Choosing a Solid State Class A/B integrated amp


I have been committed to Integrated amps for over 10 years and have had a few, mainly Class a tube amps. I love what tubes, SET amps in particular, have to offer. The speed , mid range clarity and neutrality, can be pretty addictive. I have 2 integrated amps I use at the moment,both excellent, an Ayon Spark 20 watt SET and 50 watt hybrid Class A Pathos Inpol2.

The rest of the system is:
Mac Mini into an Ayre QB9 DAC for digital
TW Accustic Raven one/Ortofon 309D arm/Benz Micro LP cartridge
Daedalus DA-RMA speakers

Music choice is pretty eclectic, classical,Jazz,blues, singer Songwriter, not much rock, as such.

The system is great, but I know Lou at Daedalus likes higher ouput amps, particularly Modwright, despite his speakers being high sensitivity, so I would like to swap one of my amps for a higher output SS, or tube unit. .

My only exposure to a Class A/B SS integrated, was not a success. I tried the Karan K180 integrated and found it dull, slow and lifeless in my system, despite it's good reputation. Likewise, I have'nt often enjoyed the higher output push/pull tube units I have heard.

Any suggestions then for an integrated amp under $10000 new, though I would probably buy it cheaper, second hand. My ideal would be a Dartzeel H8550, which I have loved, every time I have heard it, but it's too expensive for me, even second hand. The new Modwright K200, is an obvious candidate. The reviews say is it is on the warm side of neutral, which I would like, but I have'nt heard it.

Give me some suggestions guys, thanks
david12
David 12,
The Pass 150 falls into your range.Those qualities of your current amplifierS are rare in other amplifier types.Lou`s taste may not be the same as yours by the way.You could likely have the best combo now and it might be very difficult to improve(trade off considerations) what you have. You can get different sound yes,better? time will tell.I heard the Modwright K 200 with the Daedalus at RMAF last year. The sound was just ok but I thought these speaker`s sound was much better when I heard them with good tube amps(Doshi) at the same show.There`s no harm in trying SS amps, obviously your opinion could differ from mine.
Regards,
Thanks for that Charles. I had a Pass Aleph 3 many years ago and it's one of the items I regretted selling.

I should have made something else clear. I have an itch to get a pair of quality 2 way standmounts , like the SF Cremona. For that, I would need more grunt than my current amps have.
You might want to hold off until December and hear what the new Ayre AX5 sounds like. 125 watts and coming in slightly below 10k. I've read in Absolte Sound that several people at RMAF liked the Ayre room the best and they were showcasing the AX5. Not sure if that's enough power for you.
GamuT Di-150. In my system, it easily outperformed my former ARC Ref-3 paired first with my Accuphase P-3000 and then with my Nagra PSA. With the Di-150, I continue to hear things from my Verity Fidelio Encores that I had never heard before! Best Regards, Steven
I've got the same question as the OP: I have a Pass INT-30A, which is a lovely piece, but I'd like more speaker flexibility than its 30 watts allows. I also favor "warm" over "neutral." So please do keep your thoughts on integrateds with grunt coming!

John
I was very happy with my CODA CSi integrated amp. Plenty of power with nice sonics. Also fully remote-controlled. Only reason for selling was moving to separates and a CODA 15.0 amp.
Agree with Ren, Coda is worth a try and they have a home trial program, return with full refund ( minus shipping )
Tube amps can be fast? That's a new one for me. I clearly have a lot to learn. Can someone please elaborate on the op's statement? Not taking him to task.
The Pass is a class AB integrated that touts it's 30 Watts of Class A output, it puts out considerably more Class AB Watts.
Csontos,
David12 is right,SET and other tube amps can be quite fast with excellent pace,timing and transients.Good design,power supplies and parts will enable those qualities. There are veiled,fuzzy,slow and muddy tubes amps of lesser quality also. The same spectrum exists for solid state, some are much better than others.

My SET is as david12 describes,fast,open,very transparent and clear.The better built ones will deliver that with no problems(with the proper speaker)yet remain very organic and realistic.David12 just has a well designed and built SET amplifier.
Regards,
Agree with Unsound, the Pass 30 watt(class A) amplifier has more juice and drive ability than some people recognize. It has considerable reserve.
Regards,
As Charles1dad says, the idea of warm syrupy, sluggish tube amps is a bit behind the times. I find it is more likely to be true for Push/pull amps than SETs and there lies my problem. SETs punch above their weight in speaker grip, but still a 20 watt SET is unlikely to really control an 88db standmount, with impedence dropping to 2 or 3 ohms.

