Amplifier upgrade advice under $2000

Hi!  I have a new pair of speakers on order and want to upgrade my power amplifier to be ready when they arrive.  My current system is Klipsch Heresy III, Onkyo M504 amp, MiniDSP SHD preamp/streamer/room correction, and SVS SB12 sub.

Scheduled to arrive in December are Ohm Walsh 2000.  Research indicates these like a lot of power.  If the Ohms don’t work out I’ll shop for a used B&W 804, so still probably needs good power.

So, with a budget under $2000, wondering if I can get something that sounds significantly better than the Onkyo.  Used is fine.  Brands I have seen come up in the price range are Classe (ca-150), Vincent (331MK), Krell, PS Audio, Parasound, Bryston, etc.

I want to know if this would be a significant upgrade in this price range.  My sense is that brands like Rotel, Adcom, Emotiva, etc. would probably not change the sound all that much.  I also have a Crown ps-400, for example, that sounds pretty much identical to the Onkyo.

I recently tried out a Rogue Atlas Magnum tube amp.  It sounded great with the Heresys, a definite upgrade. Unfortunately  it created a loud speaker hum that I was unable to fix.  But it did make me crave the tube sound.  But it seems like finding a high powered tube amp to work with the Ohm Walsh is going to be challenging.

Sorry for the rambling, basically, is it worth spending $1-2K on a new amp or should I wait until I can get into a higher price range before ditching the Onkyo (which has those awesome green meters!).  Thanks!
They're only 88dB, as measured with the misleading 2.83volts instead of 1 watt. When you realize what's going on you will understand why however much you may like the way they sound its pretty much impossible to find an amp to drive them well at anything above background level.
I had a pair of monitors rated at 85db and my 90W integrated drove them just fine to levels that could get me kicked out of my place. 

That video is a great primer (saw it awhile back) on what to look out for and what to beware of but the way mc presented it is a bit misleading. In that video it's states that 2.83V can be as accurate as 1W if other considerations are accounted for but not many do it the proper way anymore.

All the best,
Get a Parasound Halo integrated (older model) used for under 2K.  It has 160wpc into 8 ohms and 240wpc into 4 ohms.  It is an excellent sounding integrated and probably light years ahead of your Onkyo.  Unless things have changed, Onkyo was never that good to begin with. 
Interestingly, the M504’s were rated for 4Ω in the EU market but not the North American one? Probably because they didn’t meet the US Standards for heat.

But as the Ohm Walsh 2000 are rated at 6Ω so you should be fine as is.

Now, if you wanted to try tubes, I’d suggest a pair of monoblocks.

I have both solid state and tube monoblocks. My speakers are Martin Logan Spires which can go down to 1Ω (and are known to be very demanding on amps).

My s/s amps are Soundcraftsmen PM860 that put out 900 W at 4Ω. I can entertain the neighbourhood with the volume at 3/10.

My tube amps are Golden Tube Audio SE-40 which I’ve upgraded all caps and resistors. They put out 75 W. While they lack the sheer punch of the PM860’s, they drive the ML’s quite nicely and are much more musical.

Or, find another Crown PS-400 and run them as monoblocks. That would give you 530 W at 8Ω.  

A Unison Research Unico Due would probably suit your tastes and needs well as it’s got a tube input stage backed by a good amount of solid state power.  One just sold here for $1600 so maybe keep your eyes out.  A used Hegel H300 or H160 would also likely yield some significant improvements, or maybe even a NuPrime IDA-16.  Anyway, just a few other ideas to consider.  Best of luck. 
Great video MC!  Thanks for sharing that.  That really clarified many things for me that I knew but just didn’t know why.

Really helps you to understand the importance of speaker / amplifier pairing.

As to the OP, that Onkyo doesn’t look horrible but Im not too familiar with your preamp.  Im assuming that you can make a nice improvement going with a used integrated under $2k.  It looks like you could sell the Onkyo too for some good $.  Maybe up your budget to $2500...
You ought to research what integrateds  pair well with your speakers.  The designer of the speakers would let you know as well I imagine.
+1 on Van Alstine. If you would consider a hybrid, a Vincent could be the ticket.
I guess that I could add that I owned a Classe CA-150 and CA200 and preferred the 200.  You can find one for around $1500-$1700.  You should still look into a pre amp as well though.  The pre amp is as big if not bigger contributor to the sound.

