My friend tried several amps with his Avalon Eidolons, (including Manley, VTL, Rowland, Classe, albeit none of the others on your list though), and finally has settled on the Lamm M2.2s (220 wpc). (He prefers having plenty of power with his Eidolons, as he likes lots of power reserve and a firm control on the bass response, which is why he went with the M2.2s vs. the M1.2s (110 wpc).)
I was so impressed with these amplifiers after hearing the effects to his already impressive system, that I bought a pair of Lamm M2.1s (200 wpc), (although I bought mine used, as I was short on funds). The Lamms added that touch of warmth to his system (and mine) that he likes (he had been trying out tube amps primarily), but it also brought his bass response up to its potential (that the tube amps just could not supply, and that the few solid state amps he did try, did provide). The Lamms provide the best of both worlds, in our humble opinions.
(The only cavaet is that the Lamms run a bit warm, and can warm up your room. I have no problem being a little warm, if it means getting that level of performance!)
My two cents worth.
Eidolon's are not at all 'cool and lean'. You've got issues somewhere else in your system. Avalon suggests that there are many quality amplifiers that will partner well with Eidolons. It's been my very limited experience that lots O watts ain't got nothin' to do with it. Current maybe. I'm sure the Eidolons have the ability to reveal all that the amplifiers you're considering have to offer. Still you should check this out. http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue26/nuforce9se.htm
Unfortunately for all the class D skeptics out there this man speaks the truth. Another unfortunate item is that these little blocks take a while to run in and once done provide an almost sinister amount of resolution. I honestly can't recommend these to a recent tubeophile convert as there is absolutely no warm fuzz, humm, or colored lushness down this pedestrian priced path. You will hear your Eidolons though, along with every mistake that lies before the amplifiers inputs.
If you wanna hear Eidolon's and tubes get on down to the Analog Room in San Jose, California were their being powered by a pair of Wavestream Kinetics.
That's my opinion, I could be wrong.
FWIW our customers report that the MA-2s are a nice combination with the Eidelons. In fact something like 95% of all the MA-2s built are running either Sound Labs or Eidelons.
Based on this my feeling is that the Avalons are a tube friendly load and I would be more concerned about what sounds right on them rather than getting the so-called 'universal' amplifier (which in reality does not exist if you want the best sound...).
Above all have fun!
I agree with Vicdamone above, having heard the above combo while they were being reviewed. Just as long as you don't listen to FM radio, they are great.
He has since moved on to some EAR mono's which sound even better (especially on FM ) although they do cost more.
Best bang for your $$$ though are the 9se's.
I use the Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk.III OTL amps
with my Eidolons and I love the combination. The MA-2 makes for an incredible match driving the Eidolons: superb speed and resolution; exceptional recreation of correct timbre and harmonic overtones; deep, tight, agile and articulate bass; holographic soundstaging; dynamic range capacity that just won't quit, and delightfully natural, relaxed and musical throughout (never in the least lean, etched or analytical).
I've spoken with some Eidolon owners who use the Atma-Sphere MA-1 and report good success, but I play a lot of large orchestral music so the added power and control of the MA-2 made most sense to me, and the MA-2 is completely versatile in being able to drive almost any speaker out there. Don't let the fact that it is an OTL fool you; this is one OTL that will drive virtually ANY load.
Also, Ralph Karsten is one of the best designer/ manufacturers in the business for taking care of his customers and supporting his product. The MA-2 has been in production for well over 15 years with continuing improvements, and every MA-2 in the field today can be updated to full current factory specification. And I don't know of another manufacturer who will give you a complete "as new" warranty upon upgrade to current factory spec as I received upon upgrading my MA-2 from MkII to MkIII status this past year.
Accent: Mr. Levi reviewed and purchased the EAR 890's a few years back and just rereviewed them. In this latest review his opinion was that the NuForce did hold an edge over the 890's in bass reproduction though.
I listen to a great deal of FM. My tuner sits just 18" above the NuForce SE's which are close to the floor. My yagi antenna is masted on the roof of my ranch style home. The only FM interference I've encountered with the SE's was from my clock radio whose little wire antenna was moved up off the floor and the problem was solved. I should point out that I use heavily shielded DIY VAC cable, stare grounded long before the SE's arrived.
"...deep, tight, agile and articulate bass..."
Rushton that is quite a compliment coming from a tube amp. If my memeory serves correct you do not use a subwoofer. Every amp I use get's the benefit of not having to reproduce the low frequencies, which can be a strain on the amp and speaker.
I was considering atma-spheres but the electrical sysytem of my apartment will not support the heavy current draw. Nor was the the ML/CLS an ideal match.
