Lightning quick DYNAMIC amp in the under $1000 range


Hi guys, slowly upgrading my system on a bang for the buck budget. Anyone know of a musical, dynamic amp for under a grand? I would prefer new, but if anyone knows of a good deal on the used market, that could work, as well.
bstatmeister
The only one I can think of off the bat that might be good to try is the Schiit Vidar for $700.

Right now I am using a behringer EP 2500, which is a pro amp, so wondering if I could add more musicality to my system with a "Hi-fi" amp
What speakers ?, the rest of the system ?, your room ?, your musical tastes ?, and do you play louder at times ? If you want " musical ", you will likely get recommendations on getting a tube preamp, if you currently do not use one. Enjoy ! MrD.
Agree that it would be very helpful to know a lot more detail...but generally speaking, you will get a lot more bank for the buck buying a preowned....there is almost always good stuff available as new stuff is coming out all the time that people want to try.
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The fact that Schiit posts measurements for the $100 Modi 3 but not for the Vidar and others makes me weary, like they’ll only show performance if it’s good for the price. 
 
$800 gets you a monoblock pair of Outlaw Model 2200 amps. 
 

" $800 gets you a monoblock pair of Outlaw Model 2200 amps. "

I will have to check those out...Monoblocks would be fantastic - but was thinking that might be out of my reach budget wise.

Rest of my system is Vandersteen 2C mains, Pre is an Onkyo TH 805 SR (HT receiver with preout over to the Behringer.)

Source I have a Technics SL-1200 MK2 with Nagaoka MP-150 which I love. I do use digital quite a bit with an Oppo BDP-93 with coax out to an Audio-GD Ladder DAC (R2R-11) which is also fantastic.

I also have a Chromecast audio for streaming Pandora and amazon prime going into the DAC via toslink.

I already know what I am going to get for the Pre - since I think that is my weakest link. I already made up my mind that I will buy a Schiit Saga tube pre-amp (which I will buy in April) so looking at an amp after that.

I love to listen loud, but I don't get the chance to do that very often do to my family always being around, so there will be mostly moderate volume levels, but I do want it to kick my ass when I finally get the house to myself.

My musical tastes are all over the map, but I love Mike Oldfield most (prog rock, I guess) and I am into some of the 80's stuff (Phil Collins Midnight Oil, INXS) I also love Rage against the Machine, Weezer, Cat Stevens, Alan Parsons and the Grateful Dead, just to name a few.

I've heard that tube amps while sounding extremely warm and musical, might not quote have the omph chest thumping dynamics that a good solid state has. I've heard if you want to get some tube sound into the system best to do it at the pre-amp level, so you can get all the benefits of good solid-state along with some of the tube goodness (Paul Mcgowen reference here).
bstatmeister OP
 The only one I can think of off the bat that might be good to try is the Schiit Vidar for $700.
+1 on that.

Cheers George
mzkmxcv
The fact that Schiit posts measurements for the $100 Modi 3 but not for the Vidar and others makes me weary, like they’ll only show performance if it’s good for the price.


Really!!!!

https://www.schiit.com/products/vidar   press specs tab

Power Output:

Stereo, 8 Ohms: 100W RMS per channelStereo, 4 Ohms: 200W RMS per channelMono, 8 ohms: 400W RMS Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 3Hz-500KHz, -3dB THD: <0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 100W RMS into 8 ohms IMD: <0.01%, CCIR, at 100W RMS into 8 ohms SNR: >115db, A-weighted, referenced to full output Damping Factor: >100 into 8 ohms, 20-20kHz Gain: 22 (27dB)
Input Sensitivity: AKA Rated Output (Vrms)/Rated Gain. Or, 28V/22. You do the math. Input Impedance: 22k ohms SE, 44k ohms balanced Crosstalk: >95dB, 20-20kHz Inputs: L/R RCA jacks for stereo input, single XLR for mono input Topology: Fully complementary, all-BJT, current feedback, no coupling capacitors or DC servosOversight: microprocessor-controlled monitoring and management of critical operational points, including DC offset, with with relay shut-down for overcurrent, thermal, and other faultsPower Supply: 600VA transformer with dual mono main rails, plus boosted, regulated supply to input, voltage gain and driver stages, plus separate, isolated and regulated rails for microprocessor management. Power Consumption: 700W maximum Size: 9” x 13” x 3.875” Weight: 22 lbs