I recently got a Belles Aria integrated.  I looked at Parasound but it had features that I didn’t need or want.  Ayre AX7e and Kinki EXM1 were on my shortlist.  You might want to look into the Kinki EX-M1.  It seems to be a powerhouse with great imaging and a silent / black background.  
I’m guessing here that the Belles, Ayre, and Kinki will offer a higher end sound than the Parasound, not to diss the Parasound.  I actually like Parasound too.  People seem to love Hegel so check out Hegel.

If you are going seperates, my best 2 ams were the Classe CA-200 and the Bryston 4B-st.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I have alot of research to do. The preamp is actually new, I bought mainly for the Dirac room correction ability, which seems very helpful in my not-well-set up living room.  So i'm concentrated on just power amps for now. 

The video from Millercarbon was interesting, a little above my knowledge.  

I like the hybrid power amp idea.  Van Alstine seems really interesting, not sure if those come up used too often.  Vincent looks interesting, I just can't find too much about them online.
OP (Quote) "or should I wait until I can get into a higher price range"
is a very good plan. These threads usually devolve into 50 responses with 100 different amps suggested. The Reality is that the jump in quality from a 2k new amp to a 4-6K new product is significant. (Ignoring used prices) After about 6k, the improvements, IMO, become more subtle and nuanced. Without knowing the specific improved sound you are seeking it would be just a fanboy reply for me to suggest one. Are you looking for more speed? Firm Bass control, smooth vs detailed? What is lacking now? Watts are not going to be the end all solution. Throwing money at an undefined problem is a great way to spend more money. Buying something used until you get the exact amp you want (A path I followed) is not a bad idea at all either. I narrowed my choices down to 2, then saved and waited. The right amp will make those speakers sing so save your hard earned money and get the one you will love. (And definitely spend some coin treating the room.) Good Luck!

Why buy used? The Van Alstine amps are within the budget that you mentioned in your post!
The Parasound Halo int. as suggested above is a great amp with everything you need in one piece was Stereophile A rated.
@yogiboy , is there a particular Van Alstine you recommend?  I got immediately intrigued by the 400R hybrid ($2699) but see there are some nice ones below $2K.  

@phcollie  In terms of what I'm looking for I might not be fully equipped with the audiophile knowledge to say.  I also don't have the Ohm Walsh 2000's yet to know if there are issues.  With previous speakers I've had (Heresy III, B&W dm2, Dynaudio Evoke 30) they each had pluses and minuses.  The hi-end on the Dynaudio sounded fantastic, really silky and sparkly, especially on female vocals.  The Heresy is not as smooth but has a bigger soundstage and gives more of that live concert feel.  None of these (with this amp) have been able to do rock or heavy metal very well.  I listen to alot of 90's and Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Metallica have all sounded muddled and lacking seperation in the midrange.  So maybe that's an issue with the Onkyo amp.  I listen to a bit of everything so hoping to find an all-around good system.

Hard to say what i'm expecting in this price range.  I have heard some way more expensive Magico and B&W 800 based systems that just made everything sound incredible.  
+1 phcollie.  
I just looked up your preamp and thats a cool little piece.  Probably a better pre than I originally thought.

Your onkyo isn’t horrible either from what ai can tell.  
It might be smart to slow down, get the speakers and see how everything sounds, THEN go after whatever is going to best fix what you feel is lacking, if anything!

@ Judsondickie,
          Now that you have defined what you are looking for, pass that detail along to someone at Ohm and ask specifically what some of the pairings they used when they went to a show.  Dig for info. Find the amp that has proven to be a good pairing, then save up and buy one new.  I went so far in my search as to look up show records that gave system details of rooms. I'd be surprised if it doesn't sound better with what you have, OHM W did the NY Audio Show in 2017 with a simple Outlaw RR2160 Receiver.  Punch above your weight on your amp, and take that out of the equation for the next 10 years.  Cheers.

There's a couple of Anthem P2s on agon and ebay that can prob be had for your budget and its 325 w into 8 ohms 
I also have a pair of Walsh Ohms 2000s on order and am looking for a preamp/amp combo or an integrated amp.

