DartZeel CTH-8550 vs PS Audio BHK 300 Mononlocks


I know this is a crazy comparison but I am currently trying to decide between the Dart 8550 Integrated (used) or a new set of BHK 300 Amos with the BHK Pre (new). I am currently upgrading from a Yamaha A-S3000 and like convenience of the integrated but feel like the BHK monos might be a bigger upgrade. They will be fed by a VPI HW-40 turntable and a PS Audio DirectStream and will be running a pair of Joseph Audio Perspectives. 
jeremyfxdwg
Have never heard Dart gear so can’t help with comparison. All I can add is that when designing the BHK’S they made a solid state input stage and a tube one and planned to offer both. The tube was so far superior they canned the SS option.

I really like having tubes in my system, where they can do the most good- pre Amp and input stage of Amp, and of course offer the option of tube rolling to upgrade the sound or tailor to you liking.

I havent heard the BHK pre- but many people seem to like it. I belive PS offers 30 day trial, so that could be an advantage. The ultimate of course is if you could arrange to have the Dart gear on loan at the same time, and then you’d be the resident expert on the merits of each.

Another consideration is cabling.  monoblocks let you run short (hence cheaper) speaker cable.  A good balanced design should sound good even with super cheap balanced IC like the Mogami gold mic cable.  That could be upgraded later if you find the cash and hear a benefit. 

Keep this between just us.... I run a well over $100k system and I use that cheap Mogami  cable and a short quad run combo of cheap and homemade speaker cable.  
at a good used price(under12k) i would buy the dart and never look back. a truly great designer whose products will outlive us all. i’m sorry but i can’t consider PSA in the same universe. IMO
Agree with @4425 PSA is ok nothing great but the Dart is spectacular! 
i'm a darTZeel guy for 16 years. it always sounds special and the designs are minimalist and get out of the way of the musical nuance. the longer you listen to it the more you appreciate it.

notice that darTZeel is an 'end-game' place for many. i've spent time with the CTH-8550 and it's an excellent pre and amplifier.
Dart without question.
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I am curious to hear which of the several above proponents of Dart over PSA have heard both in the same system.  What differences would you note?  TIA
... I am currently trying to decide between the Dart 8550 Integrated (used) or a new set of BHK 300 Amos with the BHK Pre (new). I am currently upgrading from a Yamaha A-S3000 and like convenience of the integrated but feel like the BHK monos might be a bigger upgrade. They will be fed by a VPI HW-40 turntable and a PS Audio DirectStream and will be running a pair of Joseph Audio Perspectives.
As far as I can see the BHK Signature Preamp, if that is the preamp you are referring to, does not include a phono stage. So the cost of a separate phono stage would have to be factored into your considerations, for the BHK alternative.

Also, according to JA’s measurements in Stereophile the phono section of the darT provides relatively low gain for LOMC cartridges, specifically 54.7 db, which may or may not be suitable depending on what cartridge you are using. (JA wasn’t able to measure the gain for MM cartridges). In contrast, it appears that the phono section of your Yamaha provides a gain of 66 db for LOMCs. Also, the combined gain of the line stage and power stage of the darT is not particularly high (and is considerably lower than the corresponding figure of your Yamaha), and thus should not be counted on to compensate for the low gain of the phono section. And the low sensitivity of your speakers (84 db per JA’s measurements) doesn’t help in that regard either.

Good luck, however you decide to proceed. Regards,
-- Al

FWIW a CTH 8550 just came up for sale on usaudiomart. it won’t last long. One thing to note is that it’s really designed to be used single ended for best results. 
Thanks for all the responses. I think I am going to DartZeel though the more I think about it the more I think I might need the NHB-18NS/NHB108 combo.
PS Audio has done a great job collaborating with Bascom King on their BK line. However, DarlZeel is among the world’s greatest manufacturers. Do you want a Cadillac or a Rolls Royce?
Read John Atkinsons measurements of the Dartzeel. Ouch.
Read John Atkinsons measurements of the Dartzeel. Ouch.

sure.......then read Fremer’s listening comments. and how Fremer voted with his pocketbook.

i pretty much listen to gear, i don’t measure it. but that’s just me. the all time most iconic music reproduction gear did not attain that status with measurements, the dust heap of time is stacked high with test bench champions.

measurements are simply tools to help the process......not the final arbiter.
The measurements may not be impressive but the Dartzeel sound is. It’s coveted for that reason. 
@jeremyfxdwg I have a CTH-8550 Mk II in my studio in Nashville, TN. If convenient, you're welcome to hear for yourself.

- Colin

darTZeel dealer
https://gestalt.audio
The dart is the way to go. If you want to read specs then go ahead and read all you want. If you want to listen to music then dart is the way to go.
For the measurements crowd, no matter what the sound is like, the eyes looking at measurement will always override the ears listening to sounds.
I remember the old Halcro amps that measured like a dream...and sounded well...:0(
On another forum i was castigated and my flame suit was burned up when I mentioned that if it measures great and sounds great then it is is great, but if it measures poorly and it sounds great, then our measuring gear is faulty! 
Hi @daveyf 
if it measures great and sounds great then it is great, but if it measures poorly and it sounds great, then our measuring gear is faulty
You could also say that, id it sounds great & measures poorly, you're measuring the wrong things...

Back on topic, I also lived with that Dart, I can tell you that the phono sounds excellent; the low relatively gain was no problem with my Clearaudio cart.
Going against the grain, however, I urge you to listen to the BHK's, they are superlative performers. I listened to the 250s and, compared to the Dart, the sound is slightly less detailed & somewhat more raw -- but brutal, powerful, and authoritative. You might like it!


I have no experience with DartZeels in my system.  But I do have to concur with @gregm that the BHK 300 mono's should not be simply dismissed without a listen.  I have them in my system driving some TAD CR-1's and they just are a superb match.  I took a stab at the Luxman M900u, and the BHK's with the TAD's are no question a better match, which surprised me, given the Luxman's reputation.  It is most likely a "horses for courses" matching kind of thing.  But there is no denying that the BHK's are worthy of consideration as possible matches in a given system.

I would love to hear the Dart mono's in my system!