Mcintosh 601's vs Classe CA-M600's

Which would you chose? Speakers are Sonus Faber Stradivari.


I think that if I had speakers with a list price of $45,000.00, I'd be going to where ever and listening for myself.

That said, I heard them with Mark Levinson 53 monoblocks and they sounded fantastic.

Chuck - the word on the 53's is that they can be too analytical. Would you agree?

I'm currently running the Strads with my Mc 2301's and its terrific, but I want to have the option (from time to time) to roll in some SS or Digital amps. I recently brought my Classe CA-2300 up from the other room and ran it in the main system. I was highly impressed with the results.

In addition to the 601's and CA-M600's, I've thought about Pass xa200.5 (but I'm concerned about heat). ModWright 150SE's, Bryston 28SST's, and even the Devialet D-Premier.

The problem is that where I live, there aren't any decent dealers for hundreds of miles.

I'm open to anything to be honest.


I sat and listened in complete awe to the combo for two hours. The rest of the system was an I-Pad, Classe DAC, Mark Levinson preamp (whatever is the current top-of-the-line) and Tara Labs Zero Gold cabling.

I left feeling disgusted because my system sure didn't sound that good. Of course, my room was only half the size of the dealer's showroom, which was also well treated acoustically, and that does play a big part in what I heard.

Seriously, if you have that kind of money in those speakers, or even half that, you ought to be taking some road trips.

Well I would never buy the MAC stuff. Sound is to veiled.
The Classe' yeah, the Bryston too.
A pair of 28B-SST2 would be wonderful.
as an opposite I would go with the MC 601's...the SF needs something like the McIntosh color to sing properly......
I admit that I am a McIntosh owner/user (several times over) and that will qualify me as being biased, but still, I must say that you are far more sensible than to paint all of the output of an entire brand with a single brushstroke. There may indeed be models that are dark, or veiled (I do think that the house sound is on the darker side) but they really aren't all veiled.
Now you know my dilemma! The only consensus of everyone I have spoken with is Pass xa200.5 (or 160.5). I would buy those in a second - if not for the massive heat they put off. I live in Florida! It's not enough. I guess the Parasound JC-1's are not in the same class as these other amps? I'm leery of the ML because its a hybrid amp. Not too keen on hybrid/Class-D. In Mike Framers review of the Anthem M1, I think he politely slams the 53's - without exactly saying:
The Classe amps seems to get better reviews than the 28SST2's.
I meant to say, "it's HOT enough!"

Elizabeth - I've always loved reading your posts. Have you heard the Classe CA-M600's?
Don't those Mac 2301's put out a a lot of heat?

I live in the Southern Calif desert area. We get hotter than you but you have the
humidity on us.

Even with "our" heat, I'd recommend the big Pass. I use the
XA100.5 monos and yes they put out some heat so our air conditioning works
a little harder for a few months in the Summer and that is just for the hours
(maybe 2-6) they are on.

Do you leave your amps on all the time? A nice thing about the Pass is their
standby switch. It keep the caps charged with NO heat and draws only a few
watts. When I switch the amps on, they sound pretty good right away and get
better during the first hour so I don't leave them on 24/7. Their XA.5 amps
aren't really limited to their power rating, that's only how much they put out in
pure class A. Even the 100.5's may be enough for you (and less heat than the
Yes, they put out a lot of heat. I read that the xa200.5 put out nearly 1400 watts of heat at rest. Yowser! The 2301's don't put out quite that much.

Have you ever compared the xa's to something like the Bryston 28SST2's or Classe CA-M600's?

The JC-1's are absolutely in the same class as the amps you mention. Don't let their price tag fool you.

Yes I am a current JC-1 owner, and have owned amps from Mark Levinson, Classe, Linn, Pass Labs, Ayre, and a few more I can't think of at the moment.

They are outstanding amplifiers, period.
Is heat from these Class A amps an issue? Can you see them heating up a room worse than my tube amps (Mc 2301's)?

Haven't compared those exact models you named to my XA's but have heard other amps in those lines and the Pass was much more to my liking.

I had a Mac MC2000 (4 KT88's per side) and it put out a lot more heat than my Pass. I would bet your 2301's put out more heat than Pass. Yes, the XA200's "draw" 1400 watts from the wall but the actual temp of the heat sinks is about 50 degrees above room temp (same for the 100 or 200 watt ones). Again, that's at the tip of heat sink. When I measure the top of the amp it's around 110 degrees. I just measured one of my 300b tubes at a little more than 200 degrees. Thankfully I only have 2 of them. I would imagine your KT88 are similar and you have 16 (?) of them.

The Pass amps do not put out any heat when they are on "in standby". When you switch to operate they start to heat up. To my ears they sound good in just a few minutes and continue to improve for 30 mins to an hour. No need to leave them on all the time.
I heard the xa160.5's today and was BLOWN AWAY. I hate to say it, but I preferred them to the xa200.5's.

There are those who think that smaller amps have reasons they sound a little better than their bigger brothers. I lean that way as long as you are NOT anywhere near clipping.

Nelson has figured out a way to make this less of an issue if someone does need the power. One thing that's nice is that nice blue meter that just sits there doing nothing UNTIL you start leaving the class A. You still have lots of power after that but if you like to bathe in pure class A, it's a sign you need more power.

Case in point: My first XA was the 30.5. It drove my Magnepan 3.6's easily and only on the louder peaks the meter would wiggle but it still sounded great. Being a mono block fan, it was an easy jump to the 100.5's and that became a match from heaven and the needle hasn't moved.

btw, my 30.5 went to work driving the little brother to your Strads, the Guarneri Homage.
Onemeg - here is my rational for the 160.5 as well (over the 200.5). My 4 ohm speakers can only handle up to 300 with the 160.5 being 320 watts of class A into 4 ohms....I'm thinking that could be a really good match. Agree?

I'm just not sure the added expense of the 200.5 will give me a lot more with my current speakers.

I'm running Symphonic Line Kraft 250s that are Class A. They get warm but not hot - and actually run cooler than the Class A/B Plinius SB-301 stereo amp they replaced in my system.

The Symphonic Line website lists Sonus Faber as one of the manufacturers that use SL amps to design their products. They are not as well known as Pass here in the U.S., but they are in the same league as other top European amps like FM Acoustics, Gryphon, Dartzeel etc.

Agree. Sounds like a great match...sonics and power.