Amps for Avantgarde

I recently installed a new set of Avantgarde Mezzo speakers. They have two horns for medium and high frequencies and a horn based woofer cabinet with its own 500 Watt amplification.
The speakers look great ( I have them in cherry with burgundy red horns), my wife likes them and the sound is GLORIOUS !
You can see my setup in web page/gallery
Bass it has all you can take, the limit is your ears an the furniture trying to move around by itself. Even at low levels you get plenty of bass.

From my former setup with Aerial 8B speakers i had a C-46, two MC-501 and a MCD-205, all McIntosh.
With the Avantgardes the MC-501 were showing a watt usage of hardly over 0.5 Watts, at normal listening levels and no more than 5 Watts when really turniung the volume up to hurting levels. The sensitivity of the Mezzo is 107dB.
I thought that maybe I should try the real fine stuff, valves single ended, which have an output power handicap, but in this case with theses speakers not. 5 Watts is probably enough.
A friend of mine who is also audio dealer loaned me a set of Klimo Belataine Mono Valve amps, 5 Watts Class A, single ended, 300B, with automatic bias controll and choice of feedback or no feedback. The Klimos have a separate power supply for each mono amp and those are also valve operated.
He also gave me a Klimo Merlin valve preamp to try.
Ther hearing test produced the following results.
The Merlin with the Beltaines compared to the C-46 with the MC501's sounded more real, more detaild, more lifelike and maybe with a tighter bass. No distortion or noise was heard at any level.
But I did try another combination, and that was hooking up the C-46 to the Klimos
And I got an even better, more detailed and lifelike sound than with the Merlin Valve preamp.

I have never been really interested in valve amplifiers and considered well designed solid state the better.
Well, the Klimo Beltaine power amps are a joy, but the McIntosh C-46 preamp sounds better than the Klimo Merlin, which has had some good reviews, allthough it is not considered a preamp good for rock. Maybe that gives a hint.

Now here is my question, should I stick with the C-46 or can I get something much better, solid state or tube ?
You should audition North American Products H-Cat Preamp, latest version. Absolutely the best there is IMHO. See their website at for a list of dealers or contact them direct. Don't think you'll be sorry.
I have never had the pleasure of listening to an Avantgarde speaker myself, but everybody on Audiogon who owns one seems to pair them with valve amps. So it seems to me that valve is the go!
i have travelled a similar path. i have AG Duos. i have settled on a Tron Syren, which apparently was designed spefiically to compliment the AG speakers. i bought through Jeff Catalano at Highwater Sound in NYC, the US distributor. Great guy and can answer any questions and make comparisons. I suggest you check out the Tron; i expect you will find it produces the ultimate "synergy."

Tron Webiste

Tron Review

Highwater Sound
Tubes for sure.I have a pair of German Odeon Tosca's with and easy to drive 8 ohm 94db sensitivity a dn use a 40 watt push pull EL34 amp (like EL34's for midrange but KT88 amps like McIntosh 275 is great too).But you could easily in s mid sized room use a SET amp (Sinle Ended Triode).The output tubes are more expensive but you can use modern chinses or Russian tubes and get a great pair of driver tubes, the set before the output ones and get NOS(New Old Stock from 50's or 60's) and they last much longer than the 3,000 hour outputs.SERT amps run from 2 or 3 watts for some types to up to 20 watts for others.I'd go there with maybe a Bal Canto or much cheaper a Yammamotto.But use the high sensitivity even if you get a push pull (more common higher powered) and many you can switch from Pentode to triode.I had a Mesa Baron which put out 120 watts which cann drive almost anything ,even really hard to drive speakers like Maggies,but wiuth a high sensitivity speaker could switch it to triode (seeeter sounding) at 60 watts.Many tube power or inegrated amps allow this "On The Fly".I have nice uncollered horns (some are like Klipsch) and wouldn't think of using anything but tubes.Yours are better than mine sin overall quality AND are even easier to drive.I'd bet 9 out of 10 Avategarde useres run them withg tube amps.Type and power is according to room size and tastes.But I have thought about a pair of Uno or Duo's for a long time and and 845 output tube amp is what I would choose in a midsize room.Bel canto,Cary 805's (great amp),and others.
Best thing I found on Duos was the Shindo Cortese.Second best was Tom Evans Linear A.The Tron stuff is supposed to be good ,too.
sure the H-Cat looks like something interesting, and it has a remote, which for me is a MUST. Unfortunately I do not understand the principle and mistrust revolutionary technology.
I just want to know if I can find something MUCH better than the C-46, otherwise I will just keep it, since the sound is now quite phenomenal.
the Tron would probably be a nice amp too, but is has no remote. In my case a NO-NO.
Locally I have access to Accuphase C-2400 and the new Sugden Masterclass LA4 Preamp. Any experience on those?
Another vote for TRON. I have a TRON Meteor tube pre (predecssor of the SYREN) and GT Audio rebuilt Quad IIs (Graham Tricker is GT Audio and also TRON amplifiers). I use them with my Duos and I am delighted with them. I shall be upgrading at some point ot a TRON power amp when the money tree bears fruit.

