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

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!


Showing 50 responses by guidocorona

Hello @Whitecamaross and All, you might remember that I mentioned a few times that I was long hoping to try out the Rowland Daemon. Finally, last Thursday, a Daemon Superintegrated amplifier showed up. I have started to scribble a progressive review/evaluation diary… The scribbling project will continue for at least a few months, until the integrated has stabilized, and I have exercised several of its many input and output options. I have been waiting for a long time for this 99Lbs single box critter. It is Jeff Rowland’s integrated flagship. The DAC + Preamp + 1500W/8 (2500W/4) power amp in a single chassis has been breaking-in since Friday. Incredibly powerful and already making exciting music after just 100 hours of break-in.

But this is our friend WCamaross’s show, so please join me to chat about Daemon around its own new Audiogon watering-hole:

Now returning this fine audioholic den to its regularly schedule, ahem… Programming J

Saluti, Guido

@Viber6 and I agree.... In descending order of preference: #2, #3, and way down... #1... #1 may sound outwardly energetic, but it's actually wheezy and shallow in the vocals.


Hello @Whitecamaross, I am not at all surprised you are enjoying Cardas Clear Beyond ICs.... I do not have Clear Beyond ICs and speaker wires yet.... And still I am finding the midlevel Clear Reflection absolutely enchanting.... My PCs are instead Beyond XL. I have gone Cardas all the way some two years ago, and am superglad I have done so. I am using a full Cardas loom for my review project of the Rowland Daemon integrated:  


Hey WC, admittedly I am intrigued about Cardas Clear Beyond signal wires, and what enhancement might an upgrade of Reflection to Beyond might bring to my system!

Saluti, G.

Hi Whitecamaross... Yes, you are right.. I have had the wonderful M925 monos in my system for a few years... Yes, I would say that my observations about Capri S2 break-in pattern also apply to the big M925 monos.... Somewhat elongated, though. My M925 monoblocks stabilized at about the 1500 hours mark. Amazing music they do make!

I am not surprised at all by what you are experiencing on the GS-150. Seems to me that the first 500 hours of most devices I have had in my system have been rather bipolar... Thankfully all they need is more exercise... Lythium medication not needed for the component, and usually, neither for the suffering audiophrene who owns them.

Regards, GUido

Hi Whitecamaross, the Rowland Capri S2 is a wonderful linestage... With proper break-in, it is incredibly dimensional, resolving, with just a hint of warmth... Break-in being the operative word. Capri S2, like other Rowland linestages that I am familiar with, take upwards of 600 hours of operating on actual signals to complete the major portion of breakin... With about 20% further breakin to complete over a total of about 1K hours since first sound. During the first half of break-in you are bound to exprience performance fluctuation.... One day sweet, and perhaps the next day harsh/dark/flat.... Observing this evolving behavior will be fascinating, Yet, venturing conclusions prior to complete break-in tends to be premature and prone to inaccuracies.

Capri draws approximately 6W in class A. The device is sensitive to power cords... Avoid certain PCs especially designed for high power amps, as they might have some capacitance that might make Capri S2 caramelize the tone and microdynamics. Shunyata Alpha and Cardas Clear should work well.

Regards, Guido


Hi Whitecamaross, at 35 hours into break-in, an amp is so far from its optimum performance that it is essentially impossible to tell what eventually it can do for living.

Have you considered breakin in the device 24 7 using a break-in CD, or even better, a radio tuner set to some FM interstation hash?

Let the amp run at low volume... DO not bother listening to it more than a couple times a week... In about a month it will start to show its character... In 2 or three weeks after that break-in will be complete and the device will show its true soul.


Uck... Yes, I had forgotten the additional "suffering" of tuboholics.... Break-in calendar days is probably four times as long as solid state, and somewhat inpermanent... By the time solid state parts have stabilized have stabilized, tubes have started to sag... Nirvana is but a fleeting moment before the next tube roll... You can't win... Oh well, tuboholic  audiophrenia is A Harsh Mistress *Grins!*


  amp has sta   

Yes, I admit it... I am poking fun at tubophrenes with my facile generalizations... I have experience with only two tube devices... ARC LS-2B hibrid linestage, and ARC REF3.

LS-2B took about 800 hours to bloom and stabilize, and the single 6922 performed well for about 3K hours.

ARC REF3 was a different story... Initial break-in about 500 hours. But while the 60H30 tubes lasted a good 2K hours before showing signs of sag, the 6550 in the power supply did take about 500 hours to break-in, but then  at the 900 hours mark,  the first audible sloppy signs of sag would creep in... So, nirvana was a relatively fleeting 400 hours per round... Not my cup of audible Heaven.



