Best Match for Dynaudio Contour S3.4?

Amp Budget $2400. Peachtree Nova Preamp/DAC, Ocos II speaker cables, and a short list of amps as follows; Odyssey Stratos Mono Extremes, Spectron Musician III MkII Se, Plinius P8 (modified), Mark Levinson 331.

I loved the sound of the Plinius 9200 paired with the Dyns, but I was not using the preamp section so I sold it. Might be regretting this... But now I am seeing if I can do the same or better for under $2400.

Who has some experience with any of these combinations that could opine here about their preferences and why. I listen to a lot of soft rock and blues mostly (Steely Dan, John Mayer, Buddy Guy, SRV, etc) as well as female vocalists (from Patricia Barber to Joss Stone and Sarah Vaughan). Well recorded jazz is cool, but classical is not my thing.

hard to go wrong w/ the Plinius - DYnaaudio combo.
Stick with Plinius.
Thanks Nolitan and Buff. I don't know why I am hesitant to buy this guy's modded Plinius P8 on here, given that I know how good my 9200 sounded. And I don't really want TWO amps (Stratos Monoblocks) when I could have one. But I am hearing such great things about the Stratos monos that I just don't know..... I will see how others weigh in.
So Buff looking at your system I see you are using both a Plinius and a set of the Class D Bel Cantos. Which is better? I have heard mixed reports about the sound of Dynaudio with Class D amps.
Buff, of course, is a Plinius dealer and that should have been disclosed.
I suggest a Pass Labs X150.5..300 watts into that 4 ohm load and Pass is by far the best SS match with Dynaudio,IMO
Missioncoonery (whatever the hell that means!) Thanks for the suggestion. I am a fan of Pass. Cannot afford the X250.5. But I am concerned the X150.5 is not enough power. Any thoughts on this from the rest of you out there?
Updated! So I have narrowed it down to the souped up Stratos Monos (95% of the Kizmets according to Klaus, sounding better than the extremes), and the Plinius SA 100, which I may have modified by a former Plinius designer in Buffalo. Now what?

Has anybody heard both of these amps with the Dyn 3.4s or 5.4s? That would be most helpful. Thanks!
I ran a X150.5 for a short time with C4s and it sounded really nice.Yes, when I ran a 350.5 it was more of a good thing..300 watts from the 150.5 is more than enough to drive those C1s where as the SA150 is only 180 watts into that 4 ohm load..Another plus for Pass is they are made in USA and the customer support is second to none ..Buy American and a better amp for your applications..cant argue with that!!IMO
I would not recommend buying a modded Plinius (or Pass Labs) amp, nor of having one modded.

People like Plinius and Pass because of the quality of the factory products.

The pool of buyers interested in a modded Plinius amp will be extremely small, and if you decide to sell it, you will likely have to sell at a deep discount.

Fredorama..Your thought process is all wrong.IMO, I agree with Tvad..Modded amps.NEVER!!..Resale is Sh*t,no service will touch it,chances are reliabilty goes down..Your money but thats just foolish....
Hello. I had Pass X250.5, Plinius SA102, and (still have for now) Audio Research 100.2 with same speakers (still have the speakers, love them to death). I have also heard extensively a McIntosh 402, and Bat VK500 through these speakers.

First thing: though it is tempting to play with modded amps, take the advice of others. You will regret it down the line. A modded Plinius is like buying a newer BMW with modded suspension, or something. Amps in the class of Plinius, Pass, BAT, Krell, etc. know exactly how to design and you are invariably changing the original design intent.

I had the Pass X250.5 with my dyns for well over a year; (wondering why i parted with that) short story: best amp of the lot (and most $$) overall.

The Plinius was somewhat dissapointing, and the ARC 100.2 is very capable with these speakers, surprisingly so. The ARC, IMHO has the most organic/neutral/open midrange out of all of them with incredible soundstaging potential. The bass control falls more to the rolling/loose (slightly underdamped you may say) side of neutral and the Pass has a tad more drive (at normal listening levels--cranked forget it; the Pass will blow all 4 woofer cones simultaneously before IT begins to break up).

