I own the VAIC 300B SE which is made by Mastersound and is the same as the Mastersound 300B SE. Very nice sounding integrated amp which also has a "Direct" input which allows you to use a preamp. This is the way I run it. The big advantage to this is amp is the higher power output through use of either the 32B or 300BXLS tubes, mine has the latter. Unlike most 300B based amps this one puts out about 18 wpc and allows use of a far greater number of speakers. I am using mine with a pair of Kharma 3.1 speakers. This amp has a much more extended top and bottom than a typical 300B amp. Overall its a great sounding amp and IMHO worth considering.
I second Gjrad's opinion, as, thanks to him, I own the same amp (VAIC 300B SE), but use it set up for the 32b or 320B XLS tube (more top-end extension, less midrange presence). I ran Sonus Faber Concertino Home monitors (88dB/6ohm) with them and am just switching to Sonist Concerto 3s (95dB/8ohm).
I know both of the SS amps you mention, having auditioned them (they're good, but not SET).
I think the only comparable SET amps are made by Ayon (Austria) and those are even more expensive.
But VAC once made an excellent P/P integrated, called the Avatar, which you can pick up for a reasonable price used (one avail. now on A'gon). I'm not sure if it's still in production, but it may be. And Audio Note (UK) makes a 300b integrated w/phono called the Meishu, which is also affordable when it comes up used (rare).
Neither amp is quite like the VAIC/Mastersound 300B SE, though. But I do like them both quite a lot, especially the VAC Avatar.
Thanks guys for the quick response. I'll have to take a look which exact model it was the dealer had there and will do that soon.
I do like a good bottom end as that is what I'm currently missing (though I'm not sure whether that's the speakers or the amps I have).
As I don't have any experience with tube amps at all I don't know if it would make sense to keep the Electrocompaniets and use the Mastersound as a preamp. Guess that would somehow defeat the purpose as I could just sell my pre-amp and look for a tube pre-amp that fits my current amps.
As I'd like to reduce the overall physical size of the setup I do like the idea of the integrated a lot better.
The one thing I'm not sure about is whether or not the Mastersound would match well with the PMC OB1+ speakers I've heard at the same shop and liked a lot. At the time they were driven by Rega equipment and I did like very much.
It might make sense to actually replace my speakers first as I've read all too often that the B&W's aluminum tweeters are just a bit bright in some setups and that would allow me to see hear the PMC's with without changing the amps.
What about the Cayin amps? Would those compare to the Mastersound amps?
Cayin makes good P/P amps, but I don't know about whether they make SET or if they're any good. A different sound than Mastersound, from the Cayin KT88s I've heard.
I think Mastersound is special. Check this out:
If your looking for the SET sound, there are 2 other Italian manufacturers to consider, New Audio Frontiers and Viva. The first I believe is quite a lot more expensive than Mastersound, Viva just more expensive. I got my Viva Solista 845 second hand for $4000 and have been very happy with it for 4 years. It puts out 22watts and easily drives my 89db Acoustic Zen Adagios. Ayon is a good make, but I believe most are Push Pull. If it was me, I would keep a lookout on this site for a second hand unit.
I own a master sound and it will not drive the PMC. If going with a SET amp purchase loudspeakers designed for such use. As far as low priced amps near the sound quality after owning over 30 SET amps I can not think of any. But wright 2a3 or 300b not close to mastersound but good enough.
I've owned Quicksilver 300B SET amps for about six years and love them. I have not heard Mastersound so cannot compare. The Quicksilver amps have huge power supplies and are wired point-to-point by hand. Bottom end is excellent, especially for a 300B amp. Midrange is superb. I'm using WE 300B's and newer Svets on occasion. WE's certainly best the Svets in overall musicality and just seem smoother, for lack of a better descriptor. They are rarely seen used, and Mike Sanders does not advertise them on his website, but did show them at RMAF 07, where they sounded astoundingly good with a modified horn speaker, which I cannot recall the manufacturer. He builds them on demand only - you will not find them on his website. I believe the price is $3000 with no tubes. $3200 with (not sure which tubes he provides). He also makes a KT88 SET amp which I have not heard personally, but a close friend who owns several of his amps including that one speaks highly of it. I believe it was also reviewed in one of the rags. That amp is on the website.
I agree with Johnk about the PMC not being the best pairing with Mastersound. I've heard a few Mastersound amps in my system and they are awesome. I can't believe some of them are selling so cheaply on this site.
If you like the sound of tubes you might find a speaker that you like as much as the PMC that is easier to drive.
For what it's worth I have an Avatar SE and it seems to have is more power and control its specs suggest.
Just checked back on this thread and was glad to see even more responses. As of now I have to admit that I don't even know the difference between a push/pull and SET and shall use the search function to find out more.
JohnK, any chance you could please give me some more insight into why the PMC's might not be a good choice for this amp? Also, what speaker brand would you recommend or what to look for in a good match?
Do you think that the B&W 703's would match it better.
I'll have to check with the dealer around here how much the amp actually was but it might have been around 3000.
Thanks again and I'll make sure to check back later.
David12 is right about Viva amps--I agree, anyway. Excellent and also made in Vicenza, like Mastersound. If power is an issue, I also recommend the Mastersound Compact 845--about 25W-30W.
Thanks again for all the help.
