I recently purchased the Jeff Rowland Concentra integrated amp for my ProAc 2.5 Speakers (also use Meridian 508.20 CD Player). This combination sounds very good to my ears and you might want to consider it. My experience with Levinson is their equipment is dark and not very musical. I have also owned the Threshold Stasis 200 amp and suggest you keep looking. Plinius makes an integrated amp (around $3K) that sounds good but the Rowland is much better. Good luck.
You could also try a Krell KAV-250a. Very musical, very authoritative bass (though not quite as much as the biggest amps). But by far the best combination of positive attributes in an affordable and convenient package; AND EXTREMELY POWERFUL (500 wpc into 4 ohms). I have no problem driving 90 db sensitivity speakers to 100 dB at a TEN FOOT listening distance in a 4200 cubic foot room. See the rave review in the January/February The Perfect Vision (the home theater magazine from The Absolute Sound). THEY CAN BE HAD USED FOR AROUND $2k.
If I were you, I'd change to tube friendly loud speakers. Von Schweikert speakers are all tube friendly. I'm currently using VAC 35 watter (half of yours) with Von Schweikert and getting planty of quality bass. Other option to consider is to buy CJ SS amp to bi-amp (vertical) or go to VTL MB250 or higher output amp. Generally, tube friendly speakers will stay within 6 to 9 ohm. A little known fact is that Von Schweikert always vioce his speakers with tube amp. Remember that there is a very good reason way you love your CJ P11A. I know the sound of it.
Your point is well taken SK regarding the P11A. I had a hard time with the decision but I feel the Proac's are even more of a special item than P11 (by a very slim margin) so I am going the route I am. I will keep my CJ Pv12 preamp however to keep most of the tube glory going. Still searching for the ideal solid state amp for listening preference and my Proac's. Thanks
I owned a Bryston 4BST. It is a very good amp and the price coupled with the build quality and the 20 year warranty give it a lot of value. This is not a warm or sweet amp. I hear a little brightness from it (my Maggie 3.5s are very revealing). Bass is very good and mids are right there. The only reason I sold it is because I auditioned a Levinson 332 at my house and it never left. You will always find used Bryston amps for sale and if you decide you want to upgrade you should have no problem selling it.
Rayd, I am auditioning a Bryston 3BST as we speak and I must say I'm amazed at the little guy. My fiancee' and i are really putting it thought it's paces and for our ears there are no weaknesses. Slightly less "magic" than the Premier 11a but FAR less compromise than I expected in the midrange area where the CJ shines. The quickness and authority in the low and mid bass plus a really neutral midrange and great top end (not the lest bit hard but "right there")create the sense of a live performance we both really like. I am going to sleep on it a few days and keep throwing different music at it but at this point, I believe I will soon own a pair of them.
I am in the same predicament - looking for amplification for my new ProAc Response 2.5s. I tried compared the C-J to the Bryston and found (not surprisingly) that the Bryston had much better bass control but was too bright for my tastes. The C-J was absolutely captivating for female vocals and small scale acoustic music but lacked authority in the bass and sounded rolled off at the top. So my search continues. Going to audition a Plinius SA 100 soon. If that doesn't work out i'll probably by an Audio Research VT 100 MkII which works great with the 2.5s. It has a magical combination of good tube harmonics with surprising bass slam and authority _and_ very fine resolution of detail. But I have high hopes for the Plinius.
I am using my Proac 1.5's with a Bryston 4b with good results. You might want to add the VT100 mkII to your list as I heard them paired to 2.5's; they sounded great.
I love the ProAcs. I'm not sure why everyone always forgets about Ayre. I have an Ayre V3 and I believe this amp is better sounding than all of the above and is about as close as a solid state amp can get to being a tube amp. (also with power and detail in the low frequences) They can be had on the used market for 2K and under just make sure that you at least get one with the first upgrade. Mating these with a good tube preamp is a match made in audio heaven. I use an Audible Illusions Modulus 3A. This is a very musical combo and will beat hands down all of the amps mention in this post. Do yourself a favor and go out and hear one, you won't regret it. Best of luck in your quest!
Levinson vs Threshold vs Plinius vs Bryston. Forget about Threshold or Bryston for ProAc's! ML, maybe, but probably not. Plinius is the superior choice for solid state.
It is very easy to write Bryston off as an excellent match for the 2.5's because a)It is easy to draw the (incorrect)conclusion that Bryston ST series amps lack refinement. The improvement over previous series Bryston amps is amazing. b) Our brains struggle with the concept that something that costs so little (by comarison) could sound so right. I had the CJ Premier 11a and I understand "warmth" and 'beauty" in musical reproduction. What I enjoy most is the immediacy and dynamics that I feel when attending a live performance in a small venue with good acoustics. I found the Bryston to be very dynamic and involving without sounding the least bit bright or fatiuging. Perhaps my other components are helping to smooth out some of the edginess that some recordings possess. The 2.5's are forgiving, as well as the PV12 CJ preamp, Classe cdp.5 CD and MIT cables. I agree that the big, expensive Levinson amps are unmatched in soundstage depth and width and other areas but not not in any huge way. The price difference on the other hand is amazing. My point: Bryston ST amps are too often written off as not being true "high end". Who really knows the motives behind those who are saying that. Don't be fooled. Be careful with system matching and listen for yourself but get ready to be impressed.
You might want to consider one of Randy White's new "hybrid" amps (Llano Designs--Trinity series). I've just received the 200wpc, which has a tubed "front end". So far I'm really enjoying its warm, rich, but amazingly detailed sound, and it controls the bass great as well.
I have a new Plinius SA100 MKIII and could not be happier with it, I auditioned the ML and it sounded too thin, I wouldn't put Bryston in the same league and haven't heard enough of the Threshold. Bottom line is they're all good stuff, but my choice was Plinius.
I owned the Bryston 4B ST and replaced it with a Mark Levinson 334. The Levinson surpasses the Bryston in every aspect, including having far greater current capacity even though it is 125 watts vs 250 watts for the Bryston. I compared the Levinson with the Pass Labs X350, the Arye V3 and both the Plinius SA100 MkIII and SA 50 MkII. All had certain strengths and weaknesses, overall however, the 334 beats them all (with the Plinius coming the closest).
Go for the Plinius! for the money can't be beat!
I have the Plinius SA100 MKIII matched with my Audio Research LS-16 tube pre-amp using NHT 2.5i speakers. I tried the Bryston and felt the bass was a little too boomy and not very articulate on some tracks. Also the high-end was a tad bright. The Plinius (once warmed-up) sounds great. Lots of detail in all types of music. I very pleased with this combination.