Saw a few with Atma-Sphere amps. I think, that's an interesting combo.
Been using Atmasphere M60s for 6 years with Duos. No itch to make a change yet and no problems.
Lamm ML2 monos make my 108dB Duo Omegas sing! The ML2 has since been replaced by the ML 2.1, with (I believe) very minor changes. 18 watts per side.
How about an Art Audio PX 25 or deHavilland Ios???
Please help - 3 top-of-mind choices for Avantgarde. Date:07-08-06. Check out this thread.

I have Avantgarde Trios and use Viva Aurora 845 monoblocks. I wanted to try others, a Wavac 300b and a Yamamoto 45. I was warned the 45 would not do it and it didn't. The Wavac 300b did have the power the trios needed. In comparison to the 3X the price Viva, the Wavac sounded rolled off at bass and treble, and had slow bass. It didn't have near the pace and drive that 845 amp had. On simple laid back female vocals I enjoyed the 300b, also on solo violin. The Wavac did hold up to the 300b reputation with the romantic magical midrange. When the music got demanding in any way the 845 handled everything that the Wavac couldn't. Overall I found the 845 leaner sounding, but very clear, more natural midrange, very tight bass and extended treble. Not all 845 SET's are like this though. My old Cary 845c had similar treble roll off as the wavac. The bass was all there but slow and bloated. The midrange was richer, but grainy,less clear, and as natural sounding as the Viva. I think what I would like to do is add a 300b amp in the future(Wavac is a friends)to my system for those romantic cravings. I could see the Viva getting about 75% vs. 300b 25% usage. We cant get it all in one amp.

Also, I tried all these amps in a pair of Silverline Sinfonias, 96 db and 8 ohms. Anyone interesed in my opinion let me know.
Sounds real,
It is unprofessional and unethical to advertise here without a disclosure wouldn't you agree?
Wow!!!! You are so right about ethics. That thought had never occured to me. I just though that I might have a little more knowledge on the subject then most. I beg your forgiveness.
Tron tubes or Lavardin MAP solid state.
The 300B Set Klimos are doing fine and I doubt I can get anything much better. 5 Watts is plenty of power for the 107db sensitivity of the Avantgarde.
The preamp is the link I want to improve uppon in my chain.
I have tried the Klimo Merlin and the Mac 2200 preamps, both valves, and I find the sound too soft and not lifelike.
I tried the preamp section of an Accuphase E-550 and didn't like what I heard either, it was rather cold.
I still like the C46 Mac Preamp better. Is it possible that the C46 is good enough as not to have to look any further?
The only drawback of the C46 is that it has a very deep case and I can not easily fit it on the shelves I have.
For me a preamp HAS to have a remote and balance controll.
I think that a tubed preamp will give me too much of the softness I do not want in my system.
Remember that the new Avantgarde Mezzo (a Primo with only one woofer cabinet) is very revealing and the sound is absolutely lifelike and THERE !.
What else in preamps could fit my taste of naturality and reality ?
Well, the Klimo Beltaine power amps are a joy, but the McIntosh C-46 preamp sounds better than the Klimo Merlin
Hmmm interesting.

I used these amps for a while (w/Duevel spkrs).

Now, at the same time, someone lent me a FM acoustics pre (the single-ended model) and that provided excellent sound.

