary SLI-80 integrated.(40w triode, 80w ultralinear) Any comments? Thanks
If you're thinking about going with a good tube integrated look at Unison Research and Pathos.
I thought I read some mixed reviews somewhere on the Unison amps. Wherever it was the reviewer seemed to think that though they looked stunning, they were average in performance. I guess that has stuck in my mind. Strange how little biases develop when not paying attention. I think conversely I have a "thing" for the Cary stuff since I've had my SLP-50A preamp and loved it. You've piqued my interest in the Bryston amps. And to Wellfed and Emil, though I would love to try the atmasphere, it's way out of my price range right now.
Forget using a Bryston on those De Capos; those brutes don't have the finesse and warmth of a good tube amp on a speaker this efficient. You're far better-off with a modestly powered tube amp or a hybrid. (not that Cary 5 watt'er though! You need more control than that tiny thing will give you) I would avoid the cheap made-in-China tube amps; they are fuzzy in the highs and don't do bass very well.
Anyone able to give me a comparison of the Cary SLI-80 to the Jadis Orchestra reference?
I'm using a VAC Avatar w/ my de Capos. 27W in triode, 60 in ultralinear. I find that triode is fine, and preferable, w/ female vocals, most jazz and small classical groups. With the stock tubes, I almost never ran in UL because I didn't like the sound as much. Now that I've switched to NOS Mullard tubes, I find I like UL a lot more, especially w/ rock or symphony music. My point is, I feel like the de Capos benefit from the extra power when listening to such music, and I now mainly listen to the VAC in UL when I know I'm going to listen to symphony or rock music. (Contrary to popular belief, the VAC is not switchable on the fly, and switching while it is powered up can damage the amp.)
By comparison, when I had Spendor 3/5s, I felt I never had a problem w/ the VAC in triode at 27 W, that it was always enough power, even though those speakers are a lot less sensitive "on paper". The difference is that the de Capos go significantly lower in frequency response. I think that the 3 db point is rated at 44 Hz, but the UHF review I saw said that they roll off slowly, and have real energy down into the 30s (I believe the 24 db pt. was in the 20s!!) With that kind of response possible, I think the 3As benefit from the extra power. I don't know how the Manley compares w/ an Avatar, but I can tell you that the Avatar has the ability to generate some real authority w/ the de Capos, esp. in UL, in my 13 by 15 ft. room.
I am a huge fan of these speakers. (I own the non-'i' version.)
The best choice for amplification depends on your listening preferences, as Terry alluded to, but also on your listening style. However, based on my experience, I don't think 5 watts would be enough.
What kind of classical do you listen to? If you tend to listen to chamber music, lieder, 18th/19th century keyboard repertoire, you can probably do with around 50 watts. If you listen at low levels in a small room, perhaps even less. Definitely try before you buy.
If you listen to Romantic and 20th orchestral music, opera, large choral works (requiems, choral symphonic works, etc.), particularly if you listen at realistic levels, the De Capos will definitely benefit from all the power (within reason) you can throw at them.
I'm currently using a 150-watt solid state amp. It's certainly not the best choice (for example, a 150-watt tube amp would probably be better), but this speaker is not the meek SET squeaker that many assume it is. Properly powered, it reproduces symphonic music (Rite of Spring, anyone?) and b-i-g voices (think Jessye Norman as Judith in Bluebeard's Castle) with authority and impact.
I tend to listen to this kind demanding repertoire at (or, with guilt, above) concert levels in a medium-sized room. So, obviously, my power requirements are higher.
And, as Terry mentioned, the extended bass repsonse is much more demanding of amplifier power. If you listen to organ music or repertoire that includes large orchestrations with tymps or bass drums, you will not get the best results with a low-powered tube amp that recoils from low-frequency information.
In my room/system, I can hear the fundamentals of 16- and 32-foot pipes. No, they are not rafter-shaking; the laws of physics still apply.
A couple additional points and suggestions:
I agree that the Atma-Sphere S-30 would be a great match, albeit with a power limitation.
I agree that Bryston (in my experience) would be plenty powerful, but lack finesse and warmth. I have not really heard the new SST series, though...
At the last Montreal show, Reference 3A demonstrated with Copland (because the distributor carries both), using a new integrated amp with a tube pre and ss amp stage. Not sure on the price, but nice-sounding (not fantastic in my book), and plenty powerful (I think the integrated is 80-100 watts).
I am itching to hear my dc's with the c-j MV-60se (or maybe two of them). I haven't heard the combination, but the MV-60 has sounded sweet and musical (if not particularly authoritative) in a number of systems; the SE version is supposed to add some bass control and impact--Hi Fi + gave it a Product of the Year award, as well.
Rogue Audio might have some mid-power amps in your price range used.
I've also heard of good results powering dc's with the Audio Aero Prima hybrid integrated.
A follow-up and a question. While my VAC and Ref 3As are definitely a step-up from anything I've owned in the past, I find myself wanting even more dynamics and "naturalness" from my system. I've been leaning towards selling the de Capos and getting perhaps a larger pair of 3As, like the ones listed for sale on this site now. However, Cyounkman raises an interesting issue about power. I'm not sure if upgrading the de Capos, or the Avatar, would give me more performance for the present. I've enjoyed the VAC w/ several speakers, and it certainly has better dynamics and openness than any of the cheaper tube amps I've owned in the past, like Anthem, Golden Tube, Antique Sound. However, I'm beginning to think that a 100 watt + tube amp would coax even more out of the de Capos. Another option is to upgrade my Avatar to an SE, for an extra grand. Several Avatar owners have confirmed what Kevin Hayes of VAC told me -- that the SE is more transparent and dynamic than the standard Avatar. Or, I could sell the Avatar and pick up a VAC 100/100, since they have been discontined and are now discounted. Any thoughts? (I think I will post this in the amp section as well). Thanks,
Terry, I was in touch with Ernie aka "Subaruguru" about the VAC and he mentioned something about it's very high output impedance. That may have something to do with your "dissatisfaction".
