Beyond Ayre Pass and Rowland


What would it be? Transistor or Hybrid. This is a general discussion.
I heard that Gryphon and Ypsilon qualify but I didn't audition either. Lamm hybrid does too, I believe.
inna
Berning 
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems
Vitus Audio
FM Acoustics



Beyond Ayre Pass and Rowland
What would it be? Transistor or Hybrid. This is a general discussion.
I heard that Gryphon and Ypsilon qualify but I didn't audition either. Lamm hybrid does too, I believe.
inna
Ayre is bipolar output, Pass is MOSFET output & Rowland has been bipolar output in yester years & class-D these days. 

Are these the only 3 transistor brands that come to your mind? There are so many others in the market at different prices. OR, do you want to stay in the Ayre/Pass/Rowland price range?

I'm not sure what the point of this thread is? Do you want to get away from these 3 specific brands & buy something off-beat? Or, get away from these 3 brands & buy some European amp brand? Or, are you looking to change output stage topology? Or, something else on your mind for discussion?
Unhappy or had enough of your present setup? 

Mark Levinson

Wells Audio

Parasound

These three brands appear to be very popular among both audiophiles and not. I am interested in the experience of those who auditioned other amps that seemed a step or two above. This thread is not about asking a specific advice or about system integration.
Parasound and Levinson are not better in any way.
inna OP
2,222 posts
08-15-2016 2:00pm
These three brands appear to be very popular among both audiophiles and not. I am interested in the experience of those who auditioned other amps that seemed a step or two above. This thread is not about asking a specific advice or about system integration.
Parasound and Levinson are not better in any way.
ok.
my experience has shown (as you noted in your orig post) that the Gryphon Antillean Signature (bipolar output stage) was a cut above. A friend of mine used to own this amp - best amp he owned IMHO. 
I also verify that the Ypsilon amp was superb - heard that at RMAF driving Lansche speakers. Wow! That sound is still in my head.
Another (as jmcrogan2) wrote was the FM Acoustics 115 mono amp - heard that at a (at that time) FM Acoustics dealer’s house driving Venture (I believe these are Belgian) speakers. The sonics were sublime indeed.
I’ve also heard Nagra mono amps - don’t remember the model # now - but their sonics were also fantastic (driving Avantgarde horn speakers).
On the tube side i’ve heard that TRL mono amps are superb but i’ve not heard them myself.
that’s all for now......
"Beyond" seems a bit over the top when under consideration are the likes of Pass Labs Gryphon and Ypsilon.  Symphonic Line would certainly be in the mix as well. Not a well known brand but their Kraftwerk line is definitely something to consider as well. While not cheap it is not a King's ransom either relative to some of the astronomical prices of the top tier players.
Bombaywalla, though you heard all those amps with different speakers, could you try to describe the differences between them, particular character of each? I am especially curious about Gryphon and Ypsilon. We are talking about superb amps, on the frontier of what is possible to achieve.
We could add tube amps to the discussion, but it would greatly complicate it. How do you compare Gryphon to Lamm SET Reference? I suppose, with the right speakers Lamm might have the edge but it would also probably depend on taste and choice of music.
DarTZeel, Vitus, and FMA would probably be considered the next echelon in SS gear.
Bombaywalla, though you heard all those amps with different speakers, could you try to describe the differences between them, particular character of each? I am especially curious about Gryphon and Ypsilon. We are talking about superb amps, on the frontier of what is possible to achieve.
The Gryphon Ant Sig amp is on the dark side of neutral. It's a little on the warm side & (to me) exuded a bit of a brooding character. Superb amp - doubles down all the way to 1 Ohm load but i did not find it to be totally neutral. The music rendered thru this was superb - great micro & macro dynamics & effortless delivery of music.
The Ypsilon mono-block amps were much more neutral - it has a sparkle to its music delivery which I liked. It was like water - it had no form of its own but took the form of the music played. The Lansche speakers were also something else - 7 feet tall with plasma tweeters. It was an all-out system. Once again superb micro & macro dynamics, great for orchestral music & just as good for Jazz trios & vocals. Superb build quality. Everybody in that room did a 'wow' when the demo was over - it was truly a well setup system. Now i can't say that the Ypsilon mono will sound the same thru some other speaker....

