Clayton Audio Class A amps. Need amp advice


Hi Guys,

I am looking to change my amps and for a few reasons.

First because I just upgraded my DAC from the great PS Audio DirectStream to the incredible Bricasti M1 DSD USB DAC. I love the Bricasti and it has shown that in my system it could offer me more with a more resolving and neutral amp IMO.

I am currently am using the wonderful sounding CJ Premier 12 mono tube amps. I love them and tubes in general but my speakers are the great Ascendo C8 Renaissance and look to present a somewhat benign load being 88 efficient and 6ohm but they are unique and have an internal firing 21 cm Kevlar Bass driver that is great but stubborn and the speakers I think will really shine with a iron fist control of that driver.

I love tubes, always have and always will but I grown tires of a flabby bottom which is exasperated by a unique and somewhat difficult to grip bass driver set up I spoke about above.

I want an amp that can give me as much tube sound as possible but with Grip and bottom end. I know this is a lot to ask for in the used $5k to $7k price range.

I have read and it seem like the Clayton offer exactly what I am looking for but wanted to hear from some of you guys if anyone has ever heard them or know of them or anything. Any info would really be appreciated. Here is the info on my speakers and I will also list the rest of my system in case you think that is helpful. Thanks

C8 Renaissance
Technical Data
Principle
• Three-Way with SASB bass unit (TOS Off)
(current damped outer driver with semi symmetrical band pass)
• Four-Way with SASB bass unit (TOS On)
Dimensions (W/H/D)
• 28 / 80 / 40 (without Base)
• 28 / 108 / 40 (with Base)
Weight
35 kg
Frequency Range
29 Hz (-3 dB) – 32.000 Hz
Power Rating
350 W Program (min)
Impedance
6 Ohm
Sensivity
88 dB / 1W/m
Outer Chassis (COAX)
• 25 mm Neodymium-fabric-tweeter
• 18 cm Woofer with XP cone
Inner Chassis
• 21 cm Chassis, Kevlar cone
TOS Chassis
• Ribbon-tweeter
TOS Function
• switchable (TOS Unit - Dipole AN / AUS)
Sockets
• Single / BiWiring Base
Dimensions (W/H/D)
28 / 18 / 40 cm
Weight
11 kg

Ascendo C-8 Renaissance Speakers (Germany) Speaker
Purist Audio Design Corvus Praesto Revision 2.5m Bi-Wire Speaker cable
Darwin TRUTH Pure Silver Reference 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Darwin TRUTH Pure Silver Reference 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Bricasti M1 USB / DSD / Volume Control DAC (New) DA converter
Tellurium Q BLACK DIAMOND Reference USB Cable
Decware ZSTAGE External Triode Output StageTelefunken ECC801S
Audio Research REFERENCE 1 MK II w/Rhodium IEC/NOS Tubes Tube preamp
PS Audio PowerPlant Premier AC Regenerator
Conrad Johnson Premier 12 Mono's 140 Watts Tung-Sol KT120's Tube amp
Salamander Amplifier Stands (2) Synergy System AV Furniture Stand
BMI Shark Jeweler Grade Platinum 9 AWG AC Power Cable
Mad Scientist PC-NEO with Power Purifier 11 AWG Power Cable
Sablon Audio Petite Corona 2.0M 7 AWG AC Power Cable
JPS Labs The Power AC+ 2M 8 AWG AC Power Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series SE T1 AC Power Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series T1 AC Power Cable
PS Audio Noise Harvester (5) Converts noise to light
OYAIDE RI Beryllium Power Outlets (2)
Blue Circle Audio The Yalu Balula Industrial Surge/Spike Protection
JPLAY v5.2 hi-end audio player turns PC into a digital transport.
Fidelizer Pro Version 6.1
JRiver Media Center 19 Music Software
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128fsmithjack
I am not familiar with your speakers, but maybe that is part of the problem. Just looking though a review in Stereo Times, the reviewer seemed to really love the speakers except for this:
"If there was one caveat, one single area I felt the C8 Renaissance needed improvement, it would be in respect to low bass slam."

That said, I too love tube amps, and I have owned a pair of Clayton Audio M100 monoblocks. While Wilson Shen knows how to make some very good solid state amps, they are definitely not as palpable as tube amps, IMHO.
The M-100's were very full bodied and had great bass control, so they will probably work better with those speakers than your CJ monoblocks.

However, if it were me, I'd be looking for some speakers that worked with my tube amps, and not looking for SS amps to mate with my speakers.

