Amplifier suggestions please

Hi - I'm reworking a 2 channel system, had some very basic components and now trying to step up a bit.  DAC is currently a Schiit Yggy, I'm on the waiting list for a Freya+ which means I'll be running balanced connections.  Speakers are Philharmonic Audio 3's.  I was using a pair of Emotiva XPA-1L monoblocks (differential/balanced) but want to upgrade.  I could stay in the Schiit catalog and go with a pair of Vidar's but although there are no real bad reviews I feel like they don't quite get raved about like the Yggy does (and the Freya+ to some extent).  I'd like to stay around $2K, definitely under $3K and I prefer new (I've had my fill with trying used).  I know its asking a lot to find a pair of balanced monoblocks in this range so I'm not opposed to a stereo amp (XLR inputs).  I could also be talked into canceling my Freya+ order and switching to a preamp from the amp builder if there is better synergy in that pairing.  I've looked an Van Alstine and Odyssey, what else should I be looking at?

Have you looked at class D? Big bang for the buck.. Compared to Emotiva, VTV, Nord, few more, I have Wyred4sound  (ICE) not my cup of tea. The Nords I really like with Sparco Op Amps... That little valve front end Freya + with the Nords.. oh yea... I use One Ups, NC500s
Serious little power house...BLACK background... great mids and no blistering highs.. I use small panars... Perfect.. or bass duty...really well behaved, run cool as could be,,

I'm not very familiar with class D from personal listening experience so it would be a bit of a gamble as to how I like it but I'll look over Nord's offerings.  class D is such a can of worms around here ;-)
What would you want to improve over your Emorivas, and what sound characteristics in general are most important to you?
I'm bad with using all the buzz words correctly and coming from an entry level such as Emotiva I would hope my upgrade would be an improvement in all areas.  I do know I want good frequency response top to bottom as my Phil 3's are full range, I feel like I'm missing some punch in low end from the XPA-1L's and the highs tend to be a bit rolled off as well.  Lots of other variables go into that was well so I fully acknowledge factors such as the room, treatments, etc.  
The Parasound Halo A21+ was on Stereophile’s recommend list this year and street price falls into your range. I 
The Rotel RB-1590 could be an excellent amp for your set-up. It is a fantastic amplifier.




I've actually got a ton of experience with all generations of Emotiva amps.  I'm not pushing emotive.  It can be a great platform to modify/upgrade, but the stock amps can be bright.  The Gen 3 is not recommended because of switching power supply. 

That being said, those smaller 1L monoblocks do have some drawbacks.  They are indeed just a little weak on bass because they use a smaller 450VA transformer.  If you want bass, you want to look for an amp that has a big transformer and big power supply.

As far as the highs being rolled off, I bet your running this amp in "Class A" mode.  That mode helps reduce some of the bright/harsh stock sound, but it also softens the high frequency response.  It's a drawback on this particular amp.

Klaus over at Odyssey audio uses really small transformers in his amps (even the Kismet monoblock).  They are small 400VA transformers.  For upgrade, he just stacks them.  800VA is still not a lot.  So if you want big powerful full bass, I would not choose an Odyssey amp.

I wouldn't go for a pair of Vidar's either.  While you can bridge them to make a monoblock, they really don't do well at the lower impedances.  Actually, you should never really buy a stereo amp to bridge/monoblock them.  They aren't designed for that purpose.  I don't think the Vidar's are actually powerhouses either.

You could look at an ATI amplifier AT4002 amp.  They are true fully balanced amp designs.  For the AT4002 stereo 2 channel amp, each amp board has it's own transformer, so it's a true dual-mono (essentially two true monoblocks built into the same case).  I don't know how they will do on bass.  The transformers look larger than the 1L transformers, but I can't tell.  The retail for AT4002 is $2695.

The step up is the ATI AT6002.  These have much larger 900VA transformers (still not huge, but much better than what you have been using).  It's a more powerfully 300 watts, but it's likely out of your budget at $3595 retail.

