Best Used Solid State Amp for less than $5000?

I'm sort of toying with the idea of upgrading my amp (threshold S300 - I know, its old) and the one amp that jumps out is the pass X250 which seems like it can be had for about $3000 to $3500 on the used market. Is there anything else that comes to mind? I can't afford the Tenor hybrids and even the Lamm SS's are about $7 to $9K. The rest of my system is as follows:

Fanfare FT-1
Parasound Ultra 2000 CD
Nakamichi DR1 deck
Stax Lamda phones
Sota Star table w / emt
Pass Aleph ono phono
Hales T8 loudspeakers

Would appreciate any suggestions you may have.
Rowland Model 10. Best bang for my buck.
Hello Russellrcncom,

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.

Good luck.
Krell ... FPB300 or 400cx
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.
Best amp I've used is the Pass X-250. To each his own however!

Good Luck.
Another vote for Rowland Model 10.
Here is my short list for under 5K

1. Pass X 350
2. Rowland Model 10
3. Parasound JC-1's
4. Levinson 335.5
5. McCormack DNA .5
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.
Parasound JC-1.
I opted for the Rowland Model 10

I really liked the plinius and pass too
Pass X-350. Good luck!
I would add the Ayre V-5X to Chuck's list. A very nice amp!
I am not clear on the preamp in your system. The pre in combination with the amp is very important.
I think he meant CJ PFR (Conrad Johnson PFR) which is quite a good little preamp. Rowland Model 10 would get my vote too although I didn't get to hear it for long. The McIntosh MC352 is excellent as well. Arthur
Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. It really opened my eyes.

Where am I headed? At this juncture, I'm leaning towards the Spectron although I am also intrigued by the Stellavox (PW1). If anyone has info. on this amp I would appreciate your thoughts.
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.
Plinius SA-250IV is awesome !!!
I still believe Aloia amps(15.0I) are one of the best buys in audio. I've seen them for as low as 2k
I see some McCormack DNA-2 Rev. A and LE amps for sale under $5k.
Job 300 with Job4 circuit
I heard them many times , they really grabe my heart
If you like the Threshold sound, a good portion of that former group is at Coda. I've owned Forte and Threshold electronics in the past and the Coda amps are an improvement. The Pass labs equipment is also very good, but I believe it is over-priced.

Still LOVE my pair of Pass Labs Aleph 2s for $3300 used. What a bargain!
Spectron. You have to give one a try at least.

One reveiwer thinks that they are way more dynamic and better balanced than the big Pass (not my opinion, never heard them in the same room).

I have heard the Spectrpn vs the Levinson...and the winner was the Spectron. YMMV

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.
Two different animals. Go for the plinius if you have the cash to spend. FWIW, to my ears, the W5 betters the X250. Keep in mind that is my opinion. I've spent time with all three amps (dozens of hours auditioning for my next amp).
if you can find a pair of Symphonic Line, RG4 Mono, 150 W, you will be very happy. they are so musical and powerful.
Pass Lab X350.
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.
Plinius SA-250IV with the latest update.I used this amp with Hales and Thiel which is very demanding of the amp,and drove it gracefully and very musically.
Hey Y'all,

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.
Parasound Halo JC-1's vs Classe' CAM-350's: these amplifiers would seem to appeal to the same listeners in terms of power, configuration (eg mono design), and price. Has anyone done a direct comparision? Both are on my short list (PLinius SA-250, Pass x350 are the others)
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
Hello Russelrcncom,

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.
if you like the x series from Pass ( I owned an x250 before upgrading to an Air Tught ATM 2) you will love the aleph series- buy an aleph 5 60 wpc- sounds like 150- class a - single ended- nothing touches it
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.

Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300.
mark levinson 335-336 ss and conrad johnson 140 tube
You said used. No question in my mind, then. A McCormack DNA-225 bought used and sent immediately to Steve McCormack for his Platinum Upgrades. And, you'll have money left for a PC and IC. A review on these upgrades soon.
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?
Have any used a Plinius, BAT or Pass Labs Solid States with line sources such as the Pipe Dream Loudepeakers rated at 95 decibels? Any suggestions in an RCA cabled system with Hovland HP 100 pre-amp?
LOL, I hope the OP wasn't waiting 11 years to respond