mid-fi to hi-fi evolution...power questions

vandy 2ce sigs in a treated room. love 'em. might add a sub.
acurus rl-11 preamp. totally under-rated. after a ken ealey massage, a giant killer at just $1k.
cal cl-10
magnum ft-101a
music hall mmf-5 & acurus p10
power has been acurus A250, then Bryston 3B-ST, currently PS Audio 200C

despite the barely mid-fi rep, i liked the acurus power amp with the vandys quite a lot actually. they are fairly inefficient (~85dB/1w/1m), 6ohm, and in a big room...they liked the big power and tamed the harsh reputation a bit.

the 3B was installed with perhaps too high expectations, and was underwhelming. underpowered? i did see the clip indicators a bit too regularly. the 4B would have been a better choice i think.

the current (25 year old!) 200C is also excellent...the best of the bunch. has the low end grunt & control of the acurus, with more refined mid/upper registers...but it's a bit long in the tooth and i worry about its longevity.

but the real truth is, i just have an itch to try something different (power, and possibly pre). budget ~$2k, maybe a touch more. i'm thinking actual (not rated) power at 8ohms of ~200wpc. that's the background...

tightwad (er, 'smart shopper') in me says 'definitely buying used'. auditioning all the varieties of used gear is impossible of course. cosmetics are not so important, but reliability is.

i have a local deal on a conrad johnson pair that is quite intriguing...very clean 17LS pre & MF2500 SS power at ~$3k. is that fair? a steal? it's a bigger fish than i though i was looking to fry, but if it's a give-away, i might bite. beyond that, it's the usual suspects...

given my fondness for the mondial (acurus) sound (really did seem to match well with the vandys), i'm thinking aragon. 8008BB @ ~$1k?

up from there, maybe a krell KSA-150? the age and the heat give me pause however. $1.5k? should i skip the KSA and move on to the FBP? that prototype FBP-200 has my eye...

the rational side of me says '4B-ST is an almost unanimously regarded amp', but given my disappointment with the 3, i'm inclined to look elsewhere, especially at $1.5k. mistake?

what else have i bookmarked? BAT VT-220? belles 150A? threshold s/500? halo a21? so many choices!

what would you add? thx...
I have always known Vandersteen Model 2 speakers to be very easy to drive. Based on Vandersteen Audio specs the impedance is 7 ohms nominal with a minimum of 4 ohms. Efficiency is 86db 1 watt 1 meter. Recommended amplification is 40 to 160 watts per channel into 8 ohms.

I personally have had success driving Vandersteen Model 2 speakers with a high quality 60 watt per channel solid state amplifier. I have also had great success with two Audio Research Classic 30 amplifiers vertically biamped and combined with a Vandersteen 2W subwoofer. Richard Vandersteen used this method himself at shows.

Vandersteen speakers have been known to develope problems with various components when they are played at high volume for extended periods of time. You can test your speakers by bringing the speakers to the center of the room and placing them side by side. Set your preamp to mono and while playing pink noise rotate the balance control from left to right. Listen carefully for any differences between the two speakers. If the left speaker does not sound identical to the right speaker you may have a problem. If so, contact Vandersteen Audio.

You may want to contact Vandersteen Audio anyway regarding power amplifiers and how Vandersteen speakers can be damaged with too much power.
Dookie1: I can certainly understand your thoughts, aims, and attitudes here. I, too, have had the itch for something new. Overall, however, whether one realizes it or not, I think that it is a sign that something is lacking in one's system (even if subtle). If you desire quality, relaible power--and do not care whether it bears the label of "high-end"--you might try a B&K power amp. I picked up a new Reference 200.2, after a demo last week. I was quite impressed with its sonics and control, even into my 85db/6-ohm load. I have not heard the unit in my complete system yet, as I am waiting on my new (to me) preamp to arrive (probably tomorrow). I can supply further commentary once the preamp arrives.

I would also check out the better brands of prior decades--many of these brands can be had for almost nothing. They provide solid build and no short-cuts (i.e. integrated circuits and such). I have found that when buying from home (i.e. no demo to listen to), it is imperative to weed out certain units based upon their design.

At all costs, I try to ignore the "high-end" label, and select on the basis of design, but, of course, the sound in my system will be the deciding factor. I find "Class D" units and those with switching power supplies to be somewhat suspect--though that is not to say that they are all necessarily poor performers. I tend to favor discrete, straightforward, traditional designs.

