The Atmasphere OTL series work beautifully on Soundlabs. So, I can reasonably assume that they would work equally as well on any full range electrostatic. Unfortunately they are expensive like most other OTL amplifiers but, they sure seem to match up well with electrostatics. Vocals are arresting.
Wolcotts also have a good reputation with electrostatic speakers and, these also sound good. But, I prefer the Atmasphere due to its more organic flow.
I have not heard the Parasound JC-1s but these also have an excellent reputation for matching up well with FR electro's.
There are others too but, this is a start.
The OTL amps are a great suggestion IF you can afford them. Another are the larger VTL monoblocks. Run them in triode for best results and you'll need about 90wpc in that mode.
Try the Innersound stereo amp. I've heard it on Sound Labs, Magnepan, Martin Logan & Acoustat. It's built for panels............
I prefer low feedback,high current amps. The brands that come redily to mind(without spending an arm and a leg) are AVA, Monarchy Audio,and the amp/preamp section of the Magnum Dynalab MD-208,but that is just me;your tastes may differ.
Allow me another personal opinion. The acoustics of the room and speaker placement are important with panels.
I use Mcintosh with my Martin Logans. Innersound also specializes in this area.
I own and sell Sound Labs, and also sell several amplifiers that work well with 'em - including Atma-Sphere, Wolcott, Parasound JC-1, InnerSound, GamuT, and Clayton Audio. Among the amplifiers that customers of mine have had good results with include models by Audio Research, Levinson, McIntosh, Accuphase, Viva, VTL, and CAT. These are by no means the only contenders.
In a push-pull tube amp, look for a wide bandwidth output transformer. In a solid state amp, look for a lot of wattage and current delivery capability as a starting point, but that's unfortunately no guarantee of a good match.
Note that the amps mentiond here also work well with other brands of electrostats, for the most part. I'm not sure that there is an absolute "best" amplifier for electrostats - as in most things audio, there are tradeoffs involved. I'd need to talk with a person to find out their priorities before making a specific recommendation.
I have Martin Logan Prodigy speakers. I am currently running Wolcott Presence 220 Mono blocks with great results on them,including very solid bass Tube amps I have tried with them include Manley Neo 250, Audio Research VT100 and 200 and the Rouge M120 magnums didn't really care for them. Solid sate amps include Pass labs X250 and X350, Bat VK 200 and VK 500 a couple of McIntosh amp's and a few others.
I think the Wolcott's are the best I have tried yet.
You might also look into the VTL MB450.
What is your budget and what are your speakers?
Graaf has (if you can find and afford them) 200 watt OTL monoblocks. I can't imagine a better amp for your needs.
They also make less expensive ones.
By the way, I have the US distributer's email address for them if you should want to contact him.
As side notes:
I do not have electrostatics nor the Graaf's, but have heard them with various speakers.
The Graaf's are drop dead gorgeous!!
the VTL 450 in triode mode drives Martin Logan Quest Z speakers effortlessly.
Seadog 1, it would help if you advised which speakers you were using.....
Will be using the new Audiostatic DCI-LT-MD. Thanks!
Seadogs1, where are you getting your Audiostatics from--here on the Gon? There don't seem to be any USA dealers.
Audiostatics.......Nice to see them again as last time I heard the big ones they were being distributed by Threshold about five years ago.......They were in the next room over from our exhibit at the CES and recall the big Threshold amp was huffing and puffing to drive them to acceptable levels.........Better think large and the JC-1s should drive the tar out of the speakers......The VTL Wotan 750 would be a good choice as well, but pricey.....FWIW I was involved in the JC-1 project, but did my work on a flat fee basis a few years ago in conjunction with Curl and Thompson......
You can buy Audiostatics direct from the UK distributor, [email protected]
They're running about $6100 after all is said and done. Would love to hear a pair, as they probably would do nicely in my space, but the price is too steep for me to buy site-unheard...
E stats LOVE VOLTAGE...
get my vote
Since I owned Audiostatics up until a few months ago and also own (and sell) Parasound JC-1s, I'll throw in my two cents' worth, biased as it may be.
I owned Audiostatic ES100/SW100s for several years, having purchased the last pair that former US distributor SOTA had, at a good price. I tried several amplifiers with them, ranging from a Bedini 25/25 (a great amp which I intend to hang onto), a Sunfire, a pair of Aragon Palladium monoblocks, a couple of OTL amps, and finally the JC-1s when I sold the speakers.
The little Bedini had a lot more oomph, musicality, and clarity than many of the above mentioned amps...the Sunfire played louder but not as clearly, the OTLs were a touch smoother but lacked control. The JC-1s did very well in all respects.
The more recent offerings from Ben Peters are said to be improved in several areas. Perhaps so, but back when I inquired to him about perhaps purchasing extra panels in case one ever failed, he was far less than helpful, making it clear enough to me that all he wanted to do was sell me some new speakers. Not exactly the kind of support customers expect from a manufacturer of esoteric loudspeakers.
I purchased a pair of Sound Lab U-1s a few years ago and haven't looked back. Admittedly much more costly and larger than the Audiostatics, there is no way I would ever go back, for several reasons, a couple of them bass and imaging. I would consider a smaller Sound Lab model or perhaps a larger Magnepan first, but that's just me (just so you know, I'm a Sound Lab dealer, but I try to hide my dealer fin).
There have been a couple of Audiostatic distributors in the US since SOTA chose to end their relationship. Randy Patton at Threshold had been an enthusiast and elected to pick up the line, but then all that went away when Threshold did. Divergent Technology (divertech.com) still lists Audiostatic on their website, but they haven't been distributing them for a while.
I'm using a Krell FPB 200 w/Pass Aleph P. It has plenty of power to drive my Martin-Logan ReQuests. The Pass gives it a "tubey" sound.
MC402 with my ML Ascents.. Very happy with this match.
OK guys, time to "update" this linl! Any new suggestions?
My Quad 989s sound VERY nice with a c-j Premier Eleven-A, altho I'm now using New Generation-brand, Chinese-built 100W monoamps (that use 4 KT88s) in triode. They seem to have plenty of power in my medium-to-large room (c. 3600 cubic feet).
Seadog, what did you do?
4 ohm electrostats like the Martin Logan Prodigy suck power, as a rule of thumb double the rating of your speaker if you play it loud and want it clear. My Prodigys at 4 ohm 300w max with a Mcintosh MC 500 hit the 500w peaks with my favorite music selections. My next upgrade will be the MC 602 or another MC 500 in bridged mode.