Check out Classe, the used market is quite reasonable. I have been using Denon 2802 as pre-amp and Classe Ca201 as power amp to drive a pair of Maggies SMGc. Sound very warm and very musical. Please also check the IC and speaker cables to match up.
I think a Conrad Johnson might be a good choice. I owned
a Sonographe SA 400 for a couple of years and enjoyed it
a lot. Very tube like sound. Warm and very musical.The
MF series is supposed to be even better but they do cost
a bit more. My guess is that a CJ might be a closer match for the sound you want than either the B&K or Rotel. Of course
thats just my opinion.
I have also owned a CJ Sonographe SA400 and second the CJ amplifier recommendation... you can get an SA250 for less than the SA400, and more likely to find this model as well. B&K ST140 is famously warm, and you might also look into B&K M200 monoblocks or B&K EX4420 - neither of which I have heard, but come up in these "warm amplifier" threads sometimes. Classe? I have a Classe Seventy and I don't find it "warm" in the least, but rather highly-detailed and slightly etched. I haven't heard anyone yet describe the Classe house sound as warm. I use a B&K ST140 in its place, which fleshes out the sound much more, if giving up deep yardage to the Classe in the detail department.
You may just find that the brightness is coming from the Denon receiver.
Which Anthem... AMP 1? That's an EL34 tube amp, if I'm correct. Used price around $500-$550. Bryston, 3BST starting around $850, 4BST around $1250. Which gets us more to the point -- what's your price range?
A used Pass Aleph 3 or Aleph 5 would do nicely here. Reliable and very good sound.
Classe, Pass Aleph WARM??? Christ, maybe after ear-wax build up. Check on Monarchy 70 pro or 100se delux monoblocks class A amps.
I'd also say that class A is the warmest amp especially if you need extra heat.:-)
Go for a used MCORMACK AMP...THERES A dna 1.0 DELUXE on audiogon now for 800.00...
Mwilson: The earlier B&K amps were noticeably warm and smooth. The later models, which made of four numbers in the model name rather than three, are noticeably brighter sounding. Not near as bright as some others, but brighter than their older models.
As far as Classe' goes, their biggest models are noticeably soft up top. The smaller models are definitely lean and bright to me. I had a Classe' 70 for a bit and was going to let my Dad use it. When i brought it over to his house and hooked it up, he offered to hold the door open for me while i carried it out to the trash. In his system, with a metal dome upper mid and ribbon tweeter, it was "earbleedingly bright" with no warmth at all. Obviously, a lot of this "game" is about matching for best results. I will say that this amp could drive whatever you threw at it. As such, so long as the tonal balance was a match for the rest of your system, you'd be good to go.
Eldragon: I think that the Pass Aleph series do sound relatively warm and smooth IF they are fully warmed up. Then again, your suggestion of the Monarchy's would probably be an even better match for a metal dome. In some respects, i would say that some might even consider the Monarchy's slightly "dark" sounding, but obviously, that is both a judgment call and system specific. The little 70's are good amps, especially the Pro's with their bigger power supplies, but probably not up to driving something like a crossover heavy speaker like a Paradigm. The 100 SE Deluxe should work really well for something like this though. Good call. Sean
I tried the Monarchy 100SE Deluxes after the CJ, and found the transformers noisy - not just one, but both. CC didn't much care to discuss it when I emailed him. Some reviewers found the same about the amp. Soundwise, they were an absolute dream. Otherwise, I have trouble endorsing Monarchy's build quality. Best SS I've owned for sound. Shortest-lived in my house for quality.