Cheers,
John
You're Premier 12's are very "classic" sounding tube amps. They're a textbook example of a traditional, laid back sounding, warm type of amp. You don't, necessarily have to get rid of tubes altogether, you may be happy with a more modern sounding tube amp. You would probably like one of the more powerful offerings from ARC, Quicksilver or Rogue. Or possible even a newer amp from CJ. The newer CJ amps sound much more modern than your 12's.
I own the Clayton
M300 they are the real deal
I've owned many tube amps
Clayton gives you slam speed pace and musicality
Built like a tank don't under estimate Clayton
Audio. Match with a good preamp ie audio research 5SE
YOU WILL BE IN HEAVEN
Jmcgrogan2

Thanks for the response and in that review and all the others they totally gush over these speakers and say the bass is amazing in these speakers. They actually get a lot of accolades for their deep, controlled, tuneful and musical bass but your right they don't have that true high end Wilson, Magico, Focal bass slam but heck 95% of the speakers out there under $12,000 don't have that. I thought about the speakers but before these I was on the Merry go round and had Kharma CRM 3.2FE, Wilson Sohpia 2, Wilson Watt/Puppy 6, Revel Studio, Martinlogan Vantage then Spire, Sonus Faber Cremora Auditor, Merin TSM-MMI not in that order but to name a few and in all honesty none were even close to these speakers. These are the best speakers I have ever owned and by far its not even close in my system IMO. They really are great and they resolve and image with a sophistication that was a total game changer for me. Its just after I got the Bricasti the sound improved so much I could then sense / feel there was more there and that stubborn for tubes critical Kevlar driver needs more grip I can feel it and I think then the rest will fill out even more and blossom but at what cost? That is why I am reaching out to my Agon comrades. I am trading my amps as part of the deal and really would love and get as much feedback before I take the big plunge. I have a friend that keeps pushing and telling me to do what ever I can to try and get my hands on the Ayre AX-5 Integrated. I never even thought of that and still have my sights set on the Clayoton audio M300 monos but what do you guys think? Is that Ayre integrated that good? Its tough if I give my beloved tubes which I am willing to do I hope to get overall better sound...
Well if you love the speakers that much, then obviously, stick with them. I would probably look to try ZD542's advice, and look for a more modern tube amp. CJ Premier 12's do have that classic tube sound, sweet, syrupy, but can be a bit sluggish. My VAC tube amp is as tight in the bass as any SS I've owned. More modern tube gear has better control and definition down there than the older designs.

I'm sure the M300's would sound great though, but I would think that 300 wpc would be overkill for those speakers, but hey, if you got the dough, why not? I would go that route and stick with a tube preamp before giving up tubes altogether and going with an Ayre integrated amp.
As always, YMMV.
Thanks I do like them a lot but I have only heard so many different kinds so who knows there def could be better I totally see what your saying for sure. That though is still in my mind. I love tubes there is no doubt. There is a set of CJ LP140m on here that's a much newer pair of CJ mono's but I was thinking there would not be too much difference but maybe I am wrong on that and the new CJ could be a good option. That's what I thought about the Ayre Integrated but he swears its the best sounding amp under $20k bar none. He is so dead set serious on it. I would be trading my some gear and not a lot of money as I already own the gear. I might need to think more about those newer CJ's...
04-04-15: Tfl303
I own the Clayton
M300 they are the real deal
I've owned many tube amps
Clayton gives you slam speed pace and musicality
Built like a tank don't under estimate Clayton
Audio. Match with a good preamp ie audio research 5SE
YOU WILL BE IN HEAVEN
I've heard Clayton amps have a transformer humming problem. Is there any truth to the problem?
If you're seriously thinking of giving up the CJs, I would suggest you give Behold amplifiers a listen. I heard their 40 watt integrated driving Ascendo's big speakers a few years ago and felt it was a combination that I could live with forever if I had the money and the room, and this is from a tube guy. An excellent synergy between the two brands.
FSmithjack,

I have read many good things about Claytons...i used to drive a CJMV60 for years and have had a CJ preamp in my system for 15 years running...currently the CJ GAT. I am a BIG CJ fan.

Two thoughts:

1. Speak with CJ...try having them adjust your CJ Premier 12 which is an alltime classic amp...so you can try more powerful tubes in them. They can also use the Teflon capacitors which have become such a focal point of new CJ designs which after all these years are wonderful imho.

2. If you cannot find Claytons, you may wish to try Gryphon Antileon which does run in your price range 2nd hand...but they may be equally difficult to find in the US. Pure Class A behemoths...i personally owned one after my CJ MV60 and never looked back. I now own a Gryphon Colosseum which i also got 2nd hand.

