Do you have a chance to audition either amp? At those price points I would say a personal audition is mandatory even if you have to travel.
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I understand. But even with dealerships, having completely different system setup/wires/frontend, it's not possible to discern the turn nature of an equipment with just an afternoon.
If someone have had experience with both (or the older RI-100), that'd be very valuable opinion to me.
I know the Vitus Sig class class A pieces are leaning to the warm side of the equation comparing to Gryphon. But the new 101, being class A/B, and had bump up the cap reserve to 216000, might just deliver more PRAT than gryphon. I don't know...
What is it that you don’t like about the JC1’s (in high class-A) mode, these are great amps for your speakers which are a bit of an evil load from 60hz to 150hz, similar to the 3’s it’s said.
I would say keep it the JC1’s and change the preamp to a tube or something if you want a bit of tonal change.
Frankly I have no complaints about the JC1 or the bhk preamp(it replaced a audio research ls27). But I'm just always curious about the uber top level neutral SS amp and what they have to offer; burmester, dagnostino, constellation, vitus, gryphon, dartzeel, soulution.... Nothing again class A warm sounding amp, but I want to try the highend ultra fast yet relaxing sound. The directstream is already smooth sounding, the sopra itself is smooth nothing like old focal forward sound. So I figure to get the best out of this chain is the fastest neutral amp I can get my hands on. And when looking at these top level brands, the 1 piece integrated is pretty good deal given their preamp separate pricing.
I wouldn't mind doing a 60k constellation preamp with a pair of dagostino momentum....when I win the lottery. But meanwhile, I want to see if I can get an int amp to test and see how it compares to my bhk+JC1.
You’ve got that with the JC1’s in normal bias, and then in high bias mode they’ll have that Class-A warmness added. And the big + they drive those speakers of yours with breaking a sweat.
Look at the preamp for a tonal difference.
And I’ll tell you the JC1’s with a passive preamp was the second best I’ve heard the Wilson Alexia’s sound, only bettered by the Gryphon Antillion Evo with the same passive pramp.
BT just read this again from Stereophile review, and compare it to what your asking above.
The Sound of Speed, the Speed of Sound
As almarg hinted at, I think your due for a passive preamp which is a perfect match with the JC1’s 100kohm input impedance, that will give you the most dynamic, transparent, uncolored sound you can get.
the amps he listed will surely be in another category well above the JC-1, not that it isn’t a great amp.No sorry, the JC1's are as good today as anything, and I would back them over those two any day.
As I said if you missed it, it took a Gryphon Antillion Evo to sound better, than the JC1's on my mates the Wilson Alexia's 2's
Geroge, that was actually pretty useful information with your mate's Wilson.
Now, the fact that we are talking about the Alexia, its an extremely difficult load for any amp. The focal sopra 2 on the other hand is very easy load. With easier load speakers, a delicate yet dynamic amp might be able to beat a powerful amp. If we assume your mate's speakers are a pair of easy higher efficiency load, it might not take Antillion to beat the JC1 than, maybe diablo 300....
I LOVE my JC1, but I am not sure its the end game type of amp. Otherwise stereophiles Michael Fremer would be rocking them, instead of a pair of dartzeel monoblocs (~$150000).
The Sopra’s are efficient BT, and only needs 100w, but they are a very hard load in the bass, the JC1"s from what you’ve mentioned in sound charater so far is the best for them. read below.
The Focal will play loudly when fed only a few watts, my estimate of its voltage sensitivity being 89.2dB/2.83V/m.
However, as fig.1 shows, the Sopra No.3 is a difficult load for an amplifier to drive, with a minimum magnitude of 2.75 ohms at 96Hz and a combination of 4 ohms and a –56° electrical phase angle at 68Hz, both frequencies where music can have high levels of energy.
Do you get it now??
