Short list: Pass XA.5 monoblocks. Get the size you need.
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i also have 33h's and have ALSO wondered what would REALLY be better. i have heard halcro and the new vtl's and would not get them. i have NOT heard dartzeel or goldmund, etc. PROBLEM IS: the levinson's are very transparent imho EVEN THROUGH my von schweikert vr9se's, and do not sound sterile or hard. PERHAPS side by side with pass xa-200.5's? ok, MAYBE there would be a difference worth spending the $$ on. then again, maybe not.
Thanks for the responses! I have no complaints about the 33H's.......love them! I just don't know how good some of these newer amps are, as I'm unable to do a side by side comparison, or for that matter even listen to them due to my location. I don't want to spend a ton of cash and just get a minor improvement. It's just this upgrade thing!! A person looks at their system and wonders where an improvement can be made, and it brings me to wonder, are there any amps worth saving my hard earned cash for??
I have owned the ML 33H and 33's. I liked them very much. They are my second favorite amps. my list.
2. Pass Labs XA-160 XA-200
3. Spectral 360 Mk II
4. Goldmund Telos 400 or 600
5. Accuphase A-65
1. VAC 300.1
2. Atma-Sphere MA 1 MK 3.1
3. Wavac HE-45
4. Lamm 1.2
5. Shindo Labs lafon GM-70
i would add, in all fairness, that the OLD PASS ALEPH 1.2'S sound incredible. of course they run very HOT, the power switch is in the BACK next to the speaker connectors, which is really dumb. then there's the impedence problem (they don't provide alot of juice below 4 ohms). other than all of that, they sound as good or better than vtl's (my opinion) and obliterate most SS amps i can think of. a pair was recently on sale here, and if i didn't have the levinsons or a pair of rowland 12's sitting in the closet, i would have made an offer.
the new pass xa-.5 amps are undoubtably better, but if you've ever heard the aleph series, you might just overlook their shortcomings with the 1st alblum you play, and buy them. IF you don't mind spending less money of course...
I've owned the 33H also, great piece of equipment with excellent control of the speakers.
In the end I changed them for the Dartzeel as well. The Dartzeel has got stellar voices and is very transparent. But did found them slight to polite sounding especially in the bass. Also the where slightly to much of the same for me, little bit of a suger coat and for some music I prefer a raw voice/sound. Not sure if I explain it well. On classical music especially piano preferred the 33H.
Nevertheless both great pieces with a bit of a preference for the Dartzeel.
Don't have the Dartzeel anymore either :). Moved to the Vitus SM-101 monoblocks. Great voices, great control. Analog sounding but more realistic then the Dartzeel. To my taste the best I've heard so far. But.......I haven't heard everything:) :)
Bullot, if you are planning of changing amps,I would definitely try to audition the Vitus amp. In my opinion they are a level above the 33H and Dartzeel.
Good luck with your search
Thanks to everyone for responding......some great comments and suggestions. Chuck, you mentioned the Levinsons were your second favourite, but I didn't see them on your lists, were the lists in order of favourites? Some very nice amps on those two lists chuck!
As for the Tripoint Troy, I will definately look into them, I have not done any reading on them to this point, so that is a good tip!
One thing I was wondering about was the upper end of some like the MBL 9008A or a Boulder........I'll keep reading on all these, and perhaps the Levinsons will hang around for a while longer.
Thanks again everyone!
Andy Payor from Rockport owns the 33H's. He said the Gryphon's (Antileon Signature or Colosseum) are better in every way by a a very big margin. It's pure class A as well and doubles its power all the way to 1ohm. I suspect the Pass XA.5 are supremely good too, but not sure how much power they put out below 4ohms as they do not state it in the specs and don't really want to say anything over the phone. Then again, with XA 160.x5 or 200.5 it probably doesn't matter if it keeps doubling below 4ohms.
33H's are legendary and I agree with a lot of the above posts where you don't need to upgrade unless you really find the next gem.
Thanks Changster, I have looked at the Gryphons, big bucks! The feedback I'm getting from all the valued input of others, bassed on their experience, is telling me I do not need to race out and find something.........the 33H is still world class. That's good to hear......I can take my time move on only if something blows me away. Right now I think I'm going to concentrate on things like upgrading my power to them, ie., a 20Amp service instead of 15, some better receptacles, vibrations helpers, etc.
I agree with Rtn1 you have not even begun to hear what your system is capable of. I was in a similar dilemma about a year ago and I discovered that that the Troy made a much more significant improvement than any electronics upgrade could in my system. The full potential of your equipment wil be realized. It is worth evry penny!!!
Improving your environment can add greatly to your sound quality. I just added two 20 amp circuits for my power amps using 10gauge with ground wire. The difference is large. I have blacker back ground and smoother definition. I also have moved my dryer to gas from electric. On Wednesday the plumber is going to switch my hot water heater from electric to gas. My electric hot water pulls 9000 watts. My furnace, stove and oven are already gas. I will only be left with AC on electric and normal house stuff. When I am done there will not be a lot of competition for amps.
Moving your amps to 10gague wire and 20 amps circuits will improve your sound immensely. Let us know after its done what the effects are.
Have you ever considered the Vitus amps? They are pure class A as well. I'm not sure if they have a big following in the US. Perhaps not that many dealers around. I found the Vitus way more analog sounding then the 33H. The transistor sound was gone.
But like other people say, upgrading other none equipment things like acoustics can make a massive difference. It's the area where I really need to look into making the changes.
