I've had an Ayre V-5x for about 1 1/2 years & have to mention up front that I have it for sale, so this isn't a sales offer. Anyway, it's the best stereo amp I've had, period. Plenty of power & current for my VR4 GenIII's to play louder than you want yet smooth enough to play at the lowest possible setting.
I'd also suggest Pass, as you can't go wrong with their products.
I would have to agree with Driver. That is, Pass and Ayre products have a lot of potential when mated with other appropriate gear. Having said that, one has to wonder why he's selling the Ayre? Sean
Although it's a bit early to find them used, I recommend you look at the
Rowland 201 monoblocks. $4700 the pair list, 250/500 watts into 8/4
ohms. They are small (almost tiny, my wife thinks they're
"cute") and generate virtually NO heat (they have no fan or
heat sinks) and they sound magnificent. I am a former long-time Pass
There are also other digital amps that will offer you a low-heat solution.
Since you're here in Phoenix, go to Esoteric Audio in Scottsdale & hear the Rowland 201s.
Then go to Celestial on 27th Ave & Thomas Rd. They have the Pass X amps, YBA & Electrocompaniet.
Sounds like Phoenix isn't "hurting" for good sound or high quality brands : ) Sean
depends on price....
no price range - Halcro ( great amp but the pre is really bad)
expensive - classe cam mono's
moderate-herron & pse studio signatures
bargain of the century- pse studio v's
My favorite would be BVaudio. Top notch quality amps, 0 distortion, very 3D, nothing can compare to the detail, remote controlled with a lot of features, they don't heat up and they are priced reasonably. BVaudio is a smaller company but belongs among the best of the best.
KRELL BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALL KRELL AMPS ARE SUPERIOR. FROM THE KSA SERIES TO THE MASTER REFERENCE MONO'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sonicly, The surprise answer for me was the Pass X-600's. Nuetral, effortless, sweet and extended as well as beautifull transparency. From a 600 watt amp? You bet!
If you have a chance, take a listen to a Mark Levinson 334 (Stereophile review Sept. '99). They can be had here on audiogon for $2500-$3500.
I put my two cents in for the Rowland 302 amp. I have had Krell before and its bass is awesome but the overall sound of even the newer 400cx is wanting in the other important areas. The Rowland 302 is pricey but it just creates a beautiful synthesis of sound for just about every cd (even the poorly recorded ones). There is plenty of bass, delicious midrange, and vocals are superb.
At the money you are talking, and wanting something relatively cool running, I would definetly go listen to the YBA. (Celestial Audio--www.speakersetc.net)
I don't have an over-all favorite; each amp has something that it does very well and something that it does "merely well".
For instance,with Analysis plus IC, I find the new SST series Brystons to be the best amps below 5khz that I have heard. I prefer them overall to the Levinson, and much prefer them to the Krell. The palette of tonal colors and shadings is very rich. Even my SET loving friends give them high marks on midrange. They are quite good in the highs too,with the right front-end and cabling, but other amps win out here.
Halcro impressed me mightily but bi-amping with much less expensive amps yields the same results.
The old T-series Threshold and the new Pass's are awesome on top. So, I am bi-amping with the "T" on top and the SST on the bottom. I consider that hybrid to be the best I have heard, including the Halcro.
Now, everything can change with a different speaker load so....YMMV.
Pass are great amps, and I would second their sonic recommendation. However, don't they run a bit hot? My vote would be for a two-channel Theta Dreadnaught II. I auditioned a lot of amps for use with my Thiel 3.6's, and Theta was my top choice. I ended up with a pair of Enterprises for the 3.6's, and an Intrepid for center and surround (I would have bought a Dreadnaught II for this, but my dealer offered a great deal on an Intrepid, and it is SO darn good for a 5x100w amp...). Because of having two small kids running around, my Enterprises are currently in an entertainment cabinet (with decent ventilation). One of the great things about Theta amps is that they really do not run very hot at all. My pre/pro puts out more heat than my three Theta amps combined!
A two-channel Dreadnaught II is very respectable. It is high current, zero feedback in design, and the characteristic that sold me the most on Theta amps is their ability to create a huge, deep, defined soundstage. You really should give Theta a listen.
The Pass amps are a tad on the warm side, but not as hot as the earlier Aleph series.
The store that I was able to hear the Theta's at did a very poor demo, so I left with less than enthusiastic feelings for the Theta. You know how it is; you hear a bad demo, and even though you know it is probably not the amp's fault, the back of your mind always holds the demo against the amp.
Since, other than that demo, I have heard nothing but good about them I am sure that the Theta kicks ass.
Another set of amps that runs cool and has great sound are the Spectron Musician II and III amps.
My approach is to get, or make, a speaker which presents a tame load to an amp. This allows much more in the way of choices of amplifiers. Many amps, such as Pass and Theta, are expensive because they are made to drive horrible loads. The same sound can be had for much less money if the load is reasonable.
