Considering that any of the three will drive your speakers effortlessly, why not go with the amp that is still a current model - the Parasound HALO A21.
There’s a very good reason why its been around awhile. It's a great amp.
The older Aragon amplifiers are very nice -- they have a lot of current but they are a little on the warm/slow side. Still have a lot of energy to the music. I have heard the first gen Bryston amps (like 4B). They are okay, but are a little flat sounding. The newer generations (SST / SST2) are much better and more exciting. I would probably pick the Aragon over the Bryston because the Aragon will just pull you into the music more. That being said, I would probably choose the Paraouns A21 from your short list because it's the newest platform and the Parasound has some excellent feedback. You won't have to worry about aging capacitors and components that need to be refreshed (the Aragon/Bryston are quite old).
Tubes ahead of the Bryston might be pleasant, they are forward sounding at times, I preferred mine on bass management which btw does well with. Having some experience with Parasound and Paradigm, they are a nice combination. Have not entered tubes into the equation but I dont think you could go wrong with the VTL in front of the halo.
I would get the A21. I've heard it with your preamp and its a very good match. The 4B would be my 2nd choice.
Parasound is the most accurate,musical with great body and weight.Your move!!
All 3 are very nice class A/B amps but I know from personal experience that a good class D stereo or monoblocks will give you better performance at a reduced cost, size, weight, heat and they'll consume significantly less electricity to operate which also translates to lower electric bills.
I know your VTL 2.5 preamp is very good. I previously used the same one with NOS Mullards paired with a ss Aragon amp. When I replaced the Aragon with a class D amp, it significantly improved my system performance. I mainly noticed improved bass and dynamics with the mids and treble remaining smooth but detailed.This is an excellent pre-amp to pair with class D amps and there's really no down side.
should also note the Brystons have a 20 year fully trasferable warranty and a very good rep for repair services. get a 10 year old sst/sst2 and still have 10 years left of warranty. as I have not heard any of them I can't judge by sound but quality has always been a main stay of Bryston
"should also note the Brystons have a 20 year fully trasferable warranty and a very good rep for repair services. get a 10 year old sst/sst2 and still have 10 years left of warranty. as I have not heard any of them I can’t judge by sound but quality has always been a main stay of Bryston"
All true all worth considering. Even though the 3Bs are getting a bit long in the tooth and no longer covered in the 20 year window Bryston is more than willing to repair or refresh them. I had an amp gone over and they even replaced parts that might go, no extra charge. There are plenty of early Bryston amps still active today while no longer covered under warranty thats serves as a testament to there longevity.
Thanks for the responses. Looks like Parasound for me. Not ready to mess with class D yet. Too many mixed opinions and no real way to audition.
I had an old Yamaha receiver in the 80s. It was an R1000 with a switching power supply. It was the first time I spent real money on Hi Fi with it being almost $1000 (plenty for a receiver when you are a teenager). I remember being so disappointed with the sound. I dont know if it was class D or something else but it touted a switching power supply and impressive output power for a receiver. Sounded fatiguing and lifeless. I fully realize todays class D is not the same but ever since that time I swore. Where 2 channel is concerned its will be over built, heavy, class A or A/B.
I actually have an 8008ST which just recently died. Its out to get fixed but I'm doubtfull Ill be able to get it fixed here in Winnipeg and shipping out is questionable considering the economics of the process. I loved that 8008. Absolutely loved it and want something comparable.
Yes, I've learned that class D has made big strides over the years but I never heard the early examples. My opinion of current good class D is that you give up nothing in the mids and treble to class A/B but gain better bass response and dynamics. All the other benefits (smaller size, reduced weight, more affordable price, much cooler running and reduced electricity consumption) enticed me to give it a try.
I know not everyone respects class D yet, but others not knowing how good it really is, for me, just adds to its appeal and makes it even cooler. Realizing there were no negatives to class D only made me wish I had tried it sooner.
