McIntosh. But there are a few top brands to choose I would go with stereo over mono amps. Do you favor tube or SS? Most of all keep in mind the fun and joy of the hobby. Get something that brings a smile to your face even when off.
Ayre v5. Modwright. Both excellent steady state amps.
Music Reference RM200. It has balanced inputs, 100w/ch.
McIntosh is great, Glenhifi, but which model? 402,252, or the old 2500?
Bryston isn't bad either...4BSST2.
I'd vote for a 2nd hand Modwright KWA-150. That amp has great build quality, wonderfully warm, tube-like sound and amazing inner detail and resolution. It is a dual mono amp, so you really don't need mono blocks. However if you change to inefficient speakers later on & you find you need more power, the KWA-150 can be switched to Bridged mono mode via a toggle on the back & run as a mono block. It looks really good as well. Moreover, it should be a very reliable amp long-term. You should be able to pick up a 2nd hand example in excellent condition within your budget.
Can't help you without knowing more about your speakers, etc..
A used Pass X150.5 is an option.
Ah yes, I forgot about Pass Labs. Good choice...
There is a Krell FPB-300cx now available on Agon for a bit above your price. I heard this amp when I was looking for an amp, and I can vouch that it is killer.(No relationship to the owner). It will power pretty much any speakers you ever end up with.
Thanks guys! I am going to start researching your suggestions and come back with some thoughts.
I ran a Jolida tube amp for years and have recently put a Chiro amp in which clearly has way more power, but seems to have a wider, deeper soundstage. I did loose some of that warmness, but feel I gained in a more neutral presentation which seems to render a more natural sound.
I dealt with tubes going out and having to spend nearly $200 a pop which I don't think I want to do anymore.
I have some heavily modded Kef Reference 104/2, Nad m51 dac which accepts digital HDMI from the Oppo 103d. Also a toshiba xa2 hdvd. I like running the hi res formats from the 103d and m51 including blu ray movies in two channel.
Glenfihi, why would you choose stereo over mono?
After some thinking over the weekend I may increase my budget to around $3500 or a bit more if it proves better results.
Bryston 3BSST2 if you are limited in space. Bryston 4BSST2 if you need the extra power and you have more room. Both amps are dual mono. At your budget,these amps can be obtained on the used market with many years of warranty remaining. Bryston upgraded both of these amps. A call to Bryston and the ever gracious James Tanner will provide the serial numbers when the upgrades began. Bryston has excellent customer support and honors second owner warranty if the original sales slip is included. A worry free way of buying used audio gear.
After reviewing some suggestions I have some ideas.
The Ayre v5xe has peaked my attention most. I was shocked by how theres not much inside the cabinet. Looks to be a basic design which would allow so much room to do tweaking inside if wanted.
The pass x150.5 has the prettiest face and looks like a well regarded unit.
The KWA-150 modwright also looks well respected
These seem like the most viable options. I had a bad experience with Mcintosh as you can read hear on agon when I reviewed the Mac 7 channel amp that was around $8000 against a Gemstone 7 channel that was about $2500. This was in 2007. The cheaper gemstone sounded much better. I also cant stand the look of Mcintosh.
I get confused with krell cause there seem like so many amps out there and would not know where to start.
Tarp38, I agree on the warranty and a business that stands behind their product so long is highly admired and a big plus when buying.
There is a tread here on agon that has the ayre v5 or bryston 4bst and the thread seem to like the ayre v5 and a few agreed the ayre will have a more refined treble.
Not sure what the 4bst is like to a 4bsst2??
Things I have heard... Ayre amps are going to sound leaner but smooth,
the only Modwright amp I had I ended up sending back to modwright for
repairs twice within the first month of ownership. He fixed on his own dollar
but annoying non the less. I have enjoyed my Pass labs XA100.5's but the
bass is not as tight as the Krell FPB300cx. I have heard from a few
buddies that owned Bryston that the non squared amps do not sound all
that good. I have heard the SST2's though and thought they sounded nice.
The midrange is a little smoother on the pass though than any of the
above, speaking about the XA.5 series though not the X.5. I found the X
series to not have the lush midrange that the XA series has. The XA100.5's
are $18k though. Anyways there's a quick and dirty on my impressions of
Harri009, the pass xa100.5 would be to much cost but the xa30.5 would be an option.
Looks like a xa100.5 and x150.5 are around the same used price. the xa.5 class a sounds like a better sounding amp the x.5 class ab. But the xa30.5 is only 30 watts to a x150.5 150 watts make me concerned if the 30 watts is to low. I have 90db speakers.
Be curious if anyone compared those two pass amps.
The krell 300cx is peaking my interest.