I agree with Ryriken, as McCormacks sound wonderful for the $. Your edgy top is probably the mediocre reciever. Heres a recomendation... At the thousand dollar mark these mono-block amps from CIAudio sound incredibly good and are slightly on the warm side yet very fast, crystal clear with a tremendous bottom end, a sound similar to the DNA.5 deluxe...but better, IMO. It says they are 40 watts each but I recently heard them drive VonS VR-2's very loud with absolute authority and control. Good Luck
Damn Sean, you summed up my impressions on all those amps exaclty they way I remember them. I think the B&K DC coupled (especially the M200's) amps are bit more neutral, if a touch lean or harmonicaly thin. I can't comment on the Monarchy's as I've never heard them, though I have been seriously thinking about those 100 SE mono's. How are the Monarchys with regard to bass and dynamics? How are they with regard to lower impedance loads (4 Ohms)? Mwilson?
Unsound: If you want to run Monarchy's with any type of a low impedance / reactive load, you really should spring for the higher current models. They currently have a more potent hybrid model that has gotten very good reviews.
As to the B&K's, my Brother is running four or their "early version" amps in modified form. I also have a single M200 that i'm letting a friend borrow to run his subs. Quite honestly, this amp sounds thin / slightly anemic to me and not nearly as potent as its' power rating and current potential would lead one to believe. I'm thinking that it is measurably out of bias, but i haven't seen that amp for quite some time now. I hope that it is still working : ) Sean
Fishcall, inherently, some to many to most solid state amps simply are not known for their warmth. Especially at the lower price points. They are typically (and hopefully) noted for their speed, articulation, and sometimes better control of the bass regions than tube amps.
I would guess that more than likely if you found a 'warm' solid state, (unless it's a pair of $20k monoblocks), you'd be giving up quite a bit elsewhere.
But there are a few exceptions:
The Sim Audio Moon W-5 has a very nice, even a bit sweet sounding, but it's bass is somewhat congested. The W-5 retails for $5k but can be found used for about $3k.
You might try the Rotel amps. These are known to be on the dark warm side of life and usually have more than ample power to drive most any speaker. I've listened to a 200 wpc Rotel amp at a friend's house with very inexpensive metal dome tweeter speakers and was quite impressed with the sonics of the combination.
If you want warmth, bloom, speed, articulation, and bass control at an excellent price, look for a McCormack DNA 0.5 Revision A amp. There was one here on A'gon just a short time ago selling for $1500 used.
But regardless of which amp you go with, you most likely will not be too impressed with the sonics until you replace the receiver with a pre-amp.
Believe it or not a Krell KSA100mk11 is a tubelike warm sounding amp
Audio Research 100.2 www.audioresearch.com/M100_2SPA.html
Blue Circle BC-22 or BC-22 Mk2
I'd 2nd Pass Labs Aleph 5 would do the trick. No wax build up problems either, but once in a while the lint in my belly button builds up a bit! Perhaps that is impairing my judgement?! With the Aleph's you really need to keep them running for a day or two to get the optimum performance from them, and they do run pretty hot too (class A). Also, you might want to consider running your SS amp with a tube pre-amp for the results you're looking for.
You will NEVER get the sound you want until you lose the Denon completly. Since the pre amp is more important than the amp, why would you want to use part of the Denon??
Save money on cabling and get a good Integrated, Mac 6500, Audio Refinement Complete, YBA etc.
I have compared at great length the Pass Aleph 3, Blue Circle BC22 and BAT VK200 and feel all three of these solid state amps may be a good candidate for you. Of the three, I feel the Blue Circle has the rounder, more "tubelike" character.
I own an older Bryston 4B which I use for my subwoofer and because of it's more neutral, grainier nature might not be what you're looking for. However, I understand that the newer ST and SST versions are much smoother.
I think a super bargain is the McCormack DNA 0.5 or 1. You might even be able to snag a Deluxe version of one of these for under $800.
I do think that the brightness you're experiencing may either be room related and/or attributed to the Denon receiver.
I just got one and i am surprised at how good it sounds...just velvety smooth, and good detail as well,,,you can always sell it if you dont like it.
I agree with Dennisj, kill two birds with one stone.
Agree with DennisJ. If your preamp is mediocre then it doesn't matter how good the rest of your system is.
Pass Aleph series SS power amp + tube preamp.
