Mike Elliot s ARIA..the ultimate amp?

I am sure that people have noticed the new brainchild of Mike Elliot, of former Countepoint fame, the ARIA amps. I read that they seem to be sort of HYBRID in design, solid state plus the use of just two tubes. Will this sort of amp sound more tube like or solid state like? What about clipping, will it clip more like tubes or solid states? Who has had experience with other hybrid designs from Countepoint, like the NPS amps? How do they sound, do they clip? Has anyone experienced the ARIA themselves?
Any suggestions are recommended!
Remember Sonic Frontiers' Sfl-l? I owned one along with quite a few other people and it is a hybrid design. only one tube, but you could really improve that sound with an upgrade to the signature model, or a plantinum tube which I tried and loved. I also used tophats on the tube. and I had soundstaging through the back wall...very dynamic, a great little pre that a good friend is still enjoying...at least with fewer tubes, the cost of changing is kept to a minimum. I remember a local dealer who used to run his counterpoint preamp on adcom amp in the store....they made music together. I liked what I've heard so this ARIA...could be very interesting....cheers, Bluenose
Hi Paul,

I just had my Counterpoint SA100 completely rebuilt by Mike. My amp is now his new design. It's very similar to the Aria, but it's built in the old Counterpoint case. The Aria is still another notch above my amp...some different parts, plitron choke, a really nice case that was actually designed for the design, etc. So far (about 250 hours) I really really really love the amp.

From my experience, I prefer hybrid designs. I certainly haven't heard most amps, but both SS and tube do have their advantages. Sure...I'd love to try some OTL amps, but I honestly don't feel like dealing with all the tube hassles. A good hybrid design tries to make the most out of their advantages, and at the same time, use each technology to offset the other's disadvantages. I think Mike has succeeded. The amp itself is extremely neutral....capable of very smooth, detailed highs and powerful, controlled bass. Mike said it would sound like whatever tube you put into it, and it really does. It came with a US made 6SN7-GTA (i think...no branding on the tube...I don't know what it is) that sounds excellent...very smooth and lush, yet still detailed...lots of air? (treble noise? I don't know) I replaced them with some 40s Sylvania 6SN7-GT's and it sounds like a completely different amp. Extremely detailed...blacker background...huge bass...much more rounded, three dimmensional images. I was amazed at how different it sounded. The great thing is...I like the way it sounds with both sets of tubes. I prefer the Sylvania's, but I could easily live with any tube in the amp. It just sounds good. To answer your question...hybrids sound like tube AND solid state, and at the same time they don't sound like either. Make sense?

As far as the clipping goes...

Do you people regularly drive your amps to the clipping point?? I don't have a huge room (maybe 12'x 22'?) or very inefficient speakers (89dB)...maybe that's why I've never clipped mine. I honestly don't think I've ever come close...at least not since college when I had my Pioneer / Technics combo. My amp is rated at 100wpc, I think. I assume it would clip like solid state, but who know's? Mike Elliot, that's who. I highly recommend calling or e-mailing Mike. He's very easy to contact. Tell him what kind of speakers you have, let him know their specs. Ask him all about the details of how the amps handle overloads. He can tell you exactly how they work. We'd all be guessing.

I hope the rambling is helpful. My pre is a Pass Aleph P, my speakers are Merlin VSM-SE, and my cables are Cardas Golden Cross.
Oops, amp not preamp. Sorry, Paul. see what happends when I haven't had my morning coffee? Duh, I'm disfunctional. Ignore my post as I thought you said preamp....cheers, Bluenose
I have an "older" (6922-based voltage stage instead of the SN7's used in phild's) Elliott-modified SA-100 (designated the NP100) with a Plitron toroidal transformer. It employs a bipolar SS output stage.

I've written an extensive review of the unit, reproduced on Mike's Web site at www.altavistaaudio.com/testimonials.html. To summarize, it's "sweet," dynamic, and near-holographic, given appropriate source material. When I wrote the review, I had Symdex Epsilon dynamic floorstanders, but now drive a pair of Magnepan 1.6QR's in a 26'x14'3"x7'8" room up to approximately 90db levels at my listening position 10 feet ahead of the Maggies. If the NP100 (a rated 100-watter at 8 ohms, 140 at the 1.6's rated 4 ohms) is clipping, I can't hear it. Most of my listening is to classical, with a fair amount of jazz, all played on a Sony SCD-777ES. The preamp is also an Elliott-modified unit, a Counterpoint SA-2000 tubed line stage.

I second phild's suggestion to contact Mike directly.

Hope this is helpful.
I agree with Jim...

<< To summarize, it's "sweet," dynamic, and near-holographic, given appropriate source material. >>

I listened to Patricia barber's "Companion" last weekend, and I was amazed at how real it sounded. Good recordings sound unbelievable. Thankfully, I don't mind the bad recordings either. I listen to all kinds of music, and many aren't necessarrily "hi-fi". I listened to "Introducing The Sonics" (Beat Rocket /Sundazed pressing) a few nights ago and it was still very enjoyable. The recording is 35 years old, mono, and technologically disadvantaged (that's the nice way of saying "bad"), but it sounded as good as it possibly could. All of the energy was still there...just not, ironically, the sonics. I was really worried that improving the amp would take the fun out of the music, but I was very wrong. It does present many more details, but it remains very musical and involving. I didn't have that experience with some of the other amps I've tried.