The Van Alstine monoblocks might work, but they are getting expensive and I don't know their transformer size.  You might reach out to them and ask.
@samac  - by the way, your URL to the rotel page in Music Direct is malformed.

On the topic of Rotel, the Rotel RB-1590 is an absolutely excellent amp!  It's not a fully balanced/differential amp circuit (if that matters to you), but it's got an excellent sound.  It has a slightly warm texture to the sound, but very smooth and very good resolution. 
@auxinput Thanks for the insight onregarding transformer size, I'll be sure to take that into account.  With your advice in mind both the Rotel and the Parasound recommendations above seem solid.  I usually favor the smaller direct brands but from what I've just read over the past hour the RB-1590 and the Halo A21+ look great. I'm going to go review the ATI suggestion now.
Given your price range and what you’re looking for I’d second looking at a Class-D amp.  D-Sonic flies under the radar but gets stellar reviews, and they offer a trial period.  The Bel Canto REF500S is also very nice, and Music Direct offers a 60-day trial.  Others mentioned like VTV, Nord, also very worth checking out.  Read reviews and just pick the one that most matches with your tastes.  Pretty sure any of them will significantly improve upon your Emotiva so lots of upside to be had.  Best of luck in your search. 
parasound a21+.  end of story.  
anthem audio 225 is under $2k safe and sound audio 
a excellent amplifier made i Canada not China !!
Get a Benchmark Media AHB2 amp and have no regrets. I have two as mono blocks that replaced a PS Audio amp and the improvement was astonishing.
If you go with the parasound, I have a 12.5a slo blo synergistic blue fuse For the mains if you are interested
See New Record Day: Best System Freya+ plus 2 Aegir's plus Bifrost
@sixsigmaguy Are the 2 AHB2's louder at the same volume level than a single AHB2? What speakers are you using with the mono AHB2's?

I have a single AHB2 and want to do a 30 trial with a second one. My speakers have some unusual power requirements so it is not a simple matter to go mono.
Regarding the OP question. Why not look into a Purifi mono from March Audio. Likely similar to the Benchmark AHB2.

@yyzsantabarbara  Based on the recommendations on this post I'm liking the grouping of the following: Parasound A21+,  ATI AT6002 , Benchmark AHB2, and Rotel RB-1590 (I know these stretch my stated budget a bit).  I'm going to compare them and pick a front runner - from there I can take a look at class D offerings and compare.  I'm not jumping right into class D as I don't have experience with them, feels like a bigger leap of faith for me as I'm much more familiar with AB amps. 

Would you lean more towards Purifi monos vs an AHB2?  
Parasound has excellent clean midrange, decent bass. However, the highs are somewhat dry. A BLUE fuse at the mains will probably help this.

For what it’s worth, Parasound A21+ has 1.3 kVA transformer.

The ATI AT6002 has 2 x 900VA = 1.8 kVA transformer total power.

I don’t know what the Rotel RB-1590 transformer size is, but I suspect that it’s close to the ATI.

As far as sound, both Parasound and Rotel are on the warm side of neutral. The ATI amp would be totally neutral and could even slant towards the revealing sound.
Someone earlier here mentioned class D with some great mentions....along those same lines, GaN (gallium nitride) based amps - which are a new variation to “class D” or chip amp - that are touted to be excellent sounding amps with low heat and smaller footprint:

Been looking at these as a possibility for moving to separates! 
Hello Jumper75! 
You may want to investigate Sudgen Amplifiers; pure Class A.  Price for the FPA 4 brand new is $3,500. Here is a listing for one in mint condition selling for $1995 although it is an older listing from 2019 so I doubt it is still available but it gives you a sense of what to expect.