How do you compare Gryphon to Lamm SET Reference?
no idea here!! never heard the Lamm SET Reference....
Symphonic Line would certainly be in the mix as well. Not a well known brand but their Kraftwerk line is definitely something to consider as well. While not cheap it is not a King’s ransom either relative to some of the astronomical prices of the top tier players.
agree! their amps are really superb. Pricey but yet more affordable than dartzeel, FM Acoustics, Gryphon, Ypsilon, Lamm, etc.
I think i saw an ad for an used FM Acoustics Model 115 mono for $66,000!! wow!
" Like a water.." - great metaphor and probably highest compliment.
It does appear that Gryphon has enough of the dark side of Scandinavian psyche, and Ypsilon is Greek at its best.
Thank you. Which one would I choose based only on your description? After some struggle - Ypsilon.
Devialet dual mono. 
Thank you. Which one would I choose based only on your description? After some struggle - Ypsilon.
welcome!
The Ypsilon mono amp i heard was the SET 100 Ultimate Hybrid amp, 120W/ch. Errrr..............it's priced at $125,000 per pair!!!

http://www.aaudioimports.com/ShowProduct.asp?hProduct=130

Inna, did you hit the jackpot??
No no no, it's a dream. They now have a modest $25k hybrid integrated, this might be possible in the future, though for this kind of money used Lamm separates would probably be better, but I would have to compare.
Someone got to put those Ypsilons against Lamm Reference. Now that could be fun.
inna OP2,229 posts08-15-2016 6:16pmNo no no, it's a dream.
ach so! yeah, dream big..... :-)
Post removed 
If you are looking for exceptional gear that is exotic, i.e., not the more "common" brands that you mentioned, there are plenty of candidates, not necessarily better, because there are so many factors involved.  I personally would love to hear the solid state gear by BaLabo (Bridge Audio Labs, a Japanese manufacturer); I know someone who has heard a lot of exotic stuff and thought that their gear was very nice for solid state.  I have heard DarTZeel gear that sounded very good in the solid state camp.  At MUCH lower price, I like the First Watt gear made by Nelson Pass when used with suitable speakers (high efficiency, high impedance speakers); I like it more than I do Pass Lab gear.

For the other side, I like Audio Note (both UK and Japan), Viva, Shindo and Ypsilon (hybrid).  I own an Audio Note (uk) Kageki and a Viva fono (phonostage).  I currently run a different amp in my system and a preamp made by the same designer.  That designer/builder is Aldo D'Urso (Italy).  This is, to me, exceptional gear, but, it is pretty much custom-made and not at all easy to find.  I also like the Epifania linestage (I still own one) made by Fred Voltz of Emotive Audio, but, I don't think he still builds gear. 

I have heard Constellation, Soulution and Devailet, FM Acoustics, etc., but not in my own system and none of these really perked up my ears and made me interested.  
No-one mentioned Halcro and Boulder. I am not familiar with them. Where do they stand?
I've heard some Boulder amps & preamps. the one that i remember - in the preamp there was optical coupling & the power amp was some 2' deep (maybe even deeper) driving Avalon Acoustics speakers. Heard these in a dealer's showroom. Not impressed with the sonics.....
I see. I remember reading similar comments about Boulder.
A number of years ago I read a review in Stereophile or The Absolute Sound of the Ypsilon preamp. The reviewer was almost shocked by what he called an incredible sound above anything else he'd heard before. Don't remember what power amp and speakers he used.
Oh yeah, no mentioning of MBL, Goldmund and CH.. amps either. Again, never heard any of them.

Inna, in the "real" world, this is what I'm looking into. While I want the best "tube" pre amp I can possibly swing, I know that a really good solid state amp will give you a lot of the tube thing, when you have a killer tube pre amp.

