Is anything better than Aleph 3?

I do not know if I would consider myself TRUE audiophile but I have been in this hobby for a long time although for the last few years I had no time for it but getting in the game again :)

I have heard a lot of solid state amps but I only heard Rogue Audio as tube amp. I always felt like it would be a pain to deal with the tubes but frankly I just have this conception from what I read/heard from people here and there. Right now I am considering tube amps so that I can have a sound like my good old Aleph 3. I used to have this amp and did not hear anything like it so far. I do not have fancy words to explain it but that thing was so sweet. The midrange was so smooth/soft, I could almost see the airy sound that was coming from the speakers with that amp. Yes, it did not have the best bass but that was not my concern too much. However, that thing was getting TOO hot and it was adding extra cost to the electric bill.

I have been trying to find someone who had an experience with the Aleph 3 and had a chance to compare it to the other amps. I have read some people telling Golden Tube SE-40 (yes I heard about the reliability issues) is the same or better. This other guy saying Onkyo A-9555 is better sounding amp than the Aleph 3. Could this be true?

You can tell that I do not want to spend a fortune but I could go up to $1500 for an amp that I can get the sound of an Aleph 3. Sure, I can get the Aleph 3 again but the heat and power consumption is a lot. Also, I am trying to see if I can like any other amp better than the Aleph 3.

Any suggestions?

No. I've been down this path, and the only thing I've found better than an Aleph 3 is a pair of AtmaSphere MA1s, which put out much more heat, and cost a lot more to buy and run (tubes/electricity). The JJ 828 is very nice also, not as dynamic, but sweeter sounding. I auditioned the Golden Tube SE40 before I bought my Aleph3, not even close. Audible harmonic distortion, which sounded great on strings, but everything played through it / them sounded a bit like a bowed violin. I can't say there's nothing out there that sounds as good for less money, less heat and less electricity, but I haven;'t heard it. Most tube amps will probalby generate at least as much heat.
Thank you for your reply. I REALLY regret selling my Aleph 3. I had Maggies at the time and I just wanted to have something more powerful but now I know that was a big mistake. AtmaSphere will be way too expensive for me but I cannot imagine how it sounds if it is better than Aleph 3.
I am bi-amping with 2 Aleph 3s. Owning many amps over the years I still have not heard anything as true to the music as the Aleph 3. So I did reverse my field and went back in time for the Alephs. Speaker matching is the only problem. My speakers are 4 ohm 90db and do well with one Aleph but better in my big room with two! If you want pure class A, heat and power consumption is the price we pay. The only amps that matched the Alephs natural sound that I have owned were the Pass Labs XA-160s. They consummed far more energy and ran hotter by a large margin and cost much much more! If you need big power on a budget, I found the Parasound JC-1s to be very musical and should sound good with Maggies, but they too will raise the house temp and the electric bill to a greater extent than the Aleph 3s.
The Alephs are special. I owned the 5 and heard the 3. There is a good reason for all those heatsinks!!!!

I have Pass's XA.5 amps now and several SET amps so you know what kind of sound I like. The amp I would recommend for your situation is the Red Wine Audio 30.2. I've seen them used in the 1500 ballpark, they put out zero heat, battery operated Tripath chip (don't let that scare you) and put out 30 wpc. Make sure to try and get the ".2" version. They did something special to it. The original 30 was good too, so if money is tight you might consider it also.

After listening to tubes from fall to spring, I always feel reluctant to put my RWA into my system when summer rolls around, but it never ceases to amaze me. Good luck.
I still have my Aleph 3 and will probably never sell it. It is simply too good for the money. My friend bought the Golden Tube SE40 at the same time in 1994. No comparison. I moved up the Aleph line to a 5 and then the 2 monos - all fantastic. You should be able to find an Aleph 3 for under $1000 and an Aleph 5 for about $1400. I have not heard anything close for the money. If you can stretch, the 2s will cost just below $2500. Simply fantastic. The bass was never the best and it has been improved substantially in the new XA.5 line, but it is very expensive. That pure Class A is hot and hungry for power. Small price to pay for the sonics. You could also look for a FirstWatt. There is one that has 30 watts and is supposed to be better than the Aleph 3, but I have not heard it.
Peterayer, I would agree with you but he is trying to reduce heat and power consumption.