I LOVE my JC1, but I am not sure its the end game type of amp. Otherwise stereophiles Michael Fremer would be rocking them, instead of a pair of dartzeel monoblocs (~$150000).So if you have the $$$$ get the Gryphon Antillion it will be a logical upgrade, the Gryphon Diablo 300 vs Vitus RI-101 are great amps, but into this kind of load, are sidways or maybe a backward step. The JC1’s are the go or the Antillion if you realy feel the need to upgrade.
Don’t listen to the clown above suggesting tubes for these speakers, he has no idea.
A tube into this kind of load will have a lean bass (unless it has a 2ohm tap) and an exaggerated treble.
They always sound better if they cost more.I think most audiophiles do not believe this. I wouldn’t have gotten the JC1 if that were the case. If there are other int_amp/amp you believe can best these brands, please share.
The JC1 has 132000 microfarad cap reserve (at each side), and can do 135 amp peak, with damping factor > 1200. 25w of class A (at 8 ohm, so prob 50w at 4 ohm) to start, going 1200w stable at 2 ohm. If you have electrostatic, this is the top amp without equal I believe.
But there are different aspects of performance I’d like to explore. The grain free texture in high and mid, the soundstage, the immediacy related to PRAT. A burmester 911 has 160000 μF caps, and has damping factor> 10000 supposedly. Soulution 711 has 1,000,000 μF cap reserve. Same thing with the Vitus... so I just want to explore more with these brands by getting their entry level gears. And these are within the price range.
Personally I do not think Levinson amp being so much more expensive, is worth it for example. I have nothing against them, I just do not ascribe to their corporate believes.
Your current PS Audio DirectStream DAC, PS Audio BHK preamp & Parasound Halo JC1 monoblock amps are fine and good enough for your Focal Sopra 2. The Parasound Halo JC1 is on a fuller warmer side of neutral and I think is a good match for your Focal Sopra 2 speakers since the Focal is an analytical sounding speakers and would be better off with a full warmer sounding amp & preamp like the Parasound Halo JC1 and the PS Audio BHK preamp, which is a hybrid design with tube input & SS output stages.
But that being said, between the Gryphon Diablo 300 & Vitus RI-101 if I were you I would probably go with the Vitus for the Focal Sopra since the Focal is analytical sounding speaker and the Gryphon Diablo is somewhat neutral whereas Vitus in general imo would have more fuller warmer sound in comparison to the Gryphon. So I think the Vitus would be better match for your Focal Sopra speakers.
I would pair your Focal Sopra speakers with full warm sounding electronics If I were you.
Other electronics that will be a great match for your Focal speakers is Naim Audio. Look for some Naim separates. But if you go with Naim, you will have to go all the way Naim, starting from a digital front end source component (Naim digital streamer/DAC), linestage analog preamp & power amp.
If you decide to go with Naim electronics I highly recommend that you use Naim's proprietary DIN connections (DIN cables) to connect between Naim components or electronics in order to optimize sound quality and will sound quite a bit better than using its RCA connections (cables) to connect between Naim electronics. Naim always highly recommends using its proprietary DIN connections. That's why you will have to all the way Naim using Naim streamer/DAC, preamp & amp and use DIN. DIN is basically a Naim's simplified version of XLR balanced analog audio connectors.
Naim makes excellent highly musical sounding streamer/DAC especially their ND 555 streamer/DAC paired with external 555 PS DR external power supply unit. They are expensive though.
Naim electronics sounding full body, warm (I would characterize it as intoxicated warmth not like tubey syrupy type of warmth) very natural organic sound yet excel in PRAT without straining or sounded forced. Very rhythmic with great pace speed & timing and has musical drive. very musically engaging and involving.
I highly recommend Naim separates for your Focal Sopra 2. Actually your Focal Sopra 2 were voiced and tuned using Naim electronics since the Focal and Naim merged some few years ago. They would have good synergy together.
Thanks for the suggestions. I actually was looking at naim, as I know sopra was voiced with them. But their 500 amp (never mind their statement stuff) is pretty pricy, plus they really have no present in US, and nobody have their gears.