I've decided to go with the Cary sli-80. (I loved my slp-50A preamp) I guess we'll see what happens.
Thanks. Can anyone explain "high output impedence" to me? What kinds of speakers would be appropriate w/ such an amp?
While I've never heard the Cary integrated, my uneducated guess would have been that the Cary would be a little warmer and softer sounding than the VAC. The VAC certainly sounded more dynamic w/ Spendor and Soliloquy speakers than a 50watt ASL amp and Cary preamp that I previously owned. In fact, listening to a variety of speakers at the dealer, it sounded more dynamic than the $1500 Roksan & Creek integrateds, bested only by a Sim I-5 in dynamics/bass. (Thats why I was thinking I might have to go to something like the VAC 100/100, or a comparable amp, to improve over the Avatar in dynamics.) OTOH, my experience w/ Cary amps is very limited.
I too have been struggling to find the "right" synergy with the de capo i's. I've auditioned the Plinius 8100 (open, clear, black background, but glassy on top, particularly when pushed), the Classe CAP-151 (smooth, dynamic, but cool), the Rogue Tempest Magnum (nice, but not enough clarity) and the Sim I-3 (dynamic, but not as black as the Plinius). I settled on the Sim I-5 (more refined than the I-3). However, after living with the I-5 for a while, I'm still looking for a little more warmth and body (particularly in the low end). I recently auditioned the Audiomat Arpege Reference (all the warmth and body that you could want, but slightly veiled) and it's bigger brother the Prelude (leaner, quicker). The Prelude Reference may be the best of the group so far; very musical, detailed, but not fatiguing. I just wish it came in black (WAF)!
I'm trying to create an owner's forum for Ref3A products over on audio circle. It would be a great pool of resources for someone with this kind of question; with access to a lot of owners, and archives of their experiences with amps and other ancillaries.
Please click over and post your support for creating the forum!http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=2787
(In the Town Square circle)
One of the problems with the De Capos (if you can call it a problem) is that they seem to me to be a lot more revealing of upstream equipment than other speakers in the price class. As a result, the necessary sonic compromises in commonly well-regarded afordable integrated amps like some of the ones you mentioned are exposed more so than people generally expect.
The obvious answer is to spend a lot more money to get a more transparent, powerful, perfect amp. (I guess that's usually the obvious answer.) The realistic answer is to try to find amplification that, like the dc's, offers much higher level of performance than you would expect at the price.
I wish I could suggest one. I've been focusing on my front end lately, so I haven't done much with amps for the de capos. I was hoping the 8100 might be a good answer, but you didn't seem happy with it.
The Audiomats, which I've heard (not on de capos), seem like they might be a great choice; although they're not in branson's price range.
Branson: Maybe another option to look for is used mid-power tubes. I'm not sure what kind of prices they go for, but I've heard of good results with the smaller VTL amps; c-j, Manley, and Sonic Frontiers could be good as well. If you're willing to live with less-than-stellar build quality, Antique Sound Labs could be an answer. Divergent Technologies (the distributor for both) often uses De Capos with ASL amps at shows. A lot of the ASL amps are in your price range new. I wouldn't expect it to be a final solution, but it could get you where you want for a while.
Yet another comment from me. I agree that one of the "problems" w/ the de Capos is that they are almost ruthlessly revealing, as trite as that sounds. I've been posting comments, questions and thoughts here and on AA the last few days relating to the de Capos. I agree as to the ASL suggestion for a budget amp w/ the de Capos. I owned the $1200 ASL amp before I got the de Capos, and it was very good for the $$. Also heard the de Capos w/ the less expensive ASL integrated (the middle one I think) and I liked the sound very much in a smaller room at the dealer's shop. I believe it is a SET integrated, and gave the de Capos a little extra warmth -- a good thing I thought -- w/out giving up much LF info in a small room.
To give you some perspective, two of the reasons I've been a little unhappy w/ my system lately have noting to do w/ the de Capos. First, I sold my Michell Gyro/SME 309/ VDH and Clearaudio cartidges, and regret the decision. The Michell was difficult to set up right w/out local dealer help, and I fiddled w/ it a lot, but when it was close to right, the Gyro/SME w/ either cartridge, the de Capos/Avatar and a good LP were breath-takingly good. I just got tired of fiddling w/ it. Second, I have been doing a lot of tube rolling in my Avatar lately, with some very mixed results. So, I'm not sure its fair to blame the Avatar. The Avatar is very good w/ the stock tubes, and with the right NOs 12au7s, even better. I just can't leave well enough alone, and have to accept that no matter how much tube rolling I do, I'm not going to turn my Avatar into a Renn. 30/30 or Art Audio Jota.
tiny triodes by vtl are a terrific match.Great low end punch that sounds real and mids that are smooth and detailed.The audio aero cdp matches very well with these speakers and amp.
Thanks for all the ideas. I went with the Cary Sli-80 integrated for it's price and option of triode and ultralinear. I've owned a Cary SLP-50A and was very pleased with every aspect of it, sonics and build quality.
Hope it works out as well as those of you who have found your dream match. Brucegel, the AudioAero is next but I just have to rob a bank or win a lottery first. Seriously though... I hope I hope.
Good luck with the sli-80. Looks like it should be a good match. We'd love to hear what you think. Remember to upgrade the power cord...
Thanks Chris. I'll be using a SR master coupler.
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