My preference in descending order, playing back on my PC and using my Plantronics USB headset,  was: #3, #2, #1.


I have owned and loved the Rowland M925 monos for severl years.... Incredible authority, and the amps with the most organic and complex frequency spectrum from deep bass to high treble that I have ever listened to. If you have the patience to break them in fully -- 1K to 1.5K hours -- they will reward you with amazing music without any compromise that I know of.

These are power houses... They generate 430W per side over 8 ohms, doubling into 4 Ohms, with a peak current of about 45A per side.

A   Power Factor Corrected rectifier in each mono feeds a 2500W multi-regulated DC supply.


I have logged my usage/break-in observations about M925 on Audiogon at:


Further information on M925 is found in the Rowland knowledge base at:


Feel free to ask me specific questions about these amps.


Saluti, Guido

Merrill Veritas is an excellent mono amp in all respects. Here is my take on Veritas:

I heard Mola Mola Kaluga monos at RMAF... Also wonderful music makers, although the pair I heard, having had only a couple hundred hours of break-in, still exhibited minute traces of treble intermodulation, which is typically absent from amps based on NC1200 once they are fully mature.




Hi @whiteCamaross, I am not surprised.... May I add that if you tried a higher end Esoteric single box player such as the current K1, or the older K-01X, or the even older K-01, you are likely to discover that they outperform both Oppo and Mac. I had the original K-01 in my system a few years ago, and it was outlandishly good.



Congrats @whitecamaross!

Now on your cabling quest, will you be taking the full loom approach... As in testing full complements of PCs, ICs, and speaker wires holistically, one brand/model at a time... Or will you be selectively sequencing the process by cable type... That is for example, optimizing PCs first, then ICs, and then speaker wires?

There re pros and cons to both approaches... But in one school of thinking, it is suggested to test full looms when possible, to avoid various wires to work at cross purposes from the beginning.... And once an "optimum" baseline is found, one can try to tweek individual positions, to determine if things can be improved even further.



Hello dpac996, as far as I know, Whitecamaross has not tested the Rowland M625 S2 stereo amp.

Regards, Guido

Hello PAC996, I suspect that Rowland M625 S2 might not be the most desirable amp for WC. While it is to all reports a wonderful amp, and relatively powerful at about 330W and some 22A peak current supported by a 1200W SMPS, it might not be the optimal choice to generate the club-like SPL and overall experience that WC seeks with his system.

As for comparisons with Luxman gear, friend RicRed1 owns M625 S2... I believe he might have compared it with Luxman, and last I heard, he kept M625 S2... RicRed1 can correct me on this.

Regards, Guido



WC the length of your videos is just fine... I like that they are able to contrast fairly different aspects of a recording. Besides, some of your videos are longer, while some are pretty compact... "Vive la difference!" 

While ADD is a recognized problem in society, we can't always reduce matters to the common minium denominator.



WC, the hum you are experiencing with Clear eyond speaker cable is quite a head-scratcher.... You might want to contact Cardas tech support about it.


Excellent idea. I suggest an A/B/C test, though:

* All components into wall outlets

B. Amps into the wall, and line-level components into Denali.

C. Everything into Denali.

Saluti, G.


I concur with GBMcLeod about ideal review timelines... Depending on the amp, A thorough post-stabilization review might need to wait between 600 hours and 1500 hours of amp break-in before being finalizible. Some line-level devices might take even longer.

In the case of the Rowland Daemon superintegrated about which I am currently scribbling a journal-style evaluation here on Audiogon, anomalies came and went for the first 800 hours.... past that, the creature seems to be in a  phase of slow further refinement. I would not be surprised is some changes would still occur until the 1500 hours mark, which is the point where my trusty Rowland M925 monos finally stabilized.

To add to the fun beyond basic break-in, I will need to break-in line level outputs and analog inputs separately, so to test and document the behavior of individual subsystems.

Bottomline... It will take me a spell. Not a bad way  to avoid pandemic-related cabin-fever, though :)




Hello @RBMcLeod, if you are referring to those tonally lean years of Rowland from the end of the 1990s until towards the latter part of the 200Xs decade, I am with you. Since then, the Rowland sound has transformed radically. Exposed harmonic coherence across the linear spectrum is today the name of the Rowland game. Or at least, this is the way I perceive it on Daemon, M925 and bridged M535. Having grown up with live acoustic music, musicians, and music making, I seek congruence with what I love.


