My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!


So I have been in a long journey looking to find the best amplifiers for my martin logan montis. As you know, the match between an amplifier and speakers has to be a good "marriage" and needs to be blend exquisitely. Right now, I think I might have found the best sounding amplifier for martin logan. I have gone through approximately 34-36 amplifiers in the past 12 months. Some of these are:

Bryston ST, SST, SST2 series
NAD M25
PARASOUND HALO
PARASOUND CLASSIC
KRELL TAS
KRELL KAV 500
KRELL CHORUS
ROTEL RMB 1095
CLASSE CT 5300
CLASSE CA 2200
CLASSE CA 5200
MCINTOSH MC 205
CARY AUDIO CINEMA 7
OUTLAW AUDIO 755
LEXICON RX7
PASS LABS XA 30.8
BUTLER AUDIO 5150
ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005

With all that said, the amplifiers I mentioned above are the ones that in my opinion are worth mentioning. To make a long story short, there is NO 5 CHANNEL POWER AMP that sounds as good as a 3ch and 2ch amplifier combination. i have done both experiments and the truth is that YOU DO lose details and more channel separation,etc when you select a 5 channel power amplifier of any manufacturer.
My recollection of what each amp sounded like is as follows:

ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005 (great power and amazing soundstage. Very low noise floor, BUT this amplifiers NEEDS TO BE cranked up in order to fully enjoy it. If you like listening at low volume levels or somewhat moderate, you are wasting your time here. This amp won’t sound any different than many other brands out there at this volume. The bass is great, good highs although they are a bit bright for my taste)

NAD M25 (very smooth, powerful, but somewhat thin sounding as far as bass goes)
Bryston sst2(detailed, good soundstage, good power, but can be a little forward with certain speakers which could make them ear fatiguing at loud volumes)

Krell (fast sounding, nice bass attack, nice highs, but some detail does get lost with certain speakers)

rotel (good amp for the money, but too bright in my opinion)

cary audio (good sound overall, very musical, but it didn’t have enough oomph)

parasound halo (good detail, great bass, but it still holds back some background detail that i can hear in others)

lexicon (very laid back and smooth. huge power, but if you like more detail or crisper highs, this amp will disappoint you)

McIntosh mc205 (probably the worst multichannel amp given its price point. it was too thin sounding, had detail but lacked bass.

butler audio (good amplifier. very warm and smooth sweet sounding. i think for the money, this is a better amp than the parasound a51)

pass labs (very VERY musical with excellent bass control. You can listen to this for hours and hours without getting ear fatigue. however, it DOES NOT do well in home theater applications if all you have is a 2 channel set up for movies. The midrange gets somewhat "muddy" or very weak sounding that you find yourself trying to turn it up.

classe audio (best amplifier for multi channel applications. i simply COULDNT FIND a better multi channel amplifier PERIOD. IT has amazing smoothness, amazing power and good bass control although i would say krell has much better bass control)

Update: The reviews above were done in January 2015. Below is my newest update as of October 2016:



PS AUDIO BHK 300 MONOBLOCKS: Amazing amps. Tons of detail and really amazing midrange. the bass is amazing too, but the one thing i will say is that those of you with speakers efficiency of 87db and below you will not have all the "loudness" that you may want from time to time. These amps go into protection mode when using a speaker such as the Salon, but only at very loud levels. Maybe 97db and above. If you don’t listen to extreme crazy levels, these amps will please you in every way.

Plinius Odeon 7 channel amp: This is THE BEST multichannel amp i have ever owned. Far , but FAR SUPERIOR to any other multichannel amp i have owned. In my opinion it destroyed all of the multichannel amps i mentioned above and below. The Odeon is an amp that is in a different tier group and it is in a league of its own. Amazing bass, treble and it made my center channel sound more articulate than ever before. The voices where never scrambled with the action scenes. It just separated everything very nicely.

Theta Dreadnaught D: Good detailed amp. Looks very elegant, has a pleasant sound, but i found it a tad too bright for my taste. I thought it was also somewhat "thin" sounding lacking body to the music. could be that it is because it is class d?

Krell Duo 300: Good amp. Nice and detailed with enough power to handle most speakers out there. I found that it does have a very nice "3d" sound through my electrostatics. Nothing to fault here on this amp.
Mark Levinson 532H: Great 2 channel amp. Lots of detail, amazing midrange which is what Mark Levinson is known for. It sounds very holographic and will please those of you looking for more detail and a better midrange. As far as bass, it is there, but it is not going to give you the slam of a pass labs 350.5 or JC1s for example. It is great for those that appreciate classical music, instrumental, etc, but not those of you who love tons of deep bass.