   
This Vincent Audio SP 331 Hybrid Power Amplifier; 150 watts at 8 0hms, and 300 watts at 4 ohms. Since I'm running my speakers at 4 ohms now, I would be able to use that.


         
          http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=VISP331



I think they would let you audition this amp, with the usual provisions.



Enjoy the music.
Spectron.... yummie
Absolare! A couple of days ago I listened to my friend's system with an Absolare amp and preamp. Previously he had the Jeff Rowland 725 mono-amps. Wow, not even close and I own a Jeff Rowland 625 S2 amp. Of course the Absolare is about 90K more, but WOW!
Absolare? Never heard of them. Who are these people why make them?
Absolare, just Google...relatively popular in Ultra high-end 
Yeah, I took a look, I just wanted to hear from people with firsthand experience with the amps. Looks very impressive. And they use Echole wiring and selected NOS tubes. 
It appears that it is confirmed in this thread what I have always suspected - Ayre, Pass, Rowland etc. are just the first step on the way to true high-end sound. I myself might make this step in the form of an integrated as a temporary solution but not separates, I would want to go higher as quickly as possible.
I do have firsthand experience...I listen to my friend’s system often. I’ve heard his system with Rowland, Macintosh, MBL, Bricasti M28 amps, and the Absolare. I’m as familiar with his system, as my own. To my ears nothing has come close to the Absolare amp/preamp combination. The Rowland was better than everything, except the Absolare.
What is the price of their integrated, $50k or so ?
We got quite a list for the dreamers - Gryphon, Ypsilon, FM Acoustics, Nagra, Vitus, Lamm, Absolare, maybe Symphonic Line, perhaps some other well known Swiss amps. And that's only SS or hybrid. Lamm's preamps are all tube though.
My cardinal direction within this company would most likely be Ypsilon and Lamm. If thinking only of integrated I would try Ypsilon hybrid first and the rest second except Absolar - it is too expensive any way you look at it. Gryphon, Vitus, Nagra, Symphonic Line integrateds may be best value.
Absolare integrated is a little under 25K, without phono. 
Same as Ypsilon. This would be an interesting comparison.
Devialet
Pbn audio
Tenor 175s or 350m. The OTL based hybrid design is top of the mountain

Ricred1,
You mentioned Absolare and I’m very familiar with their sound. A good friend had the Absolare Passion Signature 845 PSET amplifiers and the Passion Signature Line Stage for 2 years driving his Rockport Altair speakers. He’s had numerous excellent amplifiers, Symphonic Line RG4 mono blocks, YTL 450, VAC Phi 300.1 etc. In my opinion the Absolare Passion is superior to all of the rest (not meant as a put down).

He now uses the Krell FPB 600 mono blocks, he feels they are more suitable for the Altair’s load impedance characteristics. Maybe so on paper and granted the bass region is very good. I do respect his decision , however as far as I am concerned, overall I’ll choose the Absolare for pure naturalness and superb musically emotional engagement.

I’ve heard Ypsilon and they’re excellent but excessively expensive. Larryi mentioned Viva and I would concur. The Viva Aurora amplifier is better sounding in my opinion than any transistor amplifier I can think of if given the appropriate speaker match. When I say better sounding I’m referring to a natural character and realism. As individual listeners we value sonic qualities and prioritize differently undoubtedly.
Charles,
Hi Larryi,
You mentioned the BaLabo a Japanese SS amplifier. I heard them at CES a few years ago and thought that they were quite good sounding. Two other excellent Japanese SS amplifiers I’ve heard are the Technical Brain and Concert Fidelity (driving the Kaiser KaweroClassic speakers). I believe all three of these are exceptionally good sounding SS amplifiers.  I find them more musically involving than say Soulution, Boulder or PASS XS. These sound drier and flatter in comparison if you know what I mean. 
Charles,
Accuphase not as good as the forementioned three Japanese brands?
Charles1dad, if I got it right, you thought that the Ypsilons were overpriced but Absolares were not.
Viva Aurora is all tube, correct? I heard that they are great.
I would put my Boulder 2060 stereo amp against anything.  I have not heard anything better thus far.  Heard constellation and it was good but it was not a direct comparison so it is tough to say.