And BTW, a public thanks for your personal help when I was moving up the Pass line.
The Onkyo A-9555 will run cool and cost less to operate...
but not in the same class as the Aleph 3. I have not heard a digital amp that sounds natural or warm etc. I agree with Peterayer about the Aleph line, the 2s are great and there is a pair for sale on Audiogon. No, they are not mine or my cousins! But we are back to the same problem heat and energy cost...sorry
Thanks again for the replies. I frankly never really believed that Onkyo could be in the same league but I had to bring it up since there are some talks about it and even being compared to Aleph 3. The Red Wine Audio looks interesting too. I am putting that in my list. Aleph J is also supposed to be really good from what I have read. You know what; I may just suck up the heat/extra cost and get the one that suits my taste the best. That Aleph 3 is still in my head :) I am not saying all Pass amps are the best though because I was never too impressed with their X line. Aleph line is something else.
Correction to my last post: When I said the X line, I did not mean the XA line which I have never heard. I just wanted to clear that.
It really depends what sound you prefer.
I have heard an Aleph 3 many times but it never engaged me the way a good SET amp can.Actually no Class A SS amp I have heard does.They all sound a bit boring.
Not that the Aleph 3 is bad.Just lacking life and vibrancy-which is what real live music has.Listen to a violin for example.
A good comparison would be with an Almarro 318B SET amp.These have all the drive and bass control of a good SS design but with the energy,timbre and engagement of Single Ended Triodes.
That is the first time I have heard boring and Aleph 3 in the same sentence.
I agree, I find the Aleph's a bit boring too. Dynamics, both micro and macro seem to be lacking. I much prefer Pass's X series.
I was a bit perplexed with Jtgofish's and Unsound's comments that they each find the Aleph 3 boring because I agree with Gandme's comment. Then I finished Unsound's post and read that he prefers the X series. Now it makes a lot more sense. The Aleph and X are completely different animals. I find the XA.5 to have the strenghts of each and they are anything but boring.
It is so interesting to see how one can just love the Aleph and other finds it "boring". Sure, taste is subjective. Like I am not too impressed with the X line though I would not call them "boring". However, to call the Aleph "boring" is at least not fair to Mr. Nelson Pass.

I wonder if you know the retail price of the XA.5 that is XA30.5 I believe, no? I never saw that on used market either.
I believe it is around $5,000. I'm sure it is listed in the recent Stereophile review. There are occasionally used or demo XA30.5s listed on the RENO HIFI website. Good luck. I have never heard it, but if it is anything like my XA100.5, it is wonderful.
The FirstWatt Aleph J (I think) is another Nelson Pass 30 watt design for a lot less money than the XA30.5. Agian, you could check with RENO HIFI as they are the FirstWatt distributor.
Thanks for your responses Peterayer. I was just curious about the retail price on the 30.5. I do not think I could afford it at the moment. I am seriously considering the Aleph J since Mr. Nelson Pass also says this about it: "I consider the best of Aleph series" Now, that's something!
Sorry for the typo. "I consider it the best of the Aleph series"
Another good one is the Aleph 30. Looks more like the "J" than the "3". Like the Aleph 3, can be found for less $$$. All these great small class A solid state amps will sound boring in the wrong system...but with the right speakers, like small S.E.T. tube amps, will shine and be hard to beat!
I must agree with the "boring" sentiment. I had a Pass 3 for a month or so, based on the rave in TAS. I found it bland and boring. I could not understand the raves at all. I actually found the x150 to be similarly... OK. Not great, but OK. I know some folks love em, so I guess it is different strokes for different folks...
I owned the Aleph 3s and then the 2s - I think you will find the First Watt Aleph J to be just as good, I prefered it the the Alephs but you reall can't go wrong with the First Watt if they are still making it. I also owend the XA30.5 which I think is better yet, but you can go chasing the holy grail forever, the Aleph J is one heck of a good amp if 30 watts is enough for you.
Pubul57: Did you mean you preferred the Aleph J TO the Alephs OR you preferred the Alephs over the First Watt?

HI Celo,
I think what you should do is go to your audiophile store and listen to a range of amps (that are aleady warm) of your price. If you know someone that you can borrow an Aleph, bring it to the store and compare.
Yes, class A amp gets warm and su... more energy but the sound is very nice. I had had a Kinergetics kba75 (75w in class A) and it was a very good amp but again gets warm. Did have not long ago a Simaudio Celeste 4070 amp with rca and xlr inputs (I had it for 6 years as a reference amp). Cool amp, not power hungry, and very musical and detail amp. Good in every aspect of music (bass, mids,high). More the preamp was of high quality, better it sounded, but even a bottlehead foreplay was a big surprise and a good match... But the Classe DR25 classe A amp was the best in term of 3D sound and with fantastic mids...but was hot.
Now, concerning the Golden Tube se40. It is right that it can have reliability issues but not if you use the good tubes. It is also right that it was not the best in bass and highs but pretty goog in mids. I own one and did mod it 3 months ago with Loc Vu kit from Yahoo Golden Tube group. This is not a small mod but a huge one that is worth the price (less than 200$ when I ordered it).It is now a totally different beast. Bass have more attack than my ss amp right now (a 2600$ amp) and mids and highs are even better. No more distortion as described earlier by someone else. Plus, I hear clearly details that I could not hear before. Feel like in a live concert everytime. I am impressed by this modded amp. Tubes amp and tube preamp are now what I listen to. Personnal taste. But again, it gets warm and it is more power hungry than a class a/ab amp. Also, you can't let tubes amp at on all time...

