New or used price? A used pair of Cary 805C can be found under $5K. With a few relatively inexpensive tweaks, they can be absolutely incredible. For SS, I like Pass,Spectral, and Gryphon. Just MHO.
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My vote goes for the Atma-Sphere M60 Mk 2.2 but be careful that your speakers are a good match. These are especially incredible when paired with an Atma-Sphere pre-amp. Check out www.atma-sphere.com for details. I have not heard the amps mentioned above but all are highly regarded. The reviews of the M60's on audioreview.com will give you an accurate portrayal of their sound. God bless.
My personnel experience from going from one dealer to the next. It all depends on speaker, cables, cdp, pre, and amp combo. Add them all together and hopefully you find heaven. I listened to some amps that sound like crap on one setup and like magic in another setup. I had a bryston and it worked well(impressive warranty). I sold it and bought a BAT vk200 which does exactly what I need.
If I was in the market for a "2 channel" power amplifier for less than $5K, then I have several favorites I must consider.
And they are:
(01). McCormack DNA-125 -- $1,625.00 (I have listened to its predecessor, the McCormack DNA-0.5 about four years ago when my system was in a state of flux and I was getting ready to start upgrading. I was in the market for a power amplifier at that point. I was also considering the purchase of a Vandersteen 2Ce speaker system and I was looking for an amplifier to get the best out of it. And when I was looking at alternatives such as a Acurus A150, an Adcom GFA-545 MkII, a Aragon 2004, and a Bryston 3B, I was told by a salesperson to add the McCormack DNA-0.5 to my shortlist. Well, I did. And needless to say, that was ONE amplifier that has brought out the VERY best in the Vandersteen 2Ce's (and that was also when I have found out about the MITerminator 2 Interconnect/Speaker Cable interface system). The highs were VERY clear and crystaline, the mid band was EXTREMELY transparant and VERY resolute, with LITTLE OR NO coloration, and the bass response was precise (meaning it was there when the signal from the source called for it), extended and VERY tight. It projected a precise stereo image, with one of the widest and deepest soundstages I have ever heard in my whole life. When I found out that this amplifier retails for $1,295.00 (I listened to the Special Edition model, which has retailed for $1,600.00.......... in 1997 dollars), my jaw almost hit the floor. Then I asked how this amplifier compared to a Krell or a Levinson, and he said that for the money, the McCormack DNA-0.5 gave those amplifiers a serious run for their money. And after listening extensively to this amplifier, I had no reason to dispute him. Based on my experience with the McCormack DNA-0.5 amplifier, I have every reason to believe that the newer and current McCormack DNA-125 has bettered the DNA-0.5 in all aspects of it. And the DNA-0.5 was great amplifier to begin with. Definitely, a great buy if you are looking for a used amplifier and you have less than $1K to spend on an amplifier).
(02). Mark Levinson No. 334 -- $5,900.00 (but I can probably get a used one for about $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 used).
(03). Mark Levinson No. 23 -- $2,500.00 to about $3,500.00 (used).
(04). And for a tube amplifier. If I owned a relatively efficient speaker system that had a neutral mid band, a deep bass response and a extended top end, then I would drive it with a Conrad-Johnson Premier 11A -- $3,495.00. A great amp at a great price. Like "Sagger" has said (and I agree with him...... I have also listened to this amplifier and was highly impressed. For someone who prefers tubes to solid-state (and I am "pro" solid-state), I recommend it highly)), it is unbeatable for the price.
Those would be the amplifiers I would consider if I had only $5K to spend on an amplifier.