 It is articulate sounding too
Krell 7200: Plenty of detail and enough power for most people. i found that my rear speakers contained more information after installed this amp. One thing that i hated is that you must use xlr cables with this amp or else you lose most of its sound performance when using RCA’s.

Krell 402e: Great amp. Very powerful and will handle any speaker you wish. Power is incredible and with great detail. That said, i didn’t get all the bass that most reviewers mentioned. I thought it was "ok" in regards to bass. It was there, but it didn’t slam me to my listening chair.

Bryston 4B3: Good amp with a complete sound. I think this amp is more laid back than the SST2 version. I think those of you who found the SST2 version of this amp a little too forward with your speakers will definitely benefit from this amp’s warmth. Bryston has gone towards the "warm" side in my opinion with their new SST3 series. As always, they are built like tanks. I wouldn’t call this amp tube-like, but rather closer to what the classe audio delta 2 series sound like which is on the warm side of things.

Parasound JC1s: Good powerful amps. Amazing low end punch (far superior bass than the 402e). This amp is the amp that i consider complete from top to bottom in regards to sound. Nothing is lacking other than perhaps a nicer chassis. Parasound needs to rework their external appearance when they introduce new amps. This amp would sell much more if it had a revised external appearance because the sound is a great bang for the money. It made my 800 Nautilus scream and slam. Again, amazing low end punch.

Simaudio W7: Good detailed amp. This amp reminds me a lot of the Mark Levinson 532h. Great detail and very articulate. I think this amp will go well with bookshelves that are ported in order to compensate for what it lacks when it comes to the bass. That doesn’t mean it has no bass, but when it is no Parasound JC1 either.
Pass labs 350.5: Wow, where do i begin? maybe my first time around with the xa30.8 wasn’t as special as it was with this monster 350.5. It is just SPECTACULAR sounding with my electrostatics. The bass was THE BEST BASS i have ever heard from ANY amp period. The only amp that comes close would be the jC1s. It made me check my settings to make sure the bass was not boosted and kept making my jaw drop each time i heard it. It totally destroyed the krell 402e in every regard. The krell sounded too "flat" when compared to this amp. This amp had amazing mirange with great detail up top. In my opinion, this amp is the best bang for the money. i loved this amp so much that i ended up buying the amp that follows below.

Pass labs 250.8: What can i say here. This is THE BEST STEREO AMP i have ever heard. This amp destroys all the amps i have listed above today to include the pass labs 350.5. It is a refined 350.5 amp. It has more 3d sound which is something the 350.5 lacked. It has a level of detail that i really have never experienced before and the bass was amazing as well. I really thought it was the most complete power amplifier i have ever heard HANDS DOWN. To me, this is a benchmark of an amplifier. This is the amp that others should be judged by. NOTHING is lacking and right now it is the #1 amplifier that i have ever owned.

My current amps are Mcintosh MC601s: i decided to give these 601s a try and they don’t disappoint. They have great detail, HUGE soundstage, MASSIVE power and great midrange/highs. The bass is great, but it is no pass labs 250.8 or 350.5. As far as looks, these are the best looking amps i have ever owned. No contest there. i gotta be honest with you all, i never bought mcintosh monos before because i wasn’t really "wowed" by the mc452, but it could have been also because at that time i was using a processor as a preamp which i no longer do. Today, i own the Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp which sounds unbelievable. All the amps i just described above have been amps that i auditioned with the C1100 as a preamp. The MC601s sound great without a doubt, but i will say that if you are looking for THE BEST sound for the money, these would not be it. However, Mcintosh remains UNMATCHED when it comes to looks and also resale value. Every other amp above depreciates much faster than Mcintosh.

That said, my future purchase (when i can find a steal of a deal) will be the Pass labs 350.8. I am tempted to make a preliminary statement which is that i feel this amp could be THE BEST stereo amp under 30k dollars. Again, i will be able to say more and confirm once i own it. I hope this update can help you all in your buying decisions!


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Showing 35 responses by dep14

I’ve known WCSS for years now. I agree with him, room correction for 2 channel listening by in large sucks.

Works OK for subwoofers, surround speakers or even a center channel.

2 channel? Get the right speaker, position it correctly, use some room treatments.

Otherwise, get an active crossover, or a fully DSP’d speaker.

