Ayre was an excellent combination on my BE-20's at lower volumes, and I suspect it would be an ideal mate to 718's..
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Yesterday I bought a Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 class D integrated for my BE-718's. To my ears the combination is astonishing. Now I feel I'm hearing the full potential of the speakers. I had the chance to home demo the amp and it sounded so good I bought it without even asking permission first. My wife didn't mind too much because she said the stereo sounds better than ever.
First and foremost: what's your price range?
Second: what kind of sound do you like? Warm, sweet, and laid back? Cool, forward, dynamic, and as detailed as possible? Those are what I think of on the opposite ends. e.g. McIntosh & Sonus Faber vs. Krell & Wilson.
I think ICEPower amps are a popular choice. I use a Bel Canto S300 along with a tube pre for my BE-718s and like it quite a bit. A little warm and sweet -- moreso than other ICEPower/Class-D amps like W4S or Nuforce, or so I've heard -- but still a lot of detail and good speed and punch, unlike tube amps. I also appreciate the low power consumption and heat dissipation a lot. An S300i integrated would run about $1k used.
Just make sure you're giving these power hungry guys enough juice. Absolutely no less than 100 WPC SS. Usher recommends 200 W. A lot of tubes, especially SET, are out of the question.
I thank you all for your answers. Apreciate your implication a lot. I want as many as possible, especially Usher owners which experienced the same problem as I did. I'm not sure about the price range - around 2500$ (new or sh - doesn't matter) and I like it warm and laid back but must be as involving and dynamic as it can be on this side. Not much bass extension, not a big fan but I want a crisp, clear and vigurous one. I want the amp to be able to control it. Don't want it too up front neither too laid back. Guess I'm getting you confused. Just pour some more options, please and describe your impressions. Thanks again all.
P.S. I'm thinking about an JR Concerto or a Primare I30 (both available for testing and close to my location)- if you have the combo, say somethin'.
Sounds like you're tastes are pretty much in line with mine, but your budget is higher. You might want to look into: Plinius 9200, Luxman L505u, Bel Canto Ref500M/Ref1000 MkII. Haven't heard them myself, but they've piqued my interest from what I've read. Luxman in particular makes very sweet amps, but pricey and hot pure class A circuitry.
Thanks, everyone. I went for the Jeff Rowland Concerto Integrated. Sounds terrific and exploits the full potential of the Ushers. I'm using a Weiss DAC 2, AudioQuest Mont Blanc 72V DBS, AudioQuest Sky XLR 72VDBS. Unfortunately I have to downgrade from Mont Blanc to CV8 but let's hope the difference is minor. Gonna tweak my laptop a little and acoustically treat the room (cheap style, of course but hopefully efficient). Happy listening. :)
Art, the sound made an interesting change. After a few months I realized that my listening chair was in the wrong position. After the amp broke in the soundstage changed and I had to move my chair back about a foot to enjoy the expanse of the sound that wasn't nearly as big as before. I kind of went from a nearfield listening setup to a taller, wider soundstage and a bit fuller and substantial sound without moving the speakers an inch or changing anything else in the room. A huge benefit of this amp is how good the music sounds at low volume even with the chair farther back-something I have never enjoyed before with any system. Now I can listen to music more often without disturbing my wife because I don't have to play it so loud. Scary to admit that I may be more than satisfied in the amp/speaker category and can move on to a music server.
Well I have an STI-500 breaking in now in my home.
Initial impressions are very positive.
(including - perhaps I no longer need a sub to complement my Silverline 17.5's? :-)
I'll be evaluating in absolute terms.
But then I'll also need to decide, in a month or two, whether to keep the W4S, or my Cary SLI-80, or both.
ps: They really seemed to lock in when I switched to Cardas Golden Ref interconnect. Perhaps synergy with CGR is the ticket here?
I know. Patience!
I finally settled with Jeff Rowland Concerto Integrated, Audioquest Sky 1m 72VDBS, Audioquest Volcano 72VDBS, Audioquest NRG-5, Weiss DAC2, Fisch Audiotechnik AC passive filter, Aavik rack with Nordost Pulsar Points. I couldn't be any happier. Maybe it's just my taste but I recommend to anybody else with Be-718 looking for an amp to at least make an audition with the JR.