Best Power amps in $7000 range

It seems impossible to narrow down all the good choices. I feel overwhelmed because I want to purchase a 300-400w amp in the $7000 range and there are so many options. I want it to be my last power amp purchase for at least the next 20 years. I've considered Bryston, Classe, Mcintosh, and Parasound. This list is compiled of components I can purchase locally. Any thoughts or impressions on any of these? I've heard bryston in the past and thought they sounded kind of bright, it could've been the setup thought. I currently am using a Classe CA-300 and really like it but I want to replace it due to age. I have no experience with parasound or Mcintosh.
to add to this. I've never realized, but I've noticed there is a perception that Mcintosh is like the "bose" of high end audio. This seems like non-sense because the build quality looks the same, if not better, than some of the other offerings. I've heard some of the so called "High End" stuff that sounded horrible and I wouldn't even considering spending my money on.
Mac is good stuff.

It's criticized from camps that are jealous and/or have no experience with the products.

You could make far worse choices.
If it ain't broke....then why fix it? What speakers are you driving? 400 watts might be overkill for most typical 6" woofer type domestic speakers. Unless you are driving big pro type woofers (large 4" voice coils) much of that "extra" amplifier power may simply be turned into more heat and thermal compression or just may not be needed.

...just a thought. $7000 new is a lot of doe to replace your exiting and working CA-300 even if it is old.
Edge NL 10.1 - if you can find it used , would be in your price range. It is 225wpc if you need even more power.....well 12.1 is rated at 300wpc in 8 Ohms. It is list at around 20K , used might not be possible to find in your budget.

Another.....more realistic recommendation would be
Pass Labs X350.5. List price is under 10K

If I had to choose the amp from solid state family , those two would be at the top of my list.

From tube amps , I would look for VAC amps. Sound great and planty of juice.

I went from an inexpensive, lower powered Bryston (3B-ST) to a moderately expensive, high powered Mac (MC402) so a comparison between the brands is unfair in my experience. Having said that, I did find the Bryston sound to be a little bright and sibilant. The Mac is everything I've wanted in a power, however, it is not as powerful and dynamic as the power ratings would suggest. You should definitely add Pass Labs to your short list
The Classe seems to have some kind of static sound that crops up occasionally. It only happens when certain songs play and only at particular frequencies. I have no idea what it is nor do I want to pay the $100 each way to mail it to Montreal and have Classe bill me $75/h to fix it (I contacted them and that is how much it costs). When it doesn't do this, it sounds absolutely amazing. I don't even care if a new amp sounds better, I just want it to sound as good as the Classe. I figured, I have the money now and may not in the future, so I want to buy a very good "new" amp that I know will last a long time. I have Usher speakers, rogue preamp, music hall table with a grado cartridge, and an old pioneer elite pd-65, which I will not replace until it stops working.
Adamg, do you think the Mcintosh would be as powerful and dynamic as the Classe CA300?
*MAN* that's a lot of money.

Don't get me wrong -- if you've got it, more power to you. I just have a difficult time believing that there's an amplifier in that price-point that sounds $6000 better than a gently pre-owned, thousand-dollar amp.

Now before anybody says it, no, I haven't ever heard any seven thousand dollar amps. But still, I could do a lotta speaker upgradin' for six thousand bucks. I guess this just isn't my world. (Which would mean that I have no business posting, huh?)

Has anyone suggested Ayre? Again, this is all third-hand, but I don't know anyone in any of these forums who is unhappy with Ayre or thinks they're overrated or anything like that.
I have no experience with the Classe so I can't comment. However, I would be very suprised that anyone wouldn't be very pleased with the MC402. Very musical and engaging. If dynamics are important to you, than Pass may be the more appropriate choice. The merits of each have been contested endlessly in these forums.
The Classe seems to have some kind of static sound that crops up occasionally.

In that case, you might open it up and see if anything is loose (ground wires). One thing you can try is to twiddle the pots on tuning potentiometers....over time the contacts can may not be as good - giving it a twiddle may be all you need. (just remember the exact pot position - so you set it as before!!) The other thing to look for would be for damaged or old caps. JUST BE CAREFUL - power supply caps on this baby may have 100 VOLTS stored in them (for a long time after you unplug it). BTW... I have fixed a number of consumers items this way. The last amplifier I built was for a subsea instrument project with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute - while I was a student - in another life - so although I am no electronics technician I a not afraid to look under the hood!!

I have no idea what it is nor do I want to pay the $100 each way to mail it to Montreal and have Classe bill me $75/h to fix it (I contacted them and that is how much it costs).

That sounds quite reasonable to me. Did you ask them if they can estimate repair cost after 1 hour work and get back to you? It ain't rocket science. It is quite likely they can fix it and fine tune it for you. After many years the bias and gain may need adjusting/tweaking anyway.

