Best power amp below US $ 20.000,00 ??

Any sugestions ?
92efbda5 9cba 4d79 9e39 cc1d8039b6b7elberoth2
Your question is way too vague and with no qualifiers, it is almost impossible to answer.

Go and listen to as many as possible and buy the one that sounds the best to you.

Good luck
vtl Reference 750 with infini caps
Rowland 302 and Lamm 2.2
Under 20 dollars?

I would say that they are all pretty similar at that price range.

Now, at 30 dollars things get crazy!!!!!
I'm looking for an amp to drive my Avalon Eidolon Visions. The source is AA Capitole mk II SE run direct. The AA is a temporary solution - I plan to replace it with a full function pre and a better source components when I'm done with the amp.

Right now I’m running the Nagra PMA monobloks (the piramids) which are on a dealer’s loan. The amps sound quite fine for the price – better than expected for shure (especially after reading the trashing KK review in HiFi News) but do have some graynes, which IMO is inheritent in almost all solid state designs.

The nagra VPA (with KR 845 tubes option) that I tried before PMAs, were much better in that regard, the sound was much sweeter and smoother, but still didn’t gave me the harmonic completness, harmonic “rightness” I’m looking for. Nagra VPA is definately Teejay’s No.1 flavor, i.e. pristine clarity, fine sharp details, speed, very extended top/bottom frequencies and great PRAT.

The BAT 150se monobloks I had before VPAs, sounded a little bit better in that regard, but still didn’t have the SET magic in the midrange. They were also a little bit "heavy-footed" and lacked ultimate microdynamics & resolution. The other downside of BATs is that they produce LOTS of heat (much, much more than the VPAs) and that may be a problem in summer months.

The amp I liked best so far was a SET amp based on a single GM70 triode - 30 watts of pure triode magic. That amp had everything I was looking for - fine textures, microdynamics, holographic soundstaging, harmonic lushness, natural timbres. And surprisingly – on the contrary to the common knowledge – they have absolutely NO PROBLEMS driving 87dB efficient (3,6 Ohm minimum) Avalons ! The bass was very good indeed and they could go louder than I normally listen in my 14 x 19 foot dedicated room. Unfortunately - this amp was made by a local DIYer and I'm not quite ready for this.

I still want something of the shelf.

Next week I’m gonna try some local ICE based amp and a Nuforce 9s. The next amps that are waiting “in line” are Krell 400 & 700cx, some Classe monos, Plinius SA102, Pathos In-Power, Pass X-600.5, Electrocompaniet AW-400, Mac MC-501. It is gonna take some time though, since I ALWAYS borrow the amps for at least a week for home audition.

Pls note that I live outside the US and some amps are simply not available here (in Europe).
Find yourself a used pair of cat jl3 sigs.Drive Eidilons great.
Try the H2O Monos from Henry Ho.
Great anwser it is nice to see some sane people on here.
The best I've ever heard Eidolons is with Rushton's Atma-Sphere MA-2 MkIIIs. Perhaps an older iteration of the MA-2s would be in your price range? They'd be a great choice in the sense that if you like the sound of a SET, good chance you will appreciate the magic of OTLs. Good luck,

I highly recommend the Lamm hybrid amplifiers.
My friend, who has the Avalon Eidolons, went through many amplifiers trying to find the best.
He tried the following amps:
Classe CA-401, Kora Cosmos, BAT 150s (non-SE version), Manley Neoclassic 250s, VTL MB-450s, Rowland 501s.

Finally he found his best and last amps, the Lamm M2.2s.
These are 220 wpc mono-blocks. They sound incredible with this Eidolons, the best of all his amps. (In my opinion, these amps are the best upgrade he has made to his system, and I have seen him upgrade most of his system over the past few years.)

They has the low frequency response of the best of the solid state units and also the touch of mid-range magic that tubes provide to the mid-range. The treble is the best I have heard from any of the amps, period. The imaging and soundstaging is incredible.

He managed to get a decent discount from the dealer, so they came in under the $20K price you mentioned. (Although that was before they went up in price.)

I loved the sound of his amps so much, that I bought a pair of used Lamm M2.1s for my Revel Studios. (These are the predecessor model with 200 wpc.) They sound almost identical (maybe the treble is a little better on the M2.2s, just maybe), but used, I paid only $7K. (And luckily for me, from a local seller so no shipping!) They have transformed my stereo from very good to excellent, IMHO. (Even my friend has said that my stereo took a giant leap forward when I got them.) In fact, I think that my speakers are not quite in the same class as these amps. (I am jealous you can afford the Visions actually.)