Good luck finding Claytons...hope you like them. In the meantime, you may wish to look into these other options as a back up.
Every time I've heard the Clayton amps I left thinking what lovely amps they were, and can easily imagine them being especially appealing to those that usually prefer tubes, but FWIW, I also thought that compared to other comparable ss amps they might be a bit soft in the bass. Other considerations might include: Wolcott, VTL, Manley, Audio Research or c-j solid state?
Think it's fantastic you found the speakers that really do it for you. That's such a huge accomplishment. Given you seem to like a relatively tubey sound and that your speakers are a bit of a tough load, a better way to go may be to get the grunt of a good Class A solid state amp with good bass handling properties and if needed change to a more traditional tubey sounding preamp if you feel you've lost too much of that tube magic (perhaps a CJ pre?). Or maybe even try some tube rolling with your ARC pre? Anyway, congrats on the speaks and best of luck.
A few questions. Do you use the Decware Zstage and if so, how? Have you tried the Bricasti without a preamp, direct into the CJs?
Knghifi

You are right the M300 sure did have some serious hum problems. 600 watt pure class into 4/ohm is a crazy amount of juice of class a and requires a behemoth power supply.

A few years back they fixed it and offered a retro upgrade and the pair I am fixing to buy were manufactured with the fix in place.

They are big, heavy, plain looking, run hot but I am told have all the power to get the most out of my speakers and have a lot of the tube sound but I am worried will miss the tubes too much but hoping the trade off is that they offer so much more on the other side the trade off is worth it. There is a pair of CJ LP140M tube amps that will cost about the same from a trade deal as the Clayton M300 monos.

Thanks so much for the comments and recommendations.

So what one would you guys choose between these two if you were me with my system and had my situation:

Both retail about the same and trade deal is about the same:

Clayton M300 monos 300watt class a ss

or

C J LP140M monos 140watt tubes

I really appreciate. I have looked into and read everyone's input and would love any more recommendations and feedback I can get. For this is the best place for me to get feedback. I am doing a trade deal far away and there is no chance to hear either in my system so my gut, brain and your feedback is what I am going to roll with. Thanks so much for all thehelp guys / gals !!!
Onhwy61

I always used the Decware in the past with all my gear it just made such and improvement. I did tons of A/B and couldn't get it out of my system but since I got the Bricasti it takes too much away. I love it and I can recommend to anyone but with my Bricasti it sounds wonderful but adds a bit too much and with my tubes I tried with or with out pre/direct and all the combo and with the Bricasti and my amps I don't use it. It is nice to know if I go SS it injects a bunch of tube sound if needed.

Thanks
Soix

Thanks so much!
Real nice of you to say : )
Lloydelee21

Good idea i never thought of upgrading my 12's.
Tfl303

Could you tell me more. Do they have that real 3d tube you are there sound that is so hard for SS to pull of like tubes. I understand the image density and richness and depth of SS just can't match tubes but if it has the real enveloping, realness that tubes do without trying to go with the other strengths i would think the M300 is a total done deal. When I had the BAT VK600SE and Sophia 2 it had all the ss strngth but it just was flat and did not wrap around or feel real and its sterile and it made me give up too much and I don't want that so this is the only thing that is my main worry with a ss amp...
Fsmithjack,
In your budget, there are many excellent tube amp options.

1. QuickSilver V4 with KT150. If you order direct from QS, Mike offers a 30 money back home audition.
2. Carver Crimson 350 with KT150. Each pair are custom so you can order bypassing volume control ...
3. PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP mono with KT150

Then used, VAC, ARC, CJ ...

I'm a tube guy so I would stick with tubes. You can't beat the 3D, layering, timbre ...
Hey Fsmithjack,

Good luck! If you speak with CJ and specifically discuss your speakers with them, hopefully they can help. Sometimes if you like a particular sound, it can be at least worth investigating if there is something that can be done in the areas where you seek improvement. Good luck.
"That's what I thought about the Ayre Integrated but he swears its the best sounding amp under $20k bar none. He is so dead set serious on it."

People say a lot of things. If that were the case, then why does Ayre make amps that cost more than the one your friend has? Also, looking at some of the other recommendations, and your responses to them, you appear to be flying out of control here. Before you take anyone's advice, including mine, you need to do some listening before you buy anything. Otherwise, you'll just make a costly mistake.
Zd542

Flying out of control?? How do you come up with that. Who says that? I have it boiled down to 2 amps and am asking for other members opinions and if others offer new other ideas then great I would love to hear them.

I am buying used gear from people with mutiple trades involved that are over a 1000 miles away. Asking for advice I would think is a smart and controlled way of getting more information. I have already read everything available on both the amps and am hoping to reach out to the Agon gang to get some more info.