@georgehifi

Measurement graphs to be more clear, not chosen specs to publish. What’s the THD at 25W into 8ohm? I know the Benchmark AHB2 at 25W into 8ohm is less than 0.0002%, because Benchmark publishes the AP measurement graphs, and Stereophile’s own measurements confirm.

@bstatmeister

Emotiva also have the PA-1 monoblocks for I believe $600/pair, uses the same ICE module as in the PS Audio S300; of course the module used isn’t a 1:1 relation to performance, but I thought I’d mention it.
What do you think about this one?
http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/A1/A1EN.htm

Looks like to get the benefit you might need to buy their ACSS preamp (based on Krell connectors I think)

I have one of their DACs which is fantastic, so would think about taking a chance on their 2-channel amps. Their monoblocks out of my range at $3500 or so for the pair, but wow those look like powerful class A beauties...
For half your budget you can get the NuForce STA200.  It's got high gain, so a passive preamp might be best, or at least a preamp with relatively low (or adjustable) gain.  
bstat....  as you are aware, I have some experience with setting up and helping to get the most from Model 2 in a large variety of rooms w varied systems and SPL requirements..

Vandersteen design for relatively easy load but you do need an amp that can control the acoustic coupler, which as some @#$& think is NOT a passive radiator.

The best SS amp new in your price range I have heard do that is the Odyssey... Klaus builds serious gear that punches FAR above weight and price and can be upgraded later more than two levels.

JOB is a serious contender as well, Swiss quality and punch

IF you were serious about lightspeed fast, consider a Spectral..the LiL 80 W is diminutive BUT can really kick and sound sweet w correct preamp, and correct cables, need be RF tight Every now and then those can be found for $1k

a used Electrocompiet is a mule kicker w finesse and very finely detailed sound..

there is a screaming deal on a Mk RM-200 right now, freaking awesome amp w 2’s


I really like the LiL A/B amp that Mr Decibel loves...the name and model escapes me but they are like $600, less on blowout.

Measurement graphs to be more clear

That’s not the fault of Schiit then as you made out!
They have put up as much on the Vidar as any other product they make.

It hasn’t been reviewed by Stereophile or HiFi News AVTech (Miller Audio Research) yet, who are the only ones that do published un-biased measurement graphs.
This is what you should have alluded to, instead of making Schiit seem like they are trying hide something with the Vidar.

BTW: Subjective shootout, Schiit Vidar $700 v Benchmark AHB2 $3000
Quick read looks like they prefer the sound of the Vidar more than the 4 x!!!!! more expensive AHB2
https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/benchmark-ahb2-impressions-vs-vidar.5131/

Cheers George
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What do you think about this one
Wow, now that is odd, they show a measurement graph for Noise+Distortion, but not for any others expect frequency response, simply specs.

I would like to note that the Hypex amps I mentioned performs better; voltage is different (1W vs 5W),

but here is the Audio-GD:

http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/A1/A1THD.JPG 

 

And here is the Hypex:

EDIT: Can’t link

Dont pay any mind to the noise floor (~-120dB for Audio-GD, ~-140dB for Hypex), that is just the resolution of the measurement, just pay attention to the spikes, we see the Audio-GD has spikes up to ~ -105dB (1kHz test tone not at 0dB), whereas the Hypex has spikes up to ~ -130dB. Now, while neither takes into account noise, the distortion alone is better on the Hypex, but both are so low that it’s not really a difference (unless the noise on the Audio-GD is terrible). As stated, I find it odd they don’t give a wattage vs THD graph.


