To start with what speakers are you talking about? Sonic preferences? Room size?
57 responses Add your response
What's the nominal impedance of the speaker?
How loudly do you listen?
How large is your room?
Is the $6k figure retail or used?
The best amp is the one that matches your speakers to your satisfaction. Depending on your answers to the impedance and volume questions, there may be half a dozen or more to consider.
Regardless of room size, speakers etc - buy used Musician III (about $3k) - send it to Spectron for factory upgrade to Mk2 - $1.5k and for $4.5k total you have one of the best amps in the world.
Problem is that used Musician III is soild within 24 hours.
New Musican III Mk2 retails for $7k - so find a good dealer and press on price and you will get a new for slightly above $6k.
I don't have to describe the amp - do search on Interent or go to Spectron Audio web site for professional reviews. No amp with retail cost below $15k can come even close to this one - midrange of the best tubes amps combine with the iron clad control of the bass
All The Best
Here are a few:
Bryston 4B SST stereo or 7B SST monoblocks (used)
Nuforce Ref 9 V2 SE monoblocks
Belles 150A or 350A Reference monoblocks
VAC 160 Musicbloc monoblocks (used)
VAC Phi 110/110 Stereo (used)
Spectron Musician III MK 2
H20 M250SA monoblocks
All of them would work very well. The best is up to listener preference.
You should also ask SP Tech for their recommendation.
Perrew, do you have a preference for SS or Tubes? If tubes, and if your speaker really have that smooth an impedance curve, you might want to consider an Atma-Sphere MA-1 (used), another excellent tube choice would be a used CAT JL2, which does care much what your impedance curve is, but flatter and higher is better for all amps - and a Music Reference RM200 or RM9 which would be well below your price point but competitive in terms of sound quality with much more expensive gear. The Quicksilver V4s would also be a great choice and drive your speakers with ease. On the SS side, and given that you proabably need 100 watts with your speakers I would look at either used Ayre or Pass XA amps, though the Pass may be above your price point to get enought power. My 2 cents.
Hello Perrew, Mk2 is the same Spectron in the sense of the speaker control. There are small improvments, of course - bass is tighter, faster - imaging is sharper.
Where Mk2 shines its the midrange (and highs) - literally SET midrange - many people who own both can tell you the same.
P.S. Atm-Sphere is also great amp but only, only if your impedance is never lower then 4 Ohms
I think SP uses Belles amps to voice their speakers.
After owning several Belles amps and others mentioned here, I must tell you one amp stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Get a trl D225 stereo amp as it is the best amp for your speakers. I can say with 100% confidence you will not find any amp under $6000 that sounds as good.
Amazing amp that breaks through the sound ceiling I thought all home stereo was under. After owning and hearing amps in my reference costing up to $14,000 the trl was a complete revelation.
I know I sound over the top, but after just a few minutes with this amp you will experience what I know.
The problem with buying a TRL amplifier is that it's virtually impossible for a customer to hear one before buying it, and there are virtually none available on the used market to allow a "Buy-It-And-Try-It" approach.
Now, I know the response to my comment is going to be that once you hear a TRL amp you'll love it, or that no one who has ever bought a TRL amp has sold it.
It still is an issue that a potential TRL customer must confront, and it's an issue that's not unique to TRL either.
I guess I have a barrier to buying on faith alone.
I was given a money back offer on my D-225. There was no need to take them up on it.
It is a great amp that can handle difficult speaker loads. The transparency is amazing. I think the leap of faith for me was more about the TRL house sound. Having had a TRL digital mod done to my DAC I got a taste of their house sound before I bought the amp. The question for me was how much more I could handle. It's a quite addictive sound, especially when you add more TRL components and cabling to the mix.
You don't see these amps come up used for a reason. I sold mine by word of mouth. Saving up for my next TRL project. Battery powered monoblocks.
I don't understand why you would sell the D-225 when you speak so highly of it. Now you have VAC monoblocks because you are saving up for TRL monoblocks? Couldn't you do that while owning the D-225?
No disrespect, but I'm not following the reasoning.
Good to know about the money back offer from TRL on the amp.
I can see how my reasoning might not make sense (not that I've ever placed a high value on reasoning). I could have held on to the D-225 (sold it to another TRL family member). Ultimately I wanted to try something different (not to mention I got the VACs for a price I could not turn down). I've always been curious about VAC and in their own right, and especially with my Audiokinesis Stormbringer speakers, the Auricle MB-70s sound great.
