IF you can find one.. or wait for one to come on the market.. The Forte 1a or even better the Forte 4. Or even better a Forte 4 modded by Jon Sodderberg in CA.
27 responses Add your response
Pass Aleph is MUCH more likely to come up for sale (plentiful) and capacitors should be in much better shape, if not replaced, than the Fortes that come up. You mentioned Belles, but I can't think of a Class A Belles that would come in at the price. Can 30 watts drive the Energy Pro 22s? Do they have a smooth and highish impedance for tubes? I think they were 89db, if so you should be fine, but maybe not for the Almarro previously mentioned - depending on room size and how loud you listen to music.
That would be fine. You would need an F5 or J or J2 or M2 - I think the other ones would be under powered. I do think clone is the wrong word, they are Nelson Pass originals and further refinements upon the orignal Aleph 3 and 30, especially the J. There is a fella named Rawson that has produce a series of Pass/First Watt clones that can be had for less when they come up on Agon - they are likely to perform similarly.
I've seen the 160 referred to as a class A amp over the years.It may be class A/AB(like the Parasound 2200)where the first ??? no. of watts are class A before shifting to class A/B operation as more wattage is called for.Perhaps it is heavily biased towards class A operation.I know that it does run warm/hot.I am not certain,but it sure sounds great!!!
With 86db efficiency I read, sounds like a good candidate to throw any well made high current high power monster Class A/B or Class D.
I had similar need for my large OHM F 5 Series 3 speakers. The compact, energy efficient Bel Canto ref1000m Class D monoblocks fit the bill perfectly. One of the similar Wyred 4 Sound or similar icepower Class D stereo amps might be had at your price point.
Other amps in the monster amp category I seriously considered were larger SS amps from Audio Research, Krell, Classe, Plinius and Pass, but these tend to cost more than your price point, even used.
I used a Musical Fidelity A3CR amp for over a year with good results prior to the BCs. This is Class A, 120 w/ch or so I believe and can be had used for well under $1000.
For $1k and under amps I've owned the Aleph 3, Coda 10.5, Forte 4a, Aleph5. Hands down the Forte 4a was heads above the rest in musicality, operation. It was a giant killer then and it's still the best amp available anywhere for under $1500 IMHO. It will drive demanding loads with ease, and for all intents and purposes the 4a acts as if it's a 200 watt AB amplifier but with all the musicality one would associate with a class A design. It's little wonder they're so hard to find used for owners tend to keep them because they're so good.
If you want an NP design and 30 watts of pure single ended class A is enough power I would look for a used Aleph 3 or Aleph 30. I've not heard the Forte 4A, but there are those that love it. I'm not sure NP had much to do with its design, as it uses IGBT transistors that he felt were not appropriate for audio use - I have no idea why he felt that way. If you are willing to buy something 15+ years old (like the Forte 4/4As) you might then also want to consider the BEL 1001s, which is arguably Class A and some to swear it is the best sounding SS amp ever made.
BEL and Belles are two different companies. Unfortunately, the designer of the BEL passed away a year or two ago. The Belles amps I heard sounded very good, but they were not the new Class amps they have come out with recently, but I imagine they would be considerably over budget. Belles are very easy to drive as I think they are 100kohm input impedance and should work with just about any preamp, including tube preamps:)