@georgehifi

Of course it’s Schiit’s blame. They don’t hide anything for the Modi 3:
https://www.schiit.com/public/upload/PDF/Schiit%20DAC%20APx555%20Standard%20Test%20Suite_%20Modi%203...

Schiit even states the Vidar specs are from measurements, yet Schiit doesn’t post them.


Sighted listening tests hold little value, especially from SBAF, where users usually have a hard-on for Schiit and denounce measurements from ASR (even banned Amir). 2D vs 3D soundstage is only dealing with channel matching/separation and phase, which the Benchmark has no issues with. Microdetail is in the rise time, the 2V 10kHz squarewave into 8ohm test that Stereophile uses shows the AHB2 rises in <5 microseconds. 

The only reasons I can see not to pick the AHB2 is if you need more wattage, ultra low impedance handling, or your music is poorly mastered and you don’t want transparent gear.
Of course it’s Schiit’s blame.  
Sighted listening tests hold little value,

I think your just a little bit anti Schiit.

Cheers George
@georgehifi  
 
Just pointing out how they have nothing to hide for their well performing $100 DAC, but they won’t show all for their $700 power amp, and I see no reason as to why.  
 
I’m neutral on Schiit, they make some good and some bad.
I’m neutral on Schiit, they make some good and some bad.

Which one is "bad" for the money, and what betters it for the same or less cost?

Cheers George
@georgehifi

In terms of transparency, all their MultiBit DACs.

Since Schiit even states their $100 DAC is their best measuring one, I wonder if they truly believe in the Yggy for instance, or if they just wanted something to appeal to those with large wallets that don’t understand how digital audio works, same with NOS vs OS, or the premise of DSD or MQA; trying to sell improvements to things that don’t need improving.

Take note I am referring to them as poor based on their measured performance for the money, as I doubt it has audible colorations/distortion/jitter.
Like I said before, and all your answers have led to it, and not proved otherwise. 

https://forum.audiogon.com/posts/1723336
@georgehifi

How am I anti a company for simply stating that they have certain products that measure worse than the competition, while also praising some of their other products for good measured performance?

Am I anti Mercedes for stating flagships from Genesis and Kia give you better bang for buck over the S-Class?
smrex13 mentioned the Nuforce STA 200 above, and it is the amp tomic referred to, as me being a fan. If memory serves me, your Vandy 2 Cs allow for biwiring, as I know Richard Vandersteen believes very much in the concept, as do I and others like tomic. Have you biwired them with your current amp ? If not, I would try that 1st, before anything else. If you notice a difference, and if you do, hopefully for the better, you might consider passively biamping your Vandys with a pair of STA 200s, $ 499. each, from AA. Or maybe you may like your amp again, at least until you upgrade the preamp. Depending on how you go, I would suggest passive biamping, vertically, meaning both channels of one amp is dedicated to one speaker. Just a preference I have always preferred, when using a pair of the same amp. Although I have owned, and am familiar with Vandy, tomic is definitely the Vandy guru guy for sure, based on all of my readings and followings here on the Gon. Just some thoughts. Enjoy ! MrD.
I wonder if people aren't a little hung up on measurements. Most if not all modern amps measure well, not all of them sound very good though. Just trust your ears. 
Mccormack DNA-1 deluxe or gold 225 immediately comes to Mind...give one or both an audition. Steve McCormack's idea of utilizing his Distributed Node concept placed the power capacitors near each discrete transistor. Instead of two massively large capacitors, the smaller caps were thought to give better pace and lighting quick response. Admittedly, this was circa 2000, but hard to argue against after hearing this transient response. I think you'd all agree amplifiers in general represent a mature technology and some of the best ideas are time tested. Give one of these a listen....and thank me later:)
Keep your eye on Ebay for an Emotiva XPA-2  Gen 2 300w channel 8 ohm Amazing!  I have owned three.  I now use two XPR-2 600w per channel x4 for a total of 1200w  600 to each bass cab 600 to each mid high.
 @mrdecibel A Van Morrison quote comes to mind...

