Best 2 ch. Amp, for music, under $1k used


My current system consists of:
Classe ssp 25 pre-amp
Musical fidelity v-dac2 with Pangea p-100
Adcom gfa 545
Denon DVD 2900 used to play cd's
Paradigm studio 10 (planned future upgrade to studio 20's)

My question is: what amp would you recommend for my setup? I'm looking for better sound (fuller bass, better imaging, more power for higher volumes and more headroom etc). I'd like to keep it around $1,000, new or used.
By the way, there is a lexicon nt-312 for sale locally for $850. This amp is supposed to be the same as a Bryston 5b-st. Any input is greatly appreciated!
b_limo
I think you would notice a significant improvement if you moved from the Adcom to the Odyssey Stratos. I did when I made the same move.

John
If a McCormack DNA 0.5 Rev. A comes up I think it would satisfy all the requirements you listed. Should be right around your price range. Second the Odyssey Stratos recommendation as well. Older versions of the Bryston amps have a reputation for being a little clinical or sterile sounding. When I had one in my system my 0.5 Rev. A demonstrated significanly fuller bass/mids and more overall dynamic impact, which seems more inline with what you're looking for. Hope this helps and best of luck.
There are two Conrad Johnson MF-2250 amps for sale here. I would grab one of them. The prices are in your range.
Agree with Yogilboy. That particular series of Conrad Johnson amps were really special. Colorful, musical, anything but harsh or mechanical sounding.
Ditto on the Conrad Johnson amps.
I have owned several McCormack amps and I would suggest you look at the DNA 125. Very musical, neutral and quick on its feet with great bass slam. The DNA 125 will work great with upgraded Paradigms as well.
I agree with the McCormack suggestions. I would also add the DNA-1, which is very upgradeable.

You might also consider a Monarchy SE-100, Marsh A400, or Musical Fidelity A3cr. A friend of mine had Studio 20'a and he drove them well with a Denon integrated amp.

Michael
Muse Model 160
Belles 150A "Hot Rod"
Sonographe SA250 or SA400
Classe Ten or Fifteen
You guys (and gals, if any of you are ladies) ROCK! Thank you all. I've researched some of these amps based on your recommendations and I've really liked what I've seen so far. The knowledge you guys have about stereo equipment is humbling. I'll definitely write down all these amps, do a little research and then start looking in a week or two when the funds are available. Thanks again to everyone helping me out with this, I really appreciate it!
The McCormack DNA 0.5 is a great recommendation. Another amp to give strong consideration to is the McIntosh MC7100 (later version with XLR inputs).

I've recently had the McCormack 0.5 Rev B, McCormack HT-1 Fully Modded (i forget the exact designation), and the McIntosh MC7100 in my system - ended up keeping the McIntosh.

These amps were bought to drive some additional channels, but I recently moved the McIntosh 7100 to drive my mains while my primary amps were out getting serviced and they are VERY good. Far better than I was expecting.

So much of this is user and system dependent - if you can, it's always good to buy smartly and try several options until you find what works best for you. You shouldn't lose much if any on the resale, and it's part of the fun.
The CJ amp mentioned, but must be the "A" version.
Interesting. The McCormack 0.5, & the Conrad Johnson MF-2250 were the 2 amps I was going to suggest. I'd also say--I've had a "non-A" MF-2250 for years, & I think it sounds beautiful. And I had a stock, (no-"revs") DNA 0.5 in the same system for a few days; it sounded very, very nice.

If you could pick up a stock DNA 0.5 for $500-ish, I'd grab it.
Audio Research D-130. One is on Ebay for $750. Real nice amp.
I'm gonna slightly disagree with Steveaudio here. While the stock DNA 0.5 is undoubtably a good amp, the 0.5 Rev. A is in another league. And if you can get one for an extra 500 bucks or so and still be in your price range--well--how many times can you jump several levels of performance for 500 clams in this hobby? Long story short, buying an already upgraded DNA 0.5 is a huge bargain considering what the upgrades cost and the significant performance advantages they provide. Just my $0.02 if you're considering a DNA 0.5.
Another vote for McCormack amplifiers.
Another vote for Conrad-Johnson 2250. I have one. It's stunning!
Did CJ make an A version of the MF2250? I had a MF-2500-A ,,,never should have sold.Sweet and powerful!
I only have experience with the McCormack DNA-1, but I just jumped to it from an Adcom GFA-545. The difference really is astounding. My 4-ohm Polk LSi9 speakers are completely transformed by its low-impedance capabilities. Got it used for a good bit less than $1K.

It's already in the hands of SMc Audio, for a Silver upgrade. Using the 545 in the interim. I miss the McCormack.
I only have experience with the McCormack DNA-1, but I just jumped to it from an Adcom GFA-545. The difference really is astounding. My 4-ohm Polk LSi9 speakers are completely transformed by its low-impedance capabilities. Got it used for a good bit less than $1K.

It's already in the hands of SMc Audio, for a Silver upgrade. Using the 545 in the interim. I miss the McCormack.
I only have experience with the McCormack DNA-1, but I just jumped to it from an Adcom GFA-545. The difference really is astounding. My 4-ohm Polk LSi9 speakers are completely transformed by its low-impedance capabilities. Got it used for a good bit less than $1K.

It's already in the hands of SMc Audio, for a Silver upgrade. Using the 545 in the interim. I miss the McCormack.
Bthogan, an adcom gfa 545 is the amp I am currently using so it's good to hear your thoughts on the DNA-1! Thanks!
B-limo, no problem. I love my GFA-545 - really. It opened my ears, and got me through a lot. But, as noted, the jump to the DNA-1 was unexpectedly amazing. In my case specifically, it's as if I got a new (much better) pair of speakers.
So I went into my local stereo shoptonight to pick up some interconnects and ended up leaving with a classe ca-150 to demo for a few days. A gentleman there is trying to sell it for $800. I'll let you know what I think of it after listening to it more, but my initial impressions are: more resolution and more bass.
The Classe CA-150 is a sweet amp. It should be several steps above your Adcom 545.
So I went ahead and bought the classe ca-150. It sounds quite a bit better than the adcom. What I've noticed so far is a wider, deeper, more defined soundstage, waaaay more bass, and I can play my speakers louder. I actually find myself listening to the same music alot louder just because it sounds so good. I'm sure you all have had systems that you listen to at moderate levels, and others where you just keep turning it up and up. My system went from the former to the latter just by changing the amp. Another reason that I went with the classe is simply because I have a classe pre-amp, of the same era as the amp, so I figured that they should have a good synergy. Anyhow, thanks to everyone who posted! I learned about some really good amps based on your recommendations.