The other made-in-US option I think is good would be pass labs, maybe their x260.8....
hello; I currently have Focal Sopra 2; I have a PS Audio Directstream (had the A21 Halo/JC2 combo, BHK and also LS27 so similar hardware experience as you) and currently run a luxman m900u amp (c900u preamp inbound); Previous to the Sopra 2’s I had Dynaudio Contour 60s; The Lux has a very "alive" and very transparent presence about it;
I personally do not like the synergy with the Sopra 2 and will be moving on from the Focals; With the Contour 60’s the tone and overall sound quality was far superior to my ears; I did a ton of research about the Gryphon Diablo 300 (was very close to acquiring) and, on paper, it seems the Focal synergy would be better, or perhaps the Luxman 590 AXii Class A integrated.
One thing I noted with the Sopra 2’s; I was surprised to find them about as efficient as my DYn 60’s; on paper that should not have been, but it’s what i’m experiencing. It actually seems that they like MORE power than the 60’s; go figure.
I would include the class A stuff from Pass Labs in your hunt; I had an XA30.5 and it was a wonderful amp on the Dyn 60’s. a velvety beautiful mid-range excellent dimensional aspects, sweet treble, that I think would have been a better match on the Sopra 2s; With the DSD/BHK and a Pass XA30.8 I think there is potentially excellent synergy;
You did mention 260.8 monoblocks, and they have about 35watts in class A, so that might be better...you already have monos, so you probably have stands too :)
I have only read this, and so it’s mere conjecture, but Naim might be too thin with the Sopra 2’s.
Another up and comer to check out would be the Hegel H590. Reported to be very powerful and smooth, yet highly resolving.
Please describe your acoustic and music characteristics; Room dimensions, listening position, spacing, damping (bare walls/floor heavy carpet...), genre of music, preferred listening volume...etc.
Also, what cables are you using, IC's, speakers, power?
. So I figure to get the best out of this chain is the fastest neutral amp I can get my hands onFor giggles, why not try for FREE the Benchmark AHB2. They have a 30 day trial period. You would likely need 2 of them to run in mono mode. FREE only costs you your time. Each amp is $3K.
Stereophile reviewer is going to review the Kaya 45 with these amps (amongst others). These amps are fast and have no voice other than sheer silence. I owned them and if my next speakers are not bright I will have these amps to rotate in.
BTW - BHK did some tests on the AHB2 for some magazine and he said he had never measured an amp this quiet. Link is on the Benchmark web site.
@yyzsantabarbara 2 years ago I had the AHB2 with Dyn Contour S3.4 Le's and was initially impressed by the little amp, but overtime grew to dislike the sound; super duper detailed ...to a fault in my mind; There was something very odd about the presentation overall and I felt like I could not connect to the music. Not sure what it was, as I really wanted to like it but was easy enough to send back. Benchmark is a wonderful company.
Oh ya, the amp also ran out of headroom quickly; Having Sopra 2's which, to my ears are much more forward in the presence region than any Dyn I have ever heard, IMHO, I think that synergy might not be the best.
Thanks for your suggestion. But the AHB2 might be abit thin sounding combine with sopra. From the stereophile review:
" That's where I discovered that my new hero amp wasn't quite perfect. Oh, its power and resolution were still not to be faulted, but through a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 8 speakers, the sound was somewhat hard and thin. "
For the Kaya 45, we'll see what preamp they use. With a alloy dome tweet, AHB2 might sound too lean. It's an amazing amp for it's price, but monobridged spec at 6ohm 480w, the sopra dip at 3-4ohm at ~100hz. It would not be better than JC1 stable at 2ohm. damping factor also way less than JC1.
I want a neutral grain free amp, but if I have to pick a side to to fall back to, of course it'd be on the warm side of things (thus the Pass labs X.8 series might work). For the upper echelon european brands, beside soulution, the rest are all categorized to be neutral with a hint of warmth.
@btbluesky I made my suggestion without taking into consideration your speakers. I am not too familiar with the Focal Sopra. I just saw "fast and neutral".
