I have had the S-30 for a year now. Initially I used it with Meadowlark Shearwater HR's with great success. I moved up to Coincident Victories which are an easy load with tubes.
With sensitive speakers, the S-30 has to be the greatest bargain in this hobby. Excellent bass, amazing transparency and runs much cooler than the other Atma-Sphere amps(fewer tubes).
With NOS tubes (6 good 6SN7's) which are abundant out there, the amp moves to a whole new level. The Chinese tubes are pretty good but a few hundred bucks invested in NOS is very worthwhile.
I haven't heard an amp, tube or solid state under 6 grand (except for the M-60's) that pleases me the way the S-30 does. Definitely worth a try.
I've been using an S-30 for 6 years with my JBLs and it sounds fantastic. Excellent transparency, bass & soundstage. I've done some upgrades on the power supply bringing it up to current production. I also added teflon coupling caps. I'm also using the Atma-Sphere MP-3 preamp & it is excellent. Atma-Sphere is a great company to deal with & their products are in demand. If your travels take you to the southeast, you are welcome to audition.
I've been using an S30 for about 4 years, currently with coincident total victory's. Prior to the T.V.'s I had Alon lotus's with the 14 ohm woofer. I agree with Chris/Nutella, the S30, while certainly not inexpensive, is one of the highend's great bargains.
It has a speed and transparency that is world class, coupled with usual tube attributes, imaging, bloom and air. Yet it is very neutral sounding. It will be as cold or as warm as the source components/material dictates.
Prior to the S30, I had an audio research classic 60 and I did compare with the cary 300b set offerings. The S30 was significantly better for all the reasons mentioned above. Surprisingly, it also had a fuller/tighter bass.
Coupled with appropriate speakers, the S30 is capable of world class sound.
Personally, Tim, I think the M60s are the Atmas to get. You get double the power, a much wider array of speakers to choose from, and an easier time selling if that day ever should come.
The Atma house sound will be present in both products, however.
Thanks for the feedback everyone, I am indeed intrigued with these amplifiers, however even at 30watts I think its too much power(my new speakers are 99db efficient) so I don't think I would be interested in the M60's- even with resale kept in mind. I keep leaning towards low wattage SET's, a lot of folks say that the first watt is the most important on a speaker like this, there is also a purity to the sound that would be nice, even with rolled off bass. As usual it seems clear I have not a clue what I actually want! For the price of the S30 I may just pick one up and try it, they seem quite affordable.
Ahhh, the first watt. Doesn't Nelson Pass insist it is the first watt that matters most? That if the first watt isn't a good one then how can one expect the following watts to be any better?
I like his philosophy. But I also like Atmasphere's philosophy and, although I have not heard Nelson's F1, I have heard the Atmasphere's. They are excellent - just excellent.
But I still want to hear that F1 on a pair of high efficiency speakers. It's bugging me.
By the way, do you have the db99 speakers? Give us a comment or two. I hear tell they are nice.
Terrific amplifier for the money. Actually a terrific amp period. If you have high efficiency speakers and a small room it is probably plenty powerful. I doubt that many amps in its price range can match its speed and frequency response.
Tireguy, If your speakers are 99DB, the BEST SET I have ever heard are the Wavelength Cardinal X1's. Yes I am biased, and I have a pair for sale, cause I do not any longer have efficient enough speakers. I have had the S-30's in my system, and they were not as magical as the 300B tube. This MHO. 12.5 watts would put you in music heaven. Check out Steve Rochlins review on these amps. He compare's too the 90K onagku's.
Good luck in your search
Nealhood- I do have the db99 speakers and really enjoy them, they sound good even with poor quality amplification. They sound great with good amplification, they can also be dialed into the room very easily with the bass booster dial. They seem to do everything right and NOTHING wrong, they have a small foot print. Break-in was a little rough at times, but overall I can't complain about the sound at all, I am not sure how they would sound in a really big room(mine is 30x18- not set-up ideally, but very capable of producing good sound) or a really small room, but they are producing great music in this room. The bass is tight, fast, very accurate and articulate, the midrange blends very well with the tweeter and both are detailed and lively(but by no means in your face)- they even have some of the air I was affraid I was going to lose when I left the maggies. They do not have as much air as the maggies did(with out a doubt that speakers strength) but there is also a ribbon tweeter that will be coming out for the 99's this summer which I think will be the answer.
So tell me about the pass F1 I can't seem to find much information about them. That may be the amplifier for me!