I have an audiobuddy with the Marsh 400 amp (200w) driving Martin Logans and he LOVES it. He says the Marsh amps are absolute giant killers, with quality parts, superbly built and unfailingly musical. He is not easy to impress so I would audition them if you have the opportunity. Marsh is also coming out with 400w monoblocks in 2001, price-point around $3000. E-mail me if you would like my friend's addy.
I have a Marsh P2000 preamp and am amazed by the quality it offers. They have an excellent web site: www.marshsounddesign.com Also, I listened to the Odyssey system at the last Stereophile show- it was very impressive.
The Marsh A400S bottom line: aesthetics C+, warranty C+, sound quality straight A ! This amplifier is about what's inside it. And at that, primarily its "intellectual" content, namely the circuit design and smart parts choices. Mr Marsh must know a trick or two that other designers (i.e. at Levinson or Krell) do not know, because he has built an amp that outperforms the best solid state around in many areas, and all for $2,000. Mind you, I'm not sure that this is the amp for impossible speaker loads --in that case probably you should wait for the new Marsh monoblocks or go with a Krell or something like that. But if you have reasonable speakers and are looking for sonic purity that is not unrealistically clinical, nor blatantly euphonic, this is your amp ! The Marsh delivers in all aspects of the frequency range in a virtually seamless manner. The bass is very controlled but quite lively and best matched to speakers with good bass extension. The Marsh delivers a truly audiophile quality bass, in my opinion. The midrange is simply unbelievable; it is so transparent and pure that the Marsh will convey your source information to your speakers virtually without artifacts (read noise) or colorations, unlike most other amps, be they solid state or tubes. And the Marsh will deliver detail without artificially delineating the mids. In this area it is as good as the best amps around. The highs are well balanced, airy, realistic, never harsh (if your speaker has the right tweeter). All parts of the spectrum are in my opinion presented more realistically than in the Bryston 4B-ST, which is also an overachieving amp in its price class. Again, I would chose this amp over many Levinson's or Krells costing $8, $10 or $15K. Dynamics are outstanding, at both micro and macro levels. Orchestral nuances are presented realistically, as are bombastic highs. Rock or pop, given the right recording, will sound great (but if you feed it crap it will sound like crap). Usage is convenient: it does not weigh a ton (but is pretty substantial), has two pairs of binding posts for bi-wiring, and is fully balanced (also has RCA inputs). My take: this amp will drive 99% of the speakers out there better than 99% of the amps out there.
I have no experience with the Marsh, but the Odyssey (monoblocks) are the best sounding amps I've ever heard. They are built like battleships, but they sound like pure music. The price to performance ratio is hard to beat...at $1795 a pair for the mono's. I feel you would have to spend at least twice as much to get anywhere near this level of performance.
WOW, What a rave review. I wish my Marsh 400 was that good. I think the Marsh is a fine amp and a great bargin. I use mine as a back up amp and for times when I need the power. I agree with many of the things that J_c stated. I do think another point of view is needed. If you have 8 to 15 grand to spend on an amp you can do MUCH better. As I said, I think this is a fine amp and can compete against amps in the 5k range. My tube stuff slautghers this amp.
Brulee, you may be right but please be more specific. What amps in the $8-10K range are better sounding than the Marsh ? Which tube amps that you posess "slaughter this amp"?
Hi Chipster, The Marsh is great. I don't know anything about the other amp you mentioned. The perfomance of this amp is amazing at this price point. I agree with many of the things J_c stated. Hi J_c, The Goldmund, ARC, Cary, Gryphon, and last but not least Viva. I have heard these amps in my system. Should not use words like slaughter. Sorry, I get carried away sometimes. You have a very nice amp J_c. Please do not think I am not of the same mind as you but I have heard what I heard and I have heard better. My tube stuff annihilates this amp.
I just auditioned the stereo version with Symphonic cap upgrade. The build quality is superb, and the sound is equally impressive - clean, wide-band, undistorted, with tons of power. I was comparing it side by side with $10k VT200, and the Odyssey was in the same league, but the difference was in the sound of excellent solid state vs. the sound of excellent tube. But I don't think it's even remotely fair to compare 10k to 1k.