Does anybody have any advice using tube integrated amps ?   What would the power output need to be with tubes to drive the 6 ohm Walsh Ohm 2000s (88db @ 2.8v) ?
I suggest you do research on the C-J MF-2200, MF-2300 and newer models to see if any of these fit your needs. They're very good performers and they last. Reviews are available online. I only had good experience with my MF-2100, driven by a PF-R or a PV-10AL, depending on the mood. (Caveat: You may need to replace the few electrolytics there are.) 
Save up and buy a NAD M33.  Amazing sound, Dirac live included, BluOS faultless streaming, much more.  I absolutely love mine, all the great reviews are true.
I’m surprised that The Rogue Audio Sphinx v.3. has not been recommended.  It’s a 100 watt into 8 ohms  and 200:watts into 4 ohms integrated.  It’s satisfactorily driving my Maggie MG12s and the Ohms are easier to drive.  The bonus is that you can roll the 12AU7 preamp tunes to tailor the sound even more.  My recently upgraded Walsh 2.2000 provide a relaxed, musical presentation with surprising base driven by a Musical Fidelity A308.  A new Musical Fidelity m5si can be had for just under 2K and is a high value 150 watt high current integrated that will drive most anything you will throw at it.  

OP, I have a Parasound A23 driving a pair of Klipsch Forte II in my second system and it is a great match with more than enough power to really make them sing.
I'm seeing A23's used for about $700 125w 8ohms 225w 4ohms.
Then there is the A21 I see for $1700 - $2000 it 250w 8ohms, 400w 4ohms

Im not sure about how hard it is to drive a pair of Ohm's but I do know how hard it is to drive Magnepans properly and Hegel does an outstanding job. FWIW.

I think you should get familiar with your speakers 1st. Then shop for a suitable amplifier. Maybe you will find that you don't need one now, and can continue to save to make a more substantial upgrade when you choose to do so.
If you want one more brand to try you can look at Hegel. There are a number of good reviews for their integrated models and they have power amps too. I have only heard them briefly but then it was with B&W speakers meaning they should pair nicely.
The new Yamaha integrated amps are nice---the 2100 has lots of good reviews. Or maybe a slightly used Parasound HINT 6. 
+1 Mesch's suggestion on getting to know your speakers.

I've not owned most of these, have only shopped for them and gotten to know how widely marketed they are. I have done a lot of reading though, so here's my opinion as far as I'm comfortable offering it:

Many brands recommended here are very good. Some are by smaller makers that offer more quality for the price than is immediately evident -- I think that's why Van Alstine is being touted, sort of an direct-sale underdog with bang for the buck factor. 

You're going to pay a premium for Hegel and some of the others (Rogue, Parasound, Peachtree) will include a dealer and marketing overhead which changes their bang for the buck factor. However, they're also good companies with good reputations and you can probably sell them more effectively on the used market down the road. People know those brands and will buy them used.
Don’t fall in to the watts per channel trap. That is only part of the equation to measure power. You can buy an amp with only 20 watts per channel that would still have enough “power” to drive any speaker when you factored in all other power specs.
It is like a car engine. You can buy a car with 400 horsepower but no torque, then you can buy a tractor with 1000 feet pounds of torque and only 100 horsepower. Each serve their purpose but different. Then you can find an engine in the middle that serves your needs.
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Lots of great suggestions!  Thanks.  It's crazy how many brands there are.  I was hoping like 5 people would all suggest the same brand but it seems lucky to get even 2 people suggesting the same amp.  

Also lots of sensible suggestions to get the speakers in first and get to know them.  But who wants sensible advice!?  I've got the bug to spend money now! Haha. (I should probably follow the advice). 

Anyone who has actually heard an Onkyo m504 to compare?  It gets mixed feedback online (some incredible, some terrible), I just don't have much of a sense of how it stacks up.
OP, I understand the itch. If you spend too quickly, you may wind up second guessing your purchase (as you keep reading!) or wind up needing to sell at a loss. A trial period is crucial.
I just looked up your preamp and that’s a cool little piece. Probably a better pre than I originally thought.
You ain’t kiddin. I think mijostyn here on Agon uses Dirac for subwoofer and other audio correction and the OP’s mention of his using the MiniDSP SHD (preamp) as a (stand alone?) preamp sure as heck got my attention. As did the below response from a MiniDSP SHD preamp owner reviewing the preamp.

