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 15 responses by lloydelee21

Wow...what happened to the msb? too bad. yes, Pass and Strads are a great combination. good luck!
Hi 0461,

Fantastic speakers, which i have been fortunate to own now for a few years. You will find my own post from a while ago on Powerful Tube Amp for SF Strads. You will see that I used to run the Strads with my old CJ MV60...great voices...but lacking in the power that the STrad is capable of using to deliver powerful bass. (Yes, the strad sounds wonderful with mid-powered tube is just that having ample power reserves for the bass drivers does make a difference in the Strads delivery of bass..which can be very, very good)

in the end, i own a Gryphon Antileon (second hand). Gryphon has a reputation for being a warm, sometimes dark amplifier that has endless reserves of power. Endless. So the warm/darkness feels quiet tubey in some respects. But in terms of power, it is 100%, pure Class A at all Class A/B whatsoever. From 100watts per 8ohm load, it will double down to 3200 watts (peak) power per 0.5ohm load. (The Antileon Signature which is newer is 150watts class A...and also doubles all the way down... i believe one is on A'Gon now)

It made an enormous change to my bass (upper, mid and lower). It also dramatically opened the soundstage. And yet it bettered the midrange of my CJ MV60 which is a well respected mid-powered amp, particularly in the midrange and treble.

I have heard Krell evo 402 with Strads...liked and respected but did not love. OTOH, i thought Krell Evo 2 was stunning with the Cremonas...i think the Homage series need something a little different (to my ear).

I think you will find the Ref 3 to be quite a good match with the STrad...depends on the amp of course. In the case of Gryphon, Aldavis on A'Gon uses Ref 5 with his Gryphon and likes it. Plus I have heard the Ref 3 with Strads and ARC 110s on the Strad, and it was very good though i prefer Gryphons for tighter bass delivery. hope that helps. good luck! and keep us posted.


Merry Christmas. One person's opinion...i agree on the Evo. I think the Evo series is fantastic with the middle Cremona range of SF speakers...fantastic. but for some reason, the Homage series seems to respond better to tubes. The Strads however really benefit from power. Can you find CJ? Look at Downunder...he found a pair of CJ Premier 8s (i am sure at much lower price than new since they are so old)...and then he had them completely upgraded with Teflon capacitors by CJ directly. It did not cost that much...well within your price range if you are looking at ARC Ref 210s.

I have heard the will find them to be great speakers, and i know a system that used them with ref 3 to great effect...but i suspect you might be looking for greater "bass snap" and more piston-like precision. I think you might find this is in the CJ Premier 8s with the Teflon upgrade.

I have spoken with Ed at CJ myself about doing this...personally, i have complete confidence in CJs service, and Downunder actually did it! we spoke before he sent them and compared notes.

I have not heard Pass...but if it is in the same line as Gryphon (SS, Class A), you might well prefer it.

The other thing to consider is using a different cable loom to "adjust". I have never liked Nordost cable...but the STrads loved the Nordost Thor power conditioner with uses Nordost Valhalla inside, and the vast majority of owners of STrads on AGon use Valhalla too. that also will deliver greater bass punch if you end up with the ARC 210.

As for CD, i think the CD7 is good but not as amazing as others have clearly found it. I bought used Zanden DAC, and despite some mixed reviews, i also thought quite highly of the older DCS Elgar Plus...very resolved, but also quite smooth and realistic. I prefer Zanden personally, but you can get DCS Elgar plus quite affordably these days.

Prefer CD7 to Krell 505 but you might disagree...and its a big name. i can certainly see why some might buy it.

hope that helps...keep us posted!!!
One more thing...i also have auditioned the Emm. i agree with you. very studio sounding...not bad at all...just different than what i personally was looking for.

Can you get Cary? I have heard their 306 Professional SACD player is great. Metronome is crazy-good!!!!! there is one for USD 19,000 on AGon...stunningly analogue sounding. You may "never" trade up? (If you do, also buy the isolation platform that sits underneath...i am not kidding. it takes a very, very solid player with a tiny, tiny bit of inconsistent frequency range to probably the most analogue sounding i have heard.)

