Not the most powerful, nor the most expensive, the Conrad-Johnson MF5600 deserves to be included on this list. Perhaps one of the top 3 overall, and maybe even number one for 2-channel music in this group.
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I have a Krell KAV-1500, which is a 5 channel amp @ 300watts/channel. I recently biamped my two front main speakers with four channels with the remaining channel for the center speaker. Wow! - I just cannot believe the tremendous improvement in sound in every way - soundstage, high and low-end extensions, clarity, etc. I don't know how a Krell class A amp would sound on my system, but I cannot imagine that it would be much better than bi-amping my speakers with this five-channel, class AB amp. I am now very happy with both stereo music and home theater.
You might want to try to bi-amp your front speakers with a five channel amp, and get a less expensive amp to drive your rear surround speakers for movies. You will be very impressed with the results!
the ead powermaster 2000 amp is easily the best there is, with its powersteering design, you get 400x5 in 5 channel and as much as 1000x2 when using 2 channel, I have had the krell 500, the classe cav , and the powermaster is much better, I am running aerial 4 ohm speakers and the powermaster does not even get warm, I could have fried a egg on the krell, also there is no need to biamp with the powersteering feature, good luck
Making lists like this is "fine" IF the rest of the system is taken into consideration. You can list the strong and weak points of each product and then compare these notes with the various aspects of your system. Knowing from others' comments that an amp is "warm with powerful bass" when your system is already "warm with powerful bass" tells you that it is probably not a suitable candidate. This can help to "weed out" various amps and give you what most folks call a "short list" to investigate.
Since you did not mention the sonic characteristics for the other components / speakers / room, there is NO way to tell which amp is "best" for your specific situation. There are some VERY different "flavours" listed, so some may be far more suitable than others depending on the situation. In plain English, what works in System A might fall flat on its' face in System B. On top of all of that, there are probably at least another half dozen amps that should be on your list, depending on who you talk to.
Each system is different enough to where i can emphatically say "there are no "best's" when it comes to audio components". If we were talking measurements alone, you might be able to pick something that is a clear winner. If we are taking into account system interaction regarding sonics, you've got a whole 'nother ball of wax. In the end, it is ALL system and personal taste dependent. Sean
I think that the Jeff Rowland MC-6 would go at the top of the list, followed by the EAD Powermaster 2000/8000/9000 and the Krell KAV1500. I wouldn't include the Sunfire Cinema Sig unless it's modified. They aren't that wonderful for 2 channel. While they don't come up often, but you can find Rowland MC-6's used occasionally. You might want to consider 2 amps...a really good used 2 channel (Krell, Rowland, Mark Levinson, Boulder, etc) and a midrange 3-5 channel for the center/surrounds. That way you'll have the glorious stereo 75% of the time and the HT will be as good as you can find/afford. As Dennis Miller says, "that's just my opinion, I could be wrong".
The last two posts are both excellent advice - which one is best depends on the rest of your system and tastes, and you might want to consider two amps - a better 2-channel coupled with a 3 or 5 channel amp. I currently have the KAV-500 and the KAV-250a (for the fronts). I really like HT and I listen to a lot of music, and the speakers I have (Dynaudios) really need the current to open up. That said, the KAV-500 is a nice HT amp and you can get them for not a lot over $2K used these days since they've been discontinued. It runs hot, but not ridiculously so. Depending on the rest of your system, I'm not sure I'd want to play music over the KAV-500 forever, though you can always upgrade the fronts later and keep the 500 for the inevitable 7-channel theater. -Kirk
A few of you agreed that the EAD-2000 is better than the Krell KAV-500. Is it better because the EAD-2000 has more power or the quality of the sound (we are talking about both music and movies here)? if it is the power, how do you compare the EAD-2000 to the Krell KAV-1500?
Retail price for the Krell KAV-500 is $5,000; the EAD-2000 is $6,000; and the Krell KAV-1500 is $8,500. Is it true that you will get what you pay for?
There are a great number of variables in choosing a
suitable multi-channel amp for both HT and music. These
include among other factors - room and screen size, the
types of films you tend to enjoy, your source components
and cables, what sort of music you tend to enjoy, speaker
placement, and the types of speakers you will be driving.
As Brian mentiond above, you might want to look into
a multi-channel amp from McIntosh. While not frequently
reviewed, they tend to be well balanced for two channel
music use. And long after issues of price have been forgotten; the McIntosh amps will be giving you solid,
EAD Powermasters make fine 2 channel or 5 channel amps. The Powermaster 2000 if you need 400watts x 5 channels and balanced inputs, the Powermaster 1000, if you can live with 200watts x 5 channels (really amounts to alot more into 2 channels) and can live without balanced inputs. BIG differences in prices ($7200 vs $3300), and they sound basically the same. Better than most of the amps on your list, and as good as the best of them (Pass, Krell, Classe, Bryston)