Brulee, were you being cynical when you replaced the word "slaughtered" with "annihilated" ? Now, seriously, which ARC do you own and believe sounds better than the Marsh ? I love ARCs. Still, in my experience the Marsh is better than both the 100 and 200 watt tubed ARCs. Better in every part of the spectrum, better in dynamics, and better in transparency ! I have not heard the reference 300 and 600 but they cost as much as a BMW and will probably raise your living room temperature by 10 degrees. I have also not heard the other amps, and never even herd of Gryphon. The only amp I can think of which rivals the Marsh and costs less than 10K is the Gamut, which is around $5K. I would say it is marginally more transparent in the midrange, somewhat purer in the highs, but less good than the Marsh in the bass. The differences are marginal, perhaps even just imagined.
To compair tube amps with the Marsh isn't really fair, and brings up the tube vs. SS debate once again. In spite of the common notion that an amp should sound warm, smooth, or liquid, the fact is, that a good power amp should have no sound at all. It should merely take a 2V signal, and boost it to 30V or so; that's it. There are those that will say that if an amp adds any smoothness or anything else, then I'm sorry, it's a peice of crap. Some people like the colorations that tubes add, and that's fine. I have nothing against tubes, and in fact plan to run my Marsh A400 through a Blue Circle BC21 tube preamp when it arrives next week. My decision to purchace the Marsh was largely based on the recent TAS review. I don't mind mail order, as long as I have the option to return it if not satisfied. I don't like to limit my options to only what's available locally, and neither should you. The Odyssey amps have been getting great feedback, and are definately worth consideration. I think either one will offer superb sound at a great price, but I would try the Marsh first.
It's about satisfying your musical desires. There is no technology available today that can interpret what the human ear/brain hears and translate that into measurements. You can by a midfi receiver from Sears with distortion measurements of less than .01%, but will still sound like crap. Don't try to dismiss tubes because they add color. That's BS. If it makes the music pleasing to listen to so you want to listen to more, then the amp, whether tube or SS, is worthy of consideration. In most cases, the tube amp can do this better than SS, but not always.
Garyl, if tubes have colorations then why are you going to use a tube pre-amp. BTW garyl, it is nice to meet you. Hi J_c, I am sorry. I was not being cynical. I thought I was being funny. Thought wrong. It does not matter what I think about these amps. It is more important what you think of them. I have made the comparisons and came to a conclusion just like you. It is my opinion that ss is generally the one with colorations. Joe_coherent, I liked very much your review. I agree with much of it. It is that $8 $10 $15k thing I take issue with. IMO that statement might be a bit misleading. I have seen a posting of yours where you mentioned your system and it looks to be a great one. If nothing else J_c, I respect your opinion.
I purchased a set of Odyssey HT-2 amps thinking they would work well with my JM Labs. Boy, was I wrong. Fortunately the dealer allowed me to return them for a used ARC VT-130. Since then I've been listening happily ever after.
Some designers will "voice" their amps to achieve thier vision of what reproduced music should sound like. The Marsh is voiced "neutral". I think the goal with the Marsh was to design a powerful, affordable amp that was as transparent as they could make it. Based on the way REG and a few of the other contributors at Absolute Sound have been raving about this amp, it seems like they've succeded. TAS asks the question; How do you describe the sound of an amplifier that has no sound of it's own? Yes, the BC21 preamp will add it's own personality or coloration into the mix, but based on what I've heard of this preamp, I'm guessing the end result will be a totally satisfyig musicial system. Lots of experienced audiophiles tout the virtues of hybrid systems like this, but this is my first shot at it. Ultimately, all that matters is the sound, but trying out different combonations of gear can be fun, and is all part of the hobby. I do have to respectfully disagree about your statement that implies that it's SS gear more than tubes that color the sound. There's a whole legion of tube heads out there that have made a hobby of "tube rolling." Why do they keep experimenting with different tubes? Because each time you swap tubes, it changes or "colors" the sound in a certin way. Granted, not all SS amps are uncolored, but to say that SS colors the sound more than tubes is not true IMHO. Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox and close by saying that I just learned that the Marsh is on back order until the first or second week of January! I didn't find out until after I mailed in my check yesterday. The dealer does have the Blue Circle BC22 in stock right now, and I'm tempted go with this instead. It's a little more expensive, but the build quality is in a whole other league than the Marsh, and it's been very well reviewed in the press. It would also be an almost guarenteed synergistig match with the BC21. I really want to try the Marsh, but I'm sure not looking forward to going another month without sound. Good Listening, Gary L
Excellent post Garyl, I wish you much success. We may disagree on the tube ss thing but that is audio. In the end I think we are searching for the same thing. The best sound we can put togeather. Good listening to you too.
