Improving on Classic Amps

Not for any good reason other than I am an audiophile, I have been thinking about changing my amp and preamp and would appreciate any suggestions.

As you can see from my system link, I have an Audio Research SP 11 and a Levinson 23.5.

In an ideal world, I would actively biamp or triamp and might even keep both, but that would run up the bill pretty quickly.

As both the SP 11 and the 23.5 command a cult classic premium on the used market, I am wondering if I might get better sound out of my Tympanis for +/- the same price and/or not so much more invested in the system.

SP-7 and Bryston monoblocks? Entry level LAMM? Parasound JC-1s?

I would rather not have anything too tweaky or garage built, but would otherwise consider trading the cult status of my amp and preamp for better performance.

If possible....

Thank You
Timpanis being low impedance and current hungry creatures, why not try some high quality class D amplification in a balanced configuration: Rowland Continuum 500 if you want to try the integrated root. . . else, Bel canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 monoblocks + a Rowland Capri pre. I am using the Capri in my system, and I have heard the new Bel Cantos at some length at the last RMAF and was quite impressed by their musicality and finesse. Your Timpanis are likely to love the control yielded by some class D amps with damping factors of 1000 and peak currents often exceeding 40Amps. . . and you will love their cool operation and significantly lowered energy bills. G.
hold on cw, you have classics here...cult status is more than're 'more than fine' with this pair.

Hmmm....thank you and interesting points, but not so sure about these digital amps... Why so many for sale and at such discounts?


Thank you - on reflection, I guess I don't want to end up on the which component do you you most regret selling thread....

Of course, it is fun to change systems once in a while!

My other thought was Pass Labs....but yes, maybe the cult status of what I already have is deserved.
Cwlondon, actually class D amps are analog devices. . . the "D" is just a counter, like in A B [C] D. . . problem is that I have no idea where class C amps have gone (snickers!)
As for them being heavily discounted. . . some are, while some brands/models definitely are not. Yet, I do understand your natural mistrust for the diminutive. . . . I used to suffer of the same problem. . . and perhaps I still share some of it. . .after all, my JRDG 312 does weigh a hefty 80 Lbs. . . is this perhaps the reason why there are so few of them on Agon? (grins!)
As far as I know, the latest Levinson flagship runs in class D.
Thanks Guidocorona for clarification - from Wikipedia

"The letter D used to designate this amplifier class is simply the next letter after C, and does not stand for digital. Class D and Class E amplifiers are sometimes mistakenly described as "digital" because the output waveform superficially resembles a pulse-train of digital symbols, but a Class D amplifier merely converts an input waveform into a continuously pulse-width modulated (square wave) analog signal. (A digital waveform would be pulse-code modulated.)"

Naturally, as an audiophile, I am inclined to believe that any amplifier which is heavier, runs hotter and/or has dangerously sharp edges probably sounds better.

Also from Wikipedia:

"Class D amplifiers for driving subwoofers are relatively inexpensive, in comparison to Class AB amplifiers.

A 1000 watt Class D subwoofer amplifier that can operate at about 80% to 95% efficiency costs about $250 USD, much less than a Class AB amplifier of this power, which would cost several thousand dollars."

This second point might also explain some skepticism, heavy hype and promotion from certain manufacturers and the rapid fall in resale values for some.

Old school Class A amps seem to retain their value pretty well.
I do believe that the TacT amps can accurately be described as "digital" amps, that is if they are indeed amps at all.
problem is that I have no idea where class C amps have gone

Class C amplifiers very much exist, but they are not used in audio because they inherently have very high distortion. They are commonly used in RF transmitters, with their outputs fed into tuned circuits (tuned to the frequency being transmitted) which can partially filter out the distortion.

The letter D used to designate this amplifier class is simply the next letter after C, and does not stand for digital

Quoting from a post I made in a recent thread on Class D amplifiers:

Whether or not a class D amp is referred to as digital or analog is not related to its class D power output stage. What would properly be called a digital class D amp is one that can accept a digital input, and which puts that digital signal through some dsp (digital signal processing) to generate the modulation waveform that ultimately controls the switching of the class D power output stage. An analog class D amp would differ in that it would utilize an analog input and have an analog front-end signal path.

-- Al
Thank you Al for solving the 'Great class C Caper'!

Cwlondon, like all other types of amps, class D range from 'bargain basement' prices like the subwoofer amps you mentioned, to the stratospheric. For example: Flying Moles used to be under $1K, Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 $6K, JRDG Continuum 500 $8.8K, JRDG 312 at approx 16.5K, Spectron monos with all the trimmings at $22K, JRDG 301 monos approx $30K, Levinson flagship (forgot model) in $50K range if memory serves. Interestingly, class D amps are somewhat less heavily advertised than other kinds. . . their growing popularity appears to be more of a word-of-mouth phenomenon.
i seem to remember auditioning the tympany 1 ds with a powerful audio research tube amp, with an audio research sp 6 mod something.

i owned a pair of tympany 1bs and i preferred tubes driving them, especially the quicksilver ms 190.

if anything, sell the levinson and buy a conrad johnson mv 125.

personally, if production of audio components ceased after the end of the production cycle of the cj mv 125, i wouldn't shed a tear. stay classic and go vintage tubes !
Hey Mrtennis,

I agree, "stay classic and go vintage tubes" is great advice. In fact, I personally am currently running a pair of vintage CJ Premier 8A monobloc tube amps on my Magnepan 20Rs with beautiful results. But to muddy the waters, I also have a class- D Spectron Musician III SE MK II (with the Bybee filters and V-Caps) that I alternate with the CJ Premier 8As' with equally beguiling, albeit of a different hue, results. I wouldn't part with either. I even mix the two using a Bryston 10B active crossover with the CJ tubes on the top and the Spectron on the bottom. In both cases I have found that a tube preamp, (in my case a Supratek Syrah-although I have also experiemented with Modwright 9.0s, Ultraverve, Emotive Audios and many others), makes everything even better.
Hi BBRO, could you elaborate on your experience with Spectron and CJ, and contrast eaches sonic merits? Thanks, G.
mrtennis thank you will take a look at the CJ stuff...

Bbro, yes that makes a lot of fact the factory recently told me that they use both Bryston amps and crossovers for testing and evaluation.

Combined with the fact that many Magneplanar users say that you haven't lived until you biamp makes me very curious.

Of course bimaping or triamping with world class gear could get pricey pretty quickly.

Can anyone comment on their experiences with vintage tubes and any of the larger Magneplanars?