Like you I was thinking that the AHB2 maybe a little lean with Kaya but the preamp would tip the scale I guess.
My next amp will be the Luxman m900u. Which sound gorgeous with multiple speakers I heard them with.
You may have missed what his sound preference is.
but I want to try the highend ultra fast yet relaxing sound.To me that says the JC1’s in low bias or high bias for a more relaxed. Or the big Gryphon Antillion
btbluesky I don’t think the two integrateds (Diablo and Vitus) have the same amount balls your used to into the Sopras, they will work fine but I think you’ll miss the bottomless pit of current the JC1’s or Antillion can supply. These are the most noticeable attributes I heard on the Alexia’s with both of them. An ease of dynamics highs mids or lows that were devoid of the speakers, and rolled out at you, little more on the Antillion than the JC1’s
Naim electronics do not sound thin at all. They are actually quite the opposite they sound full body very natural organic sound very smooth refined with grainfree highs and tonally leaning towards on the warm side of neutral with excellent PRAT yet without sounding strain or forced and music has that natural relaxed and effortless quality.
btbluesky, you mentioned earlier in your post that you're looking for great PRAT (Pace Rtyhm and Timing) & speed yet has relaxed effortless quality to the music. Naim electronics would be perfect for you and they won't sound thin on your Focal Sopra 2.
And yes, all newer current model Focal speakers (Utopia, Sopra and lower end Focals) are voiced and tuned using Naim electronics since the merger of the two companies. Or I should say since Focal acquired Naim Audio.
For your records, I do own couple different Naim gears. For my main reference stereo setup/system I do have the Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage analog preamp & Naim Statement NAP S1 monoblock amps driving my Magico M6 speakers. Phenomenal sounding with excellent musicality highly musically engaging and involving and can do subtlety at the same time. Perfect pairing and the best and most musical sounding combinations I've ever heard and owned to date. For digital front end source components I'm using the MSB Select ll DAC with its flagship Femto 33 clock and two separate mono powerbases (two separate power supply units, one feeds power to its digital side of it and the other feeds power to its analog stage).
Fyi, Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage analog preamp is the only Naim linestage preamp that has XLR balanced analog audio inputs as well as Naim's proprietary DIN inputs. The rest of Naim preamps & integrateds only have DIN and RCA single ended analog inputs. That's why I could afford to go with a non Naim digital front end source components. I'm using the MSB Select ll DAC instead and use XLR balanced analog to connect to my Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage analog preamp.
For analog front end source components I have the Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable with a TT Statement tonearm & Statement Goldfinger cartridge, separate linear discrete class A PSU for the turntable & the D'Agostino Momentum phonostage pre, which is connected using another pair of XLR balanced analog interconnects to my Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage analog preamp.
btbluesky, yes, the Naim 500 series separates are really expensive but are still much much cheaper than the Naim Statement gears. But the Naim ND 555 digital streamer/DAC + its matching Naim 500 PS DR external power supply unit (psu), Naim NAC 552 linestage analog preamp + 500 PS DR psu, Naim NAP 500 DR power amp + 500 PS DR psu will run you over $100k before DIN interconnects & power cords. However you will be rewarded with the overall sonic end results and its musicality that these Naim electronics provide.
The Naim NAP 500 DR stereo power amp is a true dual monoblock design & configurations with separate left & right channels are encased in completely separate chambers and are completely isolated and independent from each other and each channel has its own voltage and power supply regulations. For this NAP 500 DR amp you can use two separate 500 PS DR power supply units, one for each channel but will cost you more money. Each 500 PS DR psu retails for $8k. And the Naim NAP 500 DR power amp alone retails for $26k (without power supply).
Fyi, all Naim 500 series components do not have onboard power supply and you have to use their matching 500 PS DR psu for each of the 500 series component.
For my bedroom setup I also have the Naim Uniti Nova driving a pair of PMC standmount speakers.