I have to reiterate the comments of Brulee. Garyl, if tubes color the sound in your opinion, why are you going with Blue Circle? I am a big fan of Blue Circle, and feel their preamps add a buttery toned glow(that I happen to like) to the music. From your definition, that certainly is not neutral or desired. To get down to the heart of what I believe, I think that solid state equipment is too clinical, analytical, and sterile sounding. Does not sound like real music to me, no matter how it measures. I am not ashamed to admit that I prefer tubes, and admit they color the sound in some ways(interesting that Brulee believes ss colors the music more - never thought about it that way). To me, the ss vs. tube debate is a bit analogous to videotape vs. film question. Videotape "measurements" say it is more accurate, but very few people prefer it to film. Film is just softer, warmer, and more natural. Good luck with your new equipment.
Trelja great analogy. I never though of it that way but I think you hit the nail on the head.
I think we all agree that every individual has the right to choose whatever he/she wishes. But also in my experience individual wishes may evolve, change as one is exposed to new experiences and learns more about what there is out there. Certainly my views are changing, and have changed. Otheriwse I'd be dead. For now, I agree that many tube amplifiers deliver a very pleasing sound by essentially introducing greater even-order harmonics into the music. These amps minimize or cloak odd order harmonics which are universally irritating. The flip side of these designs frequently includes a lesser ability to reproduce frequency extremes (e.g. lesser bass control, roll-off highs), as well as limitations to realistically reproduce complex or demanding musical passages (e.g. large orchestras). Furthermore, some argue this "euphonic" sound over time becomes fatiguing. I acknowledge, however, that there are certain tube amps out there which have ingeniously avoided most of these drawbacks (e.g. the top ARCs, the Wolcott Presence, the Atmaspheres, recent Jadis, etc.) but at astronomical prices and significant user-unfriendliness (heat, tubes, breakdown, maintenance, weight). Some people claim that these no-holds-barred tube amps offer the peak of music reproduction, period. And perhaps they do. But they seldom cost less than $10K (the Wolcott is around $9K, it is a superb amplifier for difficult loads, and has variable output impedance). However, I respectfully submit that there is no tube amp out there at a price of around $2K that even comes close to the overall performance of the Marsh A400S solid stat3e amp. I am not trying to impose this view on anyone, and I appreciate that many of you respect my opinion, as I do yours. But expressing differing views is more illuminating to all than wallowing on our common views, so please bear with me. In the end, of course, you will make your own decision, whether it be the Marsh, the Odyssey (which I haven't heard), or a tube amp.
I have heard both the A200 and A400 from Marsh, along with their SS preamp. Both times I compared it with the $2700 Primare integrated amp. With the A200 the contest was close. I liked the Primare's smoothness and the Marsh's clean, dynamic sound. With the A400 I definitely preferred Marsh. The Marsh system not only had better dynamics and much stronger & cleaner bass, but it also sounded more detailed, had a better soundstage, and overall sounded more natural. The sonic balance is neutral. The Primare was smooth and warm but sounded colored, compressed, and had soft bass. I have read some glowing reviews on it, and I think it is overrated. This comparison was done on a Marsh CD player and both Hales and Meadowlark speakers. I haven't heard the Odyssey but read a review that it takes a long time to break in.
I am not aware of any Marsh CD player in existence.
Joe_coherent, Have you compared the Marsh a400 to the Belles 350A? I know that the the Belles 350A is a winner. I don't know much about the tha Marsh a400. But I have had exp. with the the Belles 350A. The Belles 350A is the greatested solid state amp I've heard. I'm a tube freak for the most part. The Belles 350A sounds as close to tube as I've heard. The Bel Canto Evo is another solid state amp that is up there.