I understand your reluctance since I was a bit reluctant myself initially. If you ever get curious though, most class D amp sellers offer free in-home trial periods of 3-6 weeks with full 'no questions' refunds so there's no real risk.
I know someone who gives it an open-minded comparison would really have to be biased to not admit class D is equal to or superior to class A/B in every meaningful criteria we care about.
The best class A/B (Aragon, Bryston, Pass Labs, Parasound Halo, etc.) may be close in sound quality but, when all the other benefits of class D are taken into account, class D is clearly superior in my opinion.
Good luck and Enjoy!
I just got an older 4B a few days before Christmas and Im driving Magnepan 1.7s thru an Aud Illusions 2B. Sounds magnificent. Good luck with any choice you make.
I have the Aragon 8008, and I brought home a Parasound A21 when I first got the Aragon to compare. I've got PSB Imagine T2 speakers. The amps were close, but I thought the Aragon had a tad more warmth to the sound (fill in personal adjective here...weight, thickness, heaviness, etc.). I REALLY don't like too much brightness (edginess, coolness, or just too much clarity) in my music (think Bryston). So, I went with the Aragon. Been flawless for the past few years. Not a Bryston man...reputation and warranty notwithstanding.
noble100: You didn't tell us which Class D amp you are using. I'm using 3 Parasound JC 1 (LCR), an A 21, and two A 23 (surround) amps that at the moderate listening levels I prefer I suspect stay in Class A, but I might replace the A 21 with a Class D amp in my secondary setup.
"I loved that 8008. Absolutely loved it ..." Fortunate that you know this. So wisely absolutely act in accordance with what you absolutely love. I had a 20 year Krell service tech and authorized servicer for many world class audio lines not just service or recap my Aragon 4004 mkII. To address all the age related possibilities, he renewed and improved rectification and capacitance for improved speed. I am presently and will for decades be enjoying what I absolutely love free of doubt, restlessness and expensive speculation. After all, it doesn't matter what others like or think. Absolutely do that which will most predictably give you what you absolutely love ! Happy New Years of loving what you hear. :-)
I have a combo 2-ch/HT 5.1 surround system currently using 4 class D and 1 class A/B amps in a 23'L x 16'W x 8'H carpeted living room . All amps are directly connected to the amps from the outputs of an Oppo-105 (used as a 2-ch pre-amp, wireless DAC connected to a laptop and NAS for streaming CD and hi-res music files, 5.1 surround sound processor and Blu-ray player). Amps are:
D-Sonic M3-600-M class D mono-blocks that drive my main L+R mains (Magnepan 2.7qr) connected via XLR cables from the Oppo's front L+R mains outputs. 1,200 watts each into the 4 ohm Magnepans.
Emerald Physics EP-100.2-SE class D stereo amp bridged to mono that drives my center ch ( Magnepan CC-3) connected via RCA cable from the Oppo's center output. 275 bridged mono watts into the 4 ohm Magnepan.
ClassD Audio SDS-440SC class D stereo amp that drives a pair of rear surrounds(Infinity in-ceiling) connected via RCA cables from the Oppo's l+r rear surround outputs. 220 watts each into the 8 ohm Infinities.
Dayton Audio SA-1000 class A/B mono sub amp that drives 4 non-amplified Audio Kinesis subs.
I've used class A/B amps (Adcom initially and then McCormak and Aragon more recently) exclusively for the past 30+ years before substituting class D amps in the past few yrs. I've always left my amps on 24/7 and continue to do so with class D. I think my system performance has improved with the switch and my monthly electric bill has gone down by between $40-$50/ depending on the season.
I'm currently involved in another thread on audiogon discussing class D amplification. Many, including myself, prefer good quality class D amps but many also prefer class A, A/B, tube, G and even class H amps.
My opinion is that no amp type has a monopoly on good sound and that class D is not for everyone.
Parasound A21. Find a dealer closest to you and then ask them for a discount. There is a reason why this amp is still the current model and won't go away or needs to be updated.