Best solid state amp under 1k

hello, my first post here...


I am going to warn you up front this is going to be a little verbose and I won't think any less of you if you want to duck out now...

I have been an "audiophile" now for about 20 years and have gone through many
many configurations of stereo system, nothing really high end as I couldn't/wouldn't afford it.

Most recently I have been using a pair of speakers based on a JBL le14a woofer and Selenium compression driver on a waveguide.
I have been bi amplifying these with a solid state amp(Behringer A500) on the woofer and a very high quality 2A3 amp on the compression driver.
Upstream from that is a 12B4A linestage which is fed by, in order of most usage; Squeezebox, Oppo, and Hagerman Bugle phono stage.

I am really a cheap bastard at heart and can't stand to keep a component that I feel gives me marginal improvement at much higher cost.
I am also something of a minimalist and find I can't live for very long with a complex system like I have now. I have found, through various fiddling,
that the speakers in my rig are responsible for the lions share of the sound I am enjoying and that I actually like the sound of my sources going directly
into my solid state amp. This gives a very clean, very extended sound with good dynamics and spacious soundstage. My only qualm is that the Behringer, of course, could stand to have some more of the qualities that the 2A3 amp has through the mid and high range. I don't expect it to match the DHT for sheer beauty, but I would like
to get closer.

Which brings me to where I am now. Is there anything out there that is substantially better than the Behringer for under 1k? I would like an amplifier with some grunt to it as I enjoy a wide variety of music; jazz, indie, rock, electronica(in all its forms), folk, etc. Extended bass, but with a smoothness and liquidity like tube gear(pie in the sky?).

I am thinking a straight amplifier(not an integrated) would retain this clean sound I am hearing. It seems any preamp I put in the chain is adding unwanted sound, rather than acting as a clean switching/volume control source. I can easily make a passive linestage if necessary, but as my components all have variable outputs I don't think it will be necessary.

So far I have been thinking of an older class A amp, or perhaps one of the amps in the M series that Yamaha made that works in class A up to a point and then switches to A/B. Anyway I am certainly not averse to buying used as I want the most bang for my buck.

the floor is yours...
Threshold from the 80's....
I'd suggest the Pass Aleph 3 which can often be found on Audiogon for just under $1000. It has 30 very good watts per channel. The Threshold suggestion is also good. Anything from Nelson Pass in SS.
For $600-$700 used, I think the Musical Fidelity A3CR in my system is a contender in the high power, high current sub-category at least.
Here's an out of left field suggestion.

NHT discontinued their Power2 Amplifier which used B&O ICE modules...class D which is now being used in some of the newer very high priced amps. While I don't think you'll find any new ones around, you might be able to find one here or on eebay for less than 1/2 of what you're willing to spend.

It's a wonderful, cool running amp...I have the power5 in my home theater. It doesn't have the "wow" name, but it's a great amp.
If you can find one then get yourself a Classe DR-9. These are as close to tube as you can get and there built to last.
All great sounding suggestions, I have always been interested in the Nelson Pass designs but have never had a chance to hear one.
A Sugden (always Class A) was listed on the 'gon for $900. That will definitely get you there. Smooth midrange, solid controlled bass and really really quick on attack. Maybe not with tube bloom, but really decent.
I second USblues. Thresholds are a great option here. You can probably pick up a S300 for $1000 or less.
I liked my McCormack DNA-125: stock it was a very good buy at $800. Down the line, throw $1500 of SMC Audio mods into it and it becomes one of the very best SS amps out there.
I would clarify that the Class A/B Thresholds, the S-200, S-300 and S-500 are decent but not in the same league as the all Class A designs, the SA series. I owned an S-200 many years ago but found it a big compromise to say the SA-1 monos which should be expected given the price difference at the time. These have always impressed me along with the Alephs, also pure Class A as among the very best that ss has to offer and about as close to anything I have heard that will give you what you are currently missing with your amp.

I think the Pass Aleph 3 as recommended above would be a good bet in your price range.