Some brands to think about: B&K (excellent used prices), Parasound, Krell, McCormack (especially those from the 90s), and Aragon. I am sure there are many others.
thanks much...keep the good advice coming.

speakers do not see extended high-volume use. i can say from experience that 60w is not enough for my application (30'x18'x16'-8' [sloping cathedral] room). i had a friend's bryston 2b-lp on loan for a bit, and it was absolutely not enough.
The Krell will send your electric bill up but have greatest bass "grip" if with slightly metallic mids.yeah 4 B ST would be choice.But like Threshold age is consideration so buy checked out.If you don't push them to stupid levels B&O class D is now real value watts per dollar.Check out Wyred.Good overall sound (though some find them "cool") with a slightly soft bass.But they run cool and are a value.To me sources are good and if you like pre that's great because they don't add as much IMHO as have potential to acrew things up.Amp will make difference.Rrog is right about asking them about how much is to much much but since you ran that 3B into clip I don't think you'll run into problems and your more likely to damage a speaker with too little power clipped than too much.I BTW I have owned Bryston 4 BST (great amp rated 225 but benches at 275),sold Krell for 6 years (I have to fix my 300S and flip unless I get a speaker like Vandy Quattro.Those would love my Krell which if I dipped to ohm puts out 2,400 or is 600 at 4 ohm.But I am mid range guy and that's their weakness "etched" and I prefer less clinical sound) and PS 100 Delta which I liked but had a shot of stray DC (most likely) blow my sens horns.Should have kept the tube amp on those.BTW I think that CJ combo might be your ticket.Can you buy and return?It would be a different world.

Chazz, More likely to damage tweeters with too little power and damage everything else with too much. I am a long time Vandersteen fan and as I mentioned earlier and in previous posts, crossover parts are easily damaged due to over heating from too much power. The speakers will still play, but the sound will be degraded. Some models of Vandersteen speakers have LEDs that flash to warn the user of potential damage.

Dookie, Buying bigger and bigger amplifiers is not the answer with Vandersteen 2Cs whether you have cathedral ceilings or not. It could very well be the 2C is not suited for your application and you need a more efficient speaker or the speaker is already damaged.

The Vandersteen is one of those speakers that hits a brick wall and will not play any lounder regardless of power. Instead the sound becomes compressed. Adding more power will not overcome this.

Clipping your Bryston is an indication you are playing your speakers at high volume for long periods of time.

You don't have to take my advice. Call Vandersteen Audio. They know more about their speakers than anyone here.
I see that Belles and Threshold have been mentioned. Both have had many nice designs, and both are known for their solid build quality. I have a friend that likes his BAT gear, but at about $S,000 or so (per component!) it better be nice. My whole system does not cost $5,000.
Parasound A21, ATI AT2002 or ATI AT3002.
rrog, thanks for your concern. i am not an idiot. the 2ce sig has warning lights, but i've *never* seen 'em. however, with dynamic music the 3B clip LEDs would flicker at the peaks at a very modest volume. i did not push beyond the flicker, but the flicker was all too easy to achieve. i have spoken to richard a couple times regarding these speakers, in person even. believe me, i don't need louder...with the 200w PS audio i almost never run beyond 25-30% indicated volume. at roughly equal (robust) volume, the difference between the 3B and the 200C is night and day. IMHO, these speakers sound far better in my room with some gutsy power, wielded appropriately.

re: ATI. i have a 1506 in the theater, bridged to 3x450w on the front stage. i hauled it upstairs (no small feat, at 90lbs) for a day or two and found it a bit harsh...which, through the laid-back vandys, is saying something. all kinds of bass control and WHOMP however. a fine theater amp, but just not musical enough for my purist 2-channel room. maybe the newer stuff is more refined? rrog...yes, i put a 450wpc amp on the vandys. my vandy dealer tells me that a little smoke is OK, agreed?

i'm currently leaning krell...though mccormack is an interesting wrinkle that i had not considered. i think a touch of brightness in the amp would not be a bad thing with the vandys. as i said, i was quite fond of the acurus, which has a reputation for considerable brightness. back to mondial/aragon?

[wrings hands and goes off to look through the classifieds for the 5th time today...]
The ATI AT2000 and AT3000 series are balanced amps. Like the Parasound, I'd only seriously consider them if you will be running balanced lines.

I used an ATI AT602 in my office system, before going with active speakers, driving M&K professional monitors and I found the amp to be very smooth and enjoyable.

I used a Krell integrated for a few years in my main system driving Meadowlark Kestrel Hot Rods -- it turned out to be the least "musical" amp I've owned. Switching to Bryston 7B-SST monoblocks was much better for me.

No accounting for personal preferences... :-)
So...McCormack DNA1 w/SMc rev B mods?
Outlaw 220's or NHT monos.