I like my Plinius SA 100 MKIII very much but I find my Kimber 8TC 'dirtys' up the high end, it seems to lose some of the purity. It seems like the weak link to me (in your system) I am sure with any of those fine amps.
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One of my AgoN friends said that he had a 331, tried a Plinius, liked it better, than tried a Pass amp and kept it of the three. Since I had a #331, I skipped the middle test and bought a Pass Labs Aleph 4 and found it immediately more detailed, open and natural compared to the #331. I listened to the Pass for a month, and then went back to the #331 to make sure I knew the difference, from both directions. I really prefer the Pass. Its not a compromise. There is nothing the #331 does better than the Pass. BTW: I agree with Phil and think the Kimber cables were good years ago, but there are so many better ones now. I really like Tara Labs cables (maybe a pair of Decades if you can find them), or Nordost or NBS (very expensive).
It is a small world. I'm using a Pass X150 and Kimber 8TC Kables that were a gift. I enjoy a fully extended top end with perfect clarity and airiness. My speakers, Apogee Duetta Signatures, would let me know otherwise. The bass is clean, tight and sumptuous. The mids are full, 3D, and are absolutely without any ss gremlins, like dryness, veiling, grain, and glare.
No, I don't need new cables.
With regards to the McCormack comparison, I own the Plinius SA-100 MK III and a McCormack DNA 125, and though I am a huge fan of the McCormack, I think the Plinius is better in almost every aspect. More open, extended top end, midrange transparency, more low bass, better definition. The only thing I like better about the McCormack is that it has a little more mid-bass warmth that is nice for some CDs. The Plinius has an overall darker sound but is cleaner overall. For the money, the McCormack really shines, however.
I, along with two friends, compared the ML 334 to the Plinius SA-100, a Bryston 4B and a Coda 10.5 using the same system: B&W 802 speakers, TARA Lab Gen II interconnects and a Resolution Audio CD50 player - no preamp. It was unanimous, we all preferred the ML 334. Great transparency without being shrill or harsh on top with a rich midrange, terrific bass and a large and realistic soundstage.
We've heard the Pass Labs, but at a dealer on a different setup with Revel speakers. We did not like the Pass X350 as much as the Levinson 335 (the 335 has 250 watts, the 334 has 125 watts). The Pass had a good midrange and good bass but seemed to have a harsher top end (on the Revels) and a smaller, less specific soundstage.
As far as the ML 331, I've not had an opportunity to listen to it. I have heard, however, that the current series 334 is far superior to the 331. It could very well be that had we used a 331 instead of the 334 in our comparisons that we would have come to a different conclusion. My advise to you is try to compare them yourself, for your amp it's you preference that counts.
My wife and I auditioned both the Pass and the Plinius on the same day, liked both, purchased the Plinius. The class A is just really hard to beat. We have had it about 8 months and still it just amazes me sometimes. We also auditioned the Levenson integrated also very good but the Plinius really blew everything else away. We actually had to drive about 3 hours to listen to the Pass and the Plinius. I am really glad now that we did.
i tried both the ML331 and the Plinius SA 100 with my
electrostatic martin logan quest, the Plinius came on
top, its just that good, when my friend heard my sa 100
He cancel his 331 order it is that good; oh by the way
i heard the 102 plinius 3 days ago its 3 times better
than the sa 100 i have, try to listen to it.