C-J 350 has very good rep. Martin Colloms transistor reference amp
79 responses Add your response
I think there are many offerings, a lot of the solid state designs will have tube like character. There of course the old standbys Mark Levison, Pass Labs and higher end Krells. The KAV series just do not sound like a Krell to me. Another Brand I really liked if you can find it was Chord. Very silky and rich but also very expensive and not readily available in the US.
More Modestly priced offering I liked was BAT, Electoacompaniet, and the venerable McIntosh.
However the McIntosh amps I listened to are very neutral and may not have enough warmth for you. However they are not sterile and etched either. In my auditions I found that the BAT came the closest to sounding like a tube amp. Even so they are more laid back in the midrange and did not sound exactly like the tube gear I own.
One of the items you may want to consider removing is the MIT power conditioner as ime with the newer Z-Stabilizer III HG, it provided some improvements but took away more than it gave. Further, since you're at $10K already you may want to consider a used pair of Ayre MX-Rs which will likely be a touch above your indicated budget.
A definite vote for Edge NL 10.1 and (more strongly) the NL 12.1. Both are available on Audiogon from time to time within and slightly below your budget range. There is ample feedback from many of us on these amps and their sonic attributes in other threads. Both have more than ample power into 8-ohms and much more into 4-ohms. You can't go wrong with the upper-line Edge offerings!
I am partial to certain class D amps for high current applications. If your budget wer upwards of $10K, thre are some excellent choices. . . Bel Canto Ref 100 Mk.2 monos for about $6K are quite delightful and may fall slightly on the warmer side of neutral. More center neutral may be the Rowland 312 stereo--which I have seen offered on Agon for c.ca $10K as demo or used--as well as the Spectron Mus 3 stereo or mono, which may also fall within your price range, depending on configuration and creature comforts. G.
Since you have a tube amp already, and probably prefer its sound to solid state, perhaps you should consider trying a hybrid amp, as it combines the best of both worlds, great bass response (deep, tight and quick), with extended treble response and a nice touch of tube bloom to the mid-range. I went that way, and I doubt I will ever go back to either solid state or tube power amplifiers.
I highly recommend the Lamm M2.2 hybrid amplifier. It has 220 wpc into 8 ohms. It is a magnificient amplifier, and is better than any solid state amp I have heard (including the DarTZeel NHB-108 - although that might be becasue of its lower power, and the fact that it is a stereo amp), and it is better than any tube amp I have heard (bar one, the VAC Phi 300, which while it could not compete in the bass response, was better in the treble response, so I consider them to be equals). Used it probably runs about $11K, but you might get lucky, especially in this economy.
I own the Lamm M2.1 (200) hybrid amp, which is the predecessor to the M2.2. It is slighly dark sounding in comparison, but other than that it is identical sounding to the M2.2. (Note: by replacing the one stock Sovtek 6922 in each amp with some nice NOS tubes, such as the Amperex pinched waist tubes that I use, one can virtually eliminate slight dark sounding treble. I recommend replacing the tubes in the M2.2 as well, as the stock Sovtek tube is just okay, and a good NOS tube will make the amp sound better.) Used the M2.1 goes for between $7-8K.
My two cents worth.
Good Luck in your search.
I would suggest that you push the limits and get a darTZeel NHB-108B. There are two currently for sale on AudiogoN, one for $10K and one for $11K.
If you feel that the darTZeel doesn't have enough power, I would recommend the Clayton M-300. These two, and the Pass XA series, are as close to tube sounding as I've heard from SS. The darTZeel is the best, but it's 100 wpc may not be enough for you. The Pass XA series is very good as well, but the Clayton M-300 will give you more power for less $$$ and sound better than the Pass X seies, IMHO.
BTW, Kurt_tank's Lamm reco is a good one too.
That is true Tvad, though we do get a couple of clues from the original post. First, 100 watt tube amp is not enough power. Second, he has heard and enjoys the Pass XA series, but he's afraid he can't get enough power in his price range. So my guess would be that he's looking for 200+ wpc. In which case he should ignore my previous reco of the darTZeel.
I'll stand by my Clayton M-300 reco though. I can't imagine 300 wpc of pure Class A power would not drive his speakers.
Would it also then be funny how one triode tube amp could sound different from another triode tube amp? How about one turntable sounding different from another turntable? Or maybe one CDP sounding different from another CDP? Etc, etc, etc.
This hobby is filled with funny stuff.
I would suggest McCormack's DNA-500. IMO its got it all at that price point, with no compromises. If you haven't heard one, reading the reviews will give you a good idea of how good it really is.
Pretty much all the amps mentioned above have their supporters, and rightly so. One thing that stands out for me is that Steve M. monitors this forum and often answers questions about his products here. Customer service doesn't get much better than that, and I think sometimes that gets overlooked in the rush for the "latest, greatest, etc.." Something for you to consider.....
Well, since we're all tossing out suggestions into the amplifier gene pool, I will suggest the Moscode 401HR. Outstanding amplifier that can change it's sound with some very simple tube changes.
However, I have no clue if it would be appropriate for the OP, since he has not mentioned what speakers he is using.
Sorry it took a little long to respond.
MY room is 15 x 19 with coffered 8 ft. ceilings on the front wall (speaker side) and on the back wall (behind the listening chair). The sensitivity of my speakers is 89 db, and I listen at levels that average around 90-93db. In addition my room is lovingly treaated with ASC products and Acousticmac products (it's a great sounding room...even if I say so myself).
Louisl, any of the speakers in this thread would work.
IMO, you don't need as much power as you think you do. You have 89dB speakers and listen at 90-93dB. 4 watts will produce 92dB. 8 watts will produce 95dB. 32 watts will produce 101dB peaks.
So, with this in mind, you might consider Pass Labs XA-60.5. Frankly, you could probably get away with an XA-30.5.
I'm pusing 100 watts now, and sometimes it runs low on steam.
Pushing 100 watts into an 89dB speaker is running out of steam when you state you listen at 90dB - 93dB?
Something doesn't add up here.
Perhaps the problem is that your tube amp's impedance curve doesn't match the impedance curve of your speakers (which dip down to 3 ohms...I've owned them), and therefore the bass response is anemic. This could be interpreted as running out of steam.
I know firsthand the Moscode 401HR is an excellent match with the VR4 Gen III HSE. I owned this combo for a couple of years.