That would be great if I could just go to a dealer and listen and buy new amps like I am sure you are referring to but don't have that luxury. If I buy something and I hate it then I'll flip not a life or death deal either way but just trying to get some more info to make a better inform order decision. Everything I read about the Clayton says it is a uber powerful pure class a true top of the top ss amp that does more for a tube lover than any other ss out there. If that's the case that sign me up I'm in but the newer CJ are a the safer bet and nothing is free. I have found the bigger the risk to more opportunity for upside. My problem is a May dislike the class or the newer CJ is more of the same so asking for more info is what I am hoping for...
why don't you speak to the folks at Ascendo see what they'd recommend
Acendo recommends Behold and CAT which are incredible but way way out of my league other than those they recommend SS in the best quality and most power you can afford. They say that the more power the better even thought they are not hogs just different. Like all the manufactures they say they work great with tubes but all most all speaker makers say that Kind of thing. They are 88 sensitive and are 6ohm which doesn't seem like the toughest load and there is no crazy I mprediance drops either but the bass driver is not seen its inside the cabinet and pointing straight up and it fires upwards inside the cabinet and all you see on the front of the speaker is a big port whole where the bass comes from. Quite different and they have some of the best imaging and staging and my guess is that there is more there. With the proper grip on that 21 cm Kevlar driver which has these speakers go down to 29 I think it / they can go to another level. Its what I am doing asking about the Clayton. Pure Class A no A/B at all but A all the way and that is tube sounding and offers 300/8ohm and 600/4ohm so not positive but at my speakers 6/ohm I think they are at 500 Pure Class A vs CJ tubes from the late ninety's which offer 140 watts I think is a huge change but hoping to hear from others. Hoping tomorrow morning when I wake up I can decide between Clayton M300 or CJ LP140m which is a modern CJ amp that some on here say then newer ones do much better on bottom and are much more neutral. Any feedback is welcomed!!!! Thx
Typing on my phone sorry about all the type o's : )
"Any feedback is welcomed!!!! Thx"

Are you sure about that? Or is it just the feedback that you want to hear?

"Flying out of control?? How do you come up with that. Who says that? I have it boiled down to 2 amps and am asking for other members opinions and if others offer new other ideas then great I would love to hear them."

Read your posts again. It doesn't sound like you have it boiled down to 2 choices.

"Thanks for the response and in that review and all the others they totally gush over these speakers and say the bass is amazing in these speakers. They actually get a lot of accolades for their deep, controlled, tuneful and musical bass but your right they don't have that true high end Wilson, Magico, Focal bass slam but heck 95% of the speakers out there under $12,000 don't have that. I thought about the speakers but before these I was on the Merry go round and had Kharma CRM 3.2FE, Wilson Sohpia 2, Wilson Watt/Puppy 6, Revel Studio, Martinlogan Vantage then Spire, Sonus Faber Cremora Auditor, Merin TSM-MMI not in that order but to name a few and in all honesty none were even close to these speakers. These are the best speakers I have ever owned and by far its not even close in my system IMO. They really are great and they resolve and image with a sophistication that was a total game changer for me. Its just after I got the Bricasti the sound improved so much I could then sense / feel there was more there and that stubborn for tubes critical Kevlar driver needs more grip I can feel it and I think then the rest will fill out even more and blossom but at what cost? That is why I am reaching out to my Agon comrades. I am trading my amps as part of the deal and really would love and get as much feedback before I take the big plunge. I have a friend that keeps pushing and telling me to do what ever I can to try and get my hands on the Ayre AX-5 Integrated. I never even thought of that and still have my sights set on the Clayoton audio M300 monos but what do you guys think? Is that Ayre integrated that good? Its tough if I give my beloved tubes which I am willing to do I hope to get overall better sound...

Thanks I do like them a lot but I have only heard so many different kinds so who knows there def could be better I totally see what your saying for sure. That though is still in my mind. I love tubes there is no doubt. There is a set of CJ LP140m on here that's a much newer pair of CJ mono's but I was thinking there would not be too much difference but maybe I am wrong on that and the new CJ could be a good option. That's what I thought about the Ayre Integrated but he swears its the best sounding amp under $20k bar none. He is so dead set serious on it. I would be trading my some gear and not a lot of money as I already own the gear. I might need to think more about those newer CJ's..."

To me, that sounds like total confusion. What would you have me do? Lie, and pat you on the back and say you're doing the right thing? Also, if you leave this thread open long enough, everyone will end up recommending everything.

"That would be great if I could just go to a dealer and listen and buy new amps like I am sure you are referring to but don't have that luxury."

I didn't recommend anything. How could I? I don't know you well enough? I gave you my thoughts on your 12's and listed a few brands for you to audition. But nothing more than that. I could be like your friend and tell you the Ayre is the best thing under 20k. It wouldn't be all that hard either, because Ayre is my personal favorite and that's what I use in my system.

