Legendary used amp, or economical new one?

This past week a couple of my 30-yr-old vintage amps went awry. One, a VSP Labs TransMOS 150 developed a loud hum and got smokin' hot before I shut it off. The other, a Heathkit AA-1600, lost the left channel.

I may get them fixed, possibly to keep as backup or to sell, but I've come across yet another, a 100 wpc ultra-wide bandwidth Perreaux amp, also from the mid-'80s. The Perreaux has some features I've always been curious about in an amp but couldn't afford in a new one--distortion at .009%, bandwidth out to 3Mhz, and the accompanying rise time below 1 microsecond. I'd love to see how all that speed and resolution translates into sound quality, spatial cues, low level detail, and pinpoint timing--key elements in musically involving.

But I don't know how rugged Perreaux gear is, and maybe for the same money I should settle for a new Emotiva XPA 200 or a much less used Odyssey Khartago or Stratos.

Thoughts? Feelings? Opinions? Condemnations? :)
Based on a quick search, it sounds like you are referring to a PMF-1150B :-)

I have no particular knowledge of how those things tend to hold up after nearly 30 years, but considering the relatively low prices they seem to go for, and the generally excellent reviews I seem to recall they received back in the day, if there were grounds for reasonable confidence in its present condition I'd be tempted to go for it if I were looking for a solid state amp in that power and price range.

My one additional comment, though, is that if the impedance of your speakers should happen to have severely capacitive phase angles at ANY frequency (not just those requiring lots of energy, such as in the bass region), I'd be hesitant to go with an amplifier that has extremely wide bandwidth and that also presumably uses significant amounts of feedback (judging by the low THD numbers). The combination of those three factors raises concern in my mind about phase shifts, frequency response peaking, and perhaps even instability if a heavily capacitive load is applied.

Just some miscellaneous thoughts that occur to me. HTH.

-- Al
I am firmly in the newer is better camp. yeah for it's day some old amp etc may have been great. But new designs blow them out of the water.
Now the comparison between a cheap new amp and an old expensive amp is harder to make.. It would all depend on how it sounds and what sort of sound you like.
Go new! Why take a chance and end up with a headache down the road?
The following price info may be helpful to those responding: The Emotiva XPA-200 that was mentioned lists for $499, new. According to an older bluebook I have, the Perreaux PMF-1150B originally sold for $1150 (the same as the model number!), in 1982-1985 dollars.

Also, IIRC, Perreaux's "B" series models, including this one, corrected some significant sound quality issues that were present in the pre-"B" models.

-- Al

Yes, and $1150 in 1982 is equivlaent to about $2750 today.

And you're right; I'm looking at a 30+ yr-old PMF-1150B vs. Emotiva XPA-200 (now on sale for $449).

I'm looking for something with not just slam, but good musical involvement, low noise floor, and reasonably fast rise time for good ambience, soundstage, and detail, but all in good perspective. Right now I'm using a Parasound Zamp 3 as interim amp. Nice tonal balance, but too veiled for my taste. I don't think it's the power issue per se as I wasn't running it real loud and my speakers have a sensitivity rating of 89 dB.

When I start down that wide bandwidth path, I start coming across other possibilities such as a used Spectral DMA-80 or Odyssey Stratos (Plus). They're more money, but the Spectral is a more stable company with genius Keith Johnson behind the designs and used Odysseys are a lot newer than the Perreaux.

If the Emotiva is at least equivalent to the '80s amps I have, I'd be plenty happy with an amp that powerful, inexpensive, and new with warranty. Anyone here with direct experience?
If you've done your research on the PMF-1150B, you're aware of it's reputation as a truly hi-end product. The Emotiva is not. It's not old enough technically to not still fulfill that role. It's definitely still competitive. However, it won't perform to it's potential unless you have it rebuilt. Doing so will render it better than new because of higher grade parts now available. Cost is probably around 4-500.00. Now you have an amp that will compete with anything up to about 12-15000.00. Good for at least another 20 years. Well worth the effort. I had a PMF1850B I recently bought for 700.00 and paid 350.00 to rebuild it. It's a simple, elegant design with minimal parts to replace. It's a fabulous amp. Very fast and clean. No detectable IMD. Great extension/resolution, and so, very musical. No sense of distance. The music is right up front. But, you really have to do your homework in choosing a technician. You need someone who is capable of doing much more than just replace parts and first and foremost their heart has to be in it. I have numerous amps I've had this done with and am not sorry for a single one.
08-30-13: Csontos
If you've done your research on the PMF-1150B, you're aware of it's reputation as a truly hi-end product. The Emotiva is not.
And that's a perfect summary of my thought processes. I'm sure the Emotiva is a nice unit for the money, with all the fundamentals of high fidelity--20-20Khz, s/n of around 80 dB unweighted, high damping factor, etc.

