Help Me Save A Few Bucks On New Amp Purchase


I have been considering a new amp purchase lately but I can't seem to get past the idea of needing allot of WATTS despite having a very small listening space (12x9 now but maybe 12x15 in the future).

Currently I own a Pass Labs X250 and a pair of B&W 803 Diamond series speakers that tend to dip into the 2ohm region on occasion. Using an App on my iphone, the loudest listening session that I normally expose myself to is no more than 100db.

My speakers are rated at 90db efficiency and don't even blink during my loudest listening sessions to date, nor does the amp.

So here is my question. Given the above information how many Watts do I really need to reproduce the same SPL in my room that I currently enjoy? Part of me would like to believe that I have never used more then 30 watts RMS but I can't be sure.

My goal is to increase the SQ via the purchase of a higher end amplifier but at the same time save myself a few bucks by picking an amp that is a better match for my normal listening habits.

In the past I have always stuck to the idea that more is always better but in this game more tends to cost the same or more than a used car. In times like these sometimes a guy needs a swift kick of reality in order to save a few bucks.

Please share your ideas and thanks for any help you can provide.
Wyred 4 Sound ST-500 or STI-500 (integrated version) -- probably just as good sounding as your amp with the same power capability but way more efficient so you'll use a lot less power out of the wall.

Alternately the W4S ST-250 is just as good sounding and provides 200 wpc @ 4 ohms... can be bought new for $1000. You'll be surprised by the excellent detail and musicality, super low noise and low electric bill.
First, I would not change if I liked the sound of my present system. Second, there appears to be a conflict between wanting to get better sound and save money at the same time. Really good sounding lower powered amps are often quite expensive and sometimes among the most expensive [see SETs]. Changing from Class A to Class D will give you a very different kind of sound, make sure you like it first. I have used Class A in the past and may again but have serious reservations about Class D; note than when Levinson or Rowland make a Class D amp it is as big and expensive as most conventional amps; if not more so,
I guess I probably should have better explained what I meant by saving a few bucks and what type of amplification I am interested in.

First, I am most interested this time around in a full Class A amp verses the A/B amp that I have now.

Second, When I mean save a few bucks I am speaking in the context of lower wattage Class A amps verses higher wattage Class A or Class/AB styles. As an example I was initially leaning towards either a Pass Labs x 350.5 or bigger since my mindset at the time was bigger is better. An amp of that size and caliber can easily run $6-10K on the used market

After thinking more about it I began to realize that I am not even using the amount of power I already have on tap so why am I looking at an X 350.5 or bigger amp.

Instead maybe what I should be looking at is a lower wattage all Class A unit. Something like a used XA30.5 or XA60.5 for example which show up on the Gon fairly often for less money then the big dog amps.

My only reservation is if these will be enough to reproduce the same perceived level of effortless power and SPL that the x250 does now. It is my understanding that an all Class A unit does tend to sound very powerful even though the max output in terms of watts tend to be less.

Hopefully this makes more sense and thanks for your responses
Monarchy may still be having a 40% off sale on it's base amp. New and 20 watts of class A sound and made in the good old USA. Check their website. Good hunting.
If your speakers are truly 90db efficient, check with Pass labs and find out how many 'first watts' are running in class A in your current amp. You may be not exceeding that amount to drive your amp into AB operation. I have the PS audio GCA 250 and it is neither solid state or tube sounding, something quite different, but excellent. You would want to try one of these type amp before spending on them. best wishes
1 watt = 90db
2 watts= 93db
4 watts= 96db
16 watts= 99db
32 watts= 102db
Every 10db will double your perceived volume.
Keep in mind that dynamic headroom is what needs the most power.
You enjoy the Pass Lab sound but want to improve sound quality. I believe that move to the XA30.5 would be an excellent choice it provides 30W/8 ohm and 60W/4 ohms all class A.With 90db efficiency you don`t really need as much power as you may think and also factoring your room size.

If you go class D I`d want to audition if at all posibble.
Best of Lock,
FWIW, I think a good idea to have generous head room, especially when using ss amps.
What is with watts? Current is the real issue.
How many CDs or LPs do you own? You like Music or equip? If music, you don't need anything. My room is larger than yours and my Harman Kardon receiver never gets close to max volume.(150wpc 4ohms). If equip, it does not matter what you buy, it won't be there long.
Pass amps make come in 'watts' but the website lists max output voltage. Simple math will give Caperd the current.....

But, the real issue is the B&W speakers which while rated at a certain sensitivity, certainly are also a bad load. At least the typical B&W speaker has large phase angles coupled with the low impedance dips. This, IMO, is the real issue, to find an amp which will work into large reactive loads at low impedance. Think 'Power Factor'.

The HK, ref'd above and the PASS INT-150 are both rated at 150x2 into 8, both into resistors. The difference will come when you connect to a real world load and find out that while the HK is good, the Pass is really good.

Look at Elvicks numbers. If you are running 16x2 @99db, 109db peaks will be 160x2 peak.....well within the x250s capability. Until you start subtracting power due to power factor considerations and attenuation that comes from listening distance.
I agree, whuch is why if improved SQ is the objective the XA30.5(high current design) is better than chasing excessive watts. Of course this topic of quality vs quantity never ends. There are many previous threads on audiogon.
I want to thank everyone who provided a response. This information will help me narrow down which path to take during my next purchase.

I have always had more than a passing interest of the Pass Labs XA30.5 unit and they seem pretty easy to find here on the Gon for a decent price. I think this unit has the specs and potential to be a strong candidate. I guess if things don't work out with that unit I could always turn around and re-sell it for the same price I would pay for one.

The test Stereophile performed on the unit showed it was very underrated in terms of it's output abilities so things are looking good in that respect.