What I was suggesting above was a McIntosh MC250...I cant say enough good things.
I was wanting to use the Denon to power my center, surrounds, and outside porch speakers as well as for Dolby Pro Logic II (T.V.), 5CH Stereo (I like this one certain types of music), Dolby Digital (DVD), ect. I know alot or preamps can do all this but I don't have $1000 plus to spend. I feel like the Denon at 110 WPC isn't strong enough and can't control my Paradigm Studio 60 speakers. I have ordered the Studio 40s for another room. The best bet may be to keep the Denon for the larger Living Room where I will mostly watch movies with the Studio 40s, and then get a amp and preamp for the smaller music listening room where I will keep my Studio 60s. I know the 60s should go into the larger room, but my wife says they will not fit with what she has planned. How much do I need to spend to get that very clear warm sound that I am looking for? What preamp do you suggest then? My funds will be limited to around $1200 for amp and preamp.
You are spreading your resources too thin. If sound effects are what you're after, you are on the right track. If, however, you want to pursue the best music reproduction you can afford, you should unload most or all of those pieces and focus on a two channel system. A couple grand on 2 speakers will take you much further than the same money spread over 5 or 6 or 7 channels. Likewise with the electronics. Denon multichannel receivers are really just car stereo for the home. You've been given a number of viable suggestions but the best came from Dennisj. A Plinius 8100 integrated and pair of Vandersteen twos could be had for around $1500 if you watch the ads on this site. Put them on either side of your video screen and prepare to experience something all of those things you currently own can't begin to offer.
And your wife will gladly accept this because of the 60% reduction in the number of pieces needed to make it happen.
Tuble pre might not be a good mate to low impedance Aleph amps, though they are super ss amps. my 2 cents!
Dennisj is absolutely right. A very warm, rich sounding integrated is the Magnum Dynalabs MD 208 receiver, where you geta top notch tuner in the mix. Pricey new but likely very reasonable used - IF you can find anyone to part with one.
I have a tubey-sounding amp...Monarchy Audio SM 70. Love it....best of both worlds Check out the reviews by audio mags on their site.
Small in size....built like a Krell....NO problems with it and I use it many hours daily ( no fatigue).
I would have to suggest McIntosh amps if you like warm tube sound and own Paradigm speakers. I had a Krell KSA100 and it is not warm compared to my delightful little MC7100. Paired with Paradigm Reference 100.2, my McIntosh has proven the perfect synergistic match. I bet it would be the same case with Studio 40s. Good luck! Arthur
Good grief, you've gotten a lot of suggestions. One more to add from the used market would be the Meitner STR 55 stereo amp or MTR 101 monos, very rich, tube-like amps without any of that treble that you so dislike. They can likely be updated by John Wright to state-of-the-art performance if you need, but sound great as-is. And they look great, small units in either mahogany or rosewood cases.
Sim Audio's Moon line. I tamed my farely bright Legacy Focus with the Moon amp. Great match for these speakers. Bryston is know for a brighter top end! I tried the 7BST's in my system and found them too bright for the Focus. If your system is bright now I'd strongly suggest staying away from the bryston line. Not sure what your budget is but the Sim Audio W-3 can be had for around $1000-$1400 used. There's a Sim Audio W 4070 on ebay for sale @ $525 right now. Not familiar with the Celeste line of components but the review was good... if you go by reviews and not your own ears. If you have the ability to audition amps in your system before you buy I strongly suggest you go that route. Reason being is that your ears may perceive bright from one amp that another may find, the same amp, to be fine.
Audio Research 150.2- digital switching amp.
Fishcall, despite what others say, I think you're on the right track. I don't know about your 3802, but in my 5800 the power amp is the bright-sounding part. The preamp and DAC are pretty neutral. By adding a warm sounding power amp to your preamp outs you may achieve exactly what you want. Try some Audience AU24 ICs to connect them. This IC is superbly neutral throughout the bass and mids and rolls of the treble a little. Cardas cables also work well in this situation.