But the Perreaux brings very high end things to the party--huge voltage swings, rise time under a microsecond, bandwidth out to 3Mhz, unweighted s/n closer to 100 dB. These (among other things) are elements that make an amplifier special, with that extra speed and clarity that can enhance musical satisfaction and involvement.

I have an Emotiva surround processor, and for $599 it's "nice" and finally brings lossless surround to my HT rig, but it doesn't knock my socks off. The 2-channel amp I'm looking for would anchor my analog rig, and I'm looking for total musical involvement.

... But, you really have to do your homework in choosing a technician. You need someone who is capable of doing much more than just replace parts and first and foremost their heart has to be in it. I have numerous amps I've had this done with and am not sorry for a single one.

A full refresh of the Perreaux with new parts would take care of my long term concerns. If you have any technicians to recommend, please PM me. From your statement it seems that it would be worth 2-way shipping if necessary.
I bought a Perreaux PMF 1750 in about 1980 and used it every day for 30 years.
The only problem in all that time was the blue power light failed after about 1 year (which never bothered me).... And the spring behind the power-on button didn't retain its strength to push back out in the 'off' position.
Again this did not bother me as I kept it powered 'ON' for the full 30 years :-)
It was....and still is a superb sounding amplifier which was only surpassed in my system by the Halcro DM58 monoblocks about 5 years ago.
The Perreaux amps of the 80s were true high-end products designed and built by Peter Perreaux in New Zealand......and were better than those produced under the Perreaux name after that time.
I can still happily listen to it today.......
Buying a 30 yr old amp is buying something that will break down soon, may not be running within spec any more and is just risky in my opinion.

I've owned 3 Emotiva products, including one of their XPA amps. They can suffer from solid state harshness with some speakers, I actually got sibilance, high frequency distortion at higher volumes with my speakers. I eventually sold that amp. The XPA-200 has a small transformer, something many of Emotiva's designs have.

Is there a 3rd option? Surely there is an amp 10 years old or so that you may find for sale. Or a new Parasound A23 for 950. They go on sale on Audio Advisor occasionally. I've got the A21, and compared it to my Emotiva amp. Superior sounding easily.

There's an A23 for sale on Audiogon, worth a look.
Csontos, thanks for your information.

And thanks to everybody for putting in on this. Getting a new Emotiva for $449 w/5-yr warranty was a pretty compelling option. You may find this hard to believe, but the Emotiva's large footprint (it's deeper than my rack, which has a center column in the back) helped swing me toward the Perreaux, which has a shallow footprint.

I think I'll swing for the fences and get the Perreaux. If the Perreaux isn't noticeably better than my Heathkit AA-1600 (which was shockingly good for the $239 I paid), I'll get the Heath repaired and return the Perreaux. I anticipate, however, that the Perreaux will move me into a new amplifier paradigm and I'll fix and sell off my accumulating dead amps from the '80s. Well, maybe I'll fix and keep one for when I send the Perreaux out for a rebuild as you suggest.
Odyssey Khartago Plus sounds great and is a great buy, and can be upgraded even more if you choose...
There is no one right answer to this question, it depends on the amplifiers involved. I decided to go the route of the classic older used amp, and it works for me. I was able to buy an 18 year old $5500 100 wpc Class A solid state amp for only $1100, and it has served me well for the past two years. I have not heard any new amps under $2K that can compete. However, as with everything else in this hobby, YMMV.
Well, I went down to the hi-fi shop that had the used Perreaux, and hooked it up to a modest used pair of Aperion 2-way towers. The speed, clarity, pace, and--still most importantly--the correct timbres and tonalities came through. It easily delineated different recording and miking arrangements from one record to another without it being distracting.

Wide bandwidth and high resolution can be a double-edged sword, but this amp always comes out in favor of musicality over clinical scrutiny. The fast risetime enhances initial transients and overall rhythm and pace, as well as room acoustics, low level detail, and inner detail as well. Basically it makes everything better because you get more musical information, sort of like going from 128 kbs mp3 to 24/192Khz HD digital downloads.

Then when I got home and hooked it up, it sounded great but I discovered that when my previous amp went south it took my right tweeter with it. Aaargh!
Correction....I have the PMF 1850 power amp.