Naim Uniti Nova is an all-in-one box or single box integrated solution. It is basically a streamer/DAC/integrated amp in a single chassis. The Uniti Nova retails for $7500 and is highly musical sounding unit. The sound is full warm punchy with excellent PRAT speed and is highly musically engaging and involving.
Naim has great synergy with PMC speakers. The Naim Uniti Nova would sound really good on your Focal Sopra 2. I've heard the Naim Uniti Nova paired with the Sopra 1 standmount (bookshelf) speakers before and they sounded great together. The Naim helps toning down the Focal's analytical nature or sound profile but without sacrificing PRAT.
As you can see that I am a big fan of Naim Audio.
In response to your comment above regarding what the OP is looking for in sonic quality. Naim electronics excel in PRAT yet possess relaxed quality to the music. They are very rhythmic with excellent pace speed timing without sounding strain or forced and have excellent musical drive. Music sounding very natural and organic with Naim electronics. That's pretty much all the OP is looking for in his earlier post.
Thank you for letting us know your experience with the Naim. But at 35k, the NAP 500DR is abit pricy, especially knowing that there is a statement amp up there.
@dpac996 For me at this price point, the gear needs to be able to do all the things any music demand. I used to have 3 system, 1 of them is all tube with SET amp and high efficiency speakers, and for jazz, chamber and vocal it was awesome, but didn’t pass muster for anything else. Nowaday with this main sys, I need it to do all genres, in the best, realistic way with a hint of warmth, and awesome PRAT. I know people have different priorities with their system, for me this is approaching end game system.
BTW, I forgot to mention, I have dual Rythmik F12G Direct Servo sealed active subwoofers (the one with paper GR research woofer), I sometime don’t know if they are on or not as they integrate with the sopra so well, only when the low freq passage comes, then I get scared the neighbors would complain as it gets down to 20Hz. Tight, well integrated. Don’t get the sopra 3, get the sopra 2 + these subs!
A hint of warmth and awesome PRAT that would perfectly fit the description of Naim gears. I know the Naim 500 series separates will be way over your budget. Look for lower end Naim separates or integrateds with Naim streamer/DAC which will be way way cheaper than the 500 series separates. Or you should consider the Naim Uniti Nova ($7500) integrated with excellent built-in streamer/DAC that will achieve the sonic qualities you are looking for (hint of warmth with awesome PRAT and musical drive). The Uniti Nova has everything (streamer/DAC/integrated amp) and you can save on interconnects and power cords. Has built-in Tidal streaming app and is Roon ready.
Never underestimate the power rating of the Uniti Nova of 80 wpc @ 8 ohms. the Nova will be able to drive any speakers, including your Sopra 2, effortlessly. What matters is current delivery, not mere power output ratings. The Nova's current delivery is stable down to low impedance loads and is effortless. The Nova will be sufficient to drive your Sopra 2 to the fullest. Unless if you have super power hungry speakers like the big Maggies or big Martin Logan electrostats eg Neoliths or the Renaissance, then you will need high powered big monoblock amps to power them.
If you go with the Naim Uniti Nova, you can sell your PS Audio DirectStream DAC, BHK preamp and the JC1 monoblock amps and I bet you will have extra money laying around.
Just my 2 cents.
But anyways I still think your current setup are awesome for your Focal Sopra 2.
You mentioned earlier in your post that Naim has no present here in the US. That isn't true.
Fyi, Naim has lots of dealers here in the US. Where do you live? I live in Seattle, WA and we have several Naim dealers here in the area (5 Naim dealers in our greater Seattle area), 3 in proper Seattle WA; 1 in Bellevue WA; 1 in Bellingham WA, 1 in Tacoma WA.