When you buy a product like this (like a Rolex) it is good for life, IMHO. You just need to maintain it. This is not your typical disposable amp from Best Buy...
Something doesn't make sense. You say you really like the Classe and it sounds amazing but it has a certain issue, but because it will cost you some $275 total to fix it you'd rather spend $7,000 to get an amp you don't know anything about. Is that correct?

First, I would say $7,000 is just a bit more than $275 or so. Classe service is excellent and fairly priced and they used to repair things in Massachusetts, if that's closer. Once fixed, a Classe will last many more years. It's a clearcut decision to me.

However, if you want another amp just because you want it, that's another story. Pass Labs to me by far the best of all the names discussed. A used Pass 250.5 would cost you less than half of $7,000 and is equal to a Classe CA401 in power with far better sound. There's a Pass 250.5 on A'gon now.
One more thing: You'll have to fix the Classe anyway to sell it.
Dne - What I'm trying to say is that I bought the Classe from another A'goner about two years ago and less than a year after owning it, I discovered the problem. I want an amp that I know the history of. I will probably just sell it for less than what it is worth so whoever buys it can either fix it themselves or have it fixed at classe. Yes, it is an amazing sounding unit but the price to fix it doesn't guarantee it is a 1hr fix and doesn't include parts. I just don't want to end up spending $500 to fix something I bought used on Audiogon less than two years ago.
Parasound Halo JC1 and you get two fantastic monoblocks for 7000 USD$
I was seriously considering the JC-1's, I am curios why they would put plastic binding posts on such a nice looking set of amps though?
Hello Fruff,

Probably those binding post are "sonically" good enough also if they don't look exotic like some other
Also Quad ESL 63 have those plastic binding posts
What intrigues me about your question is why you seek a 300-400 watt/channel amp at all. Do you run your speakers in a huge room, or listen almost exclusively to big orchestral music or pounding pop/rock? Compared to a lower powered amp in the same line, high-powered amps are generally (i) more expensive, (ii) more complex and thus more likely to break, (iii) burn more electricity, (iv) are heavier and thus a pain in the ass to ship or move, and (v) most importantly, have a comparatively congested, less natural sound (lower powered amps, be they transistor or tube, have fewer output devices to muck up the sound). Unless you have an unusual need for power, e.g., super inefficient speakers, you are obsessed with Mahler symphonies or listen to Live at Leeds three times a week, you should consider going with a really high quality 100-150 watt/channel amp instead. If you buy carefully, the power supplies will be as good or better than a similarly priced amp having twice the wattage, making it sound subjectively very powerful, yet it will give you the finesse and musicality that almost no high wattage amp has. Also, do not rule out exceptional used products known for their build quality. For example, very few current production amps, regardless of their price, have the build quality and finesse of Rowland's Model 2 or Model 6 amps run from the Rowland battery power supplies -- those things will still be making music when a lot of the new amps mentioned in this thread will be dead and gone, and you'll have money left over for other things.
Raquel, I've had 60w tube amps, did not do it for me. I had a 150w/channel Proceed, did not do it for me. I put the 300w classe in my system and it sounded perfect. I do listen to a lot of rock etc. which probably explains it. In my experience there is absolutely no substitute for having more power. I've had the same experience with little speakers vs. larger speakers.
fruff1976> I didnt read all the posts but did you mention the speakers you are driving and the room would be beneficial to know the output from your source and the gain and output impedance of your line stage.
I'm using Usher cp-6371's in an approx. 550sq/ft rectangular room. The pre-amp is a rogue metis.
Further question.did you get the Metis with phono stage.If so what is the output of the cartridge ?
I did get the metis with phono, but I did have this problem before I bought it with a matching Classe cp-35
Fruff, I didn't mean to be difficult in my last posts above. I understand that it can be overwhelming but I think you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself, esp. when you say you want it to be your amp for the next 20 years. Thinking that makes it real difficult. As you have noted, if an amp is not to your liking, you can always sell it. But, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices you have listed. I prefer Pass Labs and know it will satisfy
Hey I understand what you mean when you say I've been through amps and I have realized that I only want a high powered one at this point. I feel the same way. Lower powered amps sound good, but something is missing and once you lock onto it, it's hard to ignore. That said, I think the idea of you spending 7000.00 on an amp when you have the sources you do is not the best money you could spend to make your system better. I'd get a 2k amp and a better CD player and table with what is left over, you would end up with better sound. If you are set on buying new from a dealer then you should get to take home as many amps as you want and make sure you love the one you are going to pay full price for.

And to put another fly in the ointment, pairing a 7K amp with a 1k preamp is not exactly making a lot of sense to me either. In my experience a 7K preamp with a 1K amp would bring far greater satisfaction than vise versa.

