Best new amp under $2k?

After reading a spirited review of McCormack's DNA-125 and Belles Hotrod 150A in December's Stereophile I am interested in what you think is the best in this category. The biggest attraction to this class of amp (under $2k) is the value everyone seems to talk about. You know, 80-90% of the performance of the big boys at a third of the cost. Any and all thoughts are welcome.
Rogue Model 88, if you can use a "mere" 30 wpc. It DOES sound like more power than that, and is just really nice. I consider myself pretty good verbally, but it's hard to describe the sonic signature of this amp in triode mode, other than "really nice". It's official distortion specs are very low, to boot. In my smaller room, it will drive 85 dB sensitive mini-monitors to 90 dB peaks briefly, at a distance of 6 1/2 feet. I also have a Krell KAV-250a (500 wpc into 4 ohms), which I don't plan to sell, and it is nice to have both to choose from. I paid $2050 for it used, and $949 for the Rogue, new. I admit the Rogue is the better value by far (especially getting it below mSRP like that), but if you need more power for a bigger room, and MUST buy a NEW amp for $2000 or less, then I'm sure there will be many others here who can help you.
While i have not heard them myself, Richard Marsh's amps are getting KILLER reviews. I do have one of his SS preamps in one of my systems and it does most things very well. It is a little laid back sounding but comes across as being very "effortless" sounding. Depending on what you need for power, there are many good amps to choose from. Most of it will boil down to system synergy and personal preferences, so don't take reviews or suggestions as being the end all. Do some research, find some that interest you personally and then give them a shot in YOUR system. That's the only way that you'll find out if they are what YOU are looking for. I think that Carl and most of the other "regulars" would agree with this. If you do some reading on other posts about "budget conscious amps" (not necessarily new), you'll find that the Forte' 4A has a BIG following for some very specific reasons. The equivalent Threshold amp (but slightly better) is the T50. In my opinion, either of these are GREAT amps for the money involved. Sean >
I love my Bryston 4BST which can be had for less than $2K new. Another choice might be )although I have not heard them) the Odyssey Stratos monoblocks - getting much more exposure and have been discussed over the last week or so and right at your budget limit...
Although slightly over my stated $2k price range someone e-mailed me suggesting a long, hard look at Blue Circle's BC22. Any thoughts anyone?
I Picked up a "new" Pass Aleph-3 for $990.delivered ($2500) Had <50 hours on it and looks brand new.More of these amazing amps out there for the taking.
The Van Alstine 350 and 550 HC amps are well worth a look. The 350 is under $2K new and is 160 hybrid wpc. Some of the best customer service in the industry and based in Minneapolis. I have a 350hc and could not be happier. Every bit as good as the big bucks stuff.
ok, dtwomey - here's a shameless plug: how about my electrocompaniet aw100? all the detail of good solid-state, w/all the warmth of tubes! adwertised rite here on audiogon for $995 obo! ;~)

seriously, i tink electro amps are wery nice - only reason i'm selling mine is it's not bridgeable, & i want a bridgeable wersion to match up w/my aw75.

