CJ Premier 350
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Jon p, its hard to give you the information you are seeking because your question is so general. Do you prefer SS vs. tubes, even though you mentioned Krell, if I got my facts straight if you go the the Vandersteen 5a's they have built-in subwoofer amps, so you might not need as much power as you would with other speakers. You have a great new pre-amp, so I would believe that you have a budget that would allow you to audition many reference level amps to match the performance level and cost of the AR Ref 3. I would recommend that you audition such amps as an Edge NL-10.1, Pass LabsX-350.5, or the Ayre's latest amp. They are all wonderful sounding and might be what you are looking for, but your personnal taste and synergy with your gear, would lead to your decision. I went through a process of auditioning over six different amps and decided on the Pass LabsX-350.5 in my system. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the responses so far...
Teajay, I've been a fan of SS for many years, I currently have a Proceed Hpa-2 in the system that i listed. And i have Levinson 436's in another system with Revel Salons.
That being said, I've come to really appreciate the tube sound. My main concern with the system i've listed is a dynamic powerful amp that will compliment the music i will be listening to. Also, the Vandersteen's are just one choice that was suggested to me. I will be auditioning them next weekend.
If anyone has any other suggestions about Amps or Speakers, please let me know.
Jon p, when I went through my auditioning process it included three highly regarded tube amps, along with the solid state contenders that I listed in my first response. If, you like what I call the "musicality/liquidity" of tubes, but want the extension,details, and slam of SS, please audition a Pass LabsX-350.5 in your system. I posted a review on the 350.5 here on the GON that will give you more details and hopefully will be helpful to you. I never say any piece is the "BEST" in the world, there's many great sounding gear, however I think Mr. Nelson Pass really came up with a winner in his new .5 series amps. They give you the warmth/ease of the highly acclaimed Aleph series, with great dynamics/details of the first generation X amps.
Then get this one http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?ampstran&1136581409. More power and "slam" than you can shake a stick at. Yeah, the Crown name scares away some audiophile types, but this is not your typical Crown amp.
Check this out for some technical detail http://www.crownaudio.com/pdf/legacy/136734.pdf.
I 2nd the McCormack suggestion. I have a DNA-500: Detailed, musical, remarkably controlled bass, loads of finesse, tons of power(500w into 8, 900w into 4) - it doesn't get much better than this under $15K. Also built like a tank. Can probably be had used under $5K if you look. Lots of rave reviews are actually on the money (for a change) regarding the DNA-500.
Steve McCormack's "statement" piece.
Audio Refinement Multi 2 , if you're going to buy new speakers, get the new speakers first. otherwise you will likely be wasting your money and throwing away you best oppurtunity to affect the sound of your new speaker system.
On your current speakers the Multi will hold its own quite nicely for now.
Krell's sound terrible with ARC front ends BTW, a terrible match of two bright thin components.
thanks for the info guys...
I'm going to audition the Pass X350.5 and Audio Research 300.2...
I will probably not upgrade the speakers until sometime next year. the Tannoy's will do for now. Btw, the sensitivity rating on the Tannoy 1200's is 95db/1w @ 1m.
please give anymore feedback that you may have.
Don't forget to consider Odyssey Extreme Monoblocks. I absolutely love them. Would also try to find a pair of Intuitive Design Summits to try to audition. If you do buy a different brand of speaker, then I would NOT recommend listening to the Summits afterwards. These have an unbelievable combination of high end detail and smoothness like I've heard in no other loudspeaker--ever--at any price. They image like crazy, are balanced, and even have pretty decent bass, with a rolloff somewhere around 40 hertz. Mine are augmented with a Rel Storm 3 sub-bass unit, but the crossover is set somewhere around 28 hertz on the Rel. The combination I have now is just MAGICAL. FYI. I'm not a dealer, just a believer and owner.
Odyssey's are the most neutral, and just correct sounding, bass is lean if the recording is, but if the bass is there it will blow you out of the room. So they are kinda a lab reference style amp with musicality unsurpassed in the price range, but don't buy if you do not want to hear the truth, go with a colored amp to offset if necessary.
when you match the Ref3 with a solid state amp, make sure you look at input sensitivity of the amplifier. Ref3 has relatively high gain, just as most tube preamps do.
For example McCormack DNA-500. Awesome amp. But most likely it'll be tough to match with Ref3, especially balanced, since the Ref3's output gain in balanced mode is 11.6db, although its output impedance is 600ohms balanced and 300ohms single-ended.
DNA-500 input is 10kohms balanced and I beleive it's 100k in single-ended. This just may be too much for Ref3 and you may end up overdriving it.
If you look at ARC current line of amps, for instance 300.2, you'll find input sensitivity 150K ohms single-ended, 300K ohms balanced differential.
If you ever consider the DNA-500 though, make sure you e-mail or call McCormack audio and ask if it's OK to match this amp with a preamp with that kind of gain.
I think this should be considered regardless of which amp you end up with. Just check before you buy. Or you will not be able to enjoy latenight listening. If that's an issue for you.
Just my opinion and something I personally would consider.