I discuss my experiences with the C3100 and C4100 in the November Stereophile.
I heard the Chakra c2100 last week, and was very impressed. It is the model designed to replace the LK 140, which in my opinion was a great amp for the money and still is on the used market. The c2100, when paired with an Ikemi,an Exotik preamp, and driving Espeks (passive) was really a striking improvement over the LK 140 - I was very impressed.
Earlier tonight I heard an A/B of the Chakra c2100 ($2350 new) and my Linn 2250 ($3300 list less than a year ago) driving some Espeks. The c2100 was, I am sad to say as a 2250 owner, noticeably clearer and more open. My 2250 is much more powerful, and I would say did a better job of controlling the speakers and delivering the music over all as a result. (I don't think the guy I was listening with thought so, but that was my opinion). But when I did an A/B with the c2200 ($3650) it was not even remotely close. The c2200 just about obliterated my 2250 (which is actually a great amp) and I left my dealer's shop with a bad case of audio lust in my heart.
Kal, I have no idea why Linn sent you the c2100 when you asked for the big boys. It seems like they really did themselves a disservice. I know you gave the c2100 a very solid review, as it clearly deserves, but the c2200 is a different animal entirely. Make sure you hear one.
With the 4-channel Chakra C4100, I can drive my Katans in active mode I believe.
Before you needed 2 poweramps like the Lk 85 or LK 140 to go active.
The Exotik pré is probably the one to go, but is too expensive for me, the Kolektor is still in production or maybe a Quad 99 pré (if that works well?).
Oh, how your Katans should sing active with a c4100! Still I believe you will have to buy new aktive modules (the Chakra series can't use the old stereo cards), so you'll need to factor this into your price.
As for preapms, the Kolektor is usually a great buy on the used market (though you should never pay over $500 for one). The line stage on these is awesome for the money. That said, a used Kairn with slimline power supply (be aware these came in three different versions, and the last with the slimeline sounds much better)can be had with patient shopping for around $850 to $1100. These are substantially better than a Kolector. For the best buy still, look for a AV 5103. This is actually a surround processor that was also Linn's reference audio preamp until the advent of the Klimax Kontrol. There is one of these for sale right now for $1300. Originally these were like $8500, but since they are part of the video world where they are out dated, their price has dropped like a rock. Hope this helps.
I just realized from re-reading your post you may have a strong preference for buying new. If so, the Kolektor is still a great buy at $1000. Really, so far, it is the best bargin I've come across in line stage preamps. (For phono stages, that honor goes to the Dynavector P-75).
I agree with Newmanoc. I've 2 x Chakra 3200 and 1 x Chakra 4200 on active mode with a pair of Akurate 242 and it's simply owsome ! Those amplifiers are so clean, smooth and powerfull, they made my audiophile experience just great. Don't hesistate if you've the money, after comparing them to wathever felt in my lap, I can't imagine better sounding amplifier at this price tag.