Back to the point try Rowland if you want solid state. They are very sweet.
I also own Eidolons and use a CAT Ultimate MKII preamp and a CAT JL-2 MKII Signature amp. I was happy with my system until I evaluated a pair of NuForce 9.02 amps in my system. I did not realize that the Eidolons needed an amp with a much higher damping factor. I just ordered a new pair of NuForce 9 SE amps. They are that good.
Gregadd, the bass reproduction capabilities of the Atma-Sphere MA-1 and MA-2 amps is one of their remarkable features. With appropriate speakers, one has the best of solid state bass with the beauty of tubes through the midrange and top.
The debate between tubes with lush images and the damping factor of solid state is stil alive. I have a friend who is runnig Grand Slams with Lamns (try saying that fast)and he just ordered a Karan 450 because the Lamns weren't able to control the speakers through a really long run of speaker cable.Another friend owned the class D amp of significant merit and thought that any other amp would loss signal in comparison with it.He was shocked when the Karan gave him more info and did it in a more natural way ( mind you the damping factor of this amp is 10,000 and that is approaching what is measurable by today's standards)He not only bought the amp,but also purchased the preamp ( the digital amp he had used room correction in it)and has sound that is excellent.This Karan amp uses technolgy that is new and does things in a super natural way.If you get the chance then check it out!Take care Dennis
I think it is very hard to make any specific recommendations, given different tastes, room setups, completely unpredictable interaction between components, etc. So, at best, we can recommend items for you to try in the hopes of achieving what you desire.
I am a bit surprised that you found the Eidolons to be cool and lean. The various iterations of the Eidolon I've heard, while not particularly lush, seemed to be on the warmer, less analytical side. My own take of the speaker (based on limited exposure) is that they needed a touch more liveliness (something from the OTL camp, perhaps, would help).
Still, if you are looking on the warmer side, I would suggest trying the Hovland solid state amp. I heard the Eidolon (diamond) with a Hovland chain of amplification and it sounded pretty warm and sweet.
VAC PHI 70. They have enough power for 95% of the music anyone would want to listen to.
I have tried all these over the last 7 years:
Levinson 333 (sucks allround)
VT200 (metallic, sucks allround)
VT130 (acceptable only with Auricap mod and KT88)
Classic 120 (acceptable only with extensive mods)
Classic 150 (lacks extreme high and extreme low)
VAC Vintage 100 (Triode mode sounds good but may break up / distort when playing piano @ loud volumes)
Canary 309 (no juice)
and the latest Counterpoint NPM with basic Altavista mod.
(great all round, has bass, but not as transparent as Phi 70)
Nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to the transparency, mid-high dynamic contrast (note mid-high only), and most of all, musicality, of the PHI70s.
BTW dont bother experimenting with tubes, the stock ones are the best tuned for the PHi 70.
"Nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to the transparency, mid-high dynamic contrast (note mid-high only), and most of all, musicality, of the PHI70s."
I assume this "nothing" includes the CAT amps. And if so, that's quite a claim.
CAT amps... are you referring to JL2?
Not sure if I can even think about go back to listening EL34 or KT88 amps with many tubes on each side anymore.
Well before you come to any conclusion that all multi-tube KT88, 65500 or EL34 amp designs are the same, you should give the CAT amps a listen. The dynamic contrasts and transient speed here is very impressive....and not just through the mids and highs; the amp's performance is unaffected when the performance involves significant low-frequency material. Most tube amps in the 100-200 wpc rating, ARC for example, just crumble during such source material.
Perhaps the VAC Phi 70s all round performance, including low frequency material playback, already kicks the derrier of the CAT when driving the Eidolons ;)
I use CAT JL1s with my Thiel 7.2 speakers and they sound amazing.
I am running the Atma-sphere MA2 with the eidolon diamonds. Very, very good, just make sure you have a good clean source of power and really good ventilation!!!
what silvaweld otl do you use? I'm asking, because I'm a little bit surprised, that there is not enough power / dynamics.
I use the silvaweld otl tube reference 100 monos with 87db speakers and to be honest, I've never heard more dynamics before. and before I own a pair of kr enterprise pushpull monos which has had more muscles than most existing amps ...
I've been using Lamms 1.2 with my Eidolon Visons for almost a year, and from that perspective I do not find them too synergistic. Suprisingly, Cary CAD500 MB monos I have recently tried are MUCH better, at at 1/3 cost.
I also second the Karan amps. I have heard them driving the Dimonds, and the combination was utterly amasing. There is something special about those amps indeed.
Bajasport: OTL 150 stereo, a pair used as monos
CAT ALL DAY LONG!!!jl3s will drive those puppies!!!
...BTW let's not forget Spectral.