Best multichannel amp for music?

I got a Theta Dreadnaught-2 which doesn't fully satisfy me. It has notably better mids and highs than the older Bryston I replaced (nrb series), and I like the character of the sound a lot better, but the bass is kinda weak and boomy in comparison and it doesn't localise as well as the Bryston. Are there any multi-channel amps that would have the strengths of both? I'd like to stay around 2500 used. Theta front end, Snell C/V speakers. Thanks. -Dave
Very frustrating, it may take awhile to find the right combination, but try different interconnects.
I use a Mark Levinson 433, great amp for MC and music.
If you still using the Snell C/V - this speaker has "underdamped" woofers (usual bass hump). The damping factor of the amp will play a considerable effect with this design. There is nothing wrong with your Dreadnaught but it is a low feedback design and may have higher output impedance and therefore lower electrical damping than your old Bryston. On a different type speaker design this difference would probably be negligible but as it is you are probably hearing slightly "less woofer control" on a speaker that already accentuates bass.

Since you don't like the precision/imaging of your previous amp (Bryston) then you might consider changing speakers and keep your warmer sounging dreadnaught. Choose a speaker with a critically damped design and you may be very happy. Choose something you like the sound of and avoid Snells, Watt Puppies and Proacs or any other designs with the characteristic "bass hump" of an underdamped design.
I do not have the technical knowledge to understand what you are saying. I certainly did like the imaging of the Bryston. That, along with the bass, was better in this set up than the Dreadnaught, though the Dreadnaught has other advantages. I guess I was looking for an amp that could give me the imaging and bass along with the nice warm sound of the Theta. Do I understand you correctly that what I've got is a bad amp/speaker match? I have 5 Snell speakers in this set up, and am not real excited about the prospect of auditioning a whole bunch of speakers. This may be obvious to someone who knows about damping and impedance (which I don't), but is there no amp that can do what I want with these speakers? -Dave
Sounds like you're asking for a multichannel amp with killer bass, and without the cold sound of many traditional high-power amps.

I have used the Nuforce MCH-2C7, also available in 3, and 5 channels (which I can switch down to stereo, using the remote, for my serious 2 channel listening).

I find the NuForce MCH to have the qualities you are asking for: tight, deep well controlled bass, with warm tonality... and you can add world-class dimensionality.

The NuForce multichannels have an impressively beefy chassis, but offer the same modules and sound quality as their much awarded mono amps.

I don't see any used here, today, but since their products are close to your price range new, and you can try them for 30 days free, I suggest contacting them directly.

I don't think you will be disappointed.
I have a Plinius Odeon it has the punch and the sound is very detailed. I set up my home theather just for music. The amp is important but the other compents are necessary to get right also.
if your interested e-mail me and i can give you all the details
Parasound HCA-2205A Read the reviews
I was going down the same path, and went through Theta Intrepid, Proceed HPA, and EAD PM2000. Some of the amps I've used were pretty good. But they didn't provide the very last few bits of the musical satisfaction, namely the presense, detail, and the feeling that "you are there". Somewhat understandable, as the multi channel amps are targeted mainly for HT. The vast majority of HT users (there are exceptions, such as I am) are either not interested in high res music, or don't listen to music critically, and the multi channel amps reflect that.

An alternative path that I'm taking is two chassis system that consist of a two channel amp and a three channel amp. Or you can use three two channel amps, or five mono blocks, or what suits you. The point is there are much more selection available _way_more_, if you go this route. The downside is more rack space, potentially inferior voice matching among the speakers.

I currently have Pass X3 for three front channels, and Aragon 8002 for the rears. The current set up is much more musically satisfying than any other 5 channel amps that I had in my system. My rear speakers are already mismatched from my fronts, and considering how much musical information comes out of the surround speakers I really don't care about front / rear mismatch. I would eventually get a Pass X.5 for front left/right, and set up X3 to power the center and the rears. The slight mismatch between the center and the fronts is still not too important because the center speaker is already mismatched. It's from the same manufacturer but not an identical speaker. Even if I use identical speakers all around, the room acoustics will throw in some variation in the sounds coming out of the speakers.

If you are truly concerned with voice matching all the speakers, you can use a processor utilizing Audyssey RoomEQ instead of trying to match it with a multi channel amp. Audyssey will do a much better job, plus you get to choose your favorite two channel amp for music.
The Plinius Odean is something like 10K used!!! I'd love to have one of those too, but i am in same ballpark as you. Hard to find perfection though. What I'm seeing that may be worth investigating at 2500 or less used:
Parasound A51
BelCanto evo6
Simaudio Aurora
Sunfire Theatre Grand (or cheaper Cinema Grand)

Just my two cents. Understand that I'm going completely off reviews and forums. No personal experience.

Hey, wanna buy a couple amps each and swap them, lol?
Jylee - excellent point. In fact, I used to use three 2-channel amps (all Brystons), and I moved toward a 5-channel for rack space considerations. I am not wedded to that idea though. I probably would want to have the mains and center driven by at least the same manufacterer of amps, if not a 3-channel. I've never head pass amps (do I remember that those are tubes?). Do you think they'd be a good match for the rest of my equipment? Theta front end, Snell speakers (the preamp is an adcom, probably the next thing to go after I get the amp right).