"I have found the bigger the risk to more opportunity for upside."

That's completely up to you. There's plenty of ways to reduce risk. Buying blind by reading reviews and listening to strangers in internet chat rooms is no way to go about it.
Zd542: brilliant post(s). You're not just right, you're exactly right. Thank you.
careful,I had CAT JL2 Sig great amp, but Clayton"s Killed it and the Cat Is
heavy as Hell and needs 16, 6550 tubes 2k to retube and you have to deal with designer KS. I have no affiliation with Clayton except the purchase of his amps (Wilson Shen is a Great Guy ) Good Luck !!

Its 2015 Solid State has come a long way, i wouldnt get too hung up on tubes vs SS anymore !!
Zd542

" There's plenty of ways to reduce risk. Buying blind by reading reviews and listening to strangers in internet chat rooms is no way to go about it "

This is an audio forum. We talk audio in the amp section here we talk amps. If I had the doe I would love to go with dealers and take their stuff home to try out in my system but I would only do that if I was going to buy something from them at some point and I can't. I am not going to take loaners home from dealers to hear them and find the stuff I like and then go look for it used and not buy from them. I have too much respect and admiration for my dealer friends. They got it tough enough as it is with out someone tying up their gear from a real potential buyer. The 30 tryout internet buy with returns are great too but mostly offered only for buying new and I don't have the doe for new. I don't really have the financial ability to reduce the risk and buy from them so I have no choice but to fly blind. I am flying totally blind based on reviews and talking on this forum. I can go blind and shoot from the hip or do what I am doing try to get some additional information like I am.

I have been lucky and bought some amazing sounding gear that I love that I bought from recommendations what you call strangers and I call my fellow Agon comrades. I guess its all how you look it.

Some of us have to do it like this but I know its not ideal and at some point I am going to mess up and it will prob leave a mark but my gut, this forum and research has worked ok so far but the odds I am sure will come in at some point.

Wish I could do it the other way but its not possible for me right now. Thats why the ARC, CJ, BAT, VAC,PASS,MAC,AYRE,CARY,VTL,CAT,LAMM to name a few are always safe bets and can always flip/resell but I am reaching out here because I am ready to pull the trigger on the Clayton M300 which is a sort of rare, kind of odd big block cube amp that every single person that has heard them say they are truly, world call amazing. I was set to buy a pair of Lamm 2.1 Hybrid mono's and a person whose opinion I appreciate told me those are great amps but the Clayton's are better. A lot better.

Tfl303 above just said the Clayton kills the CAT JL2. The CAT JL2 I have heard and it is much better than my CJ's. Imagine if I could get an amp that kills an amp that is much better than my currant amp?

Well I would love that! I am not looking for that or expecting that but if I can make a blind trade/purchase for an amp that is a much better match for my speakers and overall is a real nice SQ upgrade then that would be fantastic. What makes it tougher and is a big reason for this post is because the amp I am considering buying is not only going from tubes to ss but from a specialty, small, boutique company that specializes in pure Class A, a brand that is not real well known and is kinda plain, utilitarian looking (eye is in the beholder), heavy, runs real hot, gobbles electricity and is balanced only but seems to have a rabid following and is super well respected by those that have heard/own know of them. They describe them as one of the very best amps there are. Very refined, very sophisticated and a true top of list sounding amp. For me I can overlook the things I stated above if the sound is as good as they say so would love to hear more from those they have heard Claytons.

If it doesn't work out I am back to the drawing board and looking to flip some amps that are not in that real quick selling group listed above and is why the CJ LP140M keeps popping in my head, that and I know I love tubes just think i may be getting more of what I already have... Don't really want to do that so the Clayton's are how I am leaning and Any and all feedback and advice is really appreciated.
Simply try VTL or Manley amps...they'll give you the punch you're missing w/ the tube flavor you love...Enjoy the music!!!
I'm sure the Clayton M300's will sound great, especially if they have the hum issue fixed. My M100's also had that transformer hum issue, but did sound great.

On another note, many audiophiles are prone to hyperbole. Nothing I've heard in audio "kills" anything else unless you are comparing it to something broken. We all have our tastes and system synergy is involved too. I have a friend who owns the CAT JL2's who has a LOT of experience. I'm sure he would find Tfl303's comment quite humorous. That is why I tend to disregard sales-speak like X kills Y, or Y blows Z out of the water. I find that it really is not useful information, especially when the poster is not experienced enough to post IMHO, or YMMV. Showing that they understand enough about this hobby to respect synergy and individual tastes.