*An old Goldmund pre (I remember this one: mimesis 7.1) was also good. Maybe a used new one (w/ remote) could serve?
*A symphonic line also provided good sound (in fact two models: a tube one & their expensive ss one).
*Amazingly, I never used a Merlin... Also no Mac either, sorry.
*Believe it or not, I also used a simple transformer volume-control and had excellent results, BUT pls note that I had very healthy outputs from both phono & cdp. Also, no remote (but you can get these with remote). Cheers
>>I just though that I might have a little more knowledge on the subject then most.<<

That's rather presumptuous don't you think? There are many many experienced audiophiles here, most of whom are not in the trade.

Recommending only products you sell adds little to the readers interested in an objective discussion IMO.
sorry, i thought the initial post was asking for pre-amp suggestions for AGs. for amp suggestions, here's a vote for audiopax 88s. i have them now with my Duos and, with a nice set of GEC kt-88s, i am very happy.
I own AG Unos and tried at least half a dozen amps (SE, push pull, class A, gainclones, etc..) I have reached the best presentation with Jadis amplification (DA50signature in this case), but a pair of JA30 might just work for you.

Fernando -- good idea, but the ja30 didn't work too well with a Uno. I tried them yrs ago. Better stick with yr 50 or an Orchestra maybe?
A friend of mine is driving Avantgarde Trios with an Altman amp. wonderful sound. It is so cheap, that you could not loose much to try out.
Gregm - I am very happy with the results of using a Jadis DA50Sig with the UNOs - there is plenty pf power, richness, tonality and resolution to fill the ver demanding AGs.

I have not heard the Audiopax line yet, but really I am not in a hurry.

The avantgardes are an easy load: OTL is the way to go: try Graaf, Einstein, Joule or Atmasphere: no transformers, no brake on the sound: as to preamps: get a pod or go direct from a volume adjustable DAC. If you insist on a preamp: you are bound to enjoy Kondo or Lyra (if you don't get scared by the stichers)
Well, after some tweaking here and there I ended up with a system which just sounds fantastic.
I did replace the Cetron 300B Triodes on the Klimo Beltaine with a set of Chinese made TJ 300B Mesh Anode Globe tubes and left the AEG E88CC in the Merlin preamp alone after trying out a set of NOS Mullard, which turned out to be slightly microphonic and did not sound any better.
I installed a motorized Alps potentiometer with a proper remote circuit for the volume, so now it has remote vol.control too.
All I can say about the sound with the Klimo Merlin and these 5 Watt SET Beltaines driving the 107dB Mezzos is that it is the very best sound from a stereo system I have ever heard in my life. Its like being there (at the performance) all the time. Not only the speakers disappear but so does the room.
I tested some very good Class A solid state amplifier in the system, and although the sound was very good too, it could not match the ambience and warmth created by the tubed setup.
And believe me, the Avantgarde Mezzos sound fantastic. Nothing new I can add to what everybody knows about the mids and highs, but the new bass drivers are incredible. Deep, fast and tight, as should be.
Hi Eljaro
I have tried many amplifiers with the Avantgarde speakers over the years.
Single ended triode I have tried 45, 2A3, 300B, 211, 845,6C33C,833A.
Push Pull EL34, KT 88.
My favorite is the 6C33C valve on the Avantgarde`s all round for top to bottom control/dynamics and inner resolution.
For some music (female vocals, strings) the 45 valve is incredible if the volume levels are kept to normal listening levels.
Push pull KT 88 is very good on the Avantgarde speakers, the Quicksilver Triode Mono block amplifiers, very quiet and dynamic & highly recommended on the Duo Omega speakers.

Solid state the Pass Labs XA30.5 is incredible all round amplifier on the Avantgardes Duo Omega speakers.

Most of the amps mentioned already are great sounding amps. The Avantgarde integrated amp is good too. Very musical.

I am still looking though. I want an amp with depth and clarity without the cloudiness some hear as warmth. The Halcro DM is probably the one I will go back to.

You will laugh but I am using modified Bel canto ref1000 m2 monos. A left over from a previous system. They sound amazing on the Trio although if the recording is rough it will only show you how rough...
This is just a whim but I have heard some of the better Classe amps sounding very clean detailed and transparent on elecrostatic speakers like Martin Logan and it seems to me that they might also synergize well with high sensitivity horns like the Avantgardes. Just a thought, I have nothing concrete really to back it up with.
Hi mapman,
I have spent some time with the big Classe 400 watt monos on B&Ws. They sound very good too. For me (others may feel different) they are similar to a lot of other good amps. Maybe a cross between a Pass labs and a Chord amp.