For all of those that believe in waiting months for electronics/DAC’s to break in...I’m with WCSS. Use them a few times, let them get all warmed up and cooled down. That’s it kids.

Speakers, I’ll buy that some may take a little longer. DynAudio can actually measure the differences.

Chances are for 95% of us, you know within a few hours if you made the right choice on your speakers or electronics. You can spend weeks "breaking" it in aka your ears getting used to it. But you are just rationalizing your purchase.

Where I do differ from WCSS... I’d like to see consistency in the speaker/room for the given electronics. But dude moved, what are you going to do?

I do think a few room treatments are in order, but we’ve talked about that.

Cables... ah... if someone can explain to me how a $5000.00 power cord makes a bit of difference for that last 3 feet after the electricity has traveled MILES, then you should be using those sales skills to make some bank selling a product that can get you paid well. (that said, if you are using an uber-power amp, a dedicated 20amp circuit makes sense.  But save the money on a $500 outlet, get a medical grade outlet and call it good)

Ironically I didn’t even discover this thread until about a month ago. It’s fantastic.

Speakers/Room
Source
Amp

Best be spending 90% of your budget there.

"Hi whitecamaross, fascinating journey which I eagerly follow. Have read it all. Don’t let someone like dep14 talk down the importance of a power cable or any cable for that matter. I am sure he means well.

He, like many others, can not understand how a few feet of expensive cable at the end of miles of supply cable can make a difference. A reasonable assumption to the uninformed.
But it is not the last bit of cable connected to your amp. The way your amp sees it, it is the first bit of cable it connects to. And rather an important one as this is how it derives it’s power. There is a lot more to it than that. Tons of info on the internet." 


Nice spin.

Look, I’m not saying use lamp cord. But a good medical grade cable ought to do the trick.

Many amp MFG suggest going straight into the wall, yet there is a huge business out there selling giant power plants. I could care less if you put your money into it.

You are much better off putting $1000.00 into room treatments than a $1000 power cord.

But, whatever makes you happy. If you have endless funds, hell go for it.

Speakers/Room/Source/Amp

But feel free to explain it to me.

techno,

The neoliths absolutely stomp the Magico's WCSS has, also stomps the B+W diamond series (possibly the most overrated series of speakers ever produced).  The current Diamonds are the first ones remotely listenable over 90dbs for more than 10 minutes before becoming absolute ear bleeding bright.

As for the Focals... well I feel they are bright.

But, this isn't about my thoughts on the Diamonds or Focals as much as it is the neoliths.

Neoliths, properly powered are easily one of the most impressive speakers I've ever heard.  Now, I'm a rock guy mainly but do appreciate other styles of music.

The Neo's do everything well.  I don't love electrostats as I feel the smaller panels compress with a lot of rock music when pushed.

The Neo's (And the 15's even..) flat out awesome listening experience.



4500.00 power cords.

So great.
Rolling tubes, not sure it makes a product any better. Sound different, better to you, tailored to your tastes? Absolutely.

But better... maybe on an inexpensive piece. But why would a MFG cheap out on a 15k component to save 15 bucks on tubes?

With the BHK, if you watch/read the stories about development tube selection was a part of it. The designer did put in there what he felt was best.

Now, if it’s a matter of finding NOS tubes no longer in production, that may make a little more sense to me.

Hi-Fi vs Mid-Fi... suppose everyone has a different point where they think that happens. But price seems to be the biggest factor to many.

(don’t get me wrong, I think there are components that are mid-fi, vs hi-fi).

Interesting thread for sure. I know WCSS, and I know he loves what he is doing.

MP,

I sure wouldn’t think the amp would affect the bass output on the 13a,.  It’s an interesting question as the pre-amp certainly could and likely does affect the bass, yet the signal makes it’s way to the speaker VIA the amp sending it. But, then it’s crossed at the 13a and amplified and EQ’d (assuming you use the ARC feature).

My neighbor has the 11’s. What he focused on was a quality amp with the current to drive the panel (he had issues with one amp shutting down), a quality pre-amp and source. But with the ARC EQ on the bass - they sound really good.


MP... while I’m not a huge room correction fan for 2 channel listening. I do think it helps most people with subwoofers, bass, and centers and surrounds.

Now DSP (Which I suppose some consider room correction), I have heard the JBL m2's set up properly.  Those are a damn fine speaker.  Industrial looking, pro amps, but man they do sound good.

Arc does a nice job with the bass for sure.
Techno,

So much of it is system matching.  Speakers to amps etc.  We all know that.

