Music Reference RM-200

I want to get a hybrid amp. I've read everything I could on the RM-200 (from forums and the Stereophile article) and everything sounds positive. I don't want to spend more than 3-3.5K used or new. I also am considering a Moscode 401HR, Van Alstine Fet Valve Ultra 550, and Monarchy SE-250 monoblocks.

What I haven't read are too many comparisons of the RM-200 with other amps. Anyone have any comments on what they thought of the RM-200 when they heard it. Better or worse than what? Granted, better and worse are subjective terms and none of the amps I mentioned are slouches. I'd probably be happy with any of them.

Whatever amp I get will mate with Salk Sound V3 speakers (or maybe the HT3 if I can swing the extra cost) and my RAM modified Ack Dack (fed from a Bolder modifed Squeezebox).
I cannot comment directly on the RM200, but I have owned the RM9, RM10, and RM9SE. All I can say about Roger is that he one of our greatest designers, and if he built it you can bet it will be good and perhaps more importantly, be very reliable.
Several years ago, I opted for the RM-200 after listening to almost two dozen amps of various types (tube, transistor, hybrid) and a wide range of prices. My search was inspired by my purchase of a pair of Wilson WP7 speakers that sounded wonderful with my Spectral DMA100 amplifier but not as organically musical as when I had heard them elsewhere. My choice was guided by my wide ranging musical tastes, occasional desire to play at loud volumes, and that the system would be playing in a space of relatively modest dimensions (~2,200 cu. ft.). To make a long story short, I selected the RM-200 because it was best at getting vocal and instrumental timbres correct, outstanding at presenting the dynamic envelope of recordings without compression or strain, and that it had the best combination of bass extension and tone. I was also enthusiastic about the excellent reputation of MR gear for reliability and tube life that Pubul57 mentioned and which has been well borne out during my five years of ownership.

I would, however, recommend that you listen to a few amps that I thought were better than the RM-200 in one or a few ways, but were not as ideal overall for my taste. The Jadis Defy 7, a 100 wpc tube amp (Mk. IV, I think) had a way with female vocals that was peerless and rendered violin and viola string tone with an almost technicolor intensity. Dynamically, though, I was not as delighted because it seemed to present percussion instruments with a consistently more distant perspective and softened focus. The BAT VK-600,
a 300 wpc transistor amp, had the best bass extension and impact of any amp I auditioned. By comparison it made the RM-200 sound a bit thumpy. However, I found the pitch definition of electric and acoustic basses at the lower ends of their ranges to be better with the RM-200, so runs up and down the fretboard were more timbrally consistent and convincing. The huge Audio Research Reference 300s, 300 wpc tube amps were supremely clear and present, presenting images and soundstages with absolute precision and continuity. They were also spot on dynamically, every note having proper speed and duration, yielding percussion instruments with all of their thrust and pop intact. Initially, I was totally bowled over by these but after the second audition found them to be lacking in timbral completeness over a large range of voices and instruments.

The most important lesson that I learned from this exercise was that you have to be patient and have your musical priorities well sorted out. Nothing can substitute for the exercising of your critical faculties during the selection process. It also helps a lot if you use the same brand and model of speaker for your comparisons, and that you are at least somewhat familiar with them. I also think that it helps a lot to have the assistance of good audio professionals. They can do a lot to help you identify your musical priorities and maximize the likelihood that you will get something that fits. They can also make the process a lot more fun.

I wish you the best of luck.

I have owned the RM-200 for three years now. It drives my B&W 802s in an all-tube system. I have used Bryston 7B ST (very good), Pass X-600 (great), Butler TDB -2250 (excellent), Sonic Frontier Power 2 & 3 (both excellent), VTL ST-150 (excellent-plus)...and then came the Music Reference (all of the above and more in my system). By the way, when you read that B&Ws need "tons-and-tons" of SS power to really shine, cut the review out and use it to line a bird cage. What they need is "quality" power.

My tastes in music run mainly from classical music to old-fart (Davis, Brubeck, Coltrane, Evans, etc.) jazz. Beign a lucky (read: surviving) OF myself, I do confess to a weakness for some ’60s-’70s rockers and soul music (Otis, Aretha. Ray, Temptations, etc.)

The RM-200 is a incredible design with impeccable workmanship. I re-bias every three months, not because it needs it, but because I don't want to forget how to do it (by the way, a breeze even for a non-technophile like yours truly). I use EH KT-88s for the power tubes.

I read (maybe here?) that there was a monobloc design coming sometime from Music Reference. If that were to be true, then I would, maybe, think of changing out the RM-200. Not selling it, though!

Best of luck.

My experience is with the RM-10, I use two of them in mono block, so I also can’t comment directly about the RM-200 although I have listened to it a couple of times. I whole hardily agree with Pabul57’s comments regarding build quality and reliability of Music Reference amps. BTW Vvrinc, it is my understanding that the RM-300 mono blocks are available. Check the Music Reference website and price list, or call Roger.
Not to get off of the subject of RM comparing but... I have read someplace where Salk and Van Alstine have been working together on their products . I believe that Van Alstine uses Salk's speakers in his own system and vice versa . Something to think about . Synergy is king in this hobby .

Good luck .
Wow, those are some good responses. Siliab, I really appreciate your detailed comparisons with other amps. Gives me more to look into.
Yes, I've read about the Salk/Van Alstine synergy. I totally agree with synergy as being key. My only hesitation is that the AVA gear doesn't look as nice as the RM-200, I want an amp where I won't feel the need to upgrade, and the reliability is top notch. Although I think the AVA stuff is reliable, I am wondering if the RM-200 is just a better level of amp.

Someone who has had lots of high end gear in his system did a comparison between the Fet Valve Ultra 500 and the Moscode 401HR and came away feeling the Moscode was better in most aspects. Granted, the differences were not great and he felt the AVA amp was really good. I am just wondering if the RM-200 or the Moscode would be a step up.

I currently use the RM200 to drive Acoustat (1's, 2+2's, 3's and 4's) not all at once (lol) for the last 5 years. I have been told that tube amps are not good on these speakers because of the load they demand. The amp does have a hard time with the 1's due to the lack of panels in the speaker. The amp drives them to decent levels but does run out of steam. The RM200 is one of the few tube amps that actually increases its power when going from an 8 ohm load to a 4 ohm load not by much but it does increase.

I go to the CES show every January and I come home thinking I have found the my next amplifier only to turn on my system and realize that the RM200 is doing just fine with these speakers. It does need mentioning that this amp is very easy on tubes. I do role tubes in and out quite a bit (currently using the new KT120 tube) and I have yet to burn any set of tubes up. I have had a couple of tubes fail after just a few hours of use but that I believe was the fault of the tube not the amp. I still have the original tubes that I roll in every once in while, with well over the 2,000 hours that most tube manufactures say is the life expectancy for a power tube. I would highly recommend any of the Music Reference amplifiers. Good luck with your search.........Bob