Seriously. Fix the Classe amp you love so much. That is a well respected company and once they fix your amp you can be assured that it is running at 100% again. Then go out and start shopping for a new preamp and new source players with that 7K that you have to play with.
My dad is replacing his Classe monoblocked CA150'S with the new Aesthetix Atlas amp, its 200w at 8ohm but at 4 ofcourse its got more power, if its double I dont know but its $7900 and blew us both away. It is a Hybrid tube/SS unit with zero feedback, Balanced and Single Ended, and has built in High Pass filters so good for sub matching and Vandersteen and other speakers with powered subs, I have heard far more expensive amps far less impressive.
McCormack DNA 500
if you buy used, add Pass Labs X350.5 to your list. Pass Labs make very good amps. Should last 20 years.
The advice given by other posters about using your budget to upgrade other parts of your system at the same time you buy an amp is sound, especially given your speakers. I checked out your Ushers. Fine speakers, but output limited with two midbass drivers and no dedicated woofers. If rock is what you mostly listen to, you need a high output speaker.

Ideally, you should consider horns or powered speakers like ATC or Genelec. Assuming you are not ready for that, however, I would look at a pair of used Vienna Acoustic Mahlers (+/- $4,500 for a mint used pair). They are 90 db. efficient and each speaker uses the same two 7" midbass drivers as the Wilson Maxx II, plus two 10" woofer, all with ported bass loading -- they go LOUD. With the $3,000 left over, I would buy the highest powered FPB series Krell you can afford or a Levinson 334 or 335 (ideally, a 336).

As for my previous post, wattage in amps is often misunderstood and leads people to buy amps that cannot do what they are purported to do. In solid-state (transistor) amps, power supply capacity is most important, which is why a very high-end 150 watt/channel amp can drive a speaker better than a typical 300 watt/channel amp. Krell will give you current, as will those Levinsons (your Proceed weighed about 1/2 of what a 334 weighs, incidentally) . I look more closely at the weight and price of an amp than the wattage rating - power supplies add weight and cost.

I would use the money left over from swapping out your Ushers to buy a Doge 6 CD player. It has a high capacitance 6-tube triode output stage with tons of punch and no lack of finesse (sells for $5k in Europe due to the import duty, but only $1,400 here).
Would you consider a hybrid amp?If so take a look at the moscode 401hr; 200 watts,tube like sound and a free 30 day in home trial period.Also tube rolling is able to be done without hurting the wallet.
Ejlif's advice should be followed.Replacing your amp will change the sound but it cannot do anything to correct the weaknesses of your preamp and cd player.
Your room is large and as Raquel stated your speakers just may not be up to filling the room with the sound you are looking for.Further do you use a M.C. cartridge and if you do what is the output.
Bob Crump, who was the primary chooser of parts, said it was a conscious decision based on sound.
Pass Labs, Plinius, Ayre, Boulder are options but why not stick with what you know that works well with your speakers and pony up for a new Classe? my previous post I meant to include this quote from Fruffl976 first:

"I was seriously considering the JC-1's, I am curios why they would put plastic binding posts on such a nice looking set of amps though?"
Also: suggest that you consider the Rowland 501s - WITH the Power Correction Factor modules.
I'm using Usher cp-6371's in an approx. 550sq/ft rectangular room

What with 7" woofers and you want a 400 watt amp to drive them?

I'd upgrade speakers first before getting such a high powered beast - more mileage to be had there IMHO.

...just two cents.
Second the Moscode 401.
Third the Moscode 401 HR. Great amp with ss power and tube warmth, timbre. Well built, reliable and you have $2K left over.
Check out Mike Elliott's products: Counterpoint NP100/NP220, or Aria amps. I spent about $7K on NP100 with all the upgrades. It is an amazing amp and drives my Focal JMlab Alto Utopia with ease.
any of the older conrad johnson amps, using el 34 or 6550 output tubes and 6fq7 tubes. examples include mv 75, mv 100, mv 125, and premier 4.
I can only think of one manufacturer of high end amps that will last 20 years without problems, guaranteed...

I love my 7BST's. You can slo look at used Classe CAM 350's or CA-M400's.
McCormack DNA 500. The best SS amp out there under $7000. Lots of PRAT and never runs out of power. Will drive the most difficult speakers. You can pick one up used for under $4000.
Suggest you do some research,you don't need to spend 7K to satisfy your needs.You're just making some fool rich.Amplification is not the most important link in the chain,it begins at the source and works its way down.
TRL M-225 mono blocks @ $5500.
Both Classe and Parasound have build issues that are well known..If stayin within your short list..Mac hands down
>>Both Classe and Parasound have build issues that are well known<<

No fooling?

Why don't you elaborate, with specific examples and empirical data, for us instead of shooting your mouth off.
Boy does Parasound have build issues. The issues being that they simply build what is considered by many to be one of the best ss amps ever-the JC-1 monos. I have had a pair for four years. After having owned several high end amps in the past,they are the best that have owned and I do not know of any other amp that I would get rid of them for.