Here is what I am pretty darn confident in saying about Pass Labs.

It's very, very rare that Pass doesn't at least sound "damn good" with just about any combo of speakers, cables, whatever tickles your fancy.

Might it always sound "the best" (to a given listener), maybe not.

But, it's very, very rare that you put Nelson's design with just about anything and go, oh crap, that sounds awful.

That is a pretty magical thing that Pass does.
I’ve had the chance to demo the Neoliths a couple of times.

1. Axpona in Chicago 2015, demo’d with the 1.2kw mcintosh amps. Comfortably Numb - it was like being at a Floyd Show. Dynamics, seamless, just oustanding. The room wasn’t perfect, and while I like Electrostats, with rock at times I feel the smaller panels compress. It was one of the best speakers I’ve heard. Just outstanding.

2. PAV in Chicago, used the BelCanto Black system to drive them. Room not perfect, but they were further into the room. Rush, Tom Saywer among others. Again just outstanding. Not quite the oomph that the Big Mc Amps had. But was floored.

My neighbor run’s the 11’s. I like them, but I would want a slightly bigger panel.

But of the high end speakers I’ve had a chance to really listen to, it’s one of the few that I said, yeah, in the right room with the right power... I can see why someone would spend that much.

The DynAudio Consequence was another.

The big wilsons with the focal tweeters were too bright, I’d like to hear them with the soft domes.

The JBL 67000’s... in the right room, pretty awesome. Not quite the punch of the big Dyn’s and Neo’s on the bottom end.

But I’ve heard many other brands, frankly including Magico and YG that I went... nice, but even if I had the money, no thanks.

I think the only possible concern I would have for WC is the size of his room, but man even in a hotel room (granted it was a suite, but not huge), Comfortably Numb will stick in my head from that demo. It floored me.  I've had some solid speakers since that time, but I've not gotten close to how that sounded.  It was awesome.



@viber6 

There are a number of outstanding speakers with great dynamics below 30k.

Hell, there are a number of outstanding speakers in general below 30k.  

I've heard the Tektons, in fact I've been to Terry Londons house and heard his.  I understand what people like about them.  They are a really good sounding speaker.  Very Dynamic.

The double impacts for 3k, frankly are an absolute blast of a speaker.  While I may have my issues with some of the Tekton stuff, from a sound perspective I totally get it.

The Double Impact SE at 6k, is NOT twice as good as the Double Impact.  In fact, while better its a quick way to see the law of diminishing returns in audio.  

The JBL M2, while "Pro-Audio" is one of the best speakers I've ever heard.  I've heard the big Wilsons, Neoliths, Dyn Consequence.  Are they better, sure - but not 5x better etc.

The K2S9900 - great speaker

Spatial Audio M3S Turbo at 3k, if set-up properly is pretty dynamic and fun.  

LOTS of small builders that do great things out there also (Some of the Salk stuff is great).

It's a fun hobby, let it be that.
In regards to the thread in general, WC seems to be having fun... some of you seem to literally have your self-worth tied up in it.

It's a freaking hobby.  Arguing about anything on the internet is an exercise in futility, but arguing about opinions on personal preferences... of freaking audio equipment!  Hilarious.

That said, I can't imagine anyone that enjoys audio hearing properly set-up neoliths and not thinking - holy shit, that sounds incredible.  I believe someone here was commenting on the jumpers?  The jumpers?  Do you think ML would put out a 80k statement piece, and save 100 bucks on jumpers if they made a big difference?

Now, would you think the Neoliths are the best system you have ever heard?  Hard to say.  I don't know if they are the best I've heard.  But I know my jaw dropped.
@jujubeez 

While I'm not WC we actually know each other pretty well over years of audio discussions.

Personally, if you like Stat's, I think the 15a's are really an awesome bang for the buck.  What has held me back on Stat's in the past is I'm a rock/blues guy.  I listen loud, and many of the smaller panels I feel tend to compress at higher volumes.  My neighbor has the 11's and while they are really nice at lower volumes, when I get Rock up around 95dbs with them - they compress.

The powered woofers are really nice.  ARC does such a great job smoothing out the response and keeping them tight.

I've thought about the 15's many times.  My room is probably a bit small for them.  

What I like about Stat's, Open Baffle, OHM's, and a few others is that lack of box coloration on the highs.  To ME they just sound so much cleaner, open, and natural.  The downside to many Stat's and OB speakers - bass response can roll off (OB) and IMO until ML figured out the integration with the powered woofers, it wasn't real seamless.