There are, I am sure, fast higher output tube amps that don't cost the earth, I have'nt found one.
Have a listen to Plinius SA-103/Reference. Very very cool.
David12 wrote "with impedance dropping to 2 or 3 ohms"
It seems this particular speaker was designed and meant to be driven by solid state amplifiers.It would`nt surprise me if the phase angles are a bit high(not ideal for tube amps either).
Regards,
Unsound, Charles1dad:

I own the Pass INT-30 (marketed as as class A, compared to the AB INT-150). It is a very smooth and natural sounding amp.

But if David12 is looking for significantly more grunt than his current 20 and 50 wpc channel specimens provide, as his post suggests, I doubt it is the amp for him.

Last night I compared the Pass to the 200 wpc BMC C-1 on the 90db (and excellent) Vapor Joule. Ryan and I (the Vapor owner/designer) both thought the BMC had considerably more punch and energy on the attack with those speakers.

Again, the INT-30A is lovely, but I continue to think a more powerful solid state specimen -- such as the Modwright stuff Daedalus tends to show with -- might make a more gratifying contrast with David's current amplification.

Best,

John
****Tube amps can be fast? That's a new one for me. I clearly have a lot to learn. Can someone please elaborate on the op's statement?****

Of course they can be; it's surprising to me that anyone would think that tube amps, as a group, can not be. If fact, while I am not prepared to say that I think that tube amps, as a group, are faster than ss amps, I can say that I have heard more ss amps that sound lifeless than tube amps that do. While many ss amps may seem to be "faster" than many tube amps due to the fact that tube amps tend to sound rounder, more dimensional, and less "lean", they give the impression of speed. However, IMO, a good tube amp tends to be more dynamically sophisticated, and subtle. What gives music a sense of aliveness is HOW the music gets from point A to point B on the dynamics scale. Is it done seamlessly? IOW, can you hear every subtle incremental increase (or decrease) in volume from point A to point B? IMO, tubes, as a group, do a superior job of that. But part of the equation is the music being listened to. Classical music tends to have more dynamic subtlety than most commercial music. Anyone who doubts that need only compare the softest moment in a well recorded classical symphony to the loudest, and consider that there is a practically endless number of dynamic gradations in between that are an essential part of the music. Most electric music has a much narrower dynamic range with fewer dynamic gradations. If one listens primarily to rock music, it is much easier to not notice this dynamic compression.
Jdoris, I was responding to your original post in this thread, which I think echoes Pass's rather confusing power ratings. I'd hazard a guess that the Class AB output is about 5 X it's class A output rating. Sure a bigger amp will accomplish more of the OP objective, but IMHO your post suggesting that the INT-30a only allows for 30 Watts might be bit misleading.
Frogman,
Well said.
I primarily listen to jazz, both large and smaller scale.
Most of those CDs will have volume swings(spl meter)of 25 to 30 db, there`s much ebb and flow.

It`s rare to find pop and rock recordings anywhere close to this sort of range of swinging db levels. By the way my SET amplifier frequently provides 'startle momments' a sign of dynamic agility, speed and transients.

Jdoris, for the 88db 2-3 ohm speaker(stand mount) David12 mentioned,the 200 watt BMC would likely be the better amp. The Daedalus( floorstander higher sensitivity model) however sounded better with tubes than the Modwright when I heard them last year IMO.
Regards,
It`s rare to find pop and rock recordings anywhere close to this sort of range of swinging db levels.
Rare, but not impossible. Among older pop CDs you will find some with excellent dynamic range. Try Suzanne Vega's self-titled CD 5072, made in Japan for the US market in 1985 or so.

From recent releases, Carly Simon's "No Secrets" CD remastered on Audio Fidelity is fantastic.

Both of these are a good test of your system, and great music.