Whatever you do, don't buy Bryston. You'll be worse off than you are now.
A lot of Bryston bashing here, so I'm coming to Bryston's defense. I don't think one can make a blanket statement that Bryston SST series amps are bright or harsh. Detailed and accurate, yes. I'm using a Bryston 14B SST (previously used a Bryston 4B SST), EMC 1-UP, First Sound Presence Deluxe II preamp, HT Truthlink, MAS Gray and MAS Black IC's. Detail without brightness is superb. I had been using a Bryston BP25 preamp and experienced some harshness at LOUD rock-concert volumes, but never at normal listening levels, and the addition of the First Sound has eliminated any harshness. Also, the use of either HT Truthlink or MAS Gray IC's tames some harshness even when using the BP25. If you want a warm, syrupy sound then a Bryston is not for you, but an SST series amp is a tremendous bang-for-the-buck on the used market, and you might find that experimenting with a 3B SST or 4B SST, and selling it later ends up costing you no more than shipping. You may actually keep it!
all these recommendations are too expensive! i do not have several thousands of dollars to spend. i am looking at spending $500-$800 on a used amp and then another $500 or so on a used preamp if the amp alone will not clear up the brightness. i wish i would have bought the used anthem mc-3 amp on ebay awhile ago for $550 but i didn't. i also had a chance to buy a used rotel 993 amp for $600, but passed it up as well. i probably should have tried one of these since they were in my price range, but oh well. does anyone have any suggestions in my price range? also, does the denon 3802 have the same preamp section as the denon 4800 mentioned above. i am real nervous about upgrading after i read on here how monster cable was horrible and new speaker cables would really help out the sound. i ended up buying signal bi-wire cables for all my speakers, but hear very little difference from the monster xp cables. so again, any warm recommendations for an amp in the $500-$800 range used? also, preamp to match for around $500 used? these will be used to run paradigm studio 60 speakers (metal tweeter). is it possible at this price range?
Fishcall- I used to have a B&K EX-140 (the early dual-mono version of their popular ST-140). I did an A/B to the ST140 at the shop I bought it from (Singer in NYC) and prefered the dual-mono by a slight edge for overall detail. The ST140 was VERY similar though. It was indeed very warm sounding and I did enjoy it. ST140's are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. All that said, if you are looking for "warm" why not got straight to the epicenter of warmth; get a tube amp. Lets see, you have $500-800 for the amp and another 500 for a pre? That's up to $1300. At that price you could buy yourself a great little integrated tube amp like a Jolida 502B putting out 60 watts of sit-by-the-fire warmth which should be plenty to drive most speakers. Heck your Studio 40's are 91db efficient...you could drive those to very satisfying volume with a Jolida 302B or an Audiomat Arpege! Any of these would top anything I've heard in SS at that price range for all around musical listening pleasure. If you have to stick to SS I think Plinius also makes an integrated amp in that price range used, but I've never heard it...only heard tell that it has warmer sound to it.
My Meitner suggestions, particularly the STR 55, are well within your price range. Get a used Meitner PA6i preamp to go with it, it will be as warm as you could want, with the "plus" upgrade available at some point from John Wright when you have the funds. Of course, finding these pieces used is not that easy, but they do show up from time to time.
I'll restate what I said earlier.
Try to find a used McCormack DNA 0.5 or DNA1 for under $800. They come up for sale very often, and they are outstanding amps! Power, finesse and some warmth.
From what I can tell, you've said nothing about using this setup for home theater. If this will be used in a two channel system only, the best thing you can do is to dump the Denon. Any Denon! You can get a $10,000 amp and it won't sound good with the Denon ahead of it in the chain.
You've given a budget of $1000 to $1300 for a preamp and amp. For $400-$650 you can get an Audible Illusions L1 or 2D preamp, an Audio Research LS1 or LS7 preamp for $500-650. The McCormack DNA 0.5 or DNA1 solid state amps are in the $650-800 range.