I'm off my soapbox now. Good luck with your purchase Fsmithjack.
Jmcgrogan2,
I agree strongly with your "soapbox" comments and have stated similar comments recently on this site. I feel hyperbole is relied on too often when people decscribe differences among audio components. I don't doubt Tf1303 finds the Clayton better sounding in his system and with his particular speakers(better match). Given enough time, someone will write the CAT JL2 "blows the Claytons away". Obviously we all will have our preferences for a variety of good reasons. Components can clearly outperform another component without "night and day" "jaw dropping" wide gaps between them. For people seeking trustworthy advice/opinions, hyperbole doesn't contribute.
Charles,
Jmcgrogan2 thanks so much! I appreciate it. I think Tfl303 was kinda kidding a bit there and being facetious. Also I have read others in the Clayton camp use that kind of over emphasis talk for effect when comparing them to others. I think if we apply a bit of deductive reasoning knowing they are being facetious a bit and using limited wording they are trying to drive the point home that these are really underrated amps that need to be heard to appreciate. With their power most all speakers are at their disposal and the people familiar with them just gush over them. I have also read even with the hum fix there is still slight bit of it there if you get up real close it them just because I don't think you get 600watt / 4ohm in Pure Class A without any of it. That is why most are 30 or 50 or 60 watts. 300/600 is really not common. Thanks so much... Can anyone else familiar with Clayton chime in and offer some input to help us clarify some more. Thx
Given the two amplifiers under consideration, I believe the tradeoff is the following. The big Clayton will provide the more iron fisted bass slam/impact that some associate with powerful solid state amplifiers. I suspect the CJ large tube amps will have less of that bass wallop and tightness(but still very good bass overall). The CJ will likely be more 3 dimensional,liquid and organic relative to the SS Claytons. It will depend on which traits are valued more dearly. I wish both could be auditioned prior to buying,
Best of Luck,
Charles,
Frank,
I do not know your room or where you live. But, I had a Pass XA-30.8. It was one of the very best amps I have ever owned. I thought it would be my last amp. I bought it in the winter. When summer came in Texas, I had to sell it because of the heat that it generated (375 watts at idle).
After an hour of listening, I would start to sweat because it put out so much heat! So, if you are going to get the Claytons, make sure the ac in your listening room is up to the task.
Charles1dad

That is kind of what I am afraid of..lol. As of now I certainly prefer and value higher the 3d 3 dimensional, liquid and organic sound over bass slam but I have never really heard this good of an SS amp and what intrigues me is the Clayton's camp claim that it gives at least enough of that 3 dimensional, liquid and organic sound that the increase in other levels will mean it won't be missed nearly as much as others per say and the overall SQ will be much better. I think maybe with my amps now I rely on that 3 dimensional, liquid and organic sound because its really most of what it offers. If I can get enough of that dimensional, liquid and organic sound to be happy and still get all the other stuff and get more out of my speakers I will be happy but heck I may def be asking too much from a SS amp. That is why I am leaning toward such a different ss amp. The pure Class A 300/600 is not normal so I guess i am hoping for a non normal effect and I may have a shot from a non normal amp but I appreciate all of you you guy's help and can see where I may be looking for too much out of the tube sound out of these Claytons. Man I wish I could hear them first. You guys are def helping me develop my thought and feel for this though so thanks and the more the better.

Agape126 thanks.

I owned Manly 30 watt mono and in some ways those were the best sounding amps I have ever owned. The EL84 is the best sounding tube IMO but just not enough power. I moved to the Snapper and really like them with my Martinlogan Spire but when I switched to the Wilson Sophia 2's they couldn't push them properly. At the time I was in a big room 22x22 with 16 foot cathedral ceilings. I found my CJ amps to be much more powerful than the Snappers. I would love to buy the Manley 250 and would today if there was a pair I could make a nice trade deal on but no go. I tried but I love Manley. Thx

Rdoc - good point that should definitely be considered! Your Pass amp put out about 30 watts in Class A, only a tenth of what the Clayton claims to. As such if they're biased similarly in Class A according to their power ratings, the Claytons would put out ten times as much heat! I had a friend that used to run Atmasphere amps, and while they sounded superb he would listen in his underwear since it got so unbearably hot in the listening room. I'm not kidding.
Can anyone else familiar with Clayton chime in
Three types of noise I have heard from amplifiers include transformer hum, 60 Hz buzz/hum, and high frequency hiss.

Transformer hum will occur with toroidal transformers that are subjected to DC on the power lines. The larger the transformer, the louder the hum. Plitron makes a LoNoise transformer that is expensive but will largely eliminate this hum. The Claytons use two large transformers per amplifier and are indeed susceptible to that type of hum when DC is present. DC on the power line is not that uncommon an occurrence and can result from a variety of factors, that may or may not be associated with things going on inside of your residence, as others here have pointed out.