i compared my Boulder directly to the best Cary (Cary 211fe) and the best classe (m600) over months in my own room on same system at the same time.

i would be hesitant to base opinions on Boulder based on a dealer demo especially when the auditioner has no real grasp or extensive experience with the aforementioned gear.

honestly, how are you going to give a clear impression that the sound you heard was solely due to amp sonics??

i think Boulder ranks among the best, period.  And customer service is great.  Easy to contact and they have a great facility (and brand new too!).
boulder is excellent!  I would certainly put Boulder up against the best on the market. Vitus is great as well. 
Hello Inna,
The particular Ypsilon amplifier I referred to was I believe in the 80K range at the time (2011). My friend’s Absolare Passion Signature when he purchased them were 52K (2013). No question that both are Uber priced audio components. I haven’t enough listening experience with the Accuphase to render an opinion. They’re certainly held in very high esteem by many experienced listeners.  Yes the Viva Aurora amplifier is DHT tubes powered. Driving Trenner-Friedl  speakers at CES was one of the best rooms I've ever heard at an audio show. 

Hello Joey and jlaz,
Please understand that my comments regarding listening impressions are obviously subjective and personal. I made it very clear that this is all about individual taste. No question that the Boulder sound could be simply ideal for what you desire and nothing sounds better in your system. I wouldn’t even begin to argue or dispute your preferences.

It’s impossible for me to hear all of these Uber amplifiers compared directly in the same system under controlled conditions, it will never happen. I’m simply sharing my listening impressions limited by real world constraints. I hope that factor is very obvious and that I’m not making any sort of proclamation. My "dry and flat" could be "neutral and accurate" to another listener and I recognize that point.
Charles,
One of the best values that should be mentioned is the Sanders Magtech and its not just for electrostatics 

http://sanderssound.com/products/amplifiers/magtech-amp

the only amplifier with a linear, voltage regulator

brett
Charles,
We must have similar taste. I don’t own Absolare, I have all Jeff Rowland components. I have no problem saying, the Absolare is head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever heard. Two days ago I listened at my friends house for 2 1/2 hours and didn’t want to leave. Voices, symbols to die for. Bass didn’t have the power, but I still submit it’s articulate and has incredible tone. If I had the money I would buy them today.
As a matter of fact I told my friend I wanted to sell my Jeff Rowland Corus preamp to get a tube preamp. Any suggestions below 20K?
Charles,
In addition, I  really respect the way you respond to threads. I always say, no absolutes with audio, only preferences!
I've always had decent gear, NAD, Cambridge Audio, etc. Then I had a Luxman integrated that sounded great but never quite had the oomph to really drive my ATC SCM 19's. 

I sold that and replaced it with a Calyx The Integrated. Class D, precise, nicely made, plenty of juice. But kinda boring in sound and completely lacking if features and sex-appeal.

So I stretched a bit and bought an Accuphase E-470. Wow. I'm sure the esoteric brands named in this thread are amazing, but I'm so floored by the music radiating from my speakers. I've been to Axpona a couple times and have listened to some great stereos, but I think the relatively modestly priced Accuphase amp has to qualify for as a player on the realm of great audio. 
Hi ricred1,
Thank you for the kind comments. When expressing opinions on an open forum there's the risk of unintentionally offending someone's cherished audio brand /components of choice. My friend's massive Krells actually sound very good driving the Altairs. The Absolare Passion amplifiers add the dimensionality and breath of life aspect that is hard to describe but unmistakable when present.  So I relate to your Absolare and Jeff Rowland contrast. 
Charles, 
Hello Charles,
Thank you for your comments. Of course, we are not talking about matches and preferences. However, usually a great piece can be recognized by an experienced listener even if the match is not ideal.
If I got it right, Absolare was somewhat deficient in certain aspects of bass reproduction but was absolutely superb in everything else, yes in that particular system.
How did Ypsilon do bass, I wonder?
I am dying to demo both Vitus and Wells Audio amps.
Can any of you guys suggest a USA dealer/retailer? Location?