I don't post terribly often but thought I would as I have the Gryphon 300 and had the JC1s. I have also had the pleasure of the Pass 150.8 in my home. All 3 are really nice amps but each brings its own flavor. To me, the Gryphon 300 is a bottom up, big sounding amp yet it also has a really nice tone the high frequencies. I think it also has the best imaging. It's super easy to want to turn up the volume yet not have any fatigue. The JC1s are really even handed from top to bottom and don't seem to emphasize any one thing over another. For the price you can get a pair of them for, they are really hard to beat. They sound impressively better set to high bias and with updated cords. The Pass 150.8 really shined through the midrange but didn't sound as refined as the 300 at either frequency extreme. I've not heard the Vitus but when it sounds like their gear is best <50watts Class A. Beyond that and it seems like there are a lot of mixed reviews.
FWIW - the 300 sounds so good that it has prompted me to start looking at its bigger brothers - hard to give it a better compliment than that!
@caphill nice collection and great feedback on the Naim gear. I have always wanted to hear some of the amps; I was really curious about the Super Nait integrated some time ago; In looking at the insides of the units from the glorious world of Google pics, I am impressed that Naim seems to squeeze so much sound (statement based on numerous glowing reviews only!) out of compact implementations. In addition to the novel gain stage topology, I do like the idea of a single pair of push/pull devices; less matching headaches for one, and less expense overall. I like that they use the bottom plate of the chassis as heatsink; Very tidy. Perhaps someday I shall have a listen. I imagine that a Super Nait plus, say Dynaudio Special 40’s, would make a wonderful high value excellent sounding system.
Cheers and have a great weekend.
If you decide to with the Naim Super Nait I would highly recommend using Naim streamer/DAC and use DIN connection. Naim electronics sound their best when using Naim’s proprietary DIN connections, with the exception of Naim Statement gears which provide DIN, XLR balanced & RCA single-ended analog connectivities. But all other Naim components other than the Statement gears only provide DIN & RCA single ended connectivities. DIN is basically Naim’s simplified version of their XLR balanced analog connectivity.
Instead of getting the Super Nait and Naim streamer/DAC, I highly recommend the Naim Uniti Nova all-in-one box solution. The Uniti Nova is a streamer/DAC/integrated amp all in a single chassis. The Uniti Nova sounding superb very musical and very refined smooth warm (intoxicated warmth) punchy full body sound and music sounded very natural & organic with excellent PRAT. With the Uniti Nova you could save on analog interconnects / DIN and power cables, and save space.
You can read glowing reviews on the Naim Uniti Nova. It retails for $7500. Its onboard streamer/DAC/clock is superb. Got built-in Tidal streaming app and is Roon ready. You will be surprised the sonic quality and performance you can get out of that compact single box called the Uniti Nova.
I own a pair of Focal Sopra N2s, and briefly owned the Vitus RI-100, which whilst sounding, smooth, refined and vaguely tubey (I also own an 845 Integrated), didn't massively impress me. I then bought a Gryphon Diablo 300 and have never looked back. It's a stunning combination.
I'd also be keen to hear what the OP went for in the end.
Electronics from either of these manufacturers is top notch and will easily outperform anything from Parasound, Naim and especially Benchmark IMO. I would also suggest separates. The owner of Vitus is a bit of a pain and I have heard of problems with support/reliability so I would lean towards Gryphon. You should also consider CH Precision.
I am an owner of vitus sia 025 for almost 2 years now.
the gryphon diablo 300 was the last finalist i auditioned
before going for the vitus.
the gryphon is faster, goes deeper and bighter and more neutral.
the vitus is warmer, more intimate mids and more forgiving in
terms of bad recordings.
gryphon is more impressive at first but vitus will get you
the longer you listen to it.
i like my vitus a lot and no regrets.
If you want a better integrated than both? To my ears
they are both beaten by jadis l88 90 watts class a.
The new John Curl Parasound Halo JC1+ have just been released, even better than the old ones, maybe you should have a look at these.
fair enough. Then let me suggest the jadis i88 integrated
amp. Which is my next upgrade at a lower price than my
vitus sia 025 or if the op is in to solid state; then my advice
is not to discount the vitus ri 101. It may be boring to others
but vitus will grow on you with its organic and relaxed pre
sentation in the long run.
disclamer- my experience is with the older model ri100.