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I would like to assume that any amp I choose will be a keep it forever thing. The Levinson's should be built to last as well. And ATI, well, they are quality products and a great company. So, from a quality perspective, I don't think I can go wrong... It the possible variances in sound that grabs my interest the most.
Six inputs with six (or more) different suggestions for amps. What they all have in common is high powered solid state designs. The rest is completely subjective. This is even without any considerations for the preamplifier that might be paired with these amplifiers. Forget about how cabling, room size, acoustics treatments, and the types of music played through the system can affect the final outcome. I rest my case.
To clarify my previous post, I have only used integrated amps with my Aerial 7Ts. These include Luxman L-590AX, PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium, Accuphase E-470, Esoteric F-05 and Gato AMP-150 - all in the same room.
The Accuphase, Esoteric and Gato have the requisite power to do the 7Ts justice. Sonically, the Gato wins out. I can understand why Michael Kelly likes Gato so much. Speaker cable will significantly impact how they sound and as kalali mentioned, these are one of many variables. I am using Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7. Have also used Tellurium Q Black Diamond, with equally great synergy. I tried the Audioquest Oak and they sucked with Gato-Aerial combination.
I have also heard Plinius Class A amps with the 7T and they really sing!
" .But now with Theta being mostly Class D amps "
Not the Theta Dreadnaugt Mark 1 or 2. Traditional design and you can save a lot of money if you find a good used one. It's a multichannel amp so you would use 4 channels in a vertical biamp. Also, that amp was designed by Ayre, so it makes sense so recommend them as well. In my own system I do a vertical biamp with a pair of V-5's. That would be another good option, and you can start out with just 1 amp.
Jrunr, in looking at the impedance graph measurements in the Stereophile review of your Arial 7B's it seems you are in a similar situation as I am with my Infinity Kappa 9's. Your speakers are not hard to drive on the top end but do present a challenge to drive on the low end. One solution is to horizontally bi-amp them using two different amps speced for their unique loads .
Put your money into the best sounding amp for the top end but buy a more moderately priced amp for the bottom end that can handle the higher current needs. There are many pre-owned amp options to achieve this configuration. I went with a 75 watt tube amp on the top and a high current mid-FI SS amp on the bottom with very very good results. The mid-FI SS amp sounds like crap on the top end but great on the bottom. It is much more expensive to find a single amp solution with high current that can drive the entire speaker with good sonic results. It is the mids and highs that really reveal amp musicality and imperfections so put your money there.
Your speakers, even though rated at 6 Ohms, go down to 3ohms at 400 Hz frequency. Don't make the mistake of thinking high wattage is the same as high current. If you go class D don't get distracted by all the high wattage specs. It seems that Class D is good at generating high watts but if you find a class D amp that also has high current capability under 2 ohms I would like to hear about it.
" Your speakers are not hard to drive on the top end but do present a challenge to drive on the low end. One solution is to horizontally bi-amp them using two different amps speced for their unique loads ."
That sounds like a good idea, but in practice using 2 different amps horizontal is nothing short of a train wreck. The only systems I've seen that type of setup work, was when someone was desperate to fix a problem. And even then, they should have just fixed it the right way.
"That sounds like a good idea,"
Yes, it does because it works if done right.
"but in practice using 2 different amps horizontal is nothing short of a train wreck."
My experience is just the opposite. You could elaborate on why your experience is different. That would be more helpful to OP than just saying it is a train wreck.
"The only systems I’ve seen that type of setup work, was when someone was desperate to fix a problem."
Yes, the problem is many speakers are actually two separate speakers in one enclosure. Hence, two different amps each doing what it is designed best to do. One handling the highs/mids and the other handling the lows.
" And even then, they should have just fixed it the right way."
In audio the right way is what provides the most optimal results in a cost effective manner. Sure, OP could just go out and buy a TOTL Pass Labs and that would work. But I am trying to offer a solution that I have used in many configurations that can sound just a good if done right as a TOTL high end single amp .....at a fraction of the cost.