At low level (late night) the Pass was amazing. The ARC sounds best at moderate levels. The ARC's midrange and sense of naturalness is probably the best i've ever heard in solid state. I could not help but to notice, ever so slightly, a metallic twinge to the Pass, and when the SA102 was fully cooked (running in class A mode for >hour) it too had a similar 'flavor'.

the pass bass is neutral to maybe a tad overdamped, at least the was what it sounded like to me. On some material I prefer this, yet on others I favor the ARC portrayal--it seems more captivating.

the MC402 was nice (sorry it's been too long, audio memory faded), and the big Bat sounded a tad dark and less open than the 100.2.

I think the PAss falls to the cool/neutral side and the 100.2 a tad to the warmer/richer side.

Your selected preamp (a component whose importance on the overall sound can not be understated; i found the best synergy with Pass X250.5/Bat Vk5i) will complement (or not) the amp colorations.

I think a Pass X150.5 would be a perfect match for the S3.4s, if your room is medium (say 20 long by 15 wide) and you listen at decent levels-- IOW the typical home setup. Most of us are not blasting the stereo like a DJ does.

I would like to hear the Plinius 9200, and I have heard that a Krell KAV 400XI integrated is actually not bad at all (have not demoed).

Good luck and let us know.
Thanks Missioncoonery, Tvad and Dpac for your thoughtful responses. The guy who mods Plinius that I am talking about - Vince Galbo - worked for Plinius for about 12 years. Between him and Scot Markwell (the current US distributor), they were the only two importers of Plinius to the States in the 90s. Vince helped design the amps and knows them inside and out. (e.g. When the company started using cheaper parts to save money, the differences and specs of every component and wire used for every model year, etc).

So.... while I think that your advice may be generally true, I don't believe that is the case here. Even Scot Markwell says that Vince is a genius when it comes to making any Plinius amp sing. With a 102, Vince himself told me not to mod it until I had lived with it for a while - it was that good out of the box.

Now...Dpac, you just killed me with that last post. After many anxiety ridden days, I have on my desk, a check written out to buy an SA-102 for $2400 shipped, mostly due to how great the 9200 sounded, and figuring that the SA-102 would be better in all respects (except maybe raw power). Now you have me wondering again. So I may be back to square one here...

I looked at the Pass X150.5. Everybody says buy the 250.5 because it's just that much better. I can't afford the 250.5, so I punted that idea. Don't know anything about the ARC....but will research that, especially based on your comments. Still wondering about the Odysseys. Spoke to a guy last night powering his Dyn C2s with the Stratos Mono Extremes - had 'em for four years and happy as a clam.

Oh brother.....
04-07-10: Fredorama
...while I think that your advice may be generally true, I don't believe that is the case here.
Sorry. You're wrong,

It doesn't matter who mods the gear, there are fewer buyers interested in modded gear than pristine, factory original versions.

Fewer buyers = less demand = lower prices.

It's just a fact of the market, but it's apparent that you'll have to discover it on your own.
An addendum to my previous post.

Audiogon is an outstanding resource for advice from members who have already travelled the road, learned the hard way, and gotten wiser as a result.

When several members provide similar recommendations based on personal experience, it's a pretty good clue that what's being said is valid.

It's amazing to me how many people seeking advice here receive solid suggestions leaning in one direction, and still the people asking for help go the other direction.

I guess it's human nature.
Tvad, if what you're saying is that the demand will be lower on resale, thus I will get a lower price or it will take longer to sell, then I agree with you 100%. But I am interested in getting a pleasing sonic result first and foremost; not in endlessly switching out my gear year after year.

I really am not concerned if I happen to lose a few hundred bucks because my modded amp will be harder to sell. What I am concerned about is whether the mod improves the sound and performance. Isn't that what we're all here for in the first place? Perhaps you have been buying and selling gear for so long that you have lost focus on the primary reason we are here; to enjoy our music.
I am sorry if that sounded harsh Tvad. I know you are only trying to help.
04-07-10: Fredorama
Tvad, if what you're saying is that the demand will be lower on resale, thus I will get a lower price or it will take longer to sell, then I agree with you 100%. But I am interested in getting a pleasing sonic result first and foremost; not in endlessly switching out my gear year after year.
Understood. Will you be able to audition this one-of-a-kind modded Plinius amp before you pay for it? If not, what if you buy it and it's not what you had hoped for?