PS BTW -, in a good chuck of the world, they use commas for decimal points and periods for commas when writing numbers. (Interesting that so many places have such different syntax when writing numbers.) I believe some places use a space instead of a comma as well.)
Elberoth2, in your 14' x 19' foot room you may not need a 'big amp' that is typically associated with Eidolons.

you mention your interest in an 'SET mid-range' yet have a 87db, 4 ohm speaker. depending on listening habits, finding an amp that can control your speaker and also give you the midrange magic you seek may be a challenge.

i have not specifically heard the Vision version of the Eidolons.

you might consider the Swiss made darTZeel. it fits your price criteria and will give you a magical mid-range clarity (but not added warmth or shimmer). normally i would not recommend the darTZeel for the Eidolons; but with your particular sonic priorites it may come closest to the ideal.

some SET fans (both 300B and ML2.1 owners) that very recently visited my room commented on the very tube like naturalness they heard from the darTZeel. they could not believe there was no tubes in my signal path from what they were hearing. yet the darTZeel is quite dynamic and extended top and bottom.

if you were to eventually upgrade to the darTZeel battery powered preamp you would have perfect synergy.
The amp I liked best so far was a SET amp based on a single GM70 triode - 30 watts of pure triode magic. I still want something of the shelf.
This is the off-the-shelf version of what you are describing.

Next week I’m gonna try some local ICE based amp and a Nuforce 9s. The next amps that are waiting “in line” are Krell 400 & 700cx, some Classe monos, Plinius SA102, Pathos In-Power, Pass X-600.5, Electrocompaniet AW-400, Mac MC-501. It is gonna take some time though, since I ALWAYS borrow the amps for at least a week for home audition.

In my opinion, you are wasting your time with all of these amps. Not one of them resides on the same sonic planet as what you state as your preferrence: "that amp had everything I was looking for - fine textures, microdynamics, holographic soundstaging, harmonic lushness, natural timbres." Those listed here will not meet your criteria. DeHavilland will. Wavac, Lamm, Joule, etc., but not these.

Best of luck.
The Tom Evans Linear A is another option. Gliderguider loves his. I've not heard it, though this review calls it a home run. I have heard the DeHavilland, several times in fact. It has exactly the qualities you describe in the DIY amp that you heard.
From my limited experience.I DO NOT like the sound of any of the classe amps including the monos.I I am not in love with the krell ,levinsin ot pass sound.For my self to power either the German Physics Loreleys in a very large room or the JM utopias also in a large room my choice was the Gryphon signature Antileon and my all time favourites if you can find them the YBA Passion 1000 monos,fantastic amplifiers.
Boa2 -> I'm aware of deHavilland amp. The only thing that is putting me off that amp is the fact, that the DIY amp I mentioned was MUCH more sofisticated than deHavilland offering: hand wound transformers, all NOS paper-in-oil caps, all tube rectification plus the GM70 was driven by 300B triode. deHavilland looks like toy next to it, although a much better made one !

Sbank -> I haven't tried any OTL amp so far (the only one I could possibly borrow is little Graff GM-20 OTL - way too underpowered for Eidolons, I guess) but I heard many times that all OTL designs are best suited for 8 Ohm impedance speakers, or even higher. The Eidolons Vision drop to 3,6 Ohm.


Today I brought home the Plinius SA 102 amp. I know that it is much cheaper than other offerings we are discussing here, but my dealer didn't have the more expensive Plinius models on hand, so I decided to listen to SA 102 first, just to see If I like the Plinius "house sound". If I do, I may investigate the more expensive models. If not - well, I will move on.
deHavilland looks like toy next to it, although a much better made one !
Considering that you could probably get the $10K deHavilland for several thousand less than retail, the additional $13K to your budget limit should get you what you want without much difficulty. Of course, if you require week-long auditions of each amp, then these long-distance suggestions are a moot point.
Good luck in your search.
If you put any stock in Chris Martens' review at The Absolute Sound (, the world class amps that he compared them to, their receiving a Golden Ear award and Editor's Choice Award for 2005, as well as a number of other reviews and accolades, I'd venture a guess that the NuForce Ref 9 Premium analog switching amps may well be the top contender.

The question is what would you buy with the $17,500 you'd have left over?

Perhaps you might consider an APL 3910 at $6500 or APL modified Esoteric UX-1 at about $16000, arguably the best digital sources on the planet. (no argument from me).

-IMO (oh yeah, I am a NuForce dealer and user)
Stehno -> I read that review. That is why I want to listen to NuForce amps as well, even though they cost pennies next to other amps we are discussing here. I should have them after X-mas - I was hoping to get them this week, but unfortunately, me dealer told me the pair he has is not fully broken in yet :-(

Philefreak -> H2O does not have distribution in Europe, at least AFAIK.

Ramy -> thanks for sugesting Gryphon Antileon. I think I can borrow one.