BTW, fab that you enjoy brass… I dabble with trumpet, bB and Eb cornet, and flugel horn… But since I discovered the euphonium, I found my brassy true love.


Regards, G.

BHK 300 amps appear to have a damping factor of 100. THis might be a little low, if indeed the speakers dip to an impedance of 0.7 Ohms. On the other hand, the Luxman amp being tube based, might find itself in some similar marginal territory.

But... Only actual testing in situ can tell for sure.



Hi Sonicsmith, high damping factor designs being the bane of audiophiles is an urban legend... I have heard as many amps with high damping factors being utterly unmusical, as I have heard amazing music makers... My current amp belonging to the latter type.

Similarly, a low damping factor is but an alert to possible issues with speakers sporting very low or significantly erratic input impedances, but does not denote an absolute brickwall in supporting such speakers with elegance.

This is why only a substantial test in situ can determine if the BHK and/or the Luxman in question are synergistic with Camaross's new electrostatic speakers.

Besides... Electronics and speakers need to be broken in completely before a definitive evaluation can e made.



Hey @Chazzy007, happy you enjoy my scribblings :)

See you on the Daemon thread... The critter is truly delicious, and still getting better!

Saluti, Guido

Hey @Chazzzy007, you just made my day *Grins!*

Saluti, Guido

Hello WC, have you tried to invert the audiosignal connection? I.E. feed the Clear beyond connected to the right Griffin output into the lecft speaker and viceversa? Does the problem change speaker?

Have you also tried to plug the Griffin amp into a different dedicated AC circuit? Any change?

Regardless, you might find assistance with the respective manufacturers. To contact the Cardas Technician:

Cardas Audio

Saluti, Guido

True enough, Whitecamaross, ROwland M925 took about 1500 hours to break in completely. THis has been the longest break-in that I have experienced on an amp.

Most amplifiers that have been in my system took about 1000 hours to reach their full performance.

The only amp that I recall taking only 600 hours has been the Merrill Teranis.


Hello WC, have you corroboration from some source that there is an inherent/known problem with Wilson + Cardas + Griffin? Or is it your own hypothesis only?

Have you considered some further troubleshooting?

* Move completely speaker wire from left output into left speaker to right output into right speaker and viceversa. Does the hum move to the other side?

* Leave amp side the same, but move the left speaker connection to the right speaker and viceversa. Has the problem moved?

* Leave speaker side same, but invert amp side connection... Move ritht amp connection to left side and viceversa. Has problem moved?

* have you verified that speaker wire positive/negative polarity is not inverted speaker side or amp side?

* have you tried to flip around the speaker wire.... That is connect the end currently plugged into the amp into the speaker, and viceversa? Does problem go away, moves, or otherwise changes?

* Have you tried a different power cord on the Griffin?

What is the Griffin plugged into... Denali or wall outlet?


Yes, there might be a problem with the particular combination of amp, speaker wires, and speakers, but with what you have written about it this far, it might be a little premature to draw definite conclusions on the origin of the grounding hum.

Saluti, Guido


Actually, Jon Stronczer of BelCanto told me that Black's power conversion stage  may be on customized NCore modules, rather than on standard NC1200. Hi WhiteCamaross, Bel Canto Black is -- together with the Rowland M825 stereo and M925 monos -- at the top of the NCore N1200 implementation piramid... And like all NC1200-based amplifiers, it is likely to require extensive break-in to reach best performance.

While I have not had the opportunity of having a Black in my own system, I suspect that full break-in might require anywhere from 1K hours to 1.5K hours from the time it emerged from the factory.

Any idea how many hours of operation the unit that you are receiving has already?

Even if it were fully broken in, the unit is likely to require two to three days of grinding some signal to restabilize after transportation in the cold of some truck or plane.

In case you asked... Yes, I heard Bel Canto Black at RMAF a few years ago... And yes, I was extremely impressed.



@whitecamaross, you might discover that if you let the Bel Canto Black grind on a recording at low volume for some three days, the residual treble fatigue during transients will go away, the bass will be much more present, and the entire frequency range will assume greater harmonic texture... Such behavior is characteristic of well implemented NCore designs.

In general, class D amps are best left on 24/7, anyhow.



Hello Markalarsen, congrats... Keep at it with your 24/7 breakin, It will continue for another month or so, and, unless Black is so different from other NC1200 amps, it will continue to open up and refine... Knowing what Jon Stronczer does with his amps, the end result is bound to be incredible!