No worries on the tone. I'm guilty as well.
This is a tough one Fredorama. One thing I failed to mention was that my Plinius SA102 was on my (then) S5.4's. The SA102 will sound different through the S3.4's. I was in a hurry when i posted last. Now i'm in a hurry again as I just got a Mac Mini and i'm trying to configure this for my PC Audio based system (using a bel canto dac 3 w/mac mini). It never ends...

Though the S5.4 is a bit tougher to drive than the S3.4, the fact that the SA102 is a beast of an amp probably makes it a decent comparison. I found the sound just not engaging and a bit dry. I had Arc LS 25 MKI and then an Arc Ref 1, and also with DAC3 direct...all XLR.

The 100.2 just sings better, but I have a hunch the X150.5 is a step up regardless. If it was my 2,400 I would get the Pass, which also runs cooler (you would not believe how HOT the SA102 gets).

What is your pre-amp?

i have to run...back to ripping apple lossless, for the first time in iTubes. God help me.
Dpac - Haha I know what you mean! Time is never on our side... Thanks for the clarification on the speakers. I am using a Peachtree Nova as my preamp / DAC. And yes, have heard how hot that SA-102 gets. I don't live in Edmonton, eh? - and Philly summers are hot enough as it is. I have looked into the 100.2. Can't find anything bad about it. But still tempted by Klaus' slightly used supercharged Stratos Monos that he tells me are in the realm of Khartagos and Kismets.

I found a mint condition SA-102 in black that I can get shipped for $2400 from a dealer. Having my rservations about 1) the size (won't fit in my shelf space), 2) the heat in class A, and 3) your comments.

Would love to hear from anyone else who has paired the SA-102 with the Dyn 3.4 or 5.4. I agree they are similar, with the 5.4 being tougher to drive. This should mean that the 102 will sound better with my 3.4s than with your 5.4s.... but I dunno...tough one. I may just buy two or three amps so I can hear all of them and then sell the ones I don't like as much. But -- what a pain!! Trying to avoid that.
Tvad - RE: The Plinius modded amp, there was a modded P-8 that I think would have been perfect, but I was outbid at the last minute and lost out. P-8s are not easy to come by, let alone a P-8 that someone else already had paid to get modded by someone I know does a good job. So my idea was to buy an SA-100 for $1700 and pay $550 to have that modded by the same tech.

But the tech told me that the SA-102 had some features (primarily the beefier dual power supply, and the 25% increase in wpc) that would still outperform a fully modded SA-100 in terms of current and woofer control. So he recommended I try to find an SA-102 and use it for a while. Then, if I wanted some more performance out of it, I could send it to him. I thought this was a reputable and honest piece of advice, as there was no immediate business angle in it for him.

As I said in my prior post, I am very close to ordering the Odysseys AND the SA-102 and selling whichever I like least. Thanks again for your comments. This can be a frustrating process.
Odyssey amps come up used fairly regularly.

I owned a pair of Odyssey Extreme Monos with red boards.

Having spoken with Klaus on several occasions, I know that he can be very persuasive. I bought a used pair for slightly less than what he was proposing for a new pair. When I sold the Odyssey amps, I still lost a fair amount of money.

Just my experience.
...btw, the amps that replaced the Odyssey Extreme Monos in my system were Belles 150A Reference monoblocks. I thought they had better tonal balance than the Odyssey amps (which were a bit bass heavy, IMO), and both the highs and upper mids had less grain.