OHM's (which I do like and own a pair), find a happy medium with a lot of bass, and nice open highs.  There are some other trade-offs (LIKE EVERY SPEAKER).

But the 15's panels are big enough they don't compress, the woofers are fantastic.  

Stat's DO have a smaller sweet spot to sit in.  Just what they are.

As for the 250.8. I own one.  It's great.  Excellent midrange, but voiced like Nelson voices them, slightly more tube like.  VERY good bottom end, but not a vice grip like some other amps. The top end is detailed and smooth.  But, for detail freaks... might not be the be-all end all depending on the pre-amp etc.

I know many at Pass Labs even feel the 250.8 is the sweet spot in the line-up.  Runs class A high enough to power most speakers at reasonable volumes, but has the extra juice when needed.  I've had folks at pass tell me the 250.8 has the best midrange of the .8 series.  

So, from my standpoint the 250.8 and 15's would be an excellent combination.





Mikepaul,

I don’t have the 15a’s. I’ve demo’d them a bunch of times, and always enjoy them. One Day, maybe, just maybe...

You can find them for "reasonable" pricing (though 15k is still crazy to spend and I can’t believe I consider it).

I have a pass labs xp-12, it’s nice. It’s very neutral in my opinion. Frankly I think it’s more neutral that the 250.8.

(neutral always gets thrown around, by that I mean I don’t think it really adds much to the sound). I’ve used it with a few different amps, and generally hear subtle differences. Where I’ve owned other pre-amps and feel that the pre amp affects the sound.


My room is only 13 x 17, it’s treated well, it’s closed but my speakers run on the short wall.

I tend to listen a bit loud, I like a big sound, I run my bass a bit "hot", but I also don’t love using a subwoofer with my mains. I like detail, I don’t love rolled off highs, however I really really don’t like when cymbals become to "forward" in a mix. So while I like detail I get real touchy about cymbals. I do believe that box speakers have colorations in the upper mids and highs for sure.  I also have found I do not like Be tweeters by in large.  I know it's the implementation... but I just always feel the tweeter becomes the "show" on those speakers.  Nice in a showroom, nice to show off to your friends but after a few hours... too much tweeter.


I tend to like a little "thicker" sound.

I just sold off my DynAudio Contour 60’s. They are a very good speaker. They do a lot of what I like, the Esotar is detailed without being hot, they have a lot of bass. The biggest issue I had was the soundstage while very defined for me was a bit narrow and didn’t have that "big" sound. It’s quite possible I like a slightly exaggerated soundstage. Which, considering I love going to concerts - makes sense.

Thought about JBL M2’s (which are spectacular speakers, but require pro-amps, DSP, and frankly are a fairly cheap cabinet and build). But holding off on those.

I also never thought I would spend even 10k on speakers, so for me to go north of that, it’s going to take something really special, or a different job!

I tend to believe in diminishing returns, particularly in audio.

I think there are some very good new speakers in the 3k range (most internet direct) same with amps.

then there is the 7-10k range.

Then I tend to think there is a final pretty big jump around 25k.

After that... I think what you get is better, but the differences become really expensive to hear.




@bill_k 

So what you are saying, is that listening loud is good for the amp.  I like what you did there.
@audiothunder

Regarding the Pass questions.

I have a 250.8 and XP12. I have some comments earlier in this the thread.

I would consider the XP12 to be pretty much dead neutral. More so than the 250.8

I don’t consider the 250.8 to be neutral, I really feel that it it voiced a bit "tube-like" in the midrange. Good top end, I don’t think anything is missing. But the sparkle isn’t like HOLY CRAP, did you hear how clear that cymbal is, it was almost like it was right in front of me!

But a Les Paul through a marshall stack, that big thick sound - yeah Pass does that.

But on the top end. Some people really like to not only hear cymbals but feel they can reach out and touch them, IMO I feel that cymbals should not come that forward in the mix (I love drums and cymbals but cymbals just stand out so much to begin with and I don't want to focus on them).

So, I think Pass builds more of a house sound into the amp, but leaves the pre-amp to be neutral.

The XP12 is a very good pre-amp. I don’t think however if you want your pre-amp to help color your sound, that it’s the one to get.

I’ve always kind of felt either let the amp or pre-amp be neutral, and get your flavor from the other.

In the case of Pass labs gear, I’ve always felt it’s the amps. I think if you want some (but not total tube like euphoria but the power of a solid state amp - Pass and frankly BAT is where I would look, along with BHK. I think Pass and BAT are a bit better in the bass department than BHK.