Has anyone tried any of the first watt amps on Avantgarde?

There is a Luxman amp called the B1000f that I think may fit the bill in that it may give the strengths of both SS and Tube. It stays in class A for the 1st 30 watts.

The wonderful thing about Avantgarde speakers is that you can drive them with anything. They show an amplifiers character in stark relief.

For me the amps that changed my view of what an amp can do for a system over the years makes a very short list. Audio research, Lamm, Halcro. If price is factored in then Bel canto makes an audiophile bargin, and the 75% you save could buy a lot of music or better source!

Thats not to say there are not many others, but they seemed the 1st to plough new audiophile ground. Nothing at the time or maybe since has sounded the same to me.

If sticking to tube amps, trying the Atamasphere amps on Avantgardes in depths of winter may work well...
Chad, I have interest in the Audio Research amps. Which ones have you tried? I am only interested in SS amps for my system, but I like that ARC does SS with a strong foundation in tube technology and I have been most impressed with the ARC sp16 in my system.
Hi Mapan,

I had Cl150 monos, VT150 monos,ref 300 monos and many preamps. The 210t is very nice. I have never tried the SS amps though. The VT150s where beautiful. They made music an event. Even if they where not the last word in complete transparency. If I had different speakers I would still keep a pair for the love of music! I tried it on some unos, but it was a little noisy. A little scary on power up too due to a pop when engaged. But when there was signal it was almost livable with.
I no longer have my UNOs, but the best sound I got out of them came with an Acoustic Sound Sitar Integrated amp. I said earlier in this thread that the Jadis DA50S was a good option (and I still keep that statement valid) but the Sitar was clearly a better option in my room.

Chadeffect, bought a Pass First Watt F3 for the Uno's and it's an EXCELLENT match. Was using an EAR 890 and the sound was very good but a little noisy.
Hi knghifi,
how would you describe the F3 sound? I have been wanting to try one on the Trio.

Chadeffect, the sound is detail, transparent and loads of texture ... very nice! I think it will work fine with your Trios.

If you want to go with tubes, I heard many positive comments on the Art Audio PX-25. One of comment is from Walter Swanbon of Fidelis.
I have been looking for something to drive the Trios with for a while.

I dont know if you have read any of my previous posts, but I am very happy with the sound I am getting. While I am using modified BC Ref1000 mk2 which would seem overkill to say the least, they sound fantastic.

The issue I think I am going to have is that I have got used to a very clean, extremely fast and transparent sound. I fear the usual tube amps (as good as some are) may not work for me. Thats why I was hoping one of the the First watt amps may help.

I loved the Lamm, but in comparison it is a little veiled and rounded, though very musical. Similar to the Avantgarde amp in presentation. I have heard the Art px25 on Duos with music first passive pre, and I could tell it still had some softness/roundness in an area where I have amazing detail and poise.

I fear I am going to be a difficult customer as I dont know of a manufacturer that has the sound I believe I am after. I think may last hope is a Halcro Dm38 or something, and a valve pre amp to help between the DCS front end and Halcro amp. It all seems a little expensive for the slight tilt I am after.

First watt is not soft to my ears and very musical. I think it's worth an audition.

If you want a detail, transparent and very neutral sound, maybe you should check out ASI Liveline cables along with a new amp.

Here's the 6moon review. I find the review very accurate from my own audition.

I know several have changed from an all top of the line Stealth to ASI Liveline cables. It's crystal clear, very revealing but not bright or hard and very musical.
Hi Knghifi,
thanks for the info. I will try to find and listen to a First watt. I would prefer a balanced input which I think narrows the models down. I like a good solid balanced connection, as long as everything else in the chain is balanced.

An interesting read regarding the ASI liveline cables. I stopped bothering with cables some time ago. My AP golden Ovals I like so much, and I felt I could forget all about cabling for good. Is it time to get back on the horse? My other cables are a left over from my old low sensitivity (Apogees) set up and were just the ticket. Incredible bass, dynamics and low noise floor. A nice match for the Trio.

Interesting that you say some people with Stealth cables (I assume indras) are changing for this cable. If thats the case I can only deduce that they must be very good cables or the bankers are still suffering and are down sizing.