Get the ARC Ref 1 or a CAT Ultimate used.
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I went through the Rogues to the EAR 534 and now have the
Mcintosh 2102 - it is great - the 534 is great too and very much low maintenance - The retails on bothe of these are 3800 for the balanced EAR in chrome to 6k for the Mcintosh .
Both can be had on the used end for 2500 - 4700. You would be pleased with either and I am sure the above selections are very good also. That is what makes this so fun and sometimes frustrating. Tubes are just fun.
There are a pair of Sonic Frontiers Power 3 available on Audiogon for $3,500. This looks like a very good deal. I don't think you can get more power for the money - 220wpc. I haven't heard them myself, but they're Stereophile Class A (If that really means anything :-) I hear that they're neutral, transparent, very detailed, and have more of a controlled solid state sound than the lush tubey sound one might expect from tube amps. At this price they look like a deal - should keep their value well. Good luck.
and because of the tube upgrade it has it may be more appropriate for that B&W because it will have a slightly relaxed top end. The ARC is also a fine amp as someone else pointed out but when it's time to re-tube it's not a walk in the park.
The Sonic Frontiers, and BAT that someone else pointed out, are very user friendly.
Also...read the review of the Cary V12 in this months Stereophile. That is like having a few amps in one because you can at the flip of a swith change the way the amp operates.
Full triode, 1/3 triode 2/3 ultralinear, 2/3 triode 1/3 ultralinear, or full ultralinear.
If I could have three girlfriends to pick from any given night that may be a fun thing.
>disclaimer< This is not at the expense of my beautiful 100% Italian rolling pin wielding wife.
A pair of used Conrad-Johnson Premier 12 mono blocks might be nice. I really like the sound of my CJ Premier 11a. I also recently picked up a used Audio Research VT100MKII. It's a fine sounding amp with good bass authority and over all more neutral sounding than the CJ - which isn't a good or a bad thing. It's a matter of taste. The CJ is a bit sweeter without being too sappy. I kind of like it.
Upscaleaudio is right.
The ARC amp requires closely matched tubes and you have to remove the lid and use a digital voltmeter to set the bias correctly. The CJ Premier amps on the other hand are open chassis designs and bias is independently adjustable for each tube using a built-in LED indicator for each adjustment. It's a more forgiving design and also easier if you enjoy "tube rolling".
Here's me screwing around with the ARC VT100MKII earlier today. I just retubed it replaceing all 16 tubes. Ouch!
CJ PREMIER 5's,these are monoblocs using EL34's,amp's are no longer in production,but regardless are wonderfull.having own the CJ11a,12's,ARC vt100 which are all fine amp's,i prefer the sound of the CJ premier 5's.these amp's are difficult to find on the used market,but they are well worth the effort.these amp's hold their own with amp's costing 2 to 3 times their price.RETAIL price when in production $7500 good luck in your search. JOSE M
There's a pair of Aranov's 110W on auction now that would probably sell for $2,500 or so. These are self biasing, simply replace the 6550's with 8- KT88 and the magic begins. I use the Aranovs with a Placette active line stage, SCD-1 and a Rel to fill in the bottom - and the sound is like melted butter.
The Aranov's are not that well known (like SF or CJ) but they sound every so sweet and are a true bargin.