Regards,
Metralla,,
Yes, there are some exceptions for sure but not near the number compared to classical and jazz genres. That`s why I wrote rare as opposed to never.
Regards,
I own the ATC SIA2-150 and I think it would be a fantastic choice for your system. It is very well reviewed and should be available to you there.
****Tube amps can be fast? That's a new one for me. I clearly have a lot to learn. Can someone please elaborate on the op's statement?****

Of course they can be; it's surprising to me that anyone would think that tube amps, as a group, can not be. If fact, while I am not prepared to say that I think that tube amps, as a group, are faster than ss amps, I can say that I have heard more ss amps that sound lifeless than tube amps that do. While many ss amps may seem to be "faster" than many tube amps due to the fact that tube amps tend to sound rounder, more dimensional, and less "lean", they give the impression of speed. However, IMO, a good tube amp tends to be more dynamically sophisticated, and subtle. What gives music a sense of aliveness is HOW the music gets from point A to point B on the dynamics scale. Is it done seamlessly? IOW, can you hear every subtle incremental increase (or decrease) in volume from point A to point B? IMO, tubes, as a group, do a superior job of that. But part of the equation is the music being listened to. Classical music tends to have more dynamic subtlety than most commercial music. Anyone who doubts that need only compare the softest moment in a well recorded classical symphony to the loudest, and consider that there is a practically endless number of dynamic gradations in between that are an essential part of the music. Most electric music has a much narrower dynamic range with fewer dynamic gradations. If one listens primarily to rock music, it is much easier to not notice this dynamic compression.
Unsound, fair enough: the INT-30A puts out a lot more than 30 in AB. But if you need that, you're not getting the yummy class A you paid over 200 bucks a watt for. Mark at Reno describes a certain "flattening" of the sound if you push it out of A.

Charles1dad: David12 already has comparatively low power tube amps, no? My point was that the INT-30A might not make for much of a change of direction. IMO, it certainly would not represent the difference (for better or worse) that moving to a higher power integrated would.

John
Try the Accuphase Class A amps. With Class A/B, you're wasting your time, especially if you like tube sound.
"Try the Accuphase Class A amps. With Class A/B, you're wasting your time, especially if you like tube sound."

Read the absolute sound review of the Hegel H200. It's described as being as close to class a as you can get with a/b. I haven't heard one so who knows but I will demoing one in my home hopefully next month.
I was'nt giving the figures of 88db and 2ohm sensitivity, to represent an actual speaker, just one which a tube amp is going to throw up it's hands at.

Dav72, I am disappointed that the Accuphase Class A/B amps don't approach the Class A ones. That company or Luxman were a possibilty I was considering too.. The Hegel idea is an interesting one, not that I really trust Absolute Sound reviews, I can't remember a negative review, even a hint of one.
Can tube amps be fast?

Try a Conrad Johnson ART power amp.

It was more dynamic and more detailed than a lot of solid state amps I have heard. But the tubes add a certain lushness and improvement to the soundstage.
hi Donjr,

A review is to be taken with a grain of salt. Class A is the best for sound, period. I look forward to your assessment of that unit.
I'll let you know. I'm also going to try for a demo of the Plinius 9200 and the Modwright KWI 200. I don't doubt what you say about class a. I'm personally looking for an amp I can leave on.
If it's something that you can leave on, hard to fault the Bel Canto line.

Have a listen to the C7R which uses third gen ASX ICEpower modules. Ditto with the W4S MiNT
Class A is the best for sound, period.

I'm currently using a class A amp, but I wonder about this.

Is class A better at any given pricepoint? Or is it better only if cost is no object (and you can buy as many of those expensive watts as your speakers need)?

Is class A better for every kind of music (for thumping rock as well as small scale vocals)?

John
Hi John,

Nice! What do you have?

It is, to both. Class A is usually not cheap, however.
That's the point I'm afraid. Whether tube or SS, Class A seems always to sound better than A/B. I don't need massive power, 90 to 150 watts will do, but that gets you into Class A/B, or ruinously expensive Class A.

The question is, what units get you nearest to the virtues of Class A and there are some helpful suggestions, thanks
Dave_72:

I have the Pass INT-30A. Lovely, but seriously limiting for speakers.
I would then try Accuphase, which doubles down all the way into 1 Ohm. I wouldn't go lower in the line than an A-46 amp.
I think the kwi 200 is a warmer nuetral.But not so much to call it soft.The amp isnt to my ears a forward sounding midrange sound,just a very evenly balanced sounding amp,nothing calls attention to itself.My other considerations were sim 600 ,pass 150.I wanted to try this amp because its local(kinda),dans experience with tube and ss and to try something differant than what i was used to hearing(sim).There is so many amps out there to try. Power on reserve is nice to have.Dan does love your speakers with amp also.