I own the MCA2 or 20, I forget which. It's the 200 watt stereo model. I also have the TLP1 and I have been very happy with the setup. My sources are a Scout with Dynavector 10x5 and a Denon CD player. The speakers are Vandersteen 2ce sigs.
How about the Audio Refinement? Made by YBA, affordable, and SWEET! Sounds like tubes with the slamming accuracy of solid state. Also try the Audio Analouge, Italian made, similar. Just as great. I have had both and I loved them.
I've owned Bryston, but I'm a fan of keeping the preamp and amp from the same manufacturer so I'd favor the Anthem amp. I think adding a sub is a very wise move and assuming you biamp with it you should be able to use a smaller power amp for the main speakers.
I would just look for a used Bryston 4B-ST on Audiogon. Being very well built, it likely won't break and will sound as good if not better than a new Bryston SST amp. The Rotel and Anthem products are both quite respectable at their price points, but the Brystons are more bullet-proof and can be made to sound quite good with good cabling. I lived with a 4B-ST for five years, and now own what most people consider top tube (VAC Renaissance) and solid-state (darTZeel) amplification, and can assure you that the Bryston ST series amps sound very good for their price point.
I won't comment on Bryston or Rotel as I haven't heard them enough to give you an informed opinion.
The Anthem amplifiers...I have listened to the MCA 20 quite a bit..Very good amp. Seems well built. Good solid sound...would take care of most any speakers, in my opinion.
The TLP-1, however, was a nightmare for ME. I went through 5 of them before giving up. They seem to have SO much promise. Cool, USEFUL features, and a nicely balanced sound. However, in my case (and I am NOT speaking for anyone else) each unit I had exhibited a rather unpleasant problem...the headphone jacks simply sucked. I had a pair of Grado headphones, and on ANY song with bass it would distort and crackle...I'm not talking about cranking it and it would distort. At ANY volume level. This is a problem they became aware of, and perhaps by now they have fixed it. BUT...if you decide to demo one, audition it with some headphones as well...I used Grado's, Senns and AKGs and they all showed the problem.
Also, on mine, the processors never performed the way they were supposed to. Glitchy and kind of unreliable.
Keep in mind that this was 2005/2006. If they have properly addressed these issues, it WOULD be a very nice preamp, but if not....I would shy away. Stick with the power amp. I really liked the MCA-20
Ok..just realized that you already OWN the TLP-1 (I need to read more carefully)....my apologies for the lengthy post...
Cudos for Bryston,I've owned most models before I graduated to tubes.Raquel is dead wrong,the SST series is far superior to the ST,macro dynamics and lower noise floor is very evident after several musical passages.At your price range you may also want to consider McCormack and Odyessy Stratos,the latter having a 20 year warranty.
Of those 3 - Bryston hands down. AND, I suspect, that once you have a fully broken-in Bryston on line, you will realize that you do not need a sub as bad as you think you did. I sure didn't. The Bryston add so much "kick" to my system that I was just fine.
My first "high end" amp was the classic 3B ST. Man, I have great memories of that one. I am currently listening to and reviewing the 4BSST (for www.positive-feedback.com). It is bringing back some fond listening memories.
Don't for get that Bryston is built like no other and have a unparelled 20 year transferable warrenty. Even used, I think you should get the Bryston over those 2 options.
Good Luck and remember to enjoy the search!
The SST line is in my opinion a better amp than the ST line. Noticeable improvements on the top end.
I have owned 3B-ST, 4B-ST, 7B-SST, and BP-25. I sold all but the 7B-SST. This is my long term keeper.
I have heard all 3 amps, and all are fine sounding. The Bryston is a step above, sound and build wise, but to me it's overpriced, especially if you can get the Rotel on sale. I might have a different answer if you had Maggies or Vandys to drive.
I would reserve some funds on the sub, if you're going that way. I would spend more on the sub than the amp. A musical sub is a quantum step above a mediocre one. When you buy a sub (or better stereo subs) you are also buying an amp! I have bought several cheap subs in the past and always regretted it.
This is off topic, but consider borrowing a TUBE preamp or integrated, to try at home, if you are like me, you will never go back. A good tube preamp brings music to life.
I'm curious to how you've narrowed the selection to these three manufactures?
After doing a little research, I find your speakers are quite efficient. No need to stick a monster amplifier on these bookshelves.
I think Cxintx and Bob Reynolds are on to something. How about add a sub?
Trying out a nice medium powered tubed amplifier sounds like a good idea. Especially if it has a sub out or an extra set of RCA outputs. You'll hear more of a difference doing this than choosing between the three manufactures of amplifiers above. A tubed integrated may be a good move.
You could possibly like what you hear. lol
If your speaker is anything like its counter part reviewed by Soundstage. The extra power will just go to waste.
Contrary to popular belief, high wattage isn't always needed to attain good sound.
You really need to be careful matching up the amplifier to your speakers. With the wrong one..you could get thin or brittle highs.
Good luck with the hunt
I'm curious to how you've narrowed the selection to these three manufacturers?"
I narrowed it down to these three companies because of the following reasons:
1. I already own an Anthem preamp and thought it would good to keep the amp from the same company.
2. I already another Bryston (4B) I use in another system.
3. The Rotel is the cheapest of the three and the salesman told me that it would a comparable amp to the Anthem.
Regarding the addition of a sub, I had said in my original post that I'm considering adding one at a later date !!! But thanks for your input. And yes I realize that with the wrong combination, look out !!!
Re:Power Amps - My experience with Rotel power amps has had optimistic results , if you do some research via classifieds (ag) there are reasonable deals on the net . Like other audiophiles comment on Bryston the amp is built like a tank and warranty is outstanding a bit pricey for my budget .
As far as Anthem goes i can't comment on that subject but have talked to several people upgrading from Rotel to Bryston.
If your looking in the $800-$1300 bracket for a 5.1 the RMB-1075 or 1095 is in that range . My preferance for sub. is Velodyne spl series .
Hope this assisted you on your search .