For under 20K (or over 20K if you like) you could get a very respectable YBA set-up. Ask your Avalon dealer if he has heard them with YBA amps. If you want to demo them before you buy (and you should) the North American distributor is very good about lending equipment to dealers for customers to demo. Let the speakers get nicely run in before you start in-home demos though.
Elberoth, I have a pair of Eidolons that I drive with Atma-Sphere MA-2 MkIIIs amps and the combination is superb. I've heard the Eidolons in different systems over the years with a variety of amps, and this is the most satisfying combination I've heard (I've not heard the JL-2s, but do read good things about that combination).
The challenge is the cost new: $33,000. I know you say "new gear ONLY," but let me offer a consideration: buy a used MA-2 MkII ($12-13,000 see Audiogon classified) and send it back to the factory to be updated to MkIII status. Ralph will update the amp to current factory spec and extend a new 5-year "as new" warranty on the amp. One great thing about the Atma-Sphere amps is that the life of the output tubes is very, very long (in the 10,000+ hours range), and output tubes do not have to be matched so you can replace just one at a ttime as needed. The output tubes are also relatively inexpensive.
I agree right down the line with the comments Marc Mickelson makes in his May, 2004, SountStage review of the MA-2s: http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/atmasphere_ma2ii3.htm
Really good advice from Rushton on the "used-to-new" updates of the MA-2's. Now that sounds like a great value.
I heard the MA-1's vs. the JL-2 late last year driving Sound-Lab U1s and both products were outstanding. For me however, I prefered the CAT because of its phenomenol dynamic contrasts. If you are considering the JL-2 which I believe is around $12k new, but your budget goes higher, I understand there is a non-signature JL-3 model that is in the low $20k range. Brian, Audiogon member is EssentialAudio, in the Chicago area has a lot of experience with these two amplifier lines. I suggest you contact him if either of these amps is on your list.
Hi Jafox, just a comment on the dynamic contrasts of the two Atma-Sphere amps: the MA-2 has far greater dynamic capabilities than the MA-1. There is very little comparison unless you add the power supply boost upgrade to the MA-1 (which adds a significantly greater amount of capacitor reserve to the power supply). I know your comparison was between the MA-1 and the JL-2, just didn't want anyone to draw an inference you'd not intended. Cheers.
I have heard many amps on the Eidolon over the years. Both tubed and solid-state. People say that they love power but I have found that IMO quality is more important than quantity. These speakers will give back to you exactly what you put into them.
My preference is for high quality tubes because I feel that it tells me more about an instruments sound, the tone, the timbre of texture, and the harmonics that make it unique from another instrument. Not to mention the space (venue) that the instruments were recorded in.
Of the tube amps I've heard personally on the Eidolon (I have since moved on to the Eidolon Diamond) either in my system or others, I prefer and picked the BAT 150se mono block amps. Other tube amps you may wish to consider are the Atmasphere amps that Rush (hi Rush) mentioned or the CAT amps you are already considering.
IMHO the BAT 150se has the best combination of virtues that both solid-state and tubes can bring to a system. They are a just a fantastic company to deal with and should be around for many years to come. In the 10 yrs they been in business they have become extremely successful and for good reason. They know what they are doing!
If you care to discuss this further please feel free to e-mail me privately. By the way, the speakers take a long time to break in. 500 hrs+ at loud volumes to really start showing their stuff.
All the best to you in your search,
Thank you Rushton for the clarification indeed. When I write about experiences of one product vs. another, I try to be specific about the model numbers but sometimes I do slip up. This time I did not, but it would be easy for someone to conclude my observations were true for all CAT amps vs. all Atma-Sphere amps.
Hi,I have the cat JL3s driving the eidilon diamonds and it is a match made in heaven.I strongly recommend you go for the cat gear.
I think it's worth mentioning the Atma-Sphere MA-1s Jafox heard here last December were virtually new out of the box, with just a few days' use, although they did pretty well. The price on the MA-2s has been reduced to $29,000/pair since Glacier Audio is no longer associated with Atma-Sphere.