Ok. I have heard the same thing about the Aerial speakers craving current! That's why I am curious about what is a great pairing of the amps to the speakers.
As far as the Biamp idea is concerned, what does that do to the impedance of the speaker? Does is make sense to use two separate channels on the same amplifier to biamp? Or is that a waste?
I have been looking at the ATI class D amps lately because I am a little gunshy when it comes to digital amps. I had a Wyred4Sound amp about 10 years ago paired with my PSB Synchrony Ones and I didn't like it at all. I figure things have changed and the ATI is totally different, but I am still nervous about the tech. That being said, Theta uses similar N-Core tech in their new amps and people seem to LOVE them with the newer Aerial Acoustic 7Ts, but I haven't heard anything about them being used with the 7b or CC3b speakers...
So that is my conundrum.
" You could elaborate on why your experience is different. That would be more helpful to OP than just saying it is a train wreck. "
Sure. My experience is different because everytime I've done it the system sounded like crap.
" Yes, the problem is many speakers are actually two separate speakers in one enclosure. Hence, two different amps each doing what it is designed best to do. One handling the highs/mids and the other handling the lows."
What makes you think you know more than the designer? Aerial didn't get to where they are by making mediocre speakers that needed to be fixed with different types of amps.
" In audio the right way is what provides the most optimal results in a cost effective manner. Sure, OP could just go out and buy a TOTL Pass Labs and that would work. But I am trying to offer a solution that I have used in many configurations that can sound just a good if done right as a TOTL high end single amp .....at a fraction of the cost."
Then lets have it. Lay out a system of specific components that the OP can buy doing it your way.
yes, the previous suggestion for multiple amps was confusing so I don't think I would go that route anyway...
has anyone ever heard the Aerials with the older Krell Theater Amp Standard (TAS) amp? I've seen a few for sale lately and they are REALLY peaking my interest. Any thoughts, experiences, or advice on pairing the TAS and Aerial 7b's and CC3b?
I would never recommend horizontal bi-amping for efficient / sensitive speakers because it wouldn’t make sense. But for difficult to drive speakers it can be the most cost effective way to go with outstanding results. That is my experience. I don’t say it is the solution for everyone’s speakers but I challenge anyone who says it will never work in any situation.
I am only offering an alternative for you to investigate that I (and others) have had great success with. (If you lived close to central FL I would say to drop by my home and have a listen for yourself.)
To answer your previous question, horizontal bi-amping does not change the impedance of any speaker’s individual drivers, that is fixed. But it does change the impedance load that is presented to each amplifier. I would urge you to do some research on horizontal bi-amping and make a decision for yourself if it seems right for you. Don’t just take the word of advocates ..... or naysayers.
To make horizontal bi-amping work you have to have a couple of features in the system configuration.
1. A preamp that has two sets of outputs to drive two separate amps.
2. The bass amp has to have a built in gain control or you need to have a separate volume attenuation control device between the preamp and the bass amp.
Impedance of any speaker changes over the frequency range which is why a "nominal" impedance spec is not very useful by its self. Stereophile does present an impedance graph for your speakers that is helpful but I have never seen two impedance graphs presented, one for the top end and one for the bottom end in any review. Parts Express caries a software package to generate your own impedance graphs called DATS that cost about $100. I use it on all my speakers, those that can be bi-amped or not to see what is really going on.
When I purchased my 7Bs, I tried running them with a Yamaha MX-1. I would describe that pairing as anemic, my initial impression was that I'd made an expensive mistake buying the Aerials. It wasn't until I purchased the Bryston that I realized their potential, lesson learned. The Parasounds you are asking about may have a little more power, but I would guess about the same results.
I use Sunfire 300 with my 10t's
I wish I could 'intercept' great deals on Sunfire 600 which I believe is a true undisputed heavy weight world champion that can still take down ones priced up to 10 times higher.
I also concur to suggestions of using SMC products. DNA250 comes into mind, but it can be more budget oriented model such as 125..