regards, doug

I've been very pleased with the performance, power, reliability and revealing sound of the Muse 160 mkII. I believe it's $1900 list.
I just listened to the Marsh amp(200 watt) and it is a Killer amp. 3d in a big way, smooth, detailed, great soundstaging. All this for under 2k. If you get a chance this is a must listen.
The Rogue is a good choice.I had one for about 6 months very special in Triode.My speakers are 92 db and i was able to play as loud as i would ever want.90+ dB with no effort. I switched to the Rogue 120 Monoblocks.You can get them used 1700/1800.If you speakers are less than 90dB they might be a better choice.
Leafs, what output tubes are you using with your Rogue? KT88s? Have you done any tube rolling(outputs or otherwise) with either the stereo or monoblock amps? I found the amp pretty cold and sterile sounding with 6550s. Are you using Coincident speakers and cables? Thank you very much.
If you can use a combination of new and used I would pick up a used McCormack DNA 1 for about $1,000 and send it to Steve McCormack for his B upgrade. With shipping etc. you would be under yor price cap and have an amp that will outperform many higher priced amps. I have both a Steve McCormack upgraded DNA 1 amp and ALD 1 pre amp and am extremely pleased.
All of the amps mentioned are fine performers I'm sure. There's no shortage of high value performance now it seems. While I haven't heard all of those mentioned and can't make meaningful personal comparisons, I am very pleased with the sound of my Belles 150 Hot Rod. Coupled with a Music Reference RM5III tube preamp and Maggie 1.6qr's, it exhibits all the attributes mentioned in Stereophile in abundance. It's an extremely pleasing and musical amp.
right at $2k is conrad johnson's mv55. while it's at the top end of your specified range, it's a wonderfully musical amp, 45 wpc (in ultralinear)powered by a pair of el34's on each side. it's been a sereophile class b reccommened component for years. i absolutely loved mine. when i purchased it, i compared it to (among others) an 85 watt offering from vtl. that may be worth a listen too. good luck.
I use KT 88.Sovtek.I tried KT90 but they where a bad set so i never did really find out what they could sound like.I have put Amprex 12AX7NOS in them this was a nice upgrade.My Rogue 88 had 6550C Svetlana and sounded very nice. I have Coincident IC from my sources TT/CD.I have a Audioquest Quartz from Pre to Amp and i am getting Coincident Speakers cables.I had a set for trial and i have now purchased a pair on this site and will get them this week.I have Super Conquests.Which speakers do you use.
It really depends on your other equipment which one will work for you. Sam Tellig did a good job of expalining the differences, while he prefers the Musical Fidelity A3CR amp, he explains why others may like the McCormack DNA 125 or Belles Hot Rod 150. Actually he had 3 of the best SS amps for under $2,000 together for comparison.
Thanks for the information Leafs. I too, am using Coincident speakers. Digital Masters w/Troubass subwoofers. The best way to explain them is to picture Wilson WATT/Puppies ala Israel Blume. Very easy to drive, and wonderful, relaxed(unlike Wilson), yet detailed sound. Coincident used to produce some pretty interesting speakers. Israel's mantra was to have no parallel cabinet walls, and they also got into coincident(tweeter and mid) drivers. Have you ever seen any of their product literature from pre 1998? Each speaker had its own unique cabinet design. They put out some REALLY cool stuff. I guess success is a double edged sword, as the time and labor required to produce those interesting cabinets would not allow them to keep up with demand. I think your Rogues are a good combination with Coincident. I had the match for a little while, and found it superb. I think Rogues sound best with KT88s. Next time you retube, give the JJ(Czechoslovakia) KT88s a try. I think you will find them the best of the bunch. Much better sounding to me than Russian KT88/6550.
After reading that article in Stereophile, it helped me to make the desecion to buy a Belles 150A, what also helped was that I found a 3 channel version right here for $750. I thought the 3 channel would be better for me, driving my B&W N805 and HTM2.. now I am clean all across the front. Has anyone else out there heard this combo?
hey magasam, that's what i like about sam tellig - i could swear that he liked the belles best, even tho he said technically it wood prolly only get a *b* rating instead of the *a* that the m/f amp got... ;~)


Trelja,I auditioned the Visionarry Refference which was a 6K speaker when it was in production.It was a Triangle Shape with the Back being a little higher than the front.Thw Mid and Highs were the best i have heard.I found it lacking in bottom end.I later found out this was designed to be used with a sub and therefore the shy bootom end.There is a dealer in Toronto,who has a demo pair for sale.2.5k roughly.Anyone who is wiliing to mate it to a good sub will have a killer speaker.I dont have the space for adding a sub.I went with the Supper for the Extra bottom end.hey are side firing.I also heard Proacs B&W Meadowlarks JM labs and found the Coincident a better listen.What amp are you using with your Coincidents.
Leafs, I agree that anyone who wants a no BS reference quality speaker should pick up those Coincident Visionary References. I am not aware of anything better at that price. The three sided box has an 8" mid-woofer, and -3 dB point at 35Hz, so a person who felt the need for the really deep bass should follow your recommendation on the subwoofer. As it is now, it would be perfect for someone with an SET amp. I am still REALLY ecstatic with my speakers. The Troubass subwoofer is fantastic, and addresses the low frequencies extremely well. Coincident states in the specs that the subwoofer puts out 22 Hz @ 105 dB, with less than 1% THD. My speakers have a Darth Vader like appearance, with the satellites sitting on the subs like the Wilson WATT/Puppies. To think that I picked the Digital Masters and Troubass subs for $1300 used back in 1997 still has me in utter disbelief. No one heard of Coincident at the time, so what the market would bear was incredibly low. I have yet to come across anything that presents a better package for me. They were targeted for tube/SET people, yet give up nothing with solid state amplification. When the rest of my system is finally in place(speaker cable and new whatever disk player), I am going to take them to the ultimate level. Talked to Israel over the summer about it. He recommended that I drop in the ScanSpeak Revelator(a perfect fit) he used in the Total Eclipse, and inserting a small polystyrene film and foil cap in series with the Digital Master(to take the deep LF away from them). I will do a couple other mods(which he didn't think so necessary), such as a killer teflon film and silver foil capacitor, a no hold barred coil, and silver internal wiring. The Digital Masters use only a polypropylene cap, and heavy guage coil in the crossover. My kind of crossover, simple, great sounding, and unbelievably easy to drive. For amplification, I use a Jadis with Ei KT90 output tubes.
They realy are a steal at 4k Canadain which is about 2700.00 US.You really scored large,there are many out there who have spend 4/5 times more and have got much less in value.