Manley Snapper or VTL ST 150 drive 87-89 dB Avalon or JM Lab speakers via passive McCormack preamp. If anyone can quickly tell me what to expect from both in terms of tonality and key strengths/weaknesses, that would be really appreciated. Trying to find the muscle of SS amps with immediacy of tubes.
Dear friend,

if you looking for the muschle of SS and immediacy of tubes MANLEY is your brand, no dubts! Passive preamp and Snapper is a great couple in terms of music pleasure and are very electrically compatible... RECOMMENDED! Enjoy! Francesco
The ST 150 is very good in triode mode, but I didn't think it drove the Vandersteen 3a's very well (which are not very efficient...I think they're in the 87dB range or so) except in pentode mode, which I didn't like much. My impression was that there was too much slam in pentode, and a loss of delicacy and some detail...but that's hardly a surprise. Also thought that the VTL was a little dry in the upper mids...massed strings were sometimes not presented in a luxurious fashion. I got a 2nd hand ARC VT100 MKIII and was happier.
I don't see how anyone could that strings were, in any way, inaccurately represented by VTL. Maybe it wasn't the VTL you were hearing, because this is a strong-suit for VTL.

I personally have listened to the st-150 and the st-85, in home for extended periods, and the one characteristic that stood out to me most was string instruments, and mid-range to upper mid-range. So my experience was quite the opposite on different speakers of course-805s and Wilson Benesch ARCs . Both of these monitors sound simply incredible with both of these amps behind them.

In fact, these amps sound much better than the previous $10K SS amp I had in my system prior to them.
Jc51373, are you running the ST85 in triode or ultralinear?

thank you.

Jdec, I am actually running it in tetrode since everytime I use triod it blows a fuse in the right channel of the amp. I suppose it needs a new tube or something, but since it is a dealer demo I don't care. It sounds awesome in tetrode and I am told better in triode?
I use an ST-150 with Vienna Acoustics Beethovens and I concur with Jc1373 on its sound characteristics. The mid range and upper end are exquisite. The bass is a little flabby in my systems but the Vienna's woofers fall just outside the recommended range on VTL's web page System Matching section. They suggest using the ST-150 with woofers no bigger than 8" or 2 6". I use the ST-150 almost exclusively in tetrode mode as I listen to mostly rock and electric blues. Triode sounds magical with small string ensembles or solo acoustic material but doesn't have the drive I want for rock or full orchestral works.

Without any doubt Manley, much better customer service than VTL (I had VTL and have Manley).

I disagree...I have had very good experience with VTL customer service. No different than any other positive experience I have had with any other manufacturer.

Luke has called me on the phone and taken the time to work with me on a very personal level. In fact, I would say quite the opposite and say they have been about the best HiFi vendor I have dealt with of all.