i don't own the sa-250 mkIV, but i do own an sa-102. i read your thread at the asylum. i'm not familiar with the bryston sound. i purchased my sa-102 as an upgrade from a pair of aragon palladium ii monos. the plinius is much more tubelike than the aragon having a richer texture in the midrange. don't get me wrong, a tube amp would sound even better than the plinius i'm sure. however, i listen to a lot of bass heavy music and tube amps that i've auditioned just can't hold their own in the deep, driving bass department. my impression of the sa-102 is that it is a very musical and dynamic amp. if i ever upgrade, i'll definitely be looking at the sa-250 mkIV.
Kgurtner- thanks for the response. I've never heard the 102, but can appareciate it is probably similar to the 250MKIV I heard recently. The 250 was great in that it seemed to control the speaker very well, and had a natural unforced 'together' quality about it. However, this was in a quick audition, and the amp/preamp/cd player literally had not been turned on for 2 months! So listening to a cold system it's tough to tell, but I am sure what I heard would get even better- do you leave your 102 on all the time?
I found the Plinius SA-250 v4 a lot smoother and more refined than the Bryston ST series.
The Plinius is very warm, lush, and euphoric with a stronger emphasis on bloom, decay. Its one of the more traditional tubey-like sounding solidstate amps that Ive heard, (but doesnt quite 3d like the real thing). I heard the Plinius driving a pair of the bigger Martin Logans and Diana Krall was swonderful, but when I tried the 250 v4 (heavy sucker) on my Maggie 3.6s it was excessively euphoric. Everything sounded too smooth, liquidy, and lacked dynamic impact and PRAT Krall was still swonderful, but Basie was boring. I got it to swing with a strong, dry, dynamic preamp like the ARC LS-25. Highs were excellent, midrange and bass tightened up and lost some of the bloated feeling, but never got the PRAT right for me. I like it much more on leaner or brighter speakers like Thiel or Logans.
The Bryston, although cruder was more neutral or truer to the source than the Plinius. Much stronger (in your face) attack with a lot of grunt (great for rock and heavy hitting music). Bass is excellent, but overall esp. the highs were too raw and lacked finesse. I havent heard the SST personally, but Bryston may have corrected the highs and refined the sound a bit on the SST series. Check for congestion and how well the images stay focused when pushed, I notice the ST seemed to loose it too quickly for a muscle amp.
If you find want a muscle amp thats more nimble than the Plinius and way more refined than the Bryston; check out a McCormack DNA-500 or DNA-2 with Rev A mods.
I saw your previous post regarding the SA 250Mk1V vs. Bryston 14B SST, but because I own the SA 250(not Mk1V) and haven't heard the Brystons..I felt my comments would be of no use to you. I can only comment on the sound of my SA 250 amp and would generally agree with most who find the Plinius sound tubelike smooth and refined. I have mine mated to an ARC LS15 and B&W Matrix 801 S2's, with the modified Van Alstine X-over mods.. I run balanced Transparent cables to the amp and feel this is superior sounding to my older MIT 350 Refs RCA.
I have owned the SA 100 MkII prevoiusly before upgrading to the 250, and the 250 is quite a substantial step up sonically. I dont have quite the bloom and euphoric sound as some have mentioned, probably due to the LS15 being more dry than warm overall. However, That suits me perfectly, especially with the already warm mids and laid back tweeter of the 801's. To my ears, the SA 250 is rather neutral and exceptionally well balanced. Bass is superior to the SA 100 or 102 series amps, and the tubelike mids are kept intact. Something that the 100 and 102 do very well.
What the 250 does so well and better than any amp Iv'e had the pleasure to own(incl. some nice ARC tube monos) is tonal correctness, excellent depth front to back and an expansive soundstage that has superb inner detail without being forward, and stays focused and together when pushed. My tube amps lacked that ability. It is very musical for such a powerful(and BIG) amp. It may not be the last word in bass slam for sure..but it does VERY well on my 801's which at times seem like they are mated to a sub on certain passages in the recording. something my old 100 didn't do. A very solid low end foundation with this amp.
Just a quick mention...I emailed Peter Thomson at Plinius NZ. several weeks back for a copy of the manual. He was very helpfull. He gave me the details of the different iterations of the 250/MkII/MkIII and IV. Basically the MkII and III versions add some changes to the internal wiring and cabeling. and the Mk IV is a whole different amp both internally and with so many changes, there is no upgrade path from the orig. 250 amp. He felt the sonic signature was very close however and that the changes were more for ease of use and easier service by the company. This.. FWIW to you. Hope this helps somewhat. :) Ken
Saltyflies- my speakers are large, 200lb. 9-driver design, yet fairly high efficiency (97db) Coincident Total Victory with ribbon tweeter. They are very revealing, yet also go down to 28hz, and actually like a bit of power, yet problematic, in that I have found they will reveal deficiencies in an amplifier (HP @ Absolute Sound agreed in his review of the TV's). Given that, and from what I can see from your post, it sounds like the refined, yet slightly warm Plinius may be a great match.
As for the Bryston, you really have to hear the newer SST series- quite refined, and sonically a definite step up from the older ST series.
Re: your comment on preamps- very interesting. Mine is a modified Sonic Frontiers Line 3, which is very neutral/dynamic, which also seems to fit the bill according to your experience when you tried the ARC LS-25.
Thanks again, excellent info and some great thoughts on component synergy. One other question- have you played around with any different types of interconnects with the SA-250MKIV? I am looking for a recommendation for a great XLR IC with the Plinius amp...
Ken- an excellent post. That is great information, and interesting how you and Saltyflies are both using ARC LS-series preamps- coincidence?
The description of the sonic subtleties you have found with the SA-250 is exactly what I am looking for, and it's great that it's worked out so well for you. When anyone finds a SS amp that actually replaces a very good tube amp in their system, I definitely take notice- thanks again for sharing your experiience...
Kehut Sorry about the overly euphoric comment. FWIW, I dont post much about specific products because of the synergy thing and only ding products that I really like.
Sutts Cant help with cables. Aside from what Ive read
I think your speakers are more revealing, easier to drive, less dynamically challenged than mine. Since you already have a dry, dynamic preamp - you may not have the PRAT or personal preference issues that I had. If you like the Plinius cold, you gotta hear it with 2-3 hrs of warm-up no more brittle highs, coarse, grainy textures, fuzzy imaging, etc. The highs with ribbon tweeters esp. cymbal attack, shimmer, decay are incredible. Vocals are smooth and buttery. Bass is full, deep and powerful could be tighter with more slam imo. Anyway, try borrowing one and get help moving it, watch out for the corners - sharp vertical heatsinks and front handles are useless- transformers are in the back.
No need to apologize, but thanks.Im sure any given component may sound very different with other associated equipment.You only commented correctly on what you heard, no harm in that.
I definately agree with Saltyflies here. Run dont walk to find the SA 250. Buy it and you wont look back! I think its that good myself. But once you get it home..have some help with its set up. and do take care of its heat sinks fins from damage as it is heavy! Enjoy! and all the best!-Ken
PS....Im on the lookout for a nice LS25 if anyone has one to sell!