Thanks for some great ideas folks! Coxhaus, wow, those are some serious electrical changes in the home, make sense though!! (A true audiophile)
Another great vote for the Troy......sounds like that will have to be top of the priority list, after the easy stuff like 20 Amp circuit and change of wire! I will be doing that stuff around May or June, so check back later in mid summer or so and I will try and give you an update on how that went! As for the other amps, Vitus and Ayre....I will do some reading to learn more about them........going from the beautiful 33H's to the skinny little Ayre would be a blow to the audio ego. Like going from a Vette to a (Che-Vette) Just kidding folks, I'm sure the Ayre performance is stunning.......everyone has their own idea of eye candy though. Thanks again to everyone for their comments!
i would like to add an additional comment if i may to this thread-
As i sit down to listen to music, (even to this day) i come away
still amazed at how clean and clear and Dynamic my system sounds, with ML-33H's driving the von schweikert VR9's. even so,
i still eagerly peruse the forums, reading how wonderful the pass amps sound, or the dartzeel's, the soulutions, etc. so the other day i went back to re-read the stereophile review of the 33H's, including the measurements (something i usually skip over). every word rings true to what i am hearing, and the revelation that if you fed the amps more voltage, they would easily put out TWICE their rated power, or that the distortion figures are more like those of preamps than amps, etc. now i do not propose that NOTHING has improved since the day the 33's and the 33h's were designed, but there is no denying
that they were significantly overbuilt compared to many of their competitors.
at a time when ML was doing quite well financially, they seemed to have little concern that people would buy a $35K set of SOTA monoblocks- in fact as it turned out, they were unable to meet the demand for what was (obviously) perceived to be amongst the finest reference amplifiers available.
so for people like myself to own a (demo) pair of 33h's with virtually the same
type of internals as the 33's, and to be as un-disappointed as i am with
their performance, there is little more for me to say or do. the only remaining frustration is that i have to sit by and watch month after month while all of these wonderful new designs get posted and sold without my participation. i guess i'll just have to deal with it while i pay off all my other bills...
Yeah, I hear you loud and clear French Fries......I have no issue keeping them, the fact that I don't know how they compare to the "new and improved" stuff peaks my curiosity! I'm sure I would have to spend tons to get a serious upgrade. I do love my 33Hs. I am going to try that voltage thing, see what happens.
well i AM going to try a ps audio soloist premier (the thing that goes into the wall with the upgraded black outlet that got a favorable review) to feed the amps. a rep at ps audio assured me that it does not limit current. even though the amplifiers regenerate A/C internally i did read a comment or two in the forums that the 33's and 33h's benefitted from well-designed (and of course non-current limiting) devices that reduce A/C noise upstream from the amps themselves. Plus with numerous brown-outs and brief but annoying power interruptions common to the area where i live, Some form of Protection would seem better than the "direct-to-the-wall" approach. it will be interesting if i hear any differences in the sound, although my expectations are understandably pretty low...
Well, after much thought,reading, emails and discussion I have jumped onboard the Tripoint Troy bandwagon, so to speak! I have one on order and it should be here in the next couple of days! Pretty excited about it, and I will report back after I have it in the system and perhaps after a few weeks of use, as they say it gets better after about 3 weeks.
Also, I have upgraded the outlets with Maestro, made sure all outlets were on the same phase, and have a dedicated breaker panel. Love the Maestro!
congrats!!!!! yes i have heard the Troy in a SOTA system at Audio Exotics when traveling in Hong Kong...stunning piece of equipment. WE took it out and a haze appeared over the soundstage. gone as soon as it came back.
are you still considering changing your ML33s? They are great amps...i have heard them. i concur with positive comments about the Colosseum...i have compared many amps, and found the Gryphon 2nd hand and feel no need to look further.
enjoy your amazing system!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Please email me if you want some ideas about where to find Gryphons. there are a few places which are quite good.
There are a number of things i was hoping to bring up and get your advice on what these components have done to your system...i have often wondered:
1. Stealth Dream speaker cables (i have Transp Ref)
2. Dmitri power conditioner (i have Transp Ref)
3. Bybees (i have Nordost QX4...different but same 'theme')
Thanks for any guidance!
Finally, have you ever looked at whatsbestforum.com? Gary Koh is a very, very frequent user of the forum, and is a founding member or a moderator or something i thought.
i have spoken with him quite a bit there...and he also recently shared his thoughts on the Forum about Gryphon Colosseum saying its one of the best SS he has ever worked with.
AGain, email if more interested in finding Gryphon. Great system...i think very highly of Gary Koh and have heard great things about his higher level speakers from old pros in the business who have "heard everything" over the last 25-30 years.
Thanks Lloydelee21..........some questions you had!!
1. The Stealth Dream I really like. I had Shunyata Orion prior to the Stealth. I have not really tried very many speaker cables compared to other components and wire! I essentially hooked it up and forgot about it! To me it's one of those things that I am going to have to spend huge money on to improve, so I just accepted that it was a great cable and forgot about chasing any other models.
2. The only other power conditioner I have had is the Shunyata VRay. I had the same experience with the Dmitri as the Stealth Dream.......great product, plug it in and forget about it! Sure there may be something better, I don't know if there is.......but I can't see anything working much better for me so that was the end of my search. Compared to the VRay it just seems smoother, more natural and really invisible, seems like it's not there!
3. The Bybees I have on my speakers and ic's are really nice. Difficult to explain what they do! If you have or have heard the Tripoint Troy, I think they do the same thing, only not to nearly as great an affect. Things are more natural more at ease more real. I like the Bybee and can't see ever selling them, but unless you get a deal on them the cost is prohibitive! Better putting that money towards the Troy, unless you get a deal.
Hey there Tmsorosk........yes that is interesting! I loved my 33H's. My first real "high end" amp was a classe DR9. I ended up with a pair of them and ran them mono! Loved them, and loved the classic look Classe had back then! I also had a Classe DR5L preamp, so I know the brand well and enjoyed my time with them very much! I have not heard the "newer" models for years, might be time to give them a chance again as I continue to hear lots good about them.