I use a Hegel H90 (60 Watts) to power Focal Electra 1008 BE's and the match is astonishing on every level; soundstage, imaging, bass response, mids and of course the highs as a result of the Beryllium Tweeter. I was close to getting the Sudgen FPA 4 but my budget did not support a high-quality DAC so I went with the integrated Hegel.  If you can find a H390 used for anywhere near $4,000 grab it. It has the balanced connections as well as a superb DAC and phono stage.  Absolute giant killer of an integrated amp. $6k brand new.  Good luck! 
Jump on PASS asap for Thanksgiving.
@jumper75 I have the single AHB2 and I think it is the best amp I have ever owned because it is so quiet. Do the 30 day trial since you have nothing to lose (if you are in the USA). This amp does NOT require break-in contrary to what reviewers are saying. I have owned this amp 2 times and the second time I got it the amp sounded just like my old (sold) amp which had 100’s of hours on it.

Only Class D I would look at today are Purifi. The March Audio I linked to is in your price range for 2 monos. On the ASR web site they have a strong presence and the new amps are highly rated. The NAD M28 is also another Purifi amp but cost a little more and the specs are not as good as expected from the Purifi prototypes. However, NAD and Purifi have a very close relationship.

In my situation I need a lot of power in 2 Ohms. My single stereo amp is actually rated at that level for something like 292 watts. The mono are not rated at the level and the manual recommends using the monos on 6 and 8 Ohms loads. So I emailed the amp designer, who also posts on A’gon, and also the head of sales.

It seems that the mono AHB2 amps cannot run a long time at 2 Ohms to collect the specs. I think it is 30 minutes on a continuous 2 Ohm load that is needed to publish the specs. The designer and sales guy told me that is not a realistic real world situation and that the mono would work great for me. A musician that owns the same speakers as me posted that the single stereo AHB2 was more than enough power and sounded somehat better than the 2 monos. This is with the speaker that goes below 4 Ohms. In most situations the 2 monos are being described as much better. A lot of posts all over on this.

I will do the 30 day trial of the AHB2 see for myself. I have no concern about speaker damage since the amps have great shutdown control system.

So for my situation I am saying I do not know yet if 2 monos are what I will end up with yet. I will definitely try it first because the AHB2 is such an incredible amp and I think the only ones that are like it are the new Purifi based amps. I also think most other speakers would be a better match than my speakers, but I will still try to make it work because I like the AHB2 sound so much.

In a few more months Purifi will release much more powerful modules that will have tons of power at 2 Ohms. I will try that if I do not go with 2 AHB2’s. The other amp that I am considering, but is not in your criteria, is the $6K CODA #8 Class AB amp. It has the perfect specs for my application and is supposed to sound incredible. However, the Coda is described like sounding similar to other class AB amps to me and nothing like the AHB2. The Puriif amps is described as being very much like the AHB2, very quiet.
Have you considered the Gold Note PA-10? Class A/B design with GaN transistors. Available as a stereo amplifier or switchable to monoblocks (and the monos are within your budget) that output tons of power. Compact, Italian style in your choice of black, silver, or gold (champagne) finishes.

Here's a review on Here's a review in Positive Feedback.


Heads up that I'm a Gold Note dealer.
@ yyzsantabarbara Thanks for your additional info, much appreciated.  The AHB2 seems to be quite a unique animal.  I'm looking at how it differs from a more traditional AB amp in that price range, such as the Rotel RB-1590 suggested above that I'm really liking.  The AHB2 is very lightweight (SMPS vs large transformer as discussed above), lower on rated power, and I'm wondering about the adjustable gain - obviously low gain setting is ideal but is that intended more for the Benchmark DAC's or would its low gain setting work well with my system.   

It seems like I need to wrap my head a little more around the AHB2 much like I would going with a Purifi amp.  The RB-1590 (and the A21+ / AT6002) I don't really have questions or doubts from a design standpoint.  

Thanks for everybody's suggestions so far, they've been great.  I feel my answer is in this thread somewhere - so much to consider!

have you considered PS Audio M700 monoblocks. they are within your range  and you could lower the cost with a trade in of your current amps.  Plus you get a 30 day trial.

your speakers were designed by Dennis Murphy, who designed the crossovers on my Salk Song3 BeATs which pair wonderfully with the M700s.   

