Check out the Vincent--great hybrid amp, great value.
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My only experience is with the Aesthetix Atlas and an older Counterpoint, many years ago.
The Counterpoint sounded great when it worked. It had serious reliability issues. It drove my NHT 3.3's really well and brought out the best in them. After the Counterpoint I moved on to tubes for 10 years. Primarily a set of Quicksilver V4's, another great amp.
The Atlas may be the finest amplifier I have ever heard. I used tube amps for years before the Atlas. Now I cannot imagine using any other amp. In fact, since having it in my system I stopped reading anything related to audio, websites, magazines, etc., and just concentrate on listening to music. I am only on here today because I have a few items for sale and wanted to check on someone's feedback.
IMHO, the Atlas truly combines the best of SS and Tube designs and serves the music well.
Good Luck on your search.
BTW, there is an Atlas for sale on this website at a great price right now. I have no affliation with the seller or with Aesthetix, I am just an extremely happy owner.
I agree with Cipherjuris that the Lamm hybrids are incredible. (And he's right, that they are indeed pricey.)
The full class A 110 wpc M1.2's are great, and slightly (very slightly, IMHO), better than the Class A/AB, (albeit heavily biased into class A), M2.2's, but the 220 wpc M2.2s have double the power and will drive virtually any speaker, and sonically, they are very, very close to the M1.2s. (I like having lots of power reserves for those peak demands.) The M2.2s are one of my two favorite amplifiers, (the other being the VAC Phi 300, which is a fully tubed design). Used, these go for around $11K.
If you can't afford those, the predesscors to the M1.2/M2.2s (i.e. the M1.1s and the M2.1s) are very close sonically. However, they do have just a bit of darkness in the upper treble response, so careful system matching is required. (I own the M2.1s, and they sound incredible, but it took quite a while to find the very best speaker cable to reduce the dark sound to a nearly inaudible level, that cable being the Nordost Valhallas.) Used these go for around $7K.
And, I agree that with a nice NOS 6922 tube in each amp, the sonics get even better. (I use an Amperex pinched waist 6922 myself)
My two cents worth anyway.
I'm currently using a Space Tech Lab VP-180 hybrid.All their amps and pre amps are hand crafted using the latest propreitary technology.The emphasis is on performance,so if you're looking for eye candy this won't float your boat.
www.space-tech-labs.com.Just for the record,in my system, it's the best amp I've ever owned.
My issue with all the Nordost cables has always been a thin sound and a bit too bright on top -- but I have not heard them with my Lamms and Ayre. I'm running mostly Purist Anniversary PCs and Purist Anniversary and Dominus Ferox on my sources, VD Rev 2.0 between Ayre preamp and Lamms and VD Rev 2.0 speaker cable. I've been wondering if I should try Purist or some other speaker cable. Your thoughts?
I haven't used the Purist cables, so I can not comment on them.
However, I can state that the Jena Labs Pathfinder cables are pure magic, especially in the mid-range. It is not bright at all, (and in fact, it seems slightly dark sounding when used with my Lamm M2.1s). My friend uses it between his Lamm M2.2s (which are not dark sounding at all, unlike my Lamm M2.1s), and his Rockport Antares speakers, and there is no dark sound whatsoever. (My friend used to use the Nordost Valhalla cables before he tried the Pathfinders. (It was his switch to the pathfinders that got me to try them. Unfortunately, the synergy between the Lamm M2.1s and the Pathfinders was just not right. I think both have just a touch of darkness, and between them when combined it produced an audible darkness that I had not noticed before with any other cable.) Based on the success that my friend with the Lamm M2.2s has had with the Jena Labs Pathfinders, I think I would recommend them to you to try. (My opinion of course!)
For me, the Valhalla's have been a godsend. They have cured the slight darkness on the top end, and it, helped at the very least, cure the slight bit of mid-bass hump I used to have with my Andra II speakers. (I have done some minor room treatments, and played around with speaker placement some more, so it could have been that cured the mid-bass hump, but I think the Valhalla played a role in taming it too.) I don't really notice any leanness in the mid-range, so perhaps it was a leanness in the mid-bass that you noticed. I have heard some people state that they thought that the Valhalla was lean sounding. (Personally, I think they sound just very, very neutral.)
PS By the way, nice preamp and nice cartridge! :-)
(I use the same ones.)
Question: Did you ever use the phono boards in the Ayre?
(I use the phono boards myself.)
If so, how would you characterize the difference between them and the IO signature?
I have not heard Jena Labs cables but have heard good things about them. It sounds like the Valhalla's are the perfect match for your Lamm 2.1s. Finding the right mix is what it's all about, especially with cables, I think. For my system, the Purist Anniversary is just phenomenal. Unfortunately, so is its price. The Proteus Provectus is pretty darn good for much less money.
Yes, I used the phono board in the K-1xe for a year before I bought the IO Sig. There is a huge difference between the two both sonically and price-wise. IO Sig at more than 5x the price of the Ayre phono board plus $3,500+ worth of NOS tubes has a much fuller, richer sound with a deeper and much taller soundstage. Music throught the IO Sig is more emotionally involving. The K-1xe linestage is hard to beat. Hansen had to go to radical lengths with the KXR himself to better the K-1xe, and the KXR is significantly better, but at a steep price.
That said, there is so much competition for the dwindling supply of the best NOS tubes for the IO Sig that their prices have been escalating alarmingly. So much so that I just sold the IO Sig and bought an Allnic H3000. The Allnic will be here early this coming week, so I will post first impressions of it probably next weekend.