Just a quick thought on WC's buying and selling.

I've both sold (actually is this thread my fault??) amps to WC when he got started, and I've purchased from him.

No issues with either.  Just a hobby, some of you take this and yourselves WAY to seriously.  
@fsmithjack  I have not heard the Luxman (I don’t give opinions on products I haven’t heard).  I’m sure it’s good stuff.

I  have heard the 250.8 and 350.8.  Obviously very close in character.  

One of the the great things I do find with pass, I’ve yet to hear it with any speaker and think it sounded anything less than good.  Usually it sounds great.

But, I tend to be more into listening to the music and like a live, big feel to it.  

I dont  want to sit and analyze my system every moment.  
@fsmithjack 

unless you really have power hungry speakers, I would keep the 250.8 and play around with pre amps and possibly DACs and sources if you are looking to change your sound. Many at Pass even think the 250.8 is the sweet spot of the lineup.

Its a hell of a good amp.
 That said... speakers still make the biggest difference!
It would certainly be nice like many forums if you could block seeing certain posters.  Doesn't block it for anyone, but just to have it left out of your feed.
I think there are a few things to keep in mind with the thread.

1. It’s a fun read. I’ve known WCSS for quite a while now, I’ve sold equipment to him (very early on) and bought from him. As a buyer/seller - dude is nails.

2. I view the thread a few ways.
a. - Before his move, the old room and generally before he went uber-insane high end
b. - After the move, and the new room
c. - After the Neoliths. WCSS has had numerous speakers, but his bent has been Electrostats. I would wager he has more time with the current ML line-up than anyone who is not a ML engineer or major ML dealer. I take his impressions of amps/pre-amps when reviewed on ML’s (early on on the little ones, or the neoliths) to be a much more accurate representation of what the equipment sounds like than his impressions with other speakers. His rooms have never been heavily treated so the impressions on the Stat’s are consistent.

3. Like myself, typically WCSS listens LOUD. I know lately he has turned it down a bit, but WCSS listens loud. That shapes impressions also.

4. We all have biases... like for me, personally I won’t spend a ton on cables and cords. I don’t use zip-cords for speaker wires but I don't spend a ton. But my XLR’s are mogami’s - good enough for a studio, good enough for me. I do have one "upgraded" powercord. I have a PS audio entry level one for my 250.8... only because it came with an amp I turned around quickly and figured why not keep it!
It's entirely possible that the Oppo 205 sounds better to some people than the Lampi.

A huge corporation with all sorts of resources, vs a smaller boutique company.

Doesn't mean that it is better, but it's entirely possible.  Just as the reverse is possible.  It's a hobby, based on personal tastes.  Short of standard objective measurements- it is all subjective.  

I like my Ohm Walsh 5000's a lot more than I liked my DynAudio Contour 60's... someone else might feel the exact opposite.
@gtaphile 

So if it’s more expensive, it has to sound better to everyone?

Is there a multiple where that happens for sure?

Ah, the speaker wire and interconnect companies love these thoughts...


@gtaphile

Why should the Lampi best the Oppo? Besides cost? Honestly wondering.  I'm not saying it doesn't, but it's not  a given.

They look great, they are built by hand.  I've heard the Amber and the Big 7, both are good (and obviously not the top end).  Small company built by hand is very cool, I love smaller companies. 

The Oppo in particular is interesting as it’s from a huge company, with massive resources and all objective tests show excellent measurements in every regard. Furthermore, those that have listened to them by in large praise them.

Now I don’t have a 205, I had one from the last run, but when someone on ebay was willing to pay me damn near 2.5 times what it cost... I sold it.

Just because it a product is multiple times more expensive, doesn't mean it performs better/lasts longer etc.





@gtaphile 

And I could make the argument that Oppo could buy in such larger quantities, and build in larger quantities, and have a team of engineers with resources design, test, and build it much faster and take advantage of... wait for it... economies of scale.  Objectively, it also happens to measure tremendously well.  Which, while I don't always think measurements tell the whole story - is really the only way to compare a product to another on a level playing field.

But that takes away the question as to why the Lampi MUST sound better.

It definitely looks great, was built with care, uses nice parts and I'm sure it sounds great.

But better... who really knows.  All in the subjective world of the listener.

Subjectively, same system, same room, same DB level etc... sure you can test with your ears but everyone hears things differently and likes a different sound.

I have no idea which I would like better so it's pretty moot.  Part of me now wishes I kept my 205 instead of flipping it when I got it so I could listen to it.







