Does Threshold equal newer amp designs?

I remember in the 80's when Threshold had, to my ears, a more full-bodied, richer sound than other SS amps. Some called it a solid-state tube sound. Yet others thought they were analytical and sterile. There are those who think they sound as good or better than even the respected newer stuff out now. Why is Threshold still a popular item in the used market, if later designs are better? I'd like the opinions of former & current Threshold owners, and why you switched or didn't.
As a former Threshold owner (SA-3, T400), I'd say no, their amp designs are old and don't sound as good as some of the newer ones. Pass, Llano, and Reference Line all smoked the T400 (T200 was rated "Class A" by Stereophile). Thresholds sounded good for their day, but sound electronic when compared to other high quality amps today.
Klouie, you are right in most older models of Threshold. The SA/3 and T-400 were decent. I had a T-800 and a S-500 at one time. Where I beg to differ with you is on a pair of Threshold SA/1's modified to balance configuration and other minor mods. I currently own both a pair of Pass X-600s and Threshold SA/1's. The X-600s have more guts and bottom end. But over all the SA/1's are a more finess, sweet sounding amps. Smoother and more control on the top end. And silky almost tube/warm mids. The bass is tight and has extension. I have two systems and swapped amps on each pair of speakers, and each system is worth about +$50K. One day I will sell my Pass X-600s, but I will Never sell my Threshold SA/1's.
I own a Threshold T200. I use it in combo with a modified CJ PV-11 preamp, MIT 750 Magnum speaker cables and Revel Ultima Studio Speakers. In my opinion, there are many old products that sound as good as new generation products, Threshold among them. Of course, there are old Threshold and older Threshold amps and preamps depending on whether you own the T series which were produced by PS Audio - no longer in business - or the older Threshold amps owned by Nelson Pass who sold Threshold to PS about 6 years ago. It is ridiculous to think that new = better in analog equipment all the time. In my opinion, and I've been in highend audio for 10 years + and I've been to at least 2 or 3 high end shows, not to mention stores all over the country, the only solid state out there that really is decisivley better than the Krells, Levinsons, Thresholds or what have you, are the Spectrals. If you want the very best solid state has to offer, Spectral is it or maybe Rowland if you have the bucks. Also, system matching is so important, I cannot begin to emphasize this aspect of high end audion enough. I have heard great gear sound lousy in sytems that were not well matched. Regards, Welltempered.
In the mid 70's I switched from ARC tubes to the first Threshold product the 800A and later went to the SA1 and SA2. There aren't very many SS amps that sound better even today than the SA1 and SA2. Vintage Amp repair can keep them going. Last year I went back to big tube monoblocks but this is just a preference on the part of my wife and I. We could have easily afforded the Spectral but didn't like the sound. Topkat is right.
Many of the Threshold / Forte' products built and designed by Nelson Pass EASILY surpass much of the "common" gear of today. One can easily pick up used gear from the above brands for $350 - $650 that will literally slap current amplifiers costing up to $3K silly. There are exceptions to this though, so don't think that i find these amps "unbeatable". For the money though, these amps offer some of the sweetest, airiest, most detailed (yet not hard or bright) sounding amps that "reasonable" money can buy. I have owned over 40+ amps in the last couple of years and still keep coming back to some of these as being my favorites. Spending more for the more expensive / bigger models starts to run into the land of "diminishing returns". Having said that, I still hope to one day own a pair of "updated" SA-12 Monoblocks. Sean >
Sean, Plsl hit BINGO on the head. You guys deserve a Cubian Cigar. But no smoking in the audio room. When it comes to analog equpiment, like power amps. There is no need to run out for the newest model. It's like a 50 yr. old Swiss watch. Certain ones are classics and fit under the word "vintage". And then there are some not so good ones. Threshold SA/1's, SA/2's and SA/12's are definitely Vintage. I honestly have not heard better sounding amp over all with the SA/1's; and I've had a number of people tell me the same. And of course I played the game and had about 40 different amps the last 20 years. Including the Pass X-600s, and recently had a Classe' Omege. These two amps are very nice . But they lack "finess". Not getting into details with the SA/1's because I can write a book. The SA/1's have a very unique sound for solid state. The SA/1's have passion , character and warm tones. Where today's amps are lacking that passion of the music, intricate of detail and finess. For the people who have to go out and spend +$30K to try to match the performance of those amps mentioned, ....well good luck. We are not dealing with the latest and greatest home computer - bigger hard drives , increased memory , more ram, etc. The design of the SA/1's is close to being a perfect design if there is such an animal. Just ask Nelso Pass himself about the SA/1's.
Any information regarding these 500 Watt monoblock monsters?
Servicing? When Built? Upgrades? Cables? 2nd hand value? etc.
Currently using with B&W 801s and Kimber Powerchords.
Live in UK nothing like this available near us!!!!!
I have used the Threshold S300 for over ten years and am about to acquire a mint S550e (see earlier thread from me). I have not had nearly as much experience with other amps as some of the writers here, but I used the Mac 352 as a comparison before buying the s550e. I liked the s550 e better. It could be just a Threshold bias, but I really like the strength of the s550e and is just seems effortless in the other regions. To me, it is really revealing without being harsh. And, I think the Pass designed Threshold pieces will always be sought after. Compared to comparable new quality, they are a bargain. Hope this helps.
Some lean toward the 'musical' camp, and some towards the 'detail' camp. Threshold, Classe, Rowland, tend to be 'musical' ss amps. While Krell, Mark Levinson represent the 'detail' camp. It depends on your associated equipment as to what you choose. I'm using a Threshold T 400 currently, IMHO, you can not beat this amp for under $2K. I tend to prefer the older models though, for instance, I felt the Levinson 23.5 was better built, and sounded better than the 33_ series. I also felt that the Classe DR-9 sounded better than the CA-200. I like the older Krells better too. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, or maybe they don't make 'em like they used too.
No, i think that you are right Jmc. Some of these companies feel the need to change products just for the sake of change. It is NOT better, it is just newer. MANY older and original designs ARE better than their "latest & greatest" upgraded models. Taking some of these "antiques" and replacing internal components ( caps, resistors, etc...) with the best that technology currently has to offer brings them LIGHT YEARS beyond what is being offered nowadays by the competition.

As to the Threshold amps, i would not pigeon-hole them into the "musical" camp. These amps reveal a LOT of detail that most other amps gloss over. Some of the amps that you call "detailed" are actually beyond being "detailed" and sound hard, etched and sterile. There is NOTHING musical about the recordings as reproduced through these, as it has been broken down and analyzed to the point that it no longer blends together as a whole.

As i've said before, i think that most of us are walking that "fine line" between seeking "musicality" and "accuracy". So far, i think that some of the Threshold's come very close to being the best of both worlds. Then again, i've never heard some of Steve McCormack's amps, and they too are supposed to do this very well. Like anything else though, personal taste enters into the equation, so you'll have to rely on YOUR ears and likes / dislikes. Sean