Amps for Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage

I have a pair of Stradivaris that I love, but I´m having a little trouble finding the right amps for them. My system consists of: Emmlabs CDSA SE latest version, Clearaudio Champion Level two/ SME V/ Benz Ruby, ARC REF3, MSB 202 monos.
I have driven the speakers with a set of Pass XA 100.5 before, but they sounded compresed quite quickly. The MSB´s offer more power than the 100.5´s and sound more detailed and airy, but also leaner and brighter.
I love detail and air, but I also crawe bass slam and body in the midths and highs. I absolutly hate lean and bright sound, no matter how detailed it might bee.
I have owned quite a lot of Krell gear in the past. I liked the bass of the ols stuf like the KSA s series + the first FPB stuff. The rest of the frequency range however, sounded rough and "solid state" to me. I liked the detail of the MCX 450´s, but they sounded to lean in the low frequences to me. I have tried tube amps as well, but I have not yet found a pair that did´nt sound like tubes in the bass region
So I am dreaming of a set of amps that delivers a full bodied, warm but detailed sound with bass slam and bass detail as well.
Any recomendations ?
NB: English is not my native language, so I hope for your understanding if my spelling is off !

Showing 12 responses by 0461

Hi guys,

Thank you for your responses to my predicament. I have tried Krell EVO 400 and They did not do it for me. They sounded way to analytical to my taste. I think I have narowed it down to either a set of Pass XA 160.5, 200.5 or a set of ARC REF 210. My only worry with the Ref 210´s is if it too will sound "tuby" in the low end. I would love to try one of the more exotic amps mentioned in this tread, but in Denmark were I live, it is very hard to re-sell anything else than the mayor brands. And I am deffenetly one of those hifi neards that likes to change stuff quite often.
A fotnote: The Emm Labs is sent in for repair, and thus I can only listen to vinyl right now ( I dont do that to often ), and via my vnyl rig, I find many of my "complaints" to have disapered. So I am thinking I shuld mabey consider changing the Emm instead!! Anybody has any sugestions with regards to a musicaly sounding cd/ sacd ? I have had: Audio Aero Prestigere ference SE: Nice sound, poor quality. Audio Flight CD ONE MK2: Very nice reedbook sound, but no sacd. ARC REF 7: Very poor cd player in my book, Wadia 381i: very good indeed, but a bit to analytical and lean.

Marry christmas to all og you.
Hi Johnb30,

How funny... I have also ordred a set of 160.5
Considred the 200.5, but I think they are to expensive compared to the 160.5.
As stated in the beginning of this tread, I had a set of 100.5 which I loved the sound of in combination with the Strads and the Ref3, but I felt I lacked power. So now I look forward to learn if the 160.5´s are powerfull enough.
Some feedback !

I haven´t been able to locate a set of JA 200´s at a reasonable price, but I have a set of Mc Intosh Mc 501 on hand, and I think I will give them a go. Low detail lewel or not... After doing a lot of surfing, it seems clear that quite a few Stradivari owners prefer the "dark" Mc Intosh sound paired with the strads..
Hi again,

The quest for new amps pointed me in the direction of McIntoch as allready mentioned. The guy who wanted to sell his 501´s also has a set of almost new 1,2kw, and we are now "negotiating" the price for them. If we can come to an agreement, I would prefer to get them ower the 501´s. Primerly because they are more "top of the line", and I admit to beeing prone to top of the line gear. Also when there is no reason other than the emotional one. It´s like with cars.. I´d rather have the Audi RS6 opposed to the S6 even though I will never really take advantage of the surplus power.... if you know what I mean..
Hi Cmalak,
Thank you very much for your words on impedance. I was not aware of that at all. What a downer.... I am very contend with the Ref3.
But but, "problems with mis-matching impedance in hifi excists to be solved" as my grandma used to say back in 1944 ;-) ( joke ).

Well, we haven´t closed the deal on the 1.2KW´s yet doe to a disagreement on price. The seller seems to be unaffected by my arguments about financial cricis in europe affecting re-sell prices on hifi....

Have a nice weekend all..
My MSB´s have broken down... So now I think I will be ordering a set of Pass XA 200.5. They say they sound like the 100.5 but with a lot more Umpf... Interesting.
To onemug,

The needles did´nt move much, even at high levels. But the bass became "floppy" and undefined. The timing became off beat, and the mids and highs lost body and warmth. The soundstage became compresed and the airy and transparent quality that I so love the Pass amps for, went out the window. Admitted.. I like to rock the house every now and then, but the above occured at to low levels to my taste. Before the Strads I had a set of Wilson WP6 and drowe them with the Pass amps to very high listening lewels with out problems... appart from listening fatiuqe ! The MSB´s I use now, are rated at 400W in 4 ohms, and they deliver more bass control and air at high listening levels than the XA 100.5 did, but with less warmth, bass slam, and midrange body.So at the end of the day, by ordering the 160.5 I hope for the 100.5 sound, but with more V8 tourqe and power.
The pair of 100.5 I had, kept on improowing for the first 200 hours. After that I am not sure if the improovments were psykological or real !
The 160.5´s are due nex week. And I have the oppertunity to try a set of X600.5 as well. Will be very interesting to compare them. Will be back with impresions shortly.
The 160.5´s are in.... yhaaa ! The 600.5 are also here, so I have had some very interesting evenings. The 160.5´s have only had about 60 hours of burn in so far. The 600.5`s are pre owned, so they are in a ready to rumble state.
My impresions so far, are that the 160.5´s sound sweeter by a small margin, but the 600.5´s have better low end control and slamm. Thy are deffenetly brothers.... the over all tonallity is the same and the X 600.5´s are sonically very close to the XA´s.
But I will have to say that I have also compared the Pass amps to the MSB 202 monos I have been playing on for the last 6 months, and so far they sound better ower all. First and foremost they are more neutral to my ear. They sound more airy in the top end, and imaging and body is better than the XA´s even. There is no doubt that the 600.5 has more brute power, but they sound like a welding machine in comparison ( = less finess ). It might be that the XA´s will surpass the MSB´s when they get more burn in time, but so far it seems to me that MSB are the winner.
There is also something about the timing of the MSB´s that surpases the Pass amps.. very hard to explain, but the timing is very "natural" and organic. A bit like the sound of the Atmasphere OTL amps, if you know what I mean.

I will get back when the 160.5`s have had more time to settle.
Hi Doug2507,

After having listened to both the Pass and the MSB´s for a few months now, I must say that MSB is the owerall winner for me. They do everything better, except for midrage warmth perhaps. But if you end up going for the MSB´s, make sure that you get them in the latest version because the earlier models can fail. But if you buy them new today, they will be allright I have heard !