Closest to live sound, and I do love rock concerts.

Horns - will give you the impact, snap, and feeling of being in the front few rows most times.  I've owned several horn speakers from Klipsch and JBL, and I've demo'd the JTR's several times (they are nice).  I've heard the Volti's also and they are a lot of fun.  Downside to many horn speakers is the bottom end doesn't always have Impact (the JBL M2 was an exception).  So, integration of a sub is important and I've never found I can get it just perfect.

Semi-Omni Polar - Ohm Walsh (not the originals, but the newer ones that use a tweeter for the uppermost regions) - Give more of the spaciousness and soundstage of a live show, the bigger ones have tons of low end.  But they don't have quite that snap that a top notch horn has, the flipside is the bass is better and typically you can listen louder as they are not a bright speaker.  Also, don't have to be right in the sweet-spot to have a nice image.  While I don't go to many classical shows, man the Ohm's do it right.  I feel like I'm a little further back in the crowd.  Currently I'm using Ohm Walsh 5000's.  

Omni-Polar - (MBL) - in the right room and set-up can be awesome, but I've heard incredible demo's and mediocre demo's.  I've never owned.

Otherwise, a good bi-polar design or open back design (like Jim Salk has options for) can do a nice job adding some spaciousness.

I know many say " a good speaker should do everything right " which is somewhat true, but a studio monitor and a good concert speaker IMO are two different things.  

Right now, I'm digging the OHM's, they are a happy medium and they are far from perfect but they do a lot right for the money.

But, gun to my head and I had to pick a speaker that could replicate a rock concert the best... JBL M2's with the EQ set-up properly.  Ironically some do use the M2's for studio work.  They are a hell of a speaker, but they are designed around pro amps and DSP.  The nice thing is with the DSP you could play with the curves.

Where I think the OHM's beat a good horn - bass and that HUGE feeling that a concert can give you when synth's, guitars, drum's, everything is just sounding huge to where you feel it in your chest and pant legs.

Where the JBL's and other horns might win out - that ultimate "snap" of a snare drum, vocals way out front and piercing at times, and that last bit of crunch from a Les Paul through a Marshall Stack.  Downside is they can get bright at concert levels after a while.

Note - If I was someone who wanted every last little precise detail (say Viber) not sure I would look at either speaker, or an electrostat either.  I might actually look at the Persona's (which I respect but don't care for as a speaker).

The JBL M2 might be the one exception.  Amazing speaker, but with a lot of caveats.





I have heard the neoliths a few times (and in the right room they are awesome). My neighbor has the 11’s, I have almost bought the 15’s a few times.

I DO like a lot of stats can do, my issue is I listen to rock and sometimes loud. I need a big panel (like the 15’s or the neoliths) so they won’t compress. My room isn’t big enough (in my opinion).

I am not a fan of the Persona’s, but I’ve heard them several times. Objectively, they are very, very detailed. For the first 10-15 minutes I was enthralled with the detail, shocked at times. A bit dry (I’ve heard the whole line-up at various dealers). But that was at lower DB levels low 80’s or so. As I had them turned up they simply became too much for me. That demo in particular was using an ARC tube pre-amp (it was the ref 6 or 10). After 15 minutes or so at a higher DB - just too much detail for me, cymbals in particular bothered me. But, IF you LOVE detail and don’t listen loud I can see how someone would like them. Imaging was great, soundstage was average.  I don't like them, but can see how someone else might.  

The big stat’s - well, those Neo’s are a whole different animal. Driven by proper amps (ie - huge) they were an awesome experience.
Oh, on the subject of horns.

For those looking for accuracy, every detail and really very little to no horn coloration - I would encourage a demo of the Klipsch Palladium Series.  

Incredible center channel. I had the P37's as mains.  They were bass shy, but very tight.  The 37's had very, very little horn coloration.  They were immediate, fast, and very articulate.  

For me, cymbals came too far forward in the mix.  But, I've heard the big p39's on big tube amps (BAT) and they were pretty awesome.  

Great build quality also.  
Nothing takes a good thread off course faster than AudioTroy.  (that said, if you want to hear why what he sells is better, or can outperform, or his amazing system matching skills... he's tremendous at that).

Wish I could have been there to have a beer and pizza with you WCSS, hoping to get back next year.

I'm usually the guy in a concert T-shirt asking them to play my playlist that I bring on my phone just in case... to plug in.  Or if I can drive the streamer for a few minutes.

