How come you are not considering the BHK amp? Wouldn't that give you the best synergy with the preamp?
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At a shop where I first heard Wilson Audio, they primarily offer Audio Research, Moon by SimAudio, and Solution. An A/B comparison of ARC and SimAudio, the later was a better match to my ears. I have/had already purchased the PS Audio gear. I'm not opposed to changing preamps if needed, but for the moment I'm down to the amps.
My budget is $10K or less new, but am completely open to used amps. Thanks for your question.
Kcpellethead, is that a reference to BBQ and an allegiance to using pellets?
Love PS Audio. Ran their BHK mono’s for about 2 years and recently sold them and moved to a used set of Pass Labs xa160.5’s. Absolutely love the sound. I wouldn’t say they’re “levels” above the PS Audio BHK’s, but more refined. I did compare the BHK preamp with my McIntosh C2500, but the lack of tone controls were a no go, as the BHK pre sounded very bloated in the lower frequencies. I don’t know it that’s accurate, but it just sounded a little too large in the lower registers. I eventually sold the C2500 and purchased a Pass Labs XP-20. Night and day, the XP breathed an additional level of detail with the BHK mono’s.
For a few months I’ve been auditioning lots of power amps. Any kinds for any price and couple months ago I found something that sounds absolutely the best for my ears - PrimaLuna Dialogue Seven mono blocks. Their sound stage, dynamics incredible. I didn’t hear any other amps reproduce singer voices as good as those mono blocks.
I started to listen music daily much longer then before, just can not shut off my two channel system...
btw when I have free time I’m auditioning DACs so far PS Audio Direct Stream DAC is the best sounding DAC I’ve heard.
Also one of my other favorite pursuits, BBQ. I have a custom pit from Pitmaker. My wife calls it, excuse my language, “the dick magnet,” because anytime I have it out, guys come out of the woodwork to speak with me about it. Ran pellets for a couple years, then moved back to a stickburner.
Per my 2-channel, yes. Like many young generations, they became mesmerized the first time they saw a McIntosh piece. I think part of it may have been that the parent who owned the piece always made it very clear, do not touch, do not look, don’t even think about it...
I had a full McIntosh setup and had been holding onto my Mc preamp, after having sold the MC452 to get the monos. A good friend of mine works at TMR Audio and he got in an XP20, I had mentioned to him that I really wanted to move towards Pass Labs. So, I sold the Mc pre and bought the XP20.
I recently moved and no longer have a large, dedicated Home Theater space, which was doubling as my 2-channel room, too. I was running a set of Dynaudio C4 Signatures, which are huge and take a big room for them to breath properly. I sold them, along with the BHK mono’s to get a smaller setup. Picked up a set of Harbeth HL5 pluses, and the set of 60.5’s. Smaller rig, but sounds absolutely magical.
What speakers are you leaning towards? I see Wilson and Yvette, of which neither I’ve heard.
@toddcowles - I left pellets, except on my deck, a long time ago. I have two Jambos that Jamie Geer built for me. That's the only pit I cook on I'm completion these days.
I settled on the Wilson Audio Sabrina, but am hoping to swing the next step up, the Yvette. I've auditions about eighteen different brands of loudspeakers, and for whatever reason, the Wilson sound is what sounds good to me. We did an A/B with ARC and Moon by SimAudio and the later won out easily. Realizing that dealers are limited to a handful of brands, and having read about so many great smaller brands, I'm interested in anything that compares to the Moon Neo 400M.
Thanks for your responses.
No surprise here. I always thought Wilson's did better with SS amps. The Moon is a lot of amp for the money. The only amp that might be better would be the Parasound JC-1 which you would have to find used. You would have to spend twice the money with Pass to improve on the Moon. Good choice. Stick with it. What did you not like about the Benchmarks?
@mijostyn - thanks for your response. Not a thing wrong with the Benchmark. They are on my list. I’m very green at this, so excuse my ignorance. Somehow I think that amps designed to be mono would sound better than amps that are bridged to be mono. I considered the JC-1 monoblocks, and I’m sure they are amazing. They were a Stereophile A rated product for such a long time.
I would avoid the Bryston 7B3 amps in your situation. They are very nice amps, but they are just going to be too fast and thin sounding when compared to your preferred "Simaudio" sound. Definitely a bad pairing for the Wilson's as well (which can be bright/harsh with the wrong electronics).
The SimAudio is definitely good stuff. I think it has a sort of visceral grunt in the lower mids and midbass as well as a good depth of sound (ethereal you could say). The closest amp that I remember hearing to this sonic signature are the Boulder amps. You might like the new Krell and Levinson but they are much smoother and liquidy sounding in comparison to the dryer sounding SimAudio.
The PS Audio BHK is a very smooth amp, but it is slightly laid back. I would say that it's very close to the ARC sound.
The JC1 amps are also very nice and very refined, but they are soft in the high frequencies. I would say they are more natural sounding than the SimAudio, but they do not have that "midbass visceral grunt" or the high frequency extension that the SimAudio provides.
Somehow I think that amps designed to be mono would sound better than amps that are bridged to be mono.
Dedicated mono amps may or may not sound better than bridged-mono amps. But one thing is for certain. Bridged-mono amps will not be able to support lower impedance speakers as well. The Benchmark indicates that it will support a 6 ohm load when bridge (which is really good), but many speakers will have impedances that drop down below 4 ohm in certain frequency areas. It's never a good idea to buy a stereo amp "just to bridge it".
So, in the end, there are many good amps out there and there is no "best" amp. It all depends on your "taste of sound", lol.
Actually, for those Wilsons, the Pass Labs amps might actually work out the best. The Wilsons are a very dynamic speaker, sometimes overly dynamic and can sound too harsh/bright - the dynamics can easily get out of hand. The Pass Labs have excellent resolution, but they are a very controlled sound and are just not as dynamic/exciting as other amps. The Pass Labs will be much more neutral and realistic than the SimAudio. The Pass Labs do not have that "visceral grunt" coloration of the SimAudio.
The 400m are outstanding, I’ve used them with various speakers over the years and they are outstanding with a small form factor for a mono that I really appreciate.
My only issue, and I was actually going to ask in a new thread but Will piggy back here if okay is they are 36dB gain. Is that considered high? I can’t seem to find the gain on many amps but Sim does publish it.
The reason I ask is as we move more into room correction even for stereo I have a very difficult time with Dirac and these amps. I can almost never get Dirac within target no matter how low I set the volume-within reason. Same with a simple SPL meter.
I’m wondering if the 36dB gain is the culprit?
This has been my only issue but perhaps not for others.
Edit: I did just go to Bryston site and theirs are switchable 23 or 29dB so it looks the Sim might be a bit up there at 36.