Since I live in Quebec, I use my ss amp during hot weather in summer, and use my Golden Tube and also my ASL ki22 Fox DT integrated amp (very very good with efficient speaker) during fall and winter since they are warming my living room and plays music in the same time..............
Good luck,
Oh yes, if your hifi store has used amp for sell, ask for a listening session with those. Or look here on Audiogon or elsewhere for used amp of quality for a cheap price. This is the way I bought my ss amp and tubes amp for low price.
I preferred the Aleph J to the Alephs, mostly in what appeared to be better bass performance. They are all good though and I think the J is a real "bargain" these days, though it doesn't have the cool cuboid shape of the original, which some love and some hated. Another good think about the J is that is has a very high input impedance making it much easier to drive with a tube preamp than the Pass Aleph series.
I think Aleph 3 (also 1,2,4,and 5) can sound boring driving speakers with low (6 ohm or lowers) impedance. I found it to sound its best with benign 6 ohm or higher imdedance.

I prefer the Aleph 0 mono amps for their ability to drive tough speaker load and far better bass response.
Regarding the Alephs sounding boring - I won't disagree,as in the wrong system, they can sound bad. I had this experience when I brought my Aleph3 to an AtmaSphere dealer. He was playing some high impedance horn speakers, which were a perfect match for the AtmaSphere 30 watter. When we connected my Aleph, I was very upset, because it sounded so bad, I thought he might have done something to it to damage it when I wasn't looking. For a brief moment, options ran through my head- rant and rave and threaten bodily harm? call the police? call a lawyer? In the end, I stayed calm and learned some stuff. Hooking the AtmaSphere up to speakers that the Aleph was well suited to (4ohm ported) turned the tables - now the Atma sounded boring. They don't put out a lotof power, and if your speakers need it, the Aleph3 won't work well. I have heard SETs in only in shows, and understand the vibrance thing. At some point, I want to get a couple and have a shootout in my own system. Someday.
Thanks again for the latest responds. Well, I think we need to correct one thing here. Aleph sounds boring is one thing, Aleph sounds boring with with wrong speakers/system is another. I do not believe there is one amp/speaker/CD player, etc. that sounds good with everything. That is not possible, IMO. I still would not call it boring, I would just say "not a good match". I know I know, I always protect my Aleph somehow :)
Celo, I don't think you can go wrong with the Alephs or the Aleph J if you are looking for that midrange you liked, and hard to get from some SS. If you are really consider tubes as an alternative in the 30 watt range, I would consider the Music Reference RM10 which is one of the finest amps I have heard when 35 watts is enough. They are highly reliable and get 10,000 hours or so from their output tubes (EL84). I do love the Class A Pass gear, but you know, they are still not tubes, and if you like what tubes can do even the Pass gear doesn't quite do that. But for SS, I've not heard better than Pass gear, especially the Class A stuff like the Aleph.
Most amps can sound lousy if improperly matched to a speaker.

That S-30 in question would be horrible with a pair of Maggies for example.

The Aleph 3 is, IMO, a bargain at its' current used price but it's imperative to select the correct speaker.
Audiofeil points out one of the most important things to know about amps and speakers, and no question he is right. That being said, I still think that when properly matched, the First Watt Aleph J was a step forward from the original Aleph series (thought limited to 30 watts), it simply does bass better, and is easier to match with tube preamps. Still, I stick to what I said, if you want tube sound, you need tubes. And since he mentioned Atma-sphere, I don't think there is anything better than an OTL with properly matched speakers (highish and flatish impedance)
I have two questions please.

1) Why is "warm" or even "hot" such a deal breaker? Televisions get warm, kitchens get hot, cars and motorbikes get warm and hot. For a great amp, I am happy to remove a layer of clothing.

2) Would any of these designs work well with the new Harbeth mini monitor?

I am looking for a standardized solution for multiple desktops at work and home, where I can listen with fatigue free midrange all day, every day.

Thank you,