OP sorry for getting off topic but your mention of your SHD is/was the first time I’ve actually looked into Dirac before and the application of Dirac/preamp as I said before, got my attention.

+1 The Vision Set 400 Amp New
      Used Clayton S40 Amp

Read more about review stating More Than Just a Component Level Upgradent subs. Unlike many, I believe most high end speakers cannot reproduce the bottom end faithfully.

I run a 2-channel system with a couple of excellent subs.
The SHD was a desperate attempt to improve what I knew were problems. My assumption was that the room, placement and timing of the drivers was causing the less than pleasing sound hitting my ears, and I knew my equipment is capable of producing much better performance.

And get ready for it--I inputted my phono Preamp through the analog inputs. This produced no strange digital coloration or changes to my expectation of that sound profile. The resulting room correction far outweighs the neurotic audiophile purist concerns I originally had. A/B testing proved this to me. My analog sound lost nothing and gained everything. I’m over it

Tyray, yeah, so far the MiniDSP SHD has been really interesting.  A definite improvement in different speakers i've tried.  Night and day difference with the Heresy III after a proper calibration (which is a little bit of a pain).  Even without room correction it sounds nearly identical to the Rotel 1550 preamp I had before.  Think the built in streamer quality is really good too, (great reviews on audiosciencereview forums). Much better than the Klipsch Gate streamer I was using.
I have an SHD in one of our systems and think it’s great.

You have a lot of good recommendations already for power amps, so I’ll keep this short.

I owned the AVA Fet Valve 400R and liked it a lot. It has been improved by AVA since and now is available with balanced inputs, if you want them. Frank is great to deal with, and the gear competes with more costly stuff, for sure.

Also, you might find a used Bryston 4BSST for about $2k. While that’s two generations behind current, it is a great amp -- it still might be under warranty, too. I owned its bigger brother (14BSST), which replaced a conrad-johnson MF-2300 and was better than the c-j in every way, at least with all the equipment I tried it with.

Have fun with your Ohms! I knew John Strohbeen at MIT (when he started Tech HiFi). He is a really great guy, and sincere.

P.S. The Bryston is rated at 300Wpc into 8 ohms, or 500Wpc into 4.

MF a1008 integrated is a really interesting design and you can find them used at your price point. I have run Gallo Reference 3.0’s, Spatial audio M4 turbo S’s (with a REL T5 for that 44hz roll-off), and a pair of original B&W matrix 801’s. The external power supply and internal dual monoblock design is very cool, and it has enough juice to drive even the most cantankerous speakers (the Gallo’s). With the B&W’s it turned my listening room into a night club. With the M4’s and the rel it was like being transported to the recording studio. It’s worth considering.
For 2K, you can find a huge array of amazing power amps.
 The 165W onkyo, is ok for some speakers.

 Once I could afford the 300W minimum in amps, I never looked back.

I would recommend change preamp to onkyo p3000r if you can find it used.Rock,classical music sounded amazing ,excellent midrange with big horns speakers

another option is W4S integrated

Underwood HiFi has a super sale on one. Definitely worth a look

OP - I know there’s a lot of responses but let me add my .2 here - used Parasound Halo A21 might be good for your Ohms or if you choose to go the B&W way. They are solid amps and it’s easy to sell them when you choose to upgrade. You might not loose a lot of $$ when reselling.
Save yourself some money and get one of these amps.

Sumo Andromeda

Bryston 4B

Or if you're brave (but probably you aren't), you could build a pair of VTA M125 monoblock tube amps (120 watts each).
I am sure the most knowledgeable person on the Ohm speakers and amplifiers is Ohm owner John. Give him a call. Once you both have narrowed down your options you can then ask this fine group about experiences with those amps recommended by John. Great guy and great company. Let us know how you like the Ohm speakers. I love their souund.
Not really sure why you think the Ohms are going to be an upgrade over Heresys.


@ozzy62 I haven't been very impressed with the Heresys so trying something new.  Have you heard them both?
I have heard original Heresys and I have heard a pair of Ohms (can't say for sure which model) and I dig the horns better. But it's a matter of taste, as always.