Plus the Phil 3s are require some power as they are rated at  85 dB (db/2.83v/1M) and are essentially a 4ohm load.  The M700s  are rated  at 350w/700w @ 8/4 ohm.  
@jumper75  The Benchmark web site has a menu section called APPLICATION NOTES. You will find all the technical details there.

As I mentioned previously the 30 day trial of the AHB2 is a no lose proposition.
My 2 second analysis of your issues: Forget balanced and mono blocks.
Buy the best Integrated you can afford and find some speakers that you love. Maybe Philharmonic Audio are the best thing since sliced bread .
Do you live anywhere near a HiFi store?  Best of luck!
I am 72, but unlike many old stuck in the past farts, I have enjoyed class D for over a decade. Just like class A, AB, tubes... some sound better than others. You need to be educated, which unfortunately is mostly trial and error

While I liked the PS Audio M700s a lot, my large room demands more power, which I got buying a EVS 1200 ~ 1.4 years ago, a custom tweaked dual mono amp based on IcePower AS1200 modules

That said, Underwood HiFi is supposedly releasing his extremely realistically priced GaN amp, called the Voyager. I would follow up on it before buying anything else
Get a huge power supply, i.e a heavy amp. Seriously.  My old Audire 125 wpc amp has a 500 watt tranny, 4 26,000 mf filter caps, and 6 outputs per channel.  Better Audires use many more ouputs. In comparison, a really good Bryston 200wpc amp of the same era uses 4 outputs/ch,  and 2 4000 mf caps.  Loud bass drops off more on the more powerful amp, but lighter amp.   
Take a look at the  Parasound Halo A23+ ! On Ebay for 1269.00 either silver or black. Not mono blocks but the sound quality is great. Has a replaceable power cord for further fine tuning and of course the option of a fuse upgrade, both for your low price!
Some additional comments. Below is link explaining what I did to Emotiva Gen 3 DR2 amps, which helped but still did not provide super deep strong bass (example of switching power supply):

Moving on, the only time you really want a low gain setting on an amplifier is if you have super extremely efficient speakers (I’m talking 99-100db efficiency, such as something like Tekton Double Impacts). What happens is that these speakers are so damn efficient that the background hiss that is present in all gain circuits is radically amplified and you have this annoying background hiss on whatever you listen to. The fix for this is a low gain setting on your amp.

Since your Phil 3 speakers are actually a rather low 85db efficiency, you want a normal gain amp (even one that tilts towards a higher gain such as 32db gain).

jumper75 OP
I could stay in the Schiit catalog and go with a pair of Vidar’s

Think about this, it could work very well, your speaker look great BTW with that planer midrange and ribbon tweeter and could be easily Bi-ampable with just a little moding, if you or have someone with a little knowledge can do.

Horizontal Bi-amping with a Class-A Schiit Agir on the mids and highs where it’s in it’s element.
And a Schiit Vidar for the bass, because the Vidar has 2db more gain than the Agir you will need a Schiit $49 Sys on the input of the Vidar to lower it’s volume a touch (once only).
And your Freya+ then controls the lot, and because the Freya+ has 2 sets of RCA outputs you don’t need a "Y" splitter