Finally, if you are concerned about resale...i personally am concerned about the Transports. i do not know where CD sales will be in 5 years...but i suspect it will continue to drop until they stop altogether. DACs will have use, but transports that only do Redbook may have less attractive re-sale value.

hence, why i went with Zanden DAC...only 16/44 technology but so analogue i do not care. i will probably create a music everythin in high-bit rates and downsize the files into my DAC...until i find a DAC that i like better which also does higher-resolution.
Hi 0461.

I owned STrads for a number of years, but i have not heard them with Jadis...however, i have heard the Strads with a number of different tube amps (2 CJs, ARC Ref, Pathos, Unico) and have not been disappointed once. Based on my experience, I would definitely be prepared to bet it is a remarkably good sound in the areas where the Strad is strong - voices, spaces, life, musicality. I do not know the Jadis and their ability to control bass...despite the bass on Strad being very good, it responds extremely well to high current to control its drivers.

Good luck and please report if you hear them. even though i no longer own the Strads, i would be curious to know about how well they pair with Jadis.
Hi 0461,

Good luck with that. i have never heard Macs with Strads before, but i totally agree there are many satisfied owners of such combinations. Further, if you read the Roy Gregory review(i think it was him...i have read them all before buying the strads years ago), and you also look at many of the Strad-based systems out will also note that many of them use Nordost Valhalla cabling somewhere in teh system. Roy Greogry i think mentioned that rather than go with a heavy SS amp (which he did not find synergistic at all)...he preferred to "liven up" the Strads thru cabling instead. I think he had Nordost Valhalla. I myself used Transparent Reference...but found profound improvements using Nordost Thor power conditioner for my entire front-end (and it is wired with Valhalla).

Good luck and pls continue to post.
I agree with Onemug. i have heard the Ref 5 and 3 fact, just helped someone dial in a system with Ref 5 just yesterday. also have spoken with 2 owns REf 40 yesterday. the other owns Ref 5 with Pass...and loves it. by all accounts i have seen/read/spoken to, the Ref 40 surpasses the 5 by a wide margin...whereas there are differences of opinion beteen ref 3 vs 5. some say great difference...many say improvement but not enough to trade up. good luck...but again i think that will be a world-class combination.
Fantastic! Congrats! Definitely looking forward to reading your post!!! Run them 24/7 so we wont have to wait more than a month! :)
Hi Johnb30

i would have thought if you run signal on infinite repeat thru preamp with power amps off, that should be fine.
Congrats 0461!!!!!

i imagine you have read Martin Collom's review of these on hifi critic? i am particularly intrigued by msb's digital stuff. have been speaking with them about their new universal media transport.
Nice, Teleshack...i have heard many Strad owners enjoy them with Mcintosh. Jadis! Wow! I have heard them with CJ mid-powered amp, and with CJ preamp/Gryphon Antileon...tremendous speakers! Enjoy!!!
Sorry...i have not done it...only midpowered tube amp. CJ MV60 (55 watts/channel EL34 tubes). it was beautiful midrange and CJ does have a special 'fire' in the midrange when driven by midpowered tubes...but the bass response is superb when driven by very powerful, good quality solid state. I have never driven the Strads with high powered tubes...would love to try. I ended up with Class A Solid State. In your case, how good is the bass control of the 300B tubes? The Strad is not difficult to drive 'well' in the bass...but for it to sound world class i was only able to manage this with high powered Class A Solid State. I have heard good things about ARC Ref 210 tube amps.

hope that helps. good luck. Great speakers! And you've already got a great system!
Good luck. BTW, it is not just the should be fine there. it is the ohm load of the STrad. it is a 4ohm load...but 2.7ohms in the lower registers...that might be something amps may struggle with. Because the speaker is well will be fine...but it may not be 'rock solid/pitch perfect, tactile bass'.

Look forward to reading about your observations! Enjoy!