The 60Hz buzz/hum is, in my understanding, most often a grounding issue. The Claytons do not play well with anything but a balanced signal. Forget using rca/XLR adaptors or the Claytons will buzz like crazy. I got around that issue by using Jensen input transformers to convert the single-ended signal from a Tom Evans Vibe into a balanced signal.

Hiss from the tweeter is related to the amplifier's noise floor, amplifier gain and sensitivity of the speakers.

Clayton implemented a power supply upgrade that includes new toroidal transformers, and a rebuild of the power supply. Before having that upgrade performed, my M300s were quite noisy but, after the upgrade, not so much. However, they were never as dead nuts quiet as my current Ncore amps or my DNA-2 amplifier. Neither of those amplifiers can ever be heard through my speakers when they are at idle. The DNA-2 has a very large toroidal transformer which is quiet most of the time although, on occasion, a very slight mechanical hum can be heard right next to the amp, but not at all through the speakers. The Claytons never achieved this level of quiet, although they did sound good with music playing, as do the other two (quieter) amps mentioned.
Fsmithjack,

In your digital thread, I recommended the Wells Audio Innamorata over the Claytons... I just thought I would reiterate due to a video review recently posted on AVShowrooms.com. You should find it helpful. Go check it out...
After reading through the entire thread I recommend that you do nothing. Solid state class A amps do not sound like tube amps. They can sound wonderful, but they certainly won't do what CJ amps are famous for. Nobody responding to your post knows whether or not you would be happy with how the Claytons sound with you speaker. You will have to try the combination and then tell us.
In the end just go with what your heart tells you that you wanted. Whether its validated in this forum or not. There were some minor things I took issue with myself, distracting suggestions, for instance a suggestion you roll the tubes in your ARC pre amp. I found it very difficult to get much out of doing that myself, albeit with a different ARC pre. This coming from a possessed tube roller looking at moving cartons full of tubes. I was impressed that your power amps had the new Tung Sol power tubes which should have given your bass some bite and punch.
Go for it, get some big class A power amps, I would be sorely tempted to do the same. Some of the other suggestions may be valid in fixing different shortcomings, and are almost irrelevant until your main question is answered. Good luck-
Fsmithjack - With all due respect, you need to keep in mind that Class A operation is just one operating specification of a given amplifier design. I have found myself caught up with this in the past, searching for a product that meets a checklist of several desired design characteristics (i.e. Class A bias, fully balanced circuitry, all discrete components, linear power supply, etc.) In the end I found that the best amp for my setup was the Rowland 625, which is not fully class A and uses a custom switched mode power supply. What really matters is how all of the design aspects work together and how the resulting amp works with your speakers to best meet your desired system objectives. Unfortunately the only way to know how a given amp will all work with your setup is to try it. Other users' experiences will vary as do their systems from yours. If you are unable to audition amps in your system before buying them it can be a costly learning process. However as you previously stated buying used gear will help in this regard as you can often resell and recover close to your cost. Good luck as your search continues!
Fantastic responses and thank you very much... Really great stuff... I mean sure its just audio people talking audio which in itself is great but its funny because you guys are right for sure I'll never know till I hear them.

Mechans is a man after my own heart...

Rdoc & Bill_k good points! I know these guys are cookers... I live MA which helps but we have some pretty hot summers up here...

Mitch2: Great info - thank you quite helpful...

Jriggy: actually had one on load that I tried with my Sophia 2's a little way back. Not the best match for them in a pretty big room but a great sounding amp and if I could swing a good trade deal I think that amp perfectly fits the best of tubes out off ss but no used ones out there. Prob why cuz they legit sound like tubes. I don't care if the designer tweaks them to sound nice with distortion or what ever. If they sound great and can drive the speakers then heck ya!!!

Bill_k: I agree 100%. Man the more I chat with you guys the more I wish I could hear first.

_________________

OK just for the heck of it. Here is a hypothetical. I know you don't have much to go on but with what you do have and if you were me (back to hypothetical) and you had to choose one of these two what one would you get:

TUBES
Conrad Johnson LP140M Mono Blocks

LP140M - 140 watts from 30 Hz to 15 KHz at no more than 1.5 % THD or IMD into 4 ohms (also available connected for 8 or 16 ohm loads)
Sensitivity: .5 V to rated power
Frequency Response (at 10 watts): 20 Hz to 20 kHz, +/- .25 dB
Hum and Noise: 102 dB below rated power
Input Impedance: 100 kOhms
Tube Complement:
LP140M - 3 x 6922, 4 x 6550 (per amp)
LP140M - 16D x 19W x 6.38H inches
Weight:
LP140M – 53 Lbs x (per amp)