No guru, no method, no teacher....

hopefull LL I am just a passionate student of kaizen

i like your idea and thanks for the refresh on mental block I had on the amp

i strongly agree with the biwire approach, if OP needs to borrow a set of cables, I have a shotgun set of AQ type six with about ten K frequent flier miles as loaners...easy to have an open mind when investment in listening is a flat rate USPS $13 to get them to the next intrepid listener 

love your idea on vertical biamp, especially w identical transfer function amp

I would also caution don’t get sucked into the measure vs listen debate....

unless of course you can mainline music in past those Godgiven gizmos on the side of your head...
@gregdude 
 
Measurements pretty much line up with listening tests under double-blind conditions. Once you know what you are listening to, measurments are almost meaningless. If a DAC is high priced, looks expensive, and you think the brand is prestigious, that automatically gives it a boost over a cheap, plastic, Chi-Fi DAC; even if the internals are exactly the same.
Save your pennies and get a Peachtree Nova 300, it will blow your mind...fast smooth and powerful, and very versitile
A Bryston 3b or 4b or 3bst is in your price range. They should be at the top of your list. They don't get much credit on this forum. But google them. You will be very impressed. I speak from experience. 
@pkvintage : I agree! A Bryston 3B (100wpc) is hard to beat! I bought mine for $500 and a .5 preamp for another $350. Late 80's production, but sure sounds good! A great company!
I have a truly excellent amp for sale on USAudiomart or Audio Asylum in your price range

Its a lovingly used Audio Alchemy DPA-1 (175wpc)

The only reason I am selling is it doesn't produce the spl from my speakers in my large room

Search March 2016 Absolute Sound review 
I own the Newforce STA 200 mentioned by smrex13. It provides 80wpc into 8ohms, however no more than that into 4 ohms. It is highly sensitive, reaching full power with 0.65V input and has 51Kohm input impedance, making it a good choice for use with a passive. Last I saw it was being offered at $449 by Audio Advisor. 

The Schiit Saga would make for a great match with the STA200, having a low gain in passive or tube buffered mode at 1V, 0db according to Schiit.  I am considering the purchase of one myself.

Your Vandy 2Cs do not represent a difficult load for an amplifier, having a relatively benign impedance and moderate sensitivity such that they could be driven by a single ST200 in stereo mode. However if your power needs are greater (do to room and loudness levels), the vertical biamp approach is within budget. 

I also like the Odyssey amplifier mentioned by tomic601. I almost purchased one sometime back. Would work with speakers presenting a more difficult load then the STA200.
 
The input sensitivity of the Nuforce STA 200 is .45 V. Enjoy ! MrD.
I am currently running my pair of STA 200s in vertical passive biamp mode, on a pair of not well known, Signet SL 280 ex floor standers ( a sleeper of a speaker, imo ). They are a two way, and was a competitor with speakers under the $1500. price point when they came out. I do use them with a powered sub, centered between them, in a 10 x 12 room, and the system sounds awesome. I run the amps passively ( no preamp ), and feel they would do very well with the Vandy 2Cs. The biwiring option is the 1st thing to do, as the Vandys / amp will definitely " open up ". Enjoy ! MrD.
The Nuforce STA200 is a wonderfully detailed amp for appropriate speakers. I purchased one while my ML 336 was out for cap replacement, and it bettered my expectations in every way. Trounced my VAC EL34 integrated in air/spatial cues and equal in midrange. It is an aggravating study in how not to lay out the connections, and has no remote trigger, but for the money is a great buy. 
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I really liked the NuPrime ST-10.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/2017-editors-choice-power-amplifiers-1000-3000/

I have a PrimaLuna PL5, but it lacks a bit of power @ 4Ω. The ST-10 has plenty of power, great balance and images very well with Spica TC-50, a coherent speaker like the Vandy's.

