I own the M501's and can't imagine wanting anything more. These are outstanding amps and better than the older eVo amps I used to own.
Can't compare to any of the others. I would suggest that the Red Dragon and Rowlands would both excel.
Interested in the REf 9SE but would be concerned about the noise they generate, especially since I have FM in the next room and SB3 in my mian rig.
I personally have found the H2o Signature Mono's to better the following (by audition)
Bel Canto Evo (202's?)
The H2o Audio has an in home audition.
Anyone whom is interested in this technology, I would strongly urge to audition the H20, the Rowland, the NuForce, and you will hear with your own ears, there are significant sonic differences.
The above is a good example of why you shouldn't carry on a conversation with the wife in the other room while trying to post at the same time...
I meant to say the H2O Audio amplifiers offer a 30 day in home trial...
I would also encourage anyone whom is interested in this technology to audition more than one or two, as there can be great sonic differences.
I'm using the Ice H2O to drive my Maggie 3.6s with satisfying results. With a high damping factor, it controls the panels, particularly the bass very well. As with many digital amps, the clarity and detail is amazing. The H2O replaced a pair of Rogue M-120s in my system and I think that is great testament to the H2O product. I will say that the H2O did not quite have the body, weight and fullness that the Rogues did, but it was not enough of a difference to outweigh the benefits it provided. Delivers an engaging and liquid midrange, an extended but smooth top end, and a very taut and deep bottom, all with ease. I highly recommend a trial demo if you can swing it and hope you get a broken in model as the break-in period is annoyingly long. Good luck on any of your choices.
FrankPiet, it is worth remembering that the top of the line Rowland amps, the 302 stereo and 301 monoblocks are also ICE powered. You may want to look at them as well. The 302 used in particular may not be terribly more expensive than a pair of new Red Dragons.
I have the Bel Canto Ref1000's and I can say they are a step up from the Evo series run mono offering more transparency, authority and soudstage depth while being a little more laid back as well. They are a big step up from the Evo 200.2 mentioned above regardless of being run stereo or mono.
I have only heard the JRDG 501's once, and not in my system so take this with a grain of salt. I thought they sounded good, but they didn't blow me away, and the Bel Canto's are far cheaper.
About a year ago, I downsized my rig. I went from a Rowland 302 to H2O's Signature Mono 250 amps.
The H2O amps certainly are not as pretty as Rowland's eye candy. However, they absolutely are as musically satisfying (to my ears) as the JRDG 302 was.
I honestly cannot say that I took a sonic step backwards with this amp change.
Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately H2O is not a common brand in Germany as well as NuForce. Try to get a pair of 501´s and BelCanto Ref. 1000´s for an audition.
The 302 is too big for my rack - unfortunately as I like the looks and the build quality of JRDG gear a lot - whereas customer service at least in germany is just average.
Chris - forget all those ICE powered amps. I have tried them on my Eidolons, and they don't make a synergistic match at all. You will get a flat and sterile sound from this combination. All ceramic based Avalons need someting warmer sounding since they already have a slightly cooler rendition. That is why they sound best with tubes. The best SS amp I have found so far was Plinius SA-102. Probably also Cary MB-500 would work, too.
I cannot comment on the other amps, but can say that I love the Bel Canto REF1000s driving my B&W 803Ds.
Elberoth: I´ve just had JRDG 501´s in my set-up alongside with NuForce 9.02, Pass X 350.5 and my private Ayre V-1xe.
I must say I currently lean strongly towards my Ayre (probably it doesn´t need a replacement ?). From the others I preferred Pass to JRDG which was better than NuForce.
I was told the new Kharma Matrix 150 amp is a mighty fine amp driving ceramique speakers. I´ll give it a try.
By all means do. I'm curious on your opinion on Kharma amp. I have heard it during CES, but never had a chance to try it at home.
BTW - how does the Ayre compare to Pass ?
I like the Ayre more. Pass is good too but the Ayre gives me a more easy listening experience. I was told to try Edge Class D amps as well but I´m not that convinced as I´ve once had the chance to listen to a shoot out between Edge NL 12.1 and Boulder 1060 and the Boulder was by quite a big margin the winner to all auditors and I find the V-1xe quite close to the 1060.
Edge digital amps are also ICEpower based, so they will sound very much like JRDG amps.
Elberoth2: you might be right and I must honestly say that I did to much equippment swaps and shoot outs this year and that I´m worn out doing more listening sessions.. I finally always return to Ayre gear (as I can´t afford the very expensive Boulder amps I like most - followed by Ayre gear).. And I´m very close to leave everything as it is and just add the forthcoming Boulder 865 into my system and compare it to my current pre-power combo and either sell him or keep him.
I have replaced my JRDG 501 because I found them too boring in the long run. Very analytical and controlled, better than most other ICE's, but ICE amps are not musical enough for my taste.
Hobby, what have you replaced your JRDG 501 monos with?
Has anyone tried different combinations of upstream components with these amps, or just dropping them into existing systems that had been balanced around different technologies?
I think I'm going to try the evo 1000's with a few different tube front ends.
Theta Citadel monoblocks. I am very very happy with these!
Hobby, I also like the Theta Citadels a great deal. Do you happen to know what is the technology behind them? The Theta web site is rather vague, stating only that they are based on some enhanced versions of the Dreadnaught modules. They run very cool, almost as if they were digital amps. . . but are they?
Weren't they designed by Charles Hansen of Ayre?
>> Weren't they designed by Charles Hansen of Ayre?
NO! to the best of my knowledge, they were designed by Dan(Dave?) Reich who used to work at Classe for years & years. When at Classe, all of his amps & preamps had model numbers that began with "DR". I heard that there was a falling out between the powers at Classe & Dan/Dave Reich & he joined Theta. This 4-5 years ago.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Thanks!
Hansen designed someboday's amps besides his own, didn't he? Maybe he did the Dreadnaughts.
I believe that ALL of Theta's amps were designed by Dan/Dave Reich incl the Dreadnaughts.
Charlie Hansen could have designed somebody else's amps (I knew that he designed many of the Avalon speakers but I didn't know that he free-lanced amp designs...) but they were not Theta's.
FYI Charlie Hansen designed only two Avalon models, before selling the company to Jeff Rowland.
Maybe they both worked on it. In this review
of the Citadel monoblocks in the July 2006 Ultimate AV, Shane Beuttner writes: "The main circuit design for the Dreadnuaght, and therefore the Citadel, was by Ayre's Charles Hansen."
the Citadels run quite cool. I don't know (- or care -) much about the amps technology, but they are definately not ICE.