Right now, if I had to make a choice which amp I would want for full-range use, on my speakers, taking in each amps flaws and virtues, I would honestly go with my Bryston 4BSST. I prefer it, overall, to my Spectron, Threshold, and my Atma-Spere amps. It just gives more overall pleasure, perhaps because of the delicious midrange. And it is an easy amp to relax to. Mind you, it is not a fight-to-the-death preference; any of the above amps please me as did many others that I have had in my home. My listening bias is toward the bass and midrange caring not as much for the highs.(Though with ribbons the highs are almost a given.)
I should be a tube man based on that but I find most (but by no means all) tube gear too "dirty" and unbalanced for my ears.
I have the MS 4s too. Right now I am running them with a modded PS Audio HCA-2. So far the combo does not jive and I can't figure out why. The treble seems to be faint, or recessed. Anyway, let me know what you choose and how it works with you MS 4s.
Karmapolice: "I have had Krell before and its bass is awesome but the overall sound of even the newer 400cx is wanting in the other important areas."
No, no, no not at ALL. Gimmee a break, just another Krell BASHER.
GamuT SS amps are outstanding. The Mk. 3 series, 100W, or 200W,(two mono on same chassi) and 250W mono blocks. All have same refined signature. Just depends on speaker power requirement. Amps are high current. The secret to these amplifiers is only one giant switching MOSFET output device per channel. No matching problems. There are many excellent reviews on these amps. Some think they are state of the art. I have the D-100 Mk3 which I love (3500 new). I have plenty of head room with 88 DB dynamic speakers. These amps run very cool. I had the Pass Aleph 5 before, a pure class A amp which was excellent, but not as good as the GamuT and ran much hotter.
Just as a follow-up, I'd like to say I decided to keep my Ayre V-5x but I am looking for a different pre.
According to Bound for Sound and some other independent magazines Clayton's amp are suppose to be the best SS.
I used to have Electrocompaniet, to my ears it was really good without competition in his price range.
I have heard Krell amps on the few occasions to my ears they are the worst from SS, utterly unmusical. So it must be a taste.
I too have the v 5 x and wouldn't think of replacing it. It's smooth.
Belles 350 A. I have had Bryston, Levinson, Gamut. For the money nothing compares to Belles.
GamuT d200 mk3, fenomenal.
I have the MS'4s and drive then with the BAT 300XSE.
Try BVaudio power amp. See around if anyone is complaining, there is no comparison to this amp.
Worth to try.
Celestial has a Gamut D200 on distributor loan. One of the shipping labels says "Jonathan Valin". It is definitely a well worn demo. I'm going to go hear it today or Monday..
Sim Audio W5. It has the bass and slam of a Krell and the finesse of a Jeff Rowland. Can't go wrong...
Plinus & Sim Moon-Neither have I heard,but from what has been told they would be a good match for my speakers.
Any amp that is good synergisticly with your speakers and Pre would be a favorite.
I would take a LAMM any day though! Baaaaahhhhh!
In my system, the Pass Aleph 3.
Blew away my previous SS amps: McCormack 125, Musical Fidelity 3CR, Bryston 4BST, Proton D540.
On the other hand, the Aleph is the only pure Class A amp I've ever heard in my system.
I really love my NL-12; it may very well be my amp for life, I believe. No heat, extraordinary bass, very natural voices, unabrasive but detailed midrange, non-tizzy highs, nice depth. It just gets out of the way. As good as Lamms I have heard with my same speakers (Kharma 3.2s) with superior, tighter, more absorbing bass.
I used to have a Pass X350 (for 3 years); the Pass had nice mids/highs, but strange forced, foggy, upper bass. Lower bass was deep & detailed, though, but heat was a big prolem. They have a 30% off sale at Edge for a couple of weeks.
Ayre V-5x...Beautiful to listen to and very nicely finished too!!!
All the bass you need for most listening rooms and a sweet unfatiguing top end.
If you can find a cj Sonographe amp,outstanding as is anything to with cj is.Al
Sorlowski what do your ears like?
Another vote for Pass Labs, particularly if you want Class A, all the Aleph series sound great, natural, detailed. I use the 3, but at only 30 watts you may need more power. They are also, of course, quite cheap, in my view a bargain 2nd hand for what you get. Yes they run really hot and power consumption means they should'nt really be left on all the time. The new XA series look interesting. Nelson Pass claim they combine the best of the Aleph and X series, but thet are very seriously expensive
I am truly amazed by the Quad 909. I bought the 909 2 months ago, and I am literally astounded at how good it is and the reasonable price.
It is very well regarded amongst the audio writers/reviewers too.
arc 300.2.good soundstaging,lots of power.natural sounding.no heat.small for wattage[300 in 8ohm,500 in 4ohm,conservative]right in your price range new.best amp i have had in my system.and i had krell,plinius,bat,spectron.