Mikelavigne -> I read all darTZeel reviews. I'm also watching all dart threads here on AgoN with great interest. So far, I have only one chance to listen to the dart combo - during The HiFi Show in London this September. I have to say, I liked the sound a lot. I'm going to CES this year too, and dart is on of the must audition products, together with Lamm, CAT and deHavilland.

The thing that is worryng me though, is Branimir comment on the Dart in one of the threads. His friend, who is also using Eidolons Vision, is already regreting the change from ARC Reference to Dart, which to his ears is not that great at all. There is a possibility, that his dart is not fully broken in though.
Elberoth2, for what it's worth, the Atma-Sphere MA-2 amps have no problem with the 3.6 ohm drop of the Eidolons. They've been a great match for all the reasons you list as to why you liked the SET amp. But, they will be difficult for you to audition in Europe.

Hey I just happen to own both amps that you just mentioned. I am going to keep the lamm 2.2. While the rowland is a tube-like solid state amp, the lamm 2.2 is a hybrid that really mates the solid state and tube gear together seamlessly.

They are both excellent but with my emmlabs dac and transport and wilson speakers, the lamm is better.

I think that the rowland is one of the best all solid state amps ... just depends on the other equipment you got and how it all works together..

The weird thing is that while many people agree about the rowland in general and the 302 in particular, I am having a devil of a time selling it? Most of the time, I just get tire kickers who end up buying krell stuff. Well their loss.

If you have axcess to the Musical Fidelity KW750, I feel that it would be worth an audition in your system.

Rushton -> Atma MA-3 is around 28k new, which is a over my budget. I could probably strech it a little bit more if only Atmas weren't so ugly ! I think my wife would divorce me If I got those home. j/k. Plus, them must generate an awful lot of heat, which maz be an issue in the summer months (I have A/C in my room, but I tend to switch it off when listening).
Hi Adam, lots of advices?
OK. Tubes:ARC REF210, VTL S-400
Solid state: Ayre V1xe, CJ Premier350, Pass X350.5 or
Plinius SA Reference
Keep in mind that CJ inverts phase...
Happy hunting!
Artizen65 -> I have heard the all kW setup (CDT/DAC/pre/power amp) during the last HiFi Show and it was one of the worst sounds of the show. I have never/ever heard SF Guarnieris that were hooked up sounding so plain bad. The sound was thin, bright and hard.
Besides, to me, owning an expensive MF amp is a little bit like having an expensive Seiko watch - deosn't really make sense.

In the meantime, I have had a chance to evaluate the Plinius SA102 this past weekend. SA102 sounds on the warm side, it definately is on the other end of the scale than the Digital Switching Amp brigade. I like that tonal balance though, it surely mates well with Avalons (and my personal taste), but to me the amp was just not transparent enough, I could not see deep enough into the recording. It also exhibited some grayness that IMO is typical to almost all ss amps, although to be fair I have to say that it was better than more expensive Nagra PMA in this regard, not to mention the cheaper BelCanto.

Anyway - I like it enough to be eagier to try the more expensive Plinius models. Unfortunately, I also got informed today, that my distributor doesn't have the SA Reference on hand, so I will be not able to audition it. If anyone have had any expirience with that amp, in context of SA102 and other HQ amps, pls share.

Today I got a local DSA amp based on ICEpower 250ASP module with build in SMPS power supply (the same that is used in Rowland 201, I belive) - I'm curious how it will compare to BelCanto.
Just to finish what I have started - the ICEpower amp was quite a surprise. It has wiped the floor with the Bel Canto eVo 4 - anther DSA amp, but based on Tripath technology - at 1/2 of cost. No wonder Bel Canto switched to ICEpower technology - it sounds sooo much better.

Overall the amp is still too dry in the midrange for my taste, so I decided to skip the whole ICEpower technology, including the 500ASP and 1000ASP modules which are said to sound very similar to 250ASP in overall character.

I liked the Krell 300cx that came after the ICEpower amps much better - much more natural sounding. I would never have guessed that a Krell amp can cound so good. For the price, I think it was the most "complete" sounding amp I have tried. The little Krell encouraged me to try their bigger stuff which is said to be much better - namely the 700cx amp. I was to try it after CES, but unfortunately Krell discontinued the whole cx line and introduced the new evo line. My dealer cannot gave me the exact date when he will start getting the new amps.

I have also had Classe CAM-400 monos at home for over a week. Those two were also very impressive - smooth and neutral - but I still thought I could find something better.

In the end, based on all of the positive comments, I have decided to buy ... Lamm M1.2 Reference monos. No way to audition - none in stock locally - this is truly a blind faith purchase. Hope I will not regret the purchase.