Hummm, You went and listened for yourself...and you would still give credit, to something you read?...over your own ears?
You will need those meds at some point.
You will need those meds at some point.
Dave, you make a good point. My situation is that I wish I could audition all three, in the same room on the same day under the same conditions. Unfortunately, I cannot. That said, I just wanted to hear some others experiences with these products. Thanks for responding, and yeah, medication will be in order at some point.
Are you listening to your own music? If not, you should be. You should never use entire tracks or discs to compare the equipment. Pick two or three one minute selections since longer will overload your audio memory and lead to a faulty decision. Make sure your selections encompass the type of music that means the most to you. Always listen to exactly the same selections in the same order before and after each equipment change. Do not make a decision on the first listen but go back and listen again (3+ times, if needed). Do not rush the decision since you do not want to make a mistake. You could bring a friend to help but this is your equipment so it must be your decision to make. If you cannot decide, wait one week and go listen again. If all the equipment sounds the same, pick other familiar music selections and listen again (or change the equipment). This is not an easy process so please take your time and do not rush it. Hope this helps.
Undertow is 100% correct, but you need some guidance to choose tube-friendly speakers. Generally speakers with a very smooth impedance curve, and if it nominally 8 ohms rather than 4 ohms, all the better. A tube amp with the wrong speaker can result in less than ideal bass - tubes don't handle poorly engineered speakers with wild swings in impedance very well. What speakers do you have or are you considering. Tube bass is all the things Undertow mentions, it breathes and blossoms into the room in a very 3D manner; I think sometimes the word "bloom" is used to describe it; it sounds very natural.
I would add that if no single set-up (and we're talking systems here, since everything besides the amps is NOT equal, right?) jumps out at you as 'the one', that could mean a few things:
1. you're just not all that picky and could be happy with any of these amps (nothing wrong with that!)
2. you should keep looking until something blows you away (i.e. you're not done with your search yet)
3. you haven't listened 'properly', as in all the above posts' suggestions about bringing your own favorites. when I audition things, I bring music I've heard 100+ times: as soon as it starts, I immediately can hear the differences, and if it doesn't impress me as a definite improvement (i.e. I have to really think hard about it...) then it's not 'it'
Thanks for the suggestions and responses. I do bring my own music, and I while I bring different selections with me, I always bring one of the same selections ALL THE TIME (Yellowjackets - Greenhouse). However, I have always listened to the full track before changing gear, so I'll have to change my method of listening. (Thanks Geifman) But like I said, a proper a/b comparison is virtually impossible because the Rogue and McIntosh amps are not sold in the same shop.
Regarding the sound, all three were very authoritative with the bass, with the McIntosh having a warm laid back sound, somewhat tube like. In some ways, I felt that the McCormack may have had a little more umph, but that may have been due to a difference in speakers. The McCormack did not sound laid back to me, but still did a great job with its presentation. I was thoroughly impressed with the Rogue because I was not prepared for the way in which it handled the bass. (So much for tubes not being able to do bass as well as SS) It never felt thin and it had great tone.
I have done all of my listening on the Focal 1027be and the Nola Viper Reference. Both great speakers with different sounds, but I like them both. I am however, leaning towards the Nolas if I can score a nice used pair; they list for $12,000, while my speaker budget is in the Focal neighborhood. And yes, the speakers are in two different shops as well, but the sound of the Nola's is magical to me. They were being driven by McIntosh monoblocks. Focals were being driven by the Rogue monoblocks and/or the McCormack.
I'm sure I'd be satisfied with all three amps as they all performed very well. Under the circumstances, its been tough for me to pick a clear cut favorite. However, I won't rush it, because I'll be keeping this system for a long time. Maybe its been so difficult for me because they are all just that good!!
It if matters, I already have a deposit on the Rogue Perseus preamp.
The Nola Viper, if I remember correctly (I owned their predecessor under the Alon badge), are very tube friendly and would likely work very well with Rogue. I think the tube bass issue is one of proper matching with the right speakers. Although I would say my CAT and Music Reference amps produce great bass on almost any speaker. I've never noticed much difference between a well made stereo and monoblock topologies, but that's me. Although you can run very short speaker wire with monos, and I suppose that is a theoretical advantage.
For what it is worth, if you go with the Nola's you might want to ask some very specific questions about long term parts availability & parts pricing. I bought some Alon's on agon that were damaged by DHL and poor packaging. When I went to do repair I was amazed that some parts weren't even available, some were remarkably high priced, & build quality once you took things apart was really very cheesy, particularly for a 6500 list speaker.
Either cast a wider net searhing for something that blows you away,which I think would be doubtful with the level you are looking at. Or make your choice on "pride of ownership", which unit would you like to have even if you were just walking by it and not listening at the time. What makes you smile. May not make a whole lot of sense, but that comes into the equation at times.
I might add that if you are equally happy with all three amps, the solid state one will be less hassel to deal with for sure. You can leave it on all the time and it will always be warm and ready when you want to listen and in my opinion will have more authority in the bass with better dynamics. Tubes are nice, I've owned a lot, but for me the convenience as well as superior dynamics of good solid state makes it the better choice.
Hawk28, seeing your responses.. I will offer my bottom line opinion specifically on the amps you are seeking.. Price for you Used, the rogues and mcCormack are better buys. However Tubes vs. solid state is not so much an issue here as to be quite honest after owning the rogues vs. other tubes its much more solid state like in its presentation. So its not bad just saying its not that different if your looking for true "tube" sound than other choices are going to be leaning more that way.. All this being said, Value, and closest to tube sound in my opinion holding true to the qualities seeked with better overal future cash out if necessary, Go mcintosh, its basically like wilson speakers, regardless if its the best or not for the money its a safe bet for other reasons especially if it gets the job done for you sonically which it seems too, and yes replacing the tubes for similar sound out of the amps you are considering are now in my opinion not necessary, or try some other tube amps that are much more of the tube magic in the first place. I have owned amps from all 3 listed by the way.
The biggest difference, between tube amps that sound somewhat Solid state like (and, the Rogues are one of many that fit here) should be heard in mid-range reproduction quality.
If you can't hear a difference "here" between the contenders, and all have bass/treble reproduction that fits your requirements...I would go with one of the solid state contenders.
I made my switch from solid state to tubes, only because I was never "totally happy" with SS midrange reproduction, from any amps I had owned over the years. The ones without grain, sounded somewhat flat in soundstage, and the non-flats where forward sounding, with just enough grain to bother...tubes fixed all that for me.
Other than that...I'm a solid state guy (dressed up in tube clothing).
Sogood51, thanks for your insight. I guess that's what it is. Rogue offers a sought of solid state sound with the warmth and midrange of tubes. I guess I'm on the right track then to go through with my purchase of the tube preamp. Based on this info, I will make a decision between the McCormack and the McIntosh fairly soon. Thanks for the info.