Bblilikoi, I think the PMC's are 6 Ohms/87db which doesn't seem too be too far away from you Sonus Faber Concertino Home monitors (88dB/6ohm)you've had. Were you ok with that setup and the amp you had. As you pointed out that you were switching to different speakers with higher sensitivity I wonder how big the difference in sound is.
For now I'll see what I can sell the easiest and that might just be my speakers and then take it from there. As there's a store over in Detroit that sells PMC and has tube amps it might pay to take a trip there and see what these guys have around I could listen to.
Well, made a mistake and just found out that the amp is the Due Venti rather then the 300 model. Still liked tyhe sound a lot and that also explains why the price is around 3000 rather then twice as much. Guess the problem with the amp not exactly matching the speakers might still apply.
The Due Venti is a very nice amp too! I was looking for one when Gjrad turned me on to the VAIC 300BSE. The Due Venti is 20W/channel. Here's a review:
The issue with SET amps and conventional speakers is that they can only drive them to moderate levels. I could not get the VAIC 300bSE to power the SF Concertinos to more than "entertaining" volume, which was what I mainly did in that room anyway. So, they were fine for that.
But, to fill the room and to get the best out of the amp, I needed a more sensitive speaker. And I wanted one as good on operatic voices as the SF Concertinos were. The Sonist Concerto 3 is that, plus it's fabulous with large-scale orchestral music too.
I highly endorse the Due Venti. For speakers to match it with, you might look into the Sonist Concerto 2--a large monitor rated 95dB/8 ohms. Very affordable and I found it great for blues, rock, jazz, and operatic and jazz voices. Just not the last word in depth and slam for orchestral music. A review:
A question. What is it you don't prefer about the Electrocompaniet AW220 amps? Or, putting it another way--I thought that Electrocompaniet had a reputation of being fairly "soft" and somewhat dark and "tubelike" as far as SS amps were concerned. Why are you selling the AW220s?
As a tube-amp lover, I've admired Electrocompaniet, MBL, and Clayton in terms of their approaches to SS sound.
The main problem is that I find the sound of my current setup to be a bit too bright for my ears. A friend of mine described it as quite detailed and liked it a lot, but he's not into tube amps and finds them too warm sounding.
The main problem might be the speakers and that's why I originally wanted to sell my speakers and by the PMC OB1+'s.
A little later I heard the Due venti and just loved the sound. Just so different to solid state equipment. But then again, I should try different speakers first to give the amps I have a better chance and that's why I'm back to deciding what to sell first.
As there are some Electrocompaniet's here on Agon that haven't sold for a while I might have a better shot at selling the B&W 703's first and get the PMC's and take it from there.
One reason why I did like the integrated is that it needs less space and sounded very good to me.
I could of course get Classe amps, which I auditioned the B&W's with as I really like them with these amps, but the tube sound is different and for my ears just nicer.
A SET amp needs to be matched to loudspeakers since most SETs are low power even the largest are only 40 watts or so sure a few very costly exceptions. SETS have trouble with low ohm loads and if loudspeaker impedance is too low reduced bass and treble is usually the result. If SETs output power is not enough you will be clipping the amp most of the time. SET clipping isn't a square wave like SS amps so not damaging to loudspeakers like clipped ss amplifier. But you will have greater distortion again 2nd order not as bad sounding as distortions in SS amp designs. This is as simple as I can explain it. For loudspeakers consider Audiokeneses, KCS, Carter, Love craft, Omega. I own KCS just so you know;) The old bias to ones product. KCS can build custom if you like. We do have a SEAs exotic monitor that I actually use on my Mastersound 300b. And match's SET near as perfect as you can get in this hobie. KCS designs loudspeakers optimized for SET and using SETs in design and voicing stage We also design for all other amplifier types. Since amp loudspeakers should be carefully matched most manufacturers just design loudspeakers to be used with many types of amplifier thus not optimized for any. With SET many disappointed owners who where doomed from the start do to improper matched system. If you go hi-eff loudspeakers dont cheap out or even consider anything less than a 6in driver. Lots of hi-eff designs sporting cheap 4in drivers with special coating avoid these at all costs or you to will be doomed and back on forum. No 4in drivers is even close to fullrange. And talk about no frequency extremes or dynamic range. These weak little 4in drivers tend to chase away many from fully exploring SET hi-eff. Many - posts about hi-eff fullrange or SET can be traced to improper system match's or over expectations like expecting a wee 4in cone driven by 8 watts or less to move the earth ;) Same with horns many start cheap or use vintage and say colored sound and they are right,but Front horns can be near the best sound with SET you can get but are very large costly and not all are designed for SET use. Hard to get the best sound with SET unless crossovers simple and drivers are over built and mags very powerful this is not cheap to pull off. So to sum look for powerful mags ohm loads not below 4ohms. And with a 300b at least 90db 1 watt 8ohms.
Compact 845 listed today. I'd love to put this amp up against my Avatar SE for a month or two. Anyone willing to give me a bridge loan?
Bjesien, I feel just like you. Didn't expect any more replies to my post and if my components were sold already I'd just jump on it and buy it as it surely is an amp that is worth trying.
As I haven't even listed my amps yet I better use the time my lady's still down on Florida and pull them out and take pics and list them.
Pretty sure the new owner of that Compact 845 will be happy.