In my earlier posting I accidentally listed a Marsh CD player as the source. It was actually a Primare, sorry about the mistake. There is no Marsh CD player, as Joe_coherent pointed out.
In response to Clayton @ home.net: The amps he auditioned were NOT !!!!!!! the Odyssey Stratos amps, but instead the ODL HT 2 amplifiers. Odyssey doesn't sell the HT 2, and ODL tried to copy the Stratos amps. To make it very clear, the ODL amp is an unauthorized knock-off. However, since ODL obviously doesn't have the know-how, and since Symphonic Line would like to strangle them due to them #@!&*#@@ with SL's design, ODL simply can't get it right. There are a few serious differences in the final matching, biasing, etc. that ODL couldn't do. Without Symphonic Line's help, they were simply stranded. They might look the same, but they're not. I want to make this very clear here, since we, Odyssey Audio, get this complaint from time to time. Nevermind the legal implications of the situation that the guys at ODL got themselves into, more importantly, their HT 2 amp shouldn't be directly compared to our original Symphonic Line designed unit. Regardless what ODL or any ODL dealer says. Also, we're only selling the Odyssey amp(as well as the monos, the multi-channel amps, pre amps, etc) factory direct in order to have better service and pricing for our customers, but we also take care of the mislead ODL customers if they desire so. There is no current, original Odyssey Stratos amplifier in any dealership, and there is no Odyssey HT 2 amp. Please don't confuse these 2 products, even though unfortunately, the situation became confusing. If anybody has some questions or needs clarification about any HT 2's (even though it is probable that ODL sold their small lot of amps already, in which case there won't be any new ones coming any more), then please feel free to call us anytime @ 317-299-5578. Klaus Bunge Odyssey
In response to Klaus, I have located ODL's website and they seem like they have more than just a 'few' procucts left. They are located at odlav.com. The av, I assume, stands for audio video of which when you go to their home theater page, it shows your 2 channel preamp and your amplifiers with there new odl logo. If you or symphonic are after these guys for stealing your trademarks and designs this information should help. They are located in Va. and Ct and their phone is 860-873-3021. If you know a James Martin , he is the c.e.o. Hope the information helps and if it does and you did'nt know where they were located you can give me an amp for free, I mean discounted! Then I can see if its as good as the Marsh I heard....
Thanks, Chipster. I really appreciate it, and I have to correct a few things here. for one, we're not the only ones who have legal issues with ODl. Actually, our claim is dwarfed by what other companies are suing them for. Second, their site is amazingly similar, right ? Well, guess you wouldn't be surprised to hear that our original site was up well over a year before theirs. More copies ? Third, just because they announce products (which, by the way they never had for the most part)doesn't mean that they're available. Anyway, the whole issue is very sad, and I don't enjoy talking about this situation at all, but on the other hand, what else should we do ? Comments such as Clayton's and certain rumors simply have to be put in the right circumstances. Chipster, thanks again. Maybe you want to give me a call after all ? Klaus, Odyssey Audio
Klaus told me to give him a call after his last response and I'm glad I did. He gave me a good deal on a stratos amp with the 100,000 cap upgrade. I really had nothing to lose because of the in home trial, so I agreed to purchase one on Klaus' recommendation. This was the best purchase I have ever made in audio. The reviews do not justify how good this amp really is. It has a huge soundstage, is crstal clear and is powerful as hell. This is a huge difference between my quicksilver monos I used to have and my sim i5080 I just sold. Thanks Klaus for keeping in touch after the sale. Most companies just buy and sell with no customer relations. He is helpful and if you have any problems he will be glad to help. The build quality is phenomenal for the price and it really does sound like a $4,000 amp. There may be better out there but, an amp that sounds as good as this, weighs over 50lbs and comes with a 20 year warranty doesn't come along very often, especially under a thousand dollars. I think more people should listen to the musicality of this amp before they put thousands of dollars more on there krells and levinsons. Thanks Klaus for all your knowledge and I'll let you know how it sounds after it breaks in !