Conrad Johnson Premier 350!
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On my short list to demo in that range would be Pass Labs X250.5 and Plinius SB300. I'd like to get the SB301, but they go for $8K new, and I haven't seen used up for sale yet. Maybe you could get deal for a new one?? When business is slow people tend to take less margin than usual. If I was a dealer and could make an easy grand on a sale I'd take it.
Ayre V-5xe or Ayre V-1xe; any of the big Pass amps.
There are a set of BAT VK-1000 monoblocks for sale now-I'd think about those, in addition to the VK-220 & VK-250.
Owned both Ayre pieces, currently have the VK-200, which is in the same family as VK-1000 & have listened extensively to the VK-220 (w/BAT pack) and have listened extensively to a Pass 350.
There are some Cary mb500's for sale in your price range (used). I love mine and they will drive anything. I had Rowland monos before and wasn't happy with class d.
The Ayre is nice but monoblocks are so good at so many things...
Can't go wrong with Pass either. The 250.5 or 350.5 will not disappoint.
Well, I think at this point there will not be a narrowing down, assuming that is what you want to do. In the realm of SS, it is pretty hard to beat Pass, Ayre, SIM, and Plinius in your price range, though beyond on that there are certainly some additional good choices, namely Symphonic Line and Dartzeel. So I guess my question is, do the lines mentioned seem like good choices for you, is it helping you narrow down to 2-3 worth considering? It will not suprise me if you hear Pass and Ayre mentioned, alot. Don't know your speakers, but I suppose if you needed a lot of power in theprice range, Bryston and McCormack might also be worth consideration.
My vote is to pick up a used McCormack DNA-500 and never look back....... 500w/channel into 8 ohms; 800w/ch into 4 ohms. Plenty of power, great detail, transparency, musicality, etc. Just a really great amp. ALthough I've switched to tubes, I will probably never sell my DNA-500. I'm pretty sure the many other 500 owners will echo my sentiments. Worth hearing before you make a decision, if possible.
You ought to consider the Sanders ESL stereo amp. I have heard it driving Cabasse, Dynaudios, Harbeths, Vandersteens and it is consistently good with all.
There is something "correct" about the highs, a kind of purity which is hard to describe. So often when listening to digital sources, I would get fatigue because of the hard sounding tweeter. However with the Sanders, you get very clear and clean highs, which you want to just turn up the volume because it sounds so good.
The amp also has a firm grip on the bass, which allows you to hear deeper than ever before. In fact the whole spectrum is so well controlled, the PRaT is also well served, the music comes across as a consistent whole.