I assume you meant that the X150.5 and the XA30.5 are about the same used price. That would be accurate. Yeah I haven't heard to many people who felt that the XA30.5 was enough power without very high sensitivity speakers. Alas the 150.5 is not going to have the Class A sweetness that the XA line gives, hence the X series costing less per watt. Just remember no matter the direction you go none of those amps are bad sounding, they just have their own strengths and weaknesses. I would say that Pass's weakness is dynamic slam. With that being said If I hadn't done AB's with other amps I would probably disagree with that statement. From my understanding the same applies to the Ayre being a little light on the bass. Bryston and Krell on the other hand are known for their huge dynamics but are not as know for their super sweet midrange like the Pass XA series is. Krell does produce class A amps which do add a little sweetness but its a slightly different type than the class A design that Pass uses and a few others use. Ayre is very minimal on components and very much in the thought pattern of the fewer pieces the better, that being said I owned their K5xeMP and C5xeMP and enjoyed them so they do make good sounding equipment. No matter what you buy it's fun to hear the gear for yourself and then you will always know what one piece sounds like compared to the other. If you buy used you can generally sell any of those amps for what you paid on audiogon.
Harris009, thanks for all your audio wisdom! I knew little going into the thread and feel like I'm getting a better grasp of the options out there in the used price point I set.
from what I gathered, the pass labs xa.5 series may be the most tube sound perhaps followed by the ayre and modwright units.
I think the pass xa30.5 sounds like a better bet then the x150.5 if the rooms not to big and the speakers are efficient.
I like the chiro amp and probably prefer it over the jolida tubes but gaining a little of that midrange warmth of tube sound would be nice.
I'm sure there are others out there to put on the list???
I noticed that you mentioned watching movies. Regarding the Pass XA30.5 vs the X150.5, I spoke with Reno Hi-fi about that question, and when Mark found out that my listening does include a lot of movies using my current McCormack DNA-1, he felt I might lose too much dynamics, compared with the class A/B McCormack, if I went with the 30.5. He tended to steer me towards the X150.5.
As a long-term and very happy owner of a Krell FPB 300cx, I recommend it highly. Built like a tank, delicate and nuanced sound, and bass a-plenty when necessary. Can't go wrong.
Mtrot, did you ever get the pass amp or still have the McCormack? Thats an interesting take on the pass labs amps. Sounds like the x150.5 will sound more solid state and dynamic and xa30.5 more polite like tubes.
Neal, the krell 300cx sold last night that was $3300. I still have more to learn before pulling the trigger, but the krell may have been an option. What did you have before the Krell 300cx?
The krell 300cx seems like it could be more bang for the buck then a pass xa30.5 given the Krell retails for almost double but can be had used for near the same price.
I'd keep an eye out for a pair of Parasound JC1 mono's. They "might" fall into your price range and are outstanding amplifiers.
I'm also a big fan of Pass and certain Krell amplifiers. I've always felt Ayre was a bit thin for my tastes.
Good luck and let us know what you listen to and your thoughts.
No, I still have the McCormack but i bought a used Krell FPB 400cx, which arrived today. Have not yet hooked it up. If the Krell does not clearly better the McCormack, the Krell may go back in the market.
Mtrot, keep us informed on the krell 400cx. Why did you choose the Krell over a pass labs amp?
I have been online all day and the pass labs xa30.5 could be a top choice. I may have put that over the x150.5.
The ayre v5 is loosing favorability when I always hear about the leanness issues.
hk fan I will check out the parasounds.
Freemand, I wanted to try a really big, powerful amp, for a change, so as to see if it lights a fire under my speakers to any significant effect. Also, my listening actually includes more home theater movies than two channel music, so my top priorities were dynamic attack, uncompressed sound, and authoritative bass.
I was leaning Pass, but the more I read, and spoke with a few people, I came to feel the Krell might be more appropriate. Another factor is that, in order to get as much power in a Pass(X350.5) as I got in the Krell, I would have to spend $2000 or $3000 more.
Also, I was able to audition and compare a Krell FPB300cx against a set of Pass XA100.5 monoblocks in the same system. Now, what I observed was that the Krell was indeed more dynamic, while the Pass did render the music with better soundstaging and authenticity of instruments, as should be the case with the Pass pair retailing for $16,500. But the Krell was no slouch either. So, I decided to try a Krell.
Mtrot, I have been solely a two channel music in a dedicated room for 6 years and is only recently I brought a good samsung 32 inch tv into the room. The last thing I wanted in my 2 channel was a big massive tv cause the focus is two channel music.
But, I now believe, perhaps that most high end two channel should have some kind of monitor in their room. Why, cause there are great blu ray concerts I now hear in high res high def going though a solid dac that accepts these high res formats(and why not hear and WATCH a concert in a high end two channel setup that so many invest in). I have quite a high end home theater setup, but now its out of commision and its only cause I dont care to hear it and like the two channel room thats been highly tweaked with acoustical treatments and such.
Point, I am beginning to like movies and concerts on two channel and not home theater!
With that being said, I understand why you went with the krell and will have to keep us informed on the results, but I think I would still go with an amp that renders music over movies. Perhaps, the pass would be more up my catagory??
A can of worms may have opened when talking two channel and a tv in the same room!