I never heard this amp but a previous version got a rave review in the Audio Critic magazine a few years back. The Strategy 400 was the amp that was marketed to audiophiles. The Mesa Baron amp is a fancied up version.
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In general, the desirable characteristics of a guitar amp are different than those of an an amp for music listening at home or in the recording studio. The sought after features of a guitar amp have to do with what distortion it can produce. A clean channel is certainly desirable for certain genres, such as the blues, but while Mesa Boogies have a good clean channel it is their own brand of dirt that separates them from other amps. Generally one looks to Fender for a good clean sound; Marshall for that metal distortion, and Mesas for the rectifier effect -think Santana - who made Mesa well known. People generally want an amplifier with low levels of distortion over a the entire audio bandwidth for listening to music in the home, or for that matter, in the recording studio. And this is just a starting point for why it may not make a lot of sense to use a guitar amp to listen to CDs or LPs. Remember the whole point of tubes in guitar amps is the distortion - and generally a lot of, not just the "warm" sound of a tube amp designed for CD or LP listening.
I thought a power amp was a power amp. I have used several power amps, like AB International and Crown (not the Ref. Macro they were selling us back in the 1990s) in a home setup and thought they could be used for music PA too. They work, but do sound "PAish" - kind of high noise level and not allot of detail like we are used to. I think the biggest difference is the speakers that are used for guitar -vs- recorded music.
Carvin does make a power amp (rack mount type) that they claim can be used for guitar or high end audiophile use.
FWIW, many head units do include a "line in", so i guess that is intended to hook a cd or tape deck to the amp?
The Mesa Boogie will work in home stereo applications. Here's a quote from the owner's manual:
The Strategy 400 Stereo is a modern, all-tube power amplifier-hand-built in the musical instrument tradition. Producing 200 watts of mid-band power-- the Strategy excels in playback systems-especially home stereo--and is unequaled for musical instrument performance including guitar, bass, keyboards and electronic drums. In all of these applications the Strategy will deliver state-of-the-art performance and almost certainly sound
I have use many tube amps costing over $10,000. The Messa is the amp that keeps getting put back in my system. I have re-tubed the Messa with all factory tubes and really like the overall sound. The other amps I compare it to are the Esoteric Audio Research E.A.R. 509 mono blocks that I have. The EAR is similar in that it was a studio grade amp for ultra high-end studios and home systems. The messa is an extremely detailed amp with zero listener fatigue. Bass is tight with plenty of power to spare. Mids are holographic in their staging. Highs extend well beyond the range of most speakers, never loosing their precise detail and sense of air and space. I had the amp gone though by a local tube amp audiophile guru. He really liked it because the design was so robust and bulletproof. Other that hot summer days I run it with the fan unplugged and the top off naturally ventilated. The amp typically run in the 1 to 2 watt range at "normal" listening levels, seldom lighting the power indicator leds on the front. But is you want to play to the neighbors two blocks away... you have the power to reach that level. The mods my Guru did removed the mono bridge jack wiring. He also replaced a failed diode and installed home style speaker connections. This is a tremendous value for a world class, high power tube amp. Let's keep it a secret.
The speakers I use it with: Newform Research R45 (45" long ribbon type tweeters and dual cone 6" base drivers) Martin Logan ReQuest large panel electrotatic with 12" bass drivers. Cary Silveroak speakers. Various demos speakers. For my ear a good preamp is my Modwight. For reference the messa can be run with no preamp using the volume attenuators on the amp.
I've been using Mesa guitar amps off and on since the Prune Music modded Princeton days (a long, long time ago…*sigh*...), and I've found they are an amazingly high quality amp company. That Baron amp was simply ahead of its time, and I'd love to get one someday. I prefer to not have attenuation pots in my stereo hifi rig but Mesa was also know for their clean punch…a Mark 1 Boogie if used clean (I had one with an Altec 15!)…master volume up with the preamp low…would strip the chrome off a trailer hitch from 30 feet, although just about everybody messed with preamp gain as otherwise it was simply too damn loud, and hey…ya gotta have grease in yer guitar tone. I use other tube amps for guitar currently (low wattage, class A, yada yada), but a stereo tube Mesa power amp, even with input pots, has to be a GREAT hifi amp…it just does. Compare prices of modern well made tube guitar amps with hifi stuff and its sort of a joke really, and one of those companies should cash in on the hifi thing as I bet they would make some killer stuff…and not have to do reverb and tone stacks…Mesa…Matchless…Fargen…Swart…Divided by 13…Burriss...make a little tube stereo amp…please.
Yeah man…I can’t recall any tube hifi amp that does what a Baron does in terms of features. Maybe we should start a "bring back the Baron" petition. As an aside, a couple of years ago I bought a barely used Burriss 18 watt, hand wired, made in USA, all class A (tube rectified…that’s supposedly important), all Mullard tubed EL84 driven spring reverb with tremolo guitar head for 500 bucks. Is it made as well as a Jadis or McIntosh? You bet yer --- it is. Does it sound good?...oh yeah…loudest and sweetest 18 watts I’ve ever heard.
I'd love to hear more on this - I'm a guitarist who loves playing through a tube amp and I'd like to dip my toes into the tube world for home stereo, but the pricing is giving me pause. Carvin claims their T100 is great for home stereo application. Are you suggesting the Mesa Stereo amp is also excellent for home stereo use?
I run an Arcam AVR350 through some GR Research N2x monitors (86db) and I'm keen to try driving them with a tube back end. (The Arcam has pre outs for a stereo amp.)
I bought a Jolida 502p for my hifi rig a while back…it's one of the most inexpensive high quality tube hifi amps out there (a little more expensive now as there's a newer model that can use various tube types, and includes some of the factory "upgrade" mods I payed a little more for). Try one of these things if you have the tube amp itch…it scratches that itch with aplomb.
I just got me a strategy 400 amp today to run in my home stereo. It came with two Mesa Boogie 2X10 cabinets and a Digitech RP7 valve foot board effects pedal/preamp. Will probably sell the cabinets but for now.......
Dam I forgot how much fun it is to play electric guitar through a big most badass stereo rig -pity my neighbors. still in cleaning, testing and Guitar mode. but a audiophile/stereo test is coming soon (I already cut the lead to the noisy Howard fan and removed the top).... I'll keep you posted
the system will be Modwright "The Truth " Oppo 105 (+mac mini server), Meitner pa6i pre amp (Audible Illusions tube preamp coming from a friend) Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 amp, Paragon Regents speakers, MK push pull sub.
I had a 400+ Bass amp in a padded road case for many years. It replaced a Magnavox trannied Ampeg SVT/8-10" trunk which have since become desirable. After my DYI rig and the acoustic 360/361 the 80+ lb. SVT was boringly unflexible tone wise.
I bought the 400+ inoperative but pristine looking. Petaluma is just under an hour away and the folks there were happy to see one in for service. I was given a tour of the factory where I saw the Barron amplifier for the first time. In my opinion this is one very cool company. Nice people, everything done in house, and of course vacuum tubes.
Sorry to say that amplifier took a real licking on a short tour and it was sold a few years later in perfect working order. My current backline gear is microscopic by comparison. I get the Double Bass and the rig to the car in one trip.