Jeffkad - I've certainly heard good things about Simaudio, and I've sort of been keeping my eye out for a used Titan. The question is, will I have the same amp/speaker mismatch I have with the Theta? Is it not similar in terms of impedance and damping? Shadorne, if you're still monitoring this thread, I'd love a response on that.

Thanks for all the replies so far. The only amp that has been mentioned by more than one person so far is the Parasound. Never heard it, but I'm certainly willing to give it a shot. Can it really keep up with the others we've mentioned at that price?
Pass Labs are solid state amps designed by the legendary Nelson Pass. Lots of positive reviews can be found here on forum and also on publications. They are not tube amps, but MF did say XA-160 he reviewed erased the line between tubes and solid states.
Hey Y'all,

I don’t think the issue you are having is that the amp and speakers are mismatched. I'm not disputing anything that Shadorne has said because it all makes sense. But to me the problem is now that you have an amp worth its weight, The Theta Dreadnaught-2, the rest of your systems shortcomings are being exposed. Please don't take that the wrong way. You have some fine pieces in your set up but from what you've mentioned, the Dreadaught 2 is now far and away the best piece you own. Also, if I'm remembering correctly, the Snell C/V are an older speaker, say from the early to mid nineties. It might be time to swap those out for something that better matches the abilities of your amp. If you insist on changing your amp, look into Balanced Audio Technologies, BAT. I was on a search to switch my five tube mono block H/T set up to a solid state multichannel. I narrowed my choices to the BAT VK-6200 and the Simaudio Titan. I chose the BAT from word of mouth recommendations and I've not looked back. It offers everything you have described but it rarely comes up used on Audiogon and it is very expensive new, $11,500.00 for a five channel unit. Good luck with your search......John
Look into the NuForce MCH 3SEC7. Best multi-channel I've ever encountered. In fact, this unit replaced my Bel Canto Ref 1K for stereo and double-duty for HT as well. This unit is based on the same innards as their highly touted Ref 9SE V2, and for the same price you get 7-channels! This gives the best bass I've ever heard at home and beyond all expectation. Now this is just the beginning--the rest of the frequency range along with the vast and 3D soundstage will leave you breathless. Transparency and resolution are top notch.

One caveat--upstream equipments become critical as well as matching cables--no lean electronics or cables will do for this amp. A little bit of warmth will bring the best out of this amp.

Good luck,

Jrwr7 - I would not dispute that Theta makes great stuff, and may be the best stuff in my system. I have a Theta transport and DAC (Carmen and IIIa), and they blew away anything else I tried when I was auditioning CD players. However, something doesn't quite add up. The Dread just doesn't have as good bass or imaging as the Bryston. If that's not an amp/speaker mismatch, then the Dread just isn't as good at those things as the Bryston, and I want to address that before upgrading the preamp or speakers. If I am being thick and missing something, please advise.

Nuforce has now been recommended twice on this thread. Has anyone had any direct experience with Nuforce products and either Snell speakers or a Theta front end? Thanks. -Dave
I think you should check out rotel,b&k, and odyssey; I have had m200's from b&k and odyssey's mono extreme se's; they were excellant products;the Odyssey's have a 20 yr transferrable warranty to the second owner also!
Never heard Odyssey. However, I've heard lots of Rotel and some B&K, and to my ears, neither comes close to either Bryston or Theta. Anyone else? There have been some great responses so far, please keep them coming! -Dave
Do I understand you correctly that what I've got is a bad amp/speaker match?

Yes - your bass needs a Bryston style amp (more punch and control) but you prefer a warmer sounding amp for the midrange. You might try putting a sock in the speaker port (rear) and see how that sounds - it will increase the damping at LF (below the port tuning) then use tone controls to bring the bass down a few db - it may just give you that punch you are missing.
Dvae, don't know if you're still searching, and sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. However, I'm not technical enough to tell you about impedance and damping factors, but I do know that specs don't tell the whole story. There are many other factors within the amps design that contribute to it's performance. I only know what I've read, not having benefit of trying these amps myself. Parasound supposedly has a very nice low end and probably not as bright as Bryston. Very good wpc and response into 4ohm as well. Bass response has always been the domain of Bryston and Krell. Having said that, I've heard that the Titan does everything well, and has very good bass response, but is huge and expensive (5k used?). It's smaller sibling, the Aurora, is still very powerful with excellent bass and sweet highs, at least according to one review. The Nuforce mch3se7 is supposed to be the one of the sweetest digital amps out there, and most digital amps have excellent bass. Personally, I'm thinking seriously about getting the Aurora, the Nuforce, or an original Dread. Good luck in your search. Jeff
If you can't shell out the money for a Titan you should look at its poorman's cousin the Gemstone Blue Diamond... runs pretty close to that $2500 price tag you mentioned.
Jeff Rowland 300 series
For your price (used), don't forget the Cary Cinema 5. It's a great amp, I lived with it for quite a while, moving from McIntosh solid state. It has a good combination of what you are looking for.