Rowland Model 10. Best bang for my buck.
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In that price range I would recommend the Plinius SA-250MkIV. I purchased mine about two years ago at about that price range and I cannot think of another amp that I would want, for the price. If I'm not mistaken, there is a couple available now on the 'Gon. I've toyed with the idea of upgrading and selling mine but every time I try, I get butterflies in my stomach and I end up keeping it. It is a wonderful amp.......John
I have owned 28 amps in the past 12 years and have auditioned both the Pass X250 and 150. The Spectron Musician II resides in my system and, boy, am I glad it does. I don't look back.
You can get this amp new under $4K. Give Galen Carol Audio a call to try before you buy. He is one of the best dealers I have dealt with. Make sure you get the sense cables to try with the amp as they make a huge difference over regular speaker cables.
I strongly recommend auditioning a GamuT D-200 Mk. III. This is a wonderful SS amplifier. The Mk.III is more refined then their previous vintages. TAS highly regarded the Mk.I. I understand they like the MK. III even more and will have a complete review in an upcoming issue. I use the D-100 Mk.III which is identical to the D-200 except for power. It is very musically accurate in my system.
I have always enjoyed the Levinson 3 series dual monos.
The 336's are staring to show up for around the $5000.00 range. And you should be able to find the 332's through 335's for even less.
Very nice neutral amps with no coloration,(in my humble opinion).
The only disadvantage being the weight of the things, but once you get'em settled in, you just forget 'em.
Enyoy the search.
PS. I am currently using the Levinson 33H monoblocks.
I own the Ayre V-5x - and I second Noble110's reccomendation, it is a wonderful amp, but you may also want to check out the SimAudio W5. I think both of these amps can be had around $3200 used, purchased new, the W5 is $5k (I think) and the Ayre is $4500. If the Hales are a difficult load, the W5 has a little more punch.
The Goldmund Stellavox amps are simply sunning in every sonic respect. They sell for $3600 to $4000 new, and are worth at least twice that amount. What about these little amps makes me say this? For one, they are ultra fast amplifiers, with clean and uncluttered articulation of the most demanding material. They have a solid bass, and a neutral to slightly forward midrange with detailed highs. After 100 or so hours of burn in, you get the most amazing layered and 3 dimensional soundstage very much like a quality tube amp such as the better Cary or CJ amps. Yet, these 200w RMS monoblocks are only 10lbs in weight and about the size of a hard back book. I hate to rave about anything in the audio world, because I have been around a long time, but these things are worthy of some praise.
Is there more than one Coda company?
I have never heard a Coda amplifier
that came close to the top of the line
Threshold series amps which are
extremely clean and detailed with a midrange
to die for.I listened to Coda models, to my
ears they are mediocre amps at best.But
all of us hear differently and all the
different gear we use in the mix can
effect the sound also, so whats better
in so and so's system might sound
quite bad in the next guy/gals
system.Use your own ears and no one
elses to choose your system.
I've vacillated back and forth between many options but after much deliberation, it appears that I've narrowed it down to two (Can't wait until the Spectron Musician 3 is available, I guess) : At the top of is the Plinius SA250IV, the bottom is represented by Moon W-5. Oh, and to complicate matters, if I can find a real good price on a Pass X250, I probably would consider that too.
Can anyone chime in and tell me what they think of the Plinius versus the Moon? The Plinius can be had for around $4500 with the Moon in the range of $2500 to $2700, quite a difference in cost. I like the idea of being able to use Class A on the fly (withthe plinius) , but does that present its own problems? Also, heaven forbid if I needed work on the unit and had to send it back for repairs. Lugging around 155# net and 185# crated is not my idea of fun...but the sound is what I'm after.
Coda manufactures several lines. The Continuum line is the lower end. They manufacture for several other companies such as Innersound and Legacy. I think these are more of a middle of the line product. Then they have their own "Coda" branded amps.
I compared my Coda Model 20.5 with a Pass X-250. The Pass had stronger base, but i thought that the Coda's mids and highs where cleaner and more open. I think it's a matter of personal preference.
I'm also in this position at the moment. It's come down to two contenders. Stellavox mono's vs Simaudio Moon W-6 mono's. I considered the Plinius, but really don't want a furnance in my living room. In the winter it would be nice but in summer when it's 103 in the shade...I'd be cooked up nice and ready to serve within an hour with that monster.