That said, it's clear that over his eight hours of auditioning here, including listening to four different amplifiers, Jafox developed a preference for the CAT, which surely is an outstanding amplifier and a very good match for Sound Labs. I'd love to hear his JL3 Signatures on the speakers. My friend Karl who is the local CAT dealer was a big help.
When the timing is right, hopefully in a month or two, I will return to Lacrosse and can continue on my way to your place. I will throw the JL-3s in the car and bring them along. We'll need a 30A circuit for these however. Should be just enough room in my car to fit these and the Versa TT and compressor box. Hope all the weight does not affect my gas mileage too much. 8-) I'll let you know as the time gets closer.
John, sounds like a heckuva party! I've been told I should charge admission :) A couple of months would work better.
I thought you were going to buy the Eidolons?
Thanks for your input so far. Atma is unfortunately over my budget.
I was wondering if anyone triad the new Jeff Rowland 300 stereo power amp ? The no-heat issue is very tempting (although I have a AC in my listening room, I tend to switch it off for cruicial listening).
14 x 20 feet, for Eidolon? :-))))))))))
Well, basicly yeah. Do you think they will overpower the room ?
Try the cj prem 350. It has nice tight bass and has dynamic life in the upper mids/treble which is somewhat tube like.
you will save a bundle in doing so as well. The UK importer of Avalon and cj used them together at the last UK hifi show and the apprantly sounded wonderful.
Downunder: That is an option I was thinking about, too. I think I will go there this year to listen by myself. The UK importer has been demoing the Avalon / CJ combination on The HiFi News Show for years. In fact, one of those demos made me buy Eidolons.
I have read your posts about Prem 350. There was also a glowing review written by Martin Colloms in HiFi News a while back. Martin also uses Eidolons as his reference speakers, so this combination seems to work.
I listened to a lot of SS amps to replace my tube monoblocks and in my system the cj was the best at playing music and making the music sound vibrant and alive.
I actually have a fully balanced pre and bought balanced IC and much to my surprise the unbalanced cj still sounded better.
Yeah, I believe MC has ditched his long time reference Wilson's.
have fun listening
I have Eidolon Diamonds and love the Jeff Rowland 300. I have had the following amps driving the Eidolons (Levinson 336, BAT 150 Se's, Classe' Omega) and for my taste the Rowland wins hands down. The 300 gave me the best of both worlds (rock solid bass, pinpoint imaging and soundstaging, with liquid midrange similar to tubes). The Rowland 300 is in your price range (around $15 K) and is a fantastic amp.
Put a pair of CAT JL3 sigs on them and go on to the next component.I am using them on the Diamonds and there is no better match and I have tried going cheaper and wasted my time.Do not short change the speakers,they are capable of incredible performance.
Strapper,in lieu of the unfortunate fact that CAT has no website,and since I'm very interested in their product range,could you describe the different architectural configs. of the amp line(JL-3-a one or two chasis amp,for ex.and how much power?).Also,wasn't CAT supposed to come out with a new Pre(phono still included?).Thanks!
Sir Speedy,the JL3s are monoblocks that weigh 200 pounds apieace,they are rated at 160 watts at 8 ohms but ken stevens said they put out about 270 watts into the 4 ohms eidolons.And I have heard these amps drive the totally ineffient mbls to concert levels without breaking a sweat,so much for power ratings.The Legend pre-amp I am told will be out some time this summer 16000.00 with phono,14000.00 without,I cant wait to hear it.Ken is just overloaded with orders,I guess that is the highest praise of his products.
I have heard the Opus Ceramique / CJ 350SA combination on The HiFi Show in London this year (with CJ CT5, Reimyo CDP-777 and Cardas Golden Cross cables throughout) and didn't like the sound all that much. The sound was too smooth and creamy, the microdynamics was almost muted.
I know that Opus is no Eidolon, but they use the same ceramic midrange and tweeter.
Elberoth2, the problem is not in the Avalon Opus Ceramique. IMHO the CJ and the Cardas Golden Cross are the problems of the sound you ear.