Cheers George
My friend with the same speakers is using a Van Alstine amp and pre and his really sing.
I believe that's the match which they used at audio shows.
If you call AVA I'm sure he can recommend the perfect solution. You have some fantastic speakers there!
@johnto Thanks!  I love the 3's.  Do you know which model AVA amp your friend is using?  
+1 for the Benchmark AHB2
Why are you so apparently, "Stuck" on a, "Balanced Only", set-up in your rig?
 I kind of get "get-it", as I went through what I shall a, "Phase" doing basically the same thing at one point!
But that was years ago and I got over it as nearly all of us do.
   "Yes", "XLR cabling" has it benefits. But limiting yourself to JUST XLR in/out config.?
That is WAY, way, way more detrimental to your possible choices at this point in your rig than if you didn't worry so much about that right now. "OR, ever even". As the XLR's benefits "Can" be, "Negligible" at best, most of the time.
I have many amps. Many "Great", amps. This according to friends, reviews, and reputation. And also my own humble opinion. And most of them? Are in fact "RCA, only", in/out. So I would simply advise you to,
 "Quit that"!
 Having said all that, it just occurred to me....
I do have a "Threshold, T-100", amp. With both the XLR and RCA inputs. "Factory mods". That both sounds amazing, and has been recently serviced. And is also for sale. AND it is within your budget. "In case you are interested". Also a "Threshold A400", with the XLR Mod. But that amp is above your price-point.
     And if you wanted to up that game? Up it, "Quite", a bit actually??
 I also have a pair of the "Manley Labs", "Snapper"", mono-blocks with both the the XLR/RCA's. Which are a little bit over your budget. But, the "Manley Labs", "Mahi", mono-blocks which I have? Those would be at the top of your price-point. And they would work just as well as the, "Snapper's".
 BUT, You would in fact be restricted to the RCA inputs only!

Yes, I have the "Manley's" above to sell, but I really only mentioned them to make my point above.
 Hee hee, I really don't "Want", to sell them at this time.....
But the Threshold T-100?
Yes, definitely, It needs a good home!
 One more point, Just in case...
You do realize that cabling is available which has both the XLR on one end and RCA on the other, which does in fact exhibit the same benefits as the "XLR only ", cabling right? "
Any noise is still canceled and any of the noise/distortions thus relieved are shunted back to the XLR device and done away with.
 Just always use a quality cable!

 Regardless, Good Luck!!
You do realize that cabling is available which has both the XLR on one end and RCA on the other, which does in fact exhibit the same benefits as the "XLR only ", cabling right?

While cabling does exist with this configuration, this really isn't the right way to do it.  Converting XLR to RCA and vice-versa really needs a signal transformer (such as those available from Jensen) or a conversion circuit with an op amp (not optimal at all). 

XLR circuits that don't have a receiving end for the negative polarity can sometimes run hot or not optimum if it doesn't have a "load" on that signal pin.

I'm not saying this configuration won't work, but it is generally not recommended.


And another note.  Trying to turn the opinion of the OP because you have stuff to sell is not completely un-biased.
Well, I never claimed to be, "Unbiased", Hee hee. 
No-one truly can be!
 But you cannot tell me that a, "Threshold", "T-100", amp wouldn't be a nice fit!
 ANY Threshold amp would be really...."IMHO", I've yet to run into one that was not nice.
 And mentioning the other amps was way more to make the point I was trying to instill. I really don't think I'll part with those others right now. But my collection is too large.
 I offer when I think I can really help. Other than that I have never sold anything here. I have never advertised here either. I use other sites for that when needed. Well, For a "charity case" once. But that is it. 
AND I am not affiliated with any company which sells, services or makes amplifiers. "Speakers"? Yes, But not those other components!
 I notice all the time people whom "Are" affiliated with that type of business trying to sell. Usually not, "Outright", maybe but at times that as well. But it's sometimes some pretty, "BAD" advice they throw out.
 "Specifically", when they list the gear which they sell or make.  And many times listing gear that's not really of a "really good" quality or at least,  "No better" than what a person has already! Just a bit more on the, "New" side. And when one is attempting to upgrade a system? AND on a budget? 
That should truly be a "Cardinal Sin"!
   Isn't there a special "10th Circle of Hell", just for that particular transgression??
So yeah, I was in that missive about as un-biased as anyone ever is. 
 It was simply honest.
The only thing Op is going to get at the price range is class D trash. You're only option outside of Aliexpress for a quality amp is to find a used Odyssey monoblock pair. I actually have a Yggdrasil and an Odyssey Stratos stereo amp. My Freya balanced output is just BARELY able to drive the Stratos' inputs due to the weakness of Odyssey amps, their low input impedance. This is probably why it never sounded good, but it could also because my Freya is messed up. Anyway. No matter how unimpressive the Schiit power amps are they're going to be automatically better than the class D junk people will push on you.