NC1200 amps require patience *Grins!*




Interestingly, the Esoteric K-01X single box CD/SACD player has been replaced by the K1. According to all user reports I have read this far, K1 comfortably exceeds the performance of K-01X.

Worth pointing out that one of the difficulties of quick shootouts among DACS is that one might be pitting a well broken in device against one that is relatively newish off the factory floor. In such case, the newer device will inherently be performing at a disadvantage.

Furthermore, some DACs are designed to be "launch&forget" devices, while other ones are very sensitive to the selection of various upsampling rate and filters.... Each filter needs to be broken in separately... and Each combination of filter+upsampling potentially yields vary different results.

Finally, different DACs may be optimized for operation under different transmission protocols.... E.g. SPDIF, or USB, or single AES/EBU, or double AES/EBU.... And let's not forget the impact of external clocks.

In the end, comparing DACS -- while a fascinating process -- can be quite a significant enterprise, just to say it mildly.




WhiteCamaroSS, knowing Jon Stronczer and his past achievements, and knowing a little bit about Black System internals, I venture to say that right now your demo Black is still very far from delivering its true potential. If you have the patience to let it grind along for a few weeks to normalize its behavior -- white or pink noise is just fine for the purpose, you might be amazed at what it is capable of.

Regards, G.


WC also tried briefly the Rowland M535 stereo, which  runs in classD. M535 is best as a bridged pair.

Saluti, G.

Hello @whitecamaross, little is known about the Rowland M735 mono as yet, except that it does in fact run in class A/B.

I will post here links to features and specs as soon as I receive them from the factory.

Saluti, Guido 

Salon speakers need to be broken in... COuple days is not break in... Even 200 hours of operation will not break in Salon... THey likely require about 1K hours. And so do most components.

Doing comparisons with components that have not yet plateaued does not give an indication of their real performance.

I know, it is a very time-consuming process... Can't be helped.


Hello Charles, I could answer with pseudo-engineering lingo.... Capacitors, boards, transformers, and other components need to "demagnetize".

Reality is that I am simply not sure "why".

All I know that my experience has been, with very few exceptions, that speakers, most electronics, and most wire products have required a lot of break-in in my own system before their performance plateaued.

Speakers have been particular "dogs"... Usually oscillating performance until about the 1500 hours mark.

Amps are typically 1K hours, with Merrill Teranis on the low side at 600 hours, and ROwland M925 on the high side at 1500.

The Rowland Aeris Dac was some 90% broken in at 1200 hours, but continued to settle for another 1200.

Cables range from 300 to 600 hours... But I have had a couple of cases where fluctuations continued until 800.

The fastest piece of electronics has been the ROwland PSU external power supply, which reached maturity in one week of generating DC for the Aeris.

Yes.... I track break in on spreadsheets, and take a lot of notes.

Saluti, G.




Hey Al, seems that you and I have been having musical delusions for years on end... But at least we finally know the truth at last... Better late than never, Ain't it?!



Hello WhiteCamaross, if you will be starting with speakers of the caliber of the Neoliths in your new home, you might consider investing in a generous number of dedicated 20A AC lines... 1 for each electrostatic speaker, one for each monoblock and 3 to 4 for various line-level devices. Furthermore, if you ever consider testing Boulder 3000 series, or similar amps, you might want to install a couple of 30A dedicated lines.

BTW, some extremophiles also upgrade in-wall wiring.... Furutech and Cardas wiring come to mind.

Saluti, G.

"the boulder 2060 just sounds lifeless, clinical, analytical and it is probably in need of either its matching preamp or just
a pair of Rockport speakers"

Whitecamaross, you just about nailed it... Except for things markedly improving when 2060 is fed through a boulder pre!

A few years ago, at RMAF, I had the opportunity of listening to a system consisting of Boulder CDp, Boulder 2010, and Boulder 2060 feeding into a pair of Vienna Die Muzik. The audience was about 10 people... The session lasted some 3 hours.

We switched back and forth between the Boulder 2060 and the Rowland M312 stereo amp. System remained invariant throughout, except for the amps.

We listen from a large selection of classical, jazz, rock, and modern.

Unfortunately for the boulder, just about everyone concurred that the Boulder sounded blanched, sterile, cold uninvolving, lacking harmonic exposure, authority, transient linearity, not to talk about staging, imaging, and overall macro/micro detail compared to the ROwland M312... Which at that time costed some 25% of the 2060.

Couple years after that we tried the same using the Boulder 3000 series amp contrasted by M312.. Unfortunately, results were very similar... A "lunch" was "eaten"... but it was the M312 doing the feeding, not the Boulder amps.

