Totally agree with on being suspicious on the new Krells. I'm not 100% fimilair with your individual Parasound Amp, but I don't think it's going to be an upgrade.
If I were you I would look at, Bryston/Lexicon, Plinius, Theta, there was a Coda on Audiogon, a company that does not get alot of recongition, but makes awesome stuff.
Possibly a Cary 5 amp,200W.Don't know about black chassis.Heard this with a set of B&W D803s.
Take a look at an (Earthquake Cinenova Grande)...they get great reviews for sound quality...and they are truly a beast of an amp, for multichannel use.
I used to own the 1205A and its a good amp but can definitely be improved upon. Have not heard/demoed the showcase but the TAS is worth it. Even better is the Dreadnaught with the 200 or 225 (Dreadnaught II) modules. I am very impressed with the D'naught II driving the Martin Logan's. I would stay away from Bryston (lacks transparency), Cary (reliability?) but consider the newer Delta series Classe.
I guess I don't understand the term "transparent", because
Bryston amps are as uncolored as can be. My concern with the 9B is it could be underpowered in certain circumstances. A 4B and a 6B would get you 5 channels with enough power.
Parasound A51 and ATI AT2005 or AT3005 have enough power and balanced connections. Note that Theta was recently bought by ATI.
I also recommend the Cary Cinema 5. Each channel accepts either bal or unbal inputs independently. Suitable for both HT and music - decent extended lows, rich and textured mids, sweet highs, no electronic glare and a decent soundstage. It's quite impressive for $1000 per channel. I believe it's also available in a black faceplate.
Thanks for all your suggestions.
It is amazing to me how controversial the Bryston amps are. I've never had a chance to hear them...I am also confused about those Earthquake amps. High power yes. Refined and transparent? What do people think?
Has anyone spent time comparing a Dreadnaught I and II?
If anybody has a 5 channel 225watt Dreadnaught II in black, a Cary 5 or Krell TAS in black, or a Delta series Classe they should contact me.
Also, does anyone have experience with the Edge GAV, other than the fact that Absolute Sound seems to love Edge?
Of the amps you listed, and...hometheater/multichannel in mind. Classe, Krell TAS, and Cinenova Grande would be my top choices to explore.
The rest of your choices, are well below these in build...the Bryston being the best of these. When you buy an amp, you should buy with "intended use" in mind.
If you want a two channel (audiophile) amp, then thats what you should buy, simply add a three channel amp to that.
BTW, the Theta measures the highest distortion levels of the bunch (by far), when pushed hard....Google is your friend.
Dave is correct regarding the Dreadnaught. The original design was by Ayre's Charles Hansen so no global feedback is used; there is probably some local feedback used.
Richard Hardesty at the Audio Perfectionist did use (may still do) the Dreadnaught I as his reference and compared it to the II in one of his issues. He prefers the I.
There are a couple of Proceed Amp 5's around. When I was a 2 channel guy, I had a Levinson 23.5 which was my all time favorite amp.
How do the Proceed's stack up against the other amps we are discussing? Is buying an amp that old a good idea?
I owned Proceed AMP-5. It was an excellent amps, the sound is more lively and open than equivalent Krell KAV series but never compare it to showcase.
If you are primarily a music lover, don't get a multi-channel amp. If I understand correctly, the Parasound is a multi-channel amp? If so, keep it for your HT and get a good 2-channel amp (Krell FPB or go back to the ML 23.5 - which is a great amp) or tons of others. Even at a used price of $1,000 a decent 2-channel amp is going to blow the Showcase out of the water and also the Dreadnaught II which I owned for 2 weeks and sold because it was useless in terms of performance in 2-channel mode!
FWIW I tried to go the 5-7 channel amp route with Krell KAV 1500, Dreadnaught II, Conrad Johnson, and none did it for me in 2 channel. I now run a Krell FPB and a Proceed 3 channel for center and surrounds - but HT is a very low priority for me. Previously I ran a ML 331.5 with the Proceed which was a pretty good balance for HT.