I soon take possession of a couple of tube monoblocks, so will be selling both the PL5 and ST-10.

PM if interested.
@ieales Spica T50 = legendary 

The Emotiva PA-1 is an interesting  Ice monoblock.  It has one published review that I have seen. (135/270 watts rms  at 8/4 ohms but only at 1 KHz.)  Positive review ( https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/amplifier/power-amplifier/emotiva-pa-1-balanced-class-d-power-amplifier-review/).    Balanced circuit, $300 per side.  I am hopeful to hear it at AXPONA.  If it's decent, it's inexpensive enough to get until the Gallium Nitride  FET driver class D amps come down in price.

Just a thought.

Aloha
NuForce Reference 9SE V3.0
bstatmeister OP
What do you think about this one?
http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/A1/A1EN.htm

Audio GD is good value, but the Schiit is in the US, good for backup, and they give you a trial period so you can send it back if for some reason you don't like it. 
Here is a 30 page read on the $700 Schiit Vidar, and many more threads on the net if you search. 
https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/schiit-vidar-impression-thread-updated-with-...

Cheers George
Mrdecibel, I went back to check the NuForce specs on the STA200, and realized my mistake. Sensitivity is even lower than I reported. I stand corrected. One could drive many phonostages via a passive to this amp. Provided other electrical parameters are met. I may try that out one day.

Tisbury Audio in London makes a passive that has dip switches to invoke attenuation at 0, -10 and -20 dB. prior to volume control. Might be just the thing with this amp.
mesch, I am using a Douk Audio little passive in my system above that I have found to be cleaner than the Schiit Sys, ( I finally had one on loan ) although it has only 1 in and 1 out. Less than $50. shipped. Tiny little thing, very well built and uses a top notch Alps 27 attenuator. I have, in my main rig, the Luminous Axiom 11, Walker mod, 3 in, 2 out, with remote ( single ended ), and it was a revelation eliminating my preamps ( I will still not mention the units ), but they were excellent, well reviewed preamps. I am a passive guy, all the way now. I have tried passive with over 20 different ss power amps, and wonderful with all of them. Enjoy ! MrD.
the world would be a better place IF more of us audiophile s were at least open to being passive ( pre ) agressive !

the Music Reference units, while not $50 are also affordable and good. Open listening to differences, vs endless argument, will sharpen our appreciation for the music.

Finally, I can strongly recommend the Book on Schitt, in particular the chapter written by Mike...ha

Mrdecibel, I bought the SYS a few years ago to have a passive to play with. Have looked into others including the Luminous Axiom. I also have seen the DouK passives and considered trying one as I only would need a single input. At the moment I am not sure what I will do regarding purchase of a different passive.

Bstatmeister, don't wish to hijack your thread any further. What are your latest thoughts on amplification? 
Hi guys, thanks for all the recommendations....Looks I have a lot of research to do! Seems the running favorite right now is to monoblock the NuForce STA 200 Power Amplifier - will definitely take a closer look at that.

BTW...I already am bi-wiring per Vandersteen recommendations, So it seems I am doing ok there. (using the bi-wire canare wire from blue-jeans) don't think it's a world beater, but seems to be doing alright. Wouldn't mind upgrading to 10 gauge at some point to see if can improve the bass.

A couple questions about amps in general. Is there a specification to look at that could tell you how quick or Dynamic the amp would be to another? What are the main things that would make an amp more musical than another?

Is having a toroidal transformer one such thing to look for? Does not having a toroid mean it’s not necessarily as good as one that does?
I think slew rate was the 'spec' I'm looking for for a fast,dynamic amp? Do manufactures publish this? I wonder how My Behringer ep2500 compares with the NuForce STA-200 in terms of slew rate? a quick google search did not give me much
Slew rate is kind of like THD. Too much is made of it. As I recall 200 is great and 50 is marginal. But it’s been more than 30 years ago so I could be way off.