Thus, I am not faintly surprised that SimAudio and Luxman are outperforming the Boulder behemoth.

Regards, G.

Bass control the Boulder 2060 certainly has.... To the point of delivering a sterile bass, unfortunately *Sighs!*


Hi WhiteCamaroSS,

I do not know either if the Boulder 2010 will yield a more desirable result than your current stable of preamps....

On the other hand, my impression of the 2010 at the time of my auditions was that the Boulder pre was certainly a top notch preamplifier.... Feeding into the Rowland M312, and that into the Vienna Die Muzik, I was hearing rather spectacular music..... It was rather the Boulder amps for which I continued to hold severe reservations.

At the time of that audition, I did own a Rowland M312 (500W, 45A peak current)... Since then, I upgraded to M625 stereo (V1), M725 monos (V1), and for the last few years, I have adopted the M925 monos, which are quite spectacular.

I have also had the Vienna Die Muzik in my system for several years.... And these guys won’t go anywhere else any time soon... At least for my musical preferences, the are long time keepers.

Saluti, Guido

Hello WhiteCamaroSS, I have not performed any comparative analysis on the Boulder 2010.... I have only heard it a few time in the Denver dealer setting, driving a couple different amps.

I have not had it in my own system. What I can say is that at least driving the Rowland M312, 2010 did not make me wish we were using a different preamp.

I am not a strong fan of Pass Labs, but have instead a lot of respect for the musicality of Luxman.

But there are a number of fabulous preamplifiers on the market...

For example, the Jeff Rowland Corus used in combination with the Rowland PSU ultra-capacitor-based external full chassis power supply, as well as the Solution preamp.... And the Burmester pres... Sorry, I do not remember the Solution and Burmester models.

Saluti, G.


@whitecamaross... Get the Bel Canto Black... And let us know how it differs from the previous version! G.

Hmmm... You trying to judge the performance of a system costing dozens of K$s through a pair of 50C speakers, a $2 amp chip, and a delightfully compressed Youtube? .... Truly fascinating!


Hmmm... Techno, I listen to music at acoustic concert levels -- that means non-amplified concerts, ranging from chamber, lieds, choral, and full orchestra.... In case you wondered, my ears are just fine.

I have auditioned the MCIntosh suite at length several years at RMAF.... Regretably, I always found it to be middling and wanting.

It's the kind of sound that I remember in my uncle's stereo, sporting MCIntosh electronics of course,  during the early 60s.... stuffy and subtly uninvolving.

But I am delighted that you enjoy the Mac tembre... It takes all kinds to keep this industry alive, isn't it?!



Hi Techno, granted, my last listening of McIntosh might be some 4 years ago.... I do like to keep an open mind: next time I attend RMAF, I will definitely visit once again the McIntosh suite, and give Mac electronics a new long listen.... It would be wonderful if the Mac house sound has significantly evolved since those middling days.


Hello WC, I am with you concerning CH Precision.... I should add: two-dimensional, grainy, screechy, sand-papery, and utterly unmusical. Mind you, this was several years ago at RMAF in the CH Precision suite, so things might have evolved for the better since then... Asked the gent to play a few cuts from my test CD... The result was jaw-droppingly unsatisfactory.... Asked politely to the importer if perhaps the system was factory fresh and not broken in.... He responded stiffly that yes, it was fresh from the factory, and that it sounded perfect, because CH Precision electronics does not require any break-in whatsoever.... He said something like If I did not like it it clearly was because my sonic taste was not refined enough and I needed to accustom myself to the CH Precision sonic marvel. Asked the gent to please give me back my test CD, and left.


The prefered combination will depend a lot on one's sound concept.

Personally, I value linearity, harmonic exposure, and minimization of intermodulative artifacts... That is those thingies that make chords on bowed high strings sound jarring.

I suspect that over the four combinations, I would end up prefering

1. Belcanto black system

However, if someone prefered a slightly more romantic rendition, with a slight and graceful emphasis over the mid low bass, the second combo might be his choice:


2. Ref10 pass labs 350.8


NCore-based amplifiers like Bel Canto take a very long time to break-in.... A simple NCore implementation like the Merrill Veritas monos took a little longer than 1K hours.... A complex NCore-based amp like the Rowland M925 monos took about 1.5K hours.... I believe that Bel Canto Black belongs to the latter category.

Attempting to reach conclusion on an essentially factory-fresh NCore amp after just a few days of listning is not a particularly useful exercise.