Retail $14,000.00

or the

CLASS A SS
Clayton Audio - M300 Monoblock Amplifiers

Class A Operation
Fully Balanced
XLR Inputs Only

Thermal Protection
Power on Sequence Control
Rated power output:
300 Watts continuous rms into 8 ohms
600 Watts continuous rms into 4 ohms

Gain: 26 db
Input Impedance: 100k ohms

Power Consumption: Low Bias Mode - 300 Watts
Power Consumption: High Bias Mode - 800 Watts

Dimensions: 11.00” W by 20” D by 11.50” H
Weight: 87 lbs. each

Heat sink capacity: 0.13 degrees C/Watt Stable Temperature
Reading at Center of heat sink: 122.1° F. Stable Temperature
Reading at Right and Left Edge of heat sink: 124.1° F.
- POWER and BIAS Switches -

Note: Switches are not visible from front panel. Instead they are hidden from view and accessible from underneath the front of the chassis

Retail $13,500

If trades we not involved I would love to add others but after a good amount of searching and emailing and calling and chating it seems these are the best 2 options I have come up with. Nothing is perfect and I know people may think I am crazy for thinking so but I value the recommendations and feedback I get here and appreciate it and it plays a bigger part in my decision making process than people think it should but I love getting as much info as I can and then going with my gut and shooting from the hip. There is no doubt for my taste and situation the CJ is the safer bet but I am not afraid to take chances and would love to hear what you guys think even though some people think it shouldn't matter... It does to me :)
Retail $14,000
Retail $13,500

For an amp at those prices, there would be no hypothetical anything. The only decision I would have to make, is car or plane.
Frank, make sure you are getting M300s that have had the PS upgrade. I believe the retail price of those amps is actually up around $16,500 for a pair that has had the upgrade. If someone is telling you $13,500, those may not be upgraded amps. I recommend contacting Wilson to confirm the amps have been upgraded, based on their Serial numbers..
On another topic, I believe the CJ LP140s are supposed to be sonically different from your Model 12s. Another reason to listen to them before buying, if possible. Maybe LP140 owners could weigh in.
Finally, if there is no deadline on your decision, I recommend trying a free audition of the Ncore amps in your system. You might be surprised.
Thanks Rich !!! The seller is a dealer and he told me the amps were made after the update was created and then put in all the newly manufactured amps after he came out with the retro update. He also said they went for $16,500.00 but the Clayton distributor / retailer TRI Audio web site says $13,500.00?? The dealer did provide me with the serial numbers so a call to them is def something I am going to do tomorrow. Can I get his info from that website? TRI Audio Marketing? Thanks again so much I really wish I could hear them first but it just doesn't seem possible. I would love to hear from CJ owners that would be great! Thanks

Zd542 At $16,500 I guess I could get a better car or plane..lol

Again its a trade deal and those are the retail numbers for sake of comparison but ya new they went for a decent amount of coin and even used with a trade its still a pretty significant purchase. Both amps I am sure are outstanding just different and im still wrangling with it. This afternoon I was ready for the CJ's and tonight back to Clayton's? Is not a painful or stressful thing is just hemming hawing a bit and waiting for my gut to step up :)
Any other info from the agon folks would be appreciated. Thx
I meant Mich :)
I believe Zd542's post was suggesting that at those prices making a trip to hear the amps would be justified, whether possible by either car or plane.
Fsmithjack, before you go with Claytons, you should check Plinius amps. Audio Surroundings sells your brand of speakers and Eric (owner of the shop) says with plinius they sound terrific.
I usually take many dealers opinion with some skepticism, but I know Eric for many years and trust him with his recommendation. Plinius amplifiers known for their bass quality and 3d sound that tubes lovers can live with.
Btw, I have Plinius Hiato integrated and compared it with Ayre AX-5, and Plinius (in my home and to me) sounded more natural with bigger 3d stage and better bass.
Denon1

Thanks so much I have heard those are another great CLASS Amp that has the great tube sound but with the grip I need. Awesome to know they sound good with my speakers. My speakers are pretty rare and this is great info. Thank you I am going to check right on that lead. Thanks again

Bill_k
That makes sense...lol. Just don't have the time and they are far away and not sure in another system I would get the info I want/need but I am in full agreement that hearing first is certainly the way to go with no doubt if possible within reason just not in my odd case. Thanks guys and love all the great info and idea's. Keep em coming if you can please. Thanks
Two suggestions, for tubes there are a pair of BAT VK55 mono's listed for 4600.00. I have a VK55 stereo with my more efficient speakers and have plenty of power at 55W. The BAT amp has excellent bass and dynamics.

Another Class A solid state manufacturer is Coda. Their products appear to be beautifully constructed and have real world prices. I have no experience with the product but it is one I would consider if I was looking for solid state.