Eventually, the Belles amps were replaced with Pass Labs XA-60.5 monoblocks, which were another level above. Had I not changed loudspeakers, I'd still own the XA-60.5 amplifiers.
Appears your trying to convince us your mindset is correct even though most disagree with it.Buy the mod amp and get back to us when ya sell it or need service.Personally I tend to follow advise from those who have hands on experience with what I want to know,seems to work better..Enjoy the amp!
Fredorama, have you ever considered a Moscode 401HR? Great amplifier. Not as large as a Plinius or Pass stereo amp, and runs cooler...
Tvad - and others, thank you all for your comments. I am off the modding thing. It does not appeal to me any more. What I did was order the Odysseys, which now I am concerned about, based on TVad's comments, and the fact that I do see them come up used fairly often. Klaus is VERY persuasive, but I have chosen to believe him that this pair of monos is special. (I looked in the mirror just to be sure the word "sucker" wasn't imprinted on my forehead). Hope it doesn't appear there any time soon. I do have a 30-60 day evaluation period. So if I choose to return them, I will be out $250 in shipping. Cost of evaluation = not great but only way to know.

Now I am considering an ARC 100.2 @ $1600, and the Plinius SA-102 @ $2400. I would like to hear all three but can't afford the cash flow hit to do that. Would like to get two out of three in my home though. And so my dilemma continues....

and I am going to buy one more amp to compare them against - either the ARC 100.2 or the Plinius SA-102.
Do yourself a favor and add the Pass X150.5 to that short list..Pass and Dynaudio are a match in heaven.Same $$,more power
This thread...and new Mac Mini + my dac, helped me stop a bad idea to sell my ARC 100.2!

I went through this very amp merry go round years ago...and i find myself full circle in love (again) with the 100.2. Hilarious!

That was a close one. Not to derail this thread, but the mac mini USB into the bel canto dac3 diect XLR into the 100.2 - S3.4s is the closest to nirvana i've been in a LONG time. Perhaps someday i'll reunite with the Pass X250.5.

enjoy the day my audio brethren
Well Doug, I am happy to have cleared some things up for you. With the help of our audio brethren, at least somebody has figured something out here. Happy listening!
Fredorama, I see on your AC thread that you're having doubts about the Odyssey amps.

Bail now.

You're going to bail on them eventually anyway.

Skip the middle step and set your sights on a Plinius or Pass Labs amps for the Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers. You'll be happy in the long run after the sticker shock has worn off.
Tvad you are right. I am calling it a day with the Odyssey experiment. I don't know at this point exactly what I am going to replace them with, but I find the Odyesseys tinny on top, a bit too fat and loose on the bottom, and the tonal balance was off for me. To get the bass where I liked it, the mids and highs were too intense at that volume. I am done tinkering. It's been three weeks. Yes the amps have gotten better, but they probably are just not a good match for my system.
it's all fun right? Try the Pass X150.5 I think you might have a winner.

Were the Odyssey's new? I have read they take "FOREVER" to break in fully, as much as 250 hours of use and several months, not just being turned on for a few weeks... YMMV
Believe it or not my little Qinpu A-1.0X sounds extremely good driving my Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers. Also have a Musical Fidelity A3.5 and Onkyo A-9555 which both sound quite nice with this speaker.
The best match i've ever seen with them is the NAP200. Another interesting option could be the SuperNait...
Have you considered a big used ARC tube amp? I have heard these sound really good with Dynaudio Contour's. Their solid state amps sound pretty good too.

Did you come up with plan B? I realize I posted recently on this subject on AC, and had forgotten, didn't recognize this was a related thread. Dooh!
I have settled on a very nice sounding ARC 100.2 which doesn't stress the budget and fits in my equipment rack, and which sounds fantastic - at least on some familiar recordings. The Plinius amps just don't fit Playing some material I am blown away, and on other recordings, not so much. It almost seems as if some days it sounds fantastic and others I am wondering what I heard "the other day." Overall, I am pleased, and I appreciate everyone's help in this process!
Cool - I like the ARC-Dynaudio match very much. Someday you might want to try ARC pre and DAC too.
Well, I am sorry to say that the ARC 100.2 was a nearly total disappointment. Although a very musical amp, there was very little in the way of bass extension or slam. In fact, there was no slam at all. In my system, all other things being equal, this amp was the leanest most polite portrayer of the lower frequencies than anything that has come before (Plinius 9200, McCormack DNA-225, Odyssey Stratos Monos, and even the Adcom GFA-555!!) Perhaps with different speakers, a different preamp or a different room, the ARC might have worked. But in my system.... not so much.

