Prefer luscious mids.
Didn't you answer your own question? No SS amp that I have heard (at least in the price range of $10K or less) does what a tube amp can do in the mids.
As Bigkidz notes, tube amps often have nice mid-range, but may lack bass control. Since you already have a tube preamp, I'd recommend using a SS amp with the Vandy speakers. My first set of Vandersteen speakers was the Model 2Ci, and like all Vandy speakers they work well with amps having good bass control. I'm not sure that the McCormack .5 Deluxe should be compared with the two tube amps that you mention (which have a different set from each other as well). However, if I were forced to choose between the 3 amps you list (and given the equipment you already have), I'd probably pick the McCormack, but I'd sure want to audition it against at least one of the other tube amps before I made a choice.
I had 2Ci's and drove them for a short time with a Classic 60 (I've since moved up to 3A Sigs). It was a very good match, no real problems in the bass, just the inherent warmth of the 2Ci's. I also tried a pair of the Quicksilver monos (8417?) at one time and I really liked the mids, but the bass was a little to loose. Power was a little marginal too. More recent Quicksilvers are reportedly much better in the bass and the M-60 has more power. I've never heard the MCormack but I've heard nothing but good things when matched with Vandersteens. I would say all of the chocies are good ones, but as always, try it in your system if possible.
FWIW, I am driving a pair of Vandy 2CE's with a Rogue Tempest Magnum, and the sound is excellent. You might consider the 88 Magnum, the M-120 mono's, or the new M-150's. All are excellent amps at their respective price points.
Also, FYI - based on pics from CES, it looks like the Vandy room was using a pair of Audio Research tube mono's to drive the new Quattro's. If the mid's are important to you, I think either of the tube amps you mention would really make you happy.
Best of luck,
Ewha is correct. If you want luscious mids from Vandy 2s' you want a tube amp with at least 50 watts , the more the better, and good bass control. Nos retubed Rogue M-120's (magnum if you can) or 150's will get you there.
Apples or oranges? If it were me, I'd pick the MaCintoshCORMACK.
If you're itchin' for an upgrade and love the Vandersteens then I would recommend moving up to the 2CEs or CE Signatures. The tweeter on the CE is much better and the overall presentation is more coherent. Given the market for used Vandersteens, it would probably only cost you a couple hundred $$ for the UG. Money well spent.
From there, I'd start experimenting with amps. Of those you mention, I'd recommend the ARC Classic 60, but given your room dimensions, that might not be enough. Perhaps an ARC D-115MK2 (of which the Classic 60 is a direct descendant) would be a better match. They can be found for about the same price as the Classic 60 and have almost double the power with ALL of the MAGIC.
Thanks for all the feedback . As somewhat of an experiment I seized an opportunity to purchase a McCormack DNA .5 deluxe.
Yesterday, (the morning after almost having to sleep on the sofa! the wife wasn't too happy about the purchase..) I unpacked it , hooked it up and let it warm up prior to a listen. Initial reaction: way more detail and way more dynamic than my GSI modded Dynaco(starving artist quicksilvers w/ EH EL34's and Gold Aero 6DJ8's). Very exciting and involving. However, there's definitely a hardness, perhaps brittleness to the upper mids/high frequency...female vocals, massed strings etc. Also perhaps as the late great Harvey Rosenberg (the Tube God himself..) would have said, there is a certain "organic , juicy wholosity" to the sound stage (3D tubelike palpability?) that seems to be missing.
Note this is a "deluxe" version of the DNA .5, as opposed to a SMC( I met Steve years ago...) modded version which I'm sure would help, albeit at a price. Perhaps my Pioneer PD65, aural symphonics & MIT 330 IC's, or AI modulus 1 Pre w/ Gold Aero tubes are culprits too?! Help!!! Thanks, Jon
I've recommended the McCormack, but, I've gotta tell you that the McCormack's can be a bit forward. I don't think I would describe tham as brittle though, as despite the afore mentioned forwardness I think they are still rather liquid on top. There are no perfect products, especially at these price points. I'm not sure whether or not more power or upgrades will help, but, they might. I don't think the rest of your gear is at fault. Perhaps your sensitivities/priorities are different than mine and you would prefer the Quicksilver's.
If it's 3-D palpability that you want, then you'll need to stick with a tube amp. Based on your reaction to the "hardness" of the McCormack, I'm beginning to think that maybe you'd better stay with the 2ci with their soft domes and maybe try an Audio Research amp. The Quicksilver might be a little too euphonic.
I'd say that a happy medium would be found with either your current 2Cis and an ARC tube amp (which tend to be more neutral than most tube amps) or switching to 2Ces with the Quicksilver monos.
It's my understanding that the earlier Vandersteen models (maybe even current?) were voiced using Quicksilver amplification.
One final recommendation - There is an ARC D-125 (110wpc $4500 amp) currently listed for $1,000 INCLUDING shipping. That's a hell of a deal and would be a GREAT companion for the Vandersteens. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact....maybe sleeping on the couch for a few nights doesn't sound too bad.... :)
hi...i have the 2ci's with the ARC d-125....sounds great...and supplys plenty of power for the power hungry vandies...
Richard Vandersteen himself, recommends Quicksilver amps. Enough said? If you like the Vandy sound, and I do.
rolloff..i don't know anything about quicksilver amps tho i have been hearing the name a lot here since i have been posting. i've been told richard designed tha vandys around arc equipment as well..is that just the pre-amps? me confused..but what else is new? newbies...can't take us anywhere ;)