A few years back Symphony of Destruction was a personal favorite to demo a few very cool MFG's were more than happy to let it rip.

Last year I had two people immediately make me turn off Royal Blood (which is really just good rock music).

Music Direct / ATC let me roll back at 5pm last year to let some remastered Zeppelin rip, that was cool of them.

The magico room was absurdly stuffy (there were a couple last year). No getting them to let some rock rip.

It's a fun show.  I like to get there early on Friday.  Hopefully next year.
Yes, rock concerts are loud... but rock concerts are fun.  

I've been to over 100 in my life, only 2x did I think it was too loud.

1.  AC/DC, but I was literally in front of the house monitors.  It was a great show though.

2.  A small metal show in a small club with a few bands.  It was absurd to the point of not being enjoyable.  The music wasn't great either.

But, it's all part of the fun.

That said, there is a perfect level of mix that sometimes gets achieved with good sound (for a concert), just on the border of being too loud but it's not, but you can still really feel the music in your chest and pantlegs.  

That's living.
There are a number of good SRV recordings.

Most of The Sky is crying is well recorded. Life by the Drop in particular

Eric Clapton - From the Cradle is outstanding

Gary Clark Jr. - the Bright Lights EP is good and a fun listen

A number of the MTV unplugged recordings are spectacular

Rock Candy Funk Party - We Want Grove / The Groove Cubed both well recorded. Some of the stuff on both is really good to demo with. All sorts of nuggets on both recordings.

On to a few things with a little more octane...(not to be listened to at lower volumes)

Metallica - Black Album

Pantera - I’m broken

Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood (inspired the recording for the Black Album also)

Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name (and a fair number of other tracks), listen loudly and let it roll right into Take the Power Back, killer bass line.

Tool - Entire Catalog

Porcupine Tree - Anesthetize - off of Fear of a Blank Planet






Solution to breaking it all in each and every time.

Tool - Fear Inoculum... turn volume to 11, press play.  Repeat, enjoy, let it wash over you.

Serves every purpose... break-in, dynamics, subtle passages, rip your face off pieces.  3-d soundstage, impact.

Tremendous.  You are welcome.

@techno__dude 

Ever drive a Hellcat?

It's an awful lot of fun.

As is a Porsche or Ferrari.

I've had the chance to drive all 3.  All good, one is a flat out blast, one is very good but you need to know what you are doing and have it on the right course, one makes you a better driver.

But if I REALLY just wanted an adrenaline shot, and to put a grin on my face without thinking much about it.  

Give me the Hellcat.  Sometimes audio is the same way.  I just want to smile and not think too much about it.

Bass is fun.  (and I'm not talking about 3 15 inch woofers crammed in the back of a small car with a huge amp playing one note.)

Now as for what I would want to own...
Assuming it is C weighted... I wouldn’t consider 82db to be absurdly loud, it’s a shade loud.. but on a clean system like WC runs, with excellent bass and impact... it’s not crazy loud.

I get a sense some of you should just pick up some powered Genelec studio monitors and listen nearfield if you simply want accurate speakers with little bass and an absurd amount of upper midrange and treble.

Why have a system that can push it a bit and show dynamics, if you don’t use it?

Whether it’s a bass drum on a killer rock track, or a huge bass drum, or timpani impact during an orchestral movement... I want it to have an impact in my room.

Interesting on the Tekton’s... I think at 3k the Double Impact was a pretty cool speaker that did a lot right, but when I heard the D.I.S.E. at the same house, I didn’t hear a whole lot more that you got with it, and the same day I heard the ULF’s... just felt they were pretty much more of the same, no way I felt they were worth 4x more at the time.

OHM’s are sort of similar in that you typically get "more" as you go up, but John the owner is very honest and open about it. Though OHM’s have a very different presentation.

Double Impact however, would have been a fun party speaker back in college!
@whitecamaross 

"birthday cake toppers on top of the amp!"  That was nicely played. 


To use an analogy...(as I've seen used here often)

It's because Tekton speakers are the Donald Trump of the speaker world.

Those that love them, have almost an irrational self-worth tied to their love of the Tektons.

Those that hate them have an an irrational hatred like they were personally violated by the speakers, even if they weren't screwed on grills, or a bad return etc...

When the truth is Tekton only cares about selling more Tektons.  

If you like Tekton's, you can post until you are blue in the face, you won't convince someone who doesn't like them that they should.  If you hate Tekton's you won't convince someone who has them they should look elsewhere.  They have to come to that conclusion on their own.

Or something like that...