It will be awhile before I can pursue the battery powered momoblocks and I have two other projects I'm working on (building a TT and getting back into analog and digital tape). So as you can see variety is the spice of life for me.
I have now purchased the Dude preamp by trl - this is a tubed unit. My previous favorite pre was the Audio Horizons TP2.1. The Dude bests it in all areas and by a good margin.
If one is interested in the new trl gear they must be ..
1) patient , as Paul hand makes these one at a time and sometimes he gets behind or is waiting on parts.
2) Must not want audio jewelery as the amp and pre are very standard looking - perhaps a step above DIY. They don't come with manuals, footers, thick face plates etc.
But, what you get is glorious sound and Paul's talent in circuit design.
For me, when asked what the best amp is for under $6000, the D225 is a proverbial "no brainer" when considering sound quality alone.
Also, Paul's current D225 has some updates that include the power supply. I also use his power cord on the amp which really was a match made in heaven. I am waiting on this speaker cables now.
I would say to keep things inexpensive and pick up a used Hafler 9500 or even maybe a 9505. I bought the 9500 new some time ago and sold it to move up to a Krell 300c. I wish sometimes that I would have kept that amp! It was a super sweet sounding amp! Don't get me wrong, the Krell is also a nice amp but I don't think it does as well with electorstatics as the Hafler amp did.
I have not heard the Spectron but have heard the other 3. The Berning is going to be tough to find used and is no longer available new from what I have heard. The Moscode is a great amp. I believe the new model 402 is being debuted at RMAF this month. I'm confused as to whether it will replace the 401 or be available in addition to the 401. Price tag on the 402 is about $6500, but Moscode allows for 33 day in home trial period. After I hear the 402 next week I may bring it in for a listen. I've always liked the Moscode design.
Of course you've read my opinions on the D-225. Bottom line though is these are 3 great options. I don't think you could make a bad choice.
my personal pick(though not for all), symphonic line. otherwise ss classics like mac or mccormick...tube classics like arc or cj.....they all still compete with the new kids, and all have 'history' and perceived value. there are lots of great ones that are up there like mccormick, spectral, etc, but if you are looking for the proverbial 'last amp' its hard to beat the classics.
The Berning is extremely neutral IMO. Some have referred to it as lean. I don't agree with that. In many ways it has the same attributes as an excellent passive premp. The sytem I listened to it in also included a Joule LA-100 MkIII preamp, Cary CDP, and Merlin speakers. The Berning just let the music through.
On the other hand the Moscode has some of the best bass I have ever heard in an amp. In comparison to the Berning it sounds a little meatier and adds a little color, but not much. The Moscode was used with a passive TVC, Ayre CDP, and Spendor speakers.
The Moscode 401HR improves substantially with a good active preamp, IMO. I
initially heard the 401HR in the Moscode demo room at the LA Home
Entertainment Show in 2006 (I think it was 2006...). George was using the
Placette passive preamp.
I thought it sounded very good, but I thought it sounded even better...more
musical, robust and lifelike...with a Lamm LL2 Deluxe preamp.
While I can only speculate, I suspect George selected a passive preamp to
eliminate one variable that could affect the system's sound. By using the
passive preamp, listeners could be more certain that they were hearing the amp
as uncolored as possible.
That sounds like a sweet setup. I have not heard a Spectron vs a NuForce direct comparison. A good friend of mine with good ears has auditioned some Spectron products but came away unimpressed FWIW.
If you contact NuForce they offer a free demo if you do not have a dealer near you. Something to consider.
Power cords and vibration control are very helpful with the amps.
Ck, I agree that tube amps certainly do not control the bass like an SS (maybe a CAT JL2)but no matter how much I try to enjoy SS, it never sounds real to me compared with tubes. I recently had the Pass XA30.5 and it does sound great on its own terms and is surely one of the best SS amps available. I then switch to Music Reference or Atma-sphere tube amp and well I no longer have the Pass - tubes just sound better in almost every way, at least with my easy to drive Merlins. So I wonder if you conclude the Nuforce are better than tube amps under 10k, and your familiar with them, or you are basically oriented to SS and tight bass control. If the Nuforce competed with tubes I would certainly try it, but it would be a first.