The Plinius, as I stated earlier in this thread, would be a wonderful choice but I would not sell the Sim Audio W5 short. I've heard this amp a few times driving Dynaudio 1.3 MkIIs and SEs and this amp paired up very well and did not struggle at all with these demanding speakers. I also want to mention that the Plinius SA-250MkIV toggles from class A/B to class A, meaning that in day to day use you may keep the amp in class A/B where the amp runs very cool and does not heat up the room like a furnace. On those occasions when you want to do some critical listening you can switch over to class A and enjoy how good this amp can sound, but make sure you have the air conditioner on in the summer time........John
Plinius makes some great amps, and were I building my system from scratch, I'd consider a Plinius pre-amp and amp combo, but since I already have the SimAudio P-5 pre-amp, I'll stick with the likelihood of better synergy with the W-6. Unless of course the guy that's letting me audition the Stellavox wins the bet. In his opinion, once I hear the Stellavox, no other amp will satisfy. I still can't believe the things are only 10lbs each.
My recommendation of the Plinius was for Russellrcncom, the clarification about the heat generated from the Plinius amp was made to address your statement about not wanting a furnace in your living room. If someone has a preference in amps, I've found it futile to try and dissuade them, I will only offer my opinion. Russellrcncom mentioned that the Plinius has made it to his short list and I was just nudging him towards an amp that has been very good for me.......John
Used to sell the Hales line - the T8 needs LOTS of guts behind it - the best I have heard with these speakers was the Classe CAM-350 monoblocks. The big BAT solid state amplifiers would also be a great choice. The Classe amps had a big stage with a black noise floor and were very consistient throughout thier power swings. Depends on how you like your sound - very fast and tight, a little lush - or somewhere in between. The PFR is an extremely fast linestage, which would work very well with the cam-350s. Just my opinion.
So many amplifiers, so little time....
I'm inclined to agree with John although for a slightly different reason. I really like the Plinius, but I think I would be tempted to run it mostly in Class A mode. Its not so much the disipation of heat I'm worried about, but the fact that more heat = more breakdowns + shorter component life.
What REALLY worries me is envisioning a situation of shipping the unit for repairs (assuming it can be done in the States and not have to go back to New Zealand).. We're talking 155# net (180# plus crated) here. Not exactly a day in the park. The Moon is at least manageable at 70#.
The thing I really am after is replicating a wide sound stage WITH depth. This brings me back to the Plinius and the Spectron. With the latter, I've become somewhat less enamored due to the fact that I've been told that you really need the Sense cables to get the most out of the amp. I'm looking at a long cable run (25'), and this could amount to a considerable expense.
Skropp, I will definitely check out the Classe' and the BAT's. Everyone, thanks again for the help and advise and happy (belated) new year to you.
Wow..Russellrcncom..are you still in the hunt for an amp since last Nov? I commend you for your patience and taking your time..My recommendation would be the Plinius amp because of the tremendous balance of this amp.From deep bass to sweet extended highs. Wide soudstage and tube like mids.Run it balanced if possible This amps hard to fault.-Ken
I have a customer who tried the JC-1's and CAM-350's (as well as a few other amps) in his system driving Sound Lab electrostats, and he ended up purchasing the JC-1's. That may or may not bear any relationship to how they sound with your Hales, but on the other hand should you one day decide to go with Sound Labs....
(Disclaimer of the obvious: I sell Sound Labs & JC-1's)
I agree with Duke- the jc-1's will out due the cam-350 in every area I am aware of comparing two amplifiers. Now the Omega that may be a different story, but that's not the case here. Arrange an audition on the jc-1's I think you will be surprised at how good these amps are, I am not just saying this because I own a pair either. I wouldn't have bought them had I not been "blown away" about there performance- believe the hype these are the real deal.
After considering numerous amps for my Thiel CS3.6's, I looked long and hard at Pass Labs, Plinius, Classe, Krell, McCormack, Edge, and Bryston, but ultimately ended up with a pair of used Theta Enterprises (and an Intrepid, for multichannel). I was totally unprepared for and blown away by the impressive balance and detail that I heard from the Theta's. And their soundstage was the best that I heard by far. You could pick up a new 2-channel Dreadnaught II well within your price range, and you might be able to get a pair of used Enterprises for close to that (I saw one pair here on Audiogon going for $5,200).
FWIW, Pass Labs was very high on my short list, but I never got a chance to audition one.
Uh...4Yanx....I have a confession to make. I pulled the trigger about 6 months ago and purchased the Ayre V-5x. Guess that puts me in Bigtee camp now, doesn't it? I sent mu unit to Ayre two weeks ago to have the evolution upgrade. Funny that Bigtee didn't chime back with his impression on the evolution upgrade. Maybe you put the fear of g-d in him. I miss hearing from him.
He is dead right on though when he stated that this amp does not grab you by the throat. The best thing that can be said about it is its noise floor. The Mccormack with the upgrades against the Ayre evolution series would be worth a new thread.....any takers?