So I am back to the drawing board again. Looking at a Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000 or maybe going back to the Plinius P-8/P-10. Need to stay under $2000. Anyone care to weigh in on how the W4S amps have worked for you?
I feel bad about that bum steer. I really enjoyed listing to the ARC-Contour combination, but it was with an ARC pre and a really good Simaudio CDP. The fact that you have enjoyed the Contours with a different amp indicates there is a path to happiness with the rest of your current set up. Holding out for an affordable Plinius amp might be a safe bet.
I have used the Plinius-Dyn pair for many years, currently still have a 9200 in a 2nd system. I have heard in many occasions the 9200 vs an M8-SA102 on same system, same music. If you were happy with the 9200, you will be elated with the separates. If your preamp is not too far off compared to an M8 IMO a used SA102 is your safe ticket if you wish to bring back or better what you used to like with your 9200.
Hey Knownothing, please do not feel bad. You were not the only one who steered me in this direction. The guy I bought the amp from had the same speakers as me, and he loved the combo. Go figure. I initially suspected there was something wrong with the amp and was gonna ship it back to ARC but I think the amp is fine, just not to my liking or not a good match with my other gear.

I would love to hear other AG'ers thoughts on the W4S products. I'm a little pissed I didn't pick up that mint Plinius P-10 that was for sale a week or so ago.
Thanks Noel. I am using a Peachtree Nova as my Preamp/DAC. The M8 is better for sure. The main reason I did not get an SA-100 mkIII or and SA-102 was because these amps don't fit in my rack. The second reason was heat. And the third was because some people have said that the SA series was not authoritative enough - or it lacked life - or comments of that nature. So... can you say more about which Dyn speakers you have paired these amps with? I appreciate your comments.
For heaven sakes!..Why dont you audition a Pass labs X150.5 and be done with it.Its in your budget, mates extremely well with those speakers,great resale,great service,detail,musical,doesnt run hot,smaller size..comeon get in the game.IMO,it betters the Plinius and miles ahead of the ARC .Ya just wont listen to those who have been there..Your money,your time

06-16-10: Missioncoonery
For heaven sakes!..Why don't you audition a Pass labs X150.5 and be done with it.
It's not so easy to "audition" a used amp unless one buys it outright, but in general I agree with the sentiment.
I used the 9200 for some years with a Contour 1.3SE, and then with a C1, until I changed to Rowland.

I can understand the comment that Dyn amps may sound lacking in life with some speakers, but I can tell you for sure that the M8-SA102 sounds livelier, dynamic with more sparkle than a 9200 in exactly the same system.

I don't think you should put the SA100 in the same league as the SA102, they are simply not in the same category sonically. Rack space & heat is a bitch with the Plinius Class A, it was one reason I moved to Rowland rather than step up to the SA103 from the 9200.
Missioncoonery, I have no doubt that the X150.5 would end the present search. I was an idiot and passed up an opportunity to buy a used X150.5 for $2500 because I was away on vacation and not focused on it. And I had been looking for 3-4 months. They do not come up often. Anyway, I found one and was the first person to contact him. But then I stalled, as I thought I might be quite happy with the ARC (based heavily on the experience of someone who was using it with my same speakers) and I would have $900 left in my pocket to either keep, or maybe use to upgrade my preamp. These were my thoughts.

Noel, we are on the same page re the Plinius gear. And thanks for the clarification (from your experience) re the diffs between the 9200, the SA100 and the SA102. Space and heat!

Grant (Tvad) you are correct, it is not easy to audition used gear. Generally you just have to take the plunge. I Will keep you updated on the findings of the electrician, and my thoughts as to how to proceed from there. I did have a huge static shock that ran through the entire system about 4 months ago - the music literally cut out for a second, and I thought I had electrocuted myself. So maybe my wiring/circuits got damaged in the process. I checked my shorts and they were clean, so...close call!
Reno HiFi has used X150.5 amps available, according to the website. It might be worth a call to check pricing and audition policies. Mark, the owner, is pretty accommodating.
Thanks Grant. I have spoken with him. Nice guy, good policies, but he wants $1300 more for his used X150.5 than I could have bought one for 2 weeks ago.