Keep the Signal cables and don't worry about spending on anything more expensive. Going to biwire speaker cables at this time wasn't necessary, but since you have them. stand pat with them.
For now, keep it simple and affordable. Good luck!
I'm surprised nobody mentioned NAD. All NAD amps I've heard were on the warm side of neutral, and they have some good high-power power amps for around $500. For under $500 you could get a used one and if it doesn't solve your problem, resell it for little or no loss.
Perceived brightness can also be caused by a lack of power in the amp (particularly if the amp lacks current and the speakers have dips in the impedance curve at low frequencies) and the NAD power amps have current to spare.
I'm sorry you were lead astray over cables. IMHO there's far too much hype and hyperbole regarding cables. Cables can be the icing on the cake of a good system but will not rescue a fundamentally unbalanced system.
Fishcall... the Plinius integrated can be had used for what you have budgeted, esp. if you don't go for the mkII model. I would agree with Seandtaylor99 about NAD. I've been happy with the NAD equipment I've had in the past. Their new BEE series of integrateds is supposed to be very good.
do you think that the mccormack dna 0.5 or dna 1 have enough power to drive the paradigm studio 60 speakers? i am finding that the denon 3802's 110wpc isn't enough to make this speakers sing. i like to listen to my music loud. and i will use the system for movies as well just not as much so i will need something to do dolby digital, etc. i was hoping to use the denon for that but it sounds like from the above posts that the denon's preamp section will still keep me from what i am looking for.
I believe the DNA 0.5 is rated at 100wpc and the DNA 1 at 185wpc, so I'm pretty sure the either McCormack can drive the Paradigms quite well.
The 3802 is designed to drive multiple speakers for a home theater. Many more compromises have been made in its design in order to accomplish this. A good two channel amp, the McCormack just being one example, is made with less compromises and designed to drive just two channels. Without going into detail they really are worlds apart.
Please don't think a McCormack is the only amp that might help you achieve your goal. Although I've never owned one, I've heard them and have been impressed. It just seems to be a very good candidate within your budget. Plus, there are many happy past and present McCormack users here on Audiogon.
The Plinius 8200 integrated is also a very suggestion. Its rated at 175wpc and if it's like any of the bigger Plinius amps I've heard, it's very smooth, powerful and has a touch of warmth. It combines the preamp and amp into one chassis and would save space over having separate components.
Either of these would be a big step over the Denon. If the 3802 is sonically similar to my friend's 5700 I remember it being a bit dry and thin sounding overall. It wasn't very dynamic either.
I can understand your hesitation to spending all this cash on gear you've never heard, especially if want to retain HT capability. I tried doing the same five years ago and found that I couldn't be satisfied with an all in one system. I eventually started a second stand alone two channel system.
Whatever you do, don't jump into anything right away. Do more research and save enough money to make a BIG step which will hopefully also be a noticeably improved one.
I own Paradigm 40 V.2 which I have reviewed as well. I used different amps and have mentioned about them as well in the review. One amp which I had the pleasure of listening in my own system was the Audio Analogue Puccini SE which my friend and I had researched and he went ahead with it.
The amp was first hooked up to my Paradigms and I was very impressed with it's clean and warm sound. It was a very beautiful looking amp. Although the specs stated that it was a 50 watter, but, it sounded more like an 80 watter. We never felt the need to crank up the volume since it was able to produce everything it was supposed to at normal listening levels.
I would also not use the Denon pre as has already been suggested by some if I were you. I have heard a Denon A/V amp at a friends place which was very similar to what you have and I was very dissapointed with the sound when comes to two channel music was concerned. There was no warmth to speak whatsoever.
Since I got the Paradigms I have tried a few other amps as well but I am very happy with what I have. The Puccini was certainly an exception (even without being broken-in) straight out of the box and hooked up for the first time.
Nad's for the price are superb sounding and the C370 is another option you have, albeit less refined than Puccini.