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 speedbump6

Techno, I do not remember it being said that magico were on the way, in fact I remember Jay mentioning that he didn’t feel like they would be as good as what he already had. I’d say posting that link is no more abussive than posting a thumbs down is. No names were mentioned, though it seems you have taken it personally. Maybe  the question of who the same two who always post a thumbs down has been answered for one of them, lol. 

From the reduced posting here it seems that people are now spending more time on the YouTube channel than on here. Guess that shows that what Jay now is doing is really grabbing everyone’s interest more so than in the past. I find the videos with Mike interesting. There’s been speculation that he found his equipment better than Jays because of personal interests in some of it which he sells, or that he is just into his own version of what he thinks sounds good. I think it proves what Jay has maintained all along. There is no better, unless it’s better to you. 

Cant really compare the alexias to the Maggie’s, as they were shown with different setups, meaning cables. There are also open baffle speakers that are not stats. I have the Emerald Physics 4.7s in my bedroom. Nice speaker, but can’t say the difference was what I was expecting. From what the OB guys say, I was expecting a much bigger difference. Yes many box speakers do have a “boxy”  sound to them. I remember my Martin Logan’s having great detail, but lacked feeling, soul. This was around 2005. The Vandy 3As  never had a boxy sound, but their design is more like an open baffle in a way
It’s obvious that some folks rub others the wrong way. I might suggest just stop reading their posts when you see their name. Unless their being truly insulting, there’s no need to get involved in a dialogue with them if it’s that grating to do so. 
If you hear it in person and it sounds good, then it should sound just as good in your home. The exception might be when it’s too dry, and sucks the life out of it. Other than that, if it’s there in person, I’d like to here it in my system. If it had warts in person, then my system is masking it and therefore masking all music in order to deal with the lowest common denominator. I’m not a fan of that. 
Techno, for some reason it’s obvious you’re just here to bust his balls. Are you really so bored that this is all you have to spend your spare time on. To me it’s obvious that some people are jealous of what others have or can do, and feel the need to demean them. I have not heard jay trying to put anyone down for what they can or cannot afford, if they’re having a civil convo. I’m sure if someone asked he’d tell you what he thought between dennon and rotel, or schitt products, if he’s heard them to give an opinion. Not everyone on this thread can afford to play at the level of equipment that jay considers to be more budget oriented. Dosnt take away from the enjoyment they get from it. Not everyone can afford a Lambo, dosnt mean you can’t appreciate Ling out someone who can afford it, just because he can. If you don’t like what jay is doing, that’s fine. Then there’s no need for you to post here. Find something that does I trest you. 
Viber, I do think that different amps will do better, or not do well with certain speakers. I do think the mephisto would do well with most speaker's, but let’s say a horn speaker that generally hooks up with low powered tube amps. The mephisto might be a bit of a sledge hammer where a more delicate touch is needed. No way to know of course unless it was tried, just based on some past experiences I have seen some great amps that did not match up well with some speakers like that. Not the kind of speakers anyone on this thread likely has, but still. Some amps are better at low levels than others too, have no idea if the mephisto would fall into that category or not, though I doubt that it would. I wouldn’t see anyone buying a mephisto that would be considering matching them to any of those kinds of speakers. 
Better yet, he can start his own channel and do it however he likes. I’d prob watch it also if he did. One man can only do so much. Or if he wants to split costs maybe something could be worked out, lol. 
Flrun, exactly what I said about tecno here, and to people on Miller carbons thread about Tekton’s. There are people who don’t like what’s being done. Ok, fine. They don’t have to like like it. First I don’t understand why some of them are even on those threads, but if they feel their way is better, Great. Show it. Create a channel and show what you like and how you do it. Guess what, there’s plenty of room for many different ways. One way isn’t right for everyone, which is why there’s so many different brands of equipment. Otherwise we might as well all have amazon alexas and be done with it. Just as I doubt jay could convince viber to do things his way, why get upset that jay does it his way. 
I’ll be able to once I get mine setup. I will have multiple systems. Wilson Sasha daws, and bw 800d3s, among a few others including an open baffle setup. Jay, you went to bed a little earlier than I expected, lol. I can only imagine what you’re hearing. Sounds like I may have to look in that direction myself at some point. 
There seems to be a disconnect between what jay says and what people believe he said. I never saw any indication that he was “scared” worried, or even concerned that the mephisto wouldn’t pan out to be anyth8 g other than what he originally said it was. He’s doing some experimenting to see what does work best, and gives the best synergy. As anyone who works with very high performance cars, you can’t just plug in any “upgrade” and achieve expected results. They are fickle beats and thoroughly reward the right setup, while also harshly penalizing the wrong one. By comparison. Doesn’t mean that the “ wrong” combo can’t steal whoop the fastest production cars. Just means it won’t perform its best, to what it’s capable of. Seemed like a good analogy at least. Just sit back and let him work through it so we can see where it ends up. Its late August and Christmas is still a bit away, enjoy the thrill of anticipation. Once you’ve unwrapped the present, then you’ll be wanting to move on to the next one
Techno, sounds like you’ve predetermined the results. Maybe he can just ask you for the results before hand so he dosnt even need to buy anything at all. Seems like that would save a whole lot of time and effort all around. 
Klh, I suspect that with the relentless and mephisto we will see similar differences that we saw between the gryphon and the momentum’s. I’m thinking the gryphon will find a new playmate that we haven’t heard yet, though I believe jay has had some of these brands before. I am wondering, I believe he mentioned he had Soulution before, not sure what models, but I have those and was curious how those might stack up to the rest of what he’s tried in the past, not sure I’ve seen his past comments if mentioned, about them. 
Some of these may be different models than the ones he’s had from the same line in the past, also the memory can be a fickle beast, and hearing them again all together might shine a different light on things, so I wouldn’t bet on the gryphon just yet. There’s some pretty nice sounding equipment listed there, it could be a real shootout. 
Himiguel, I can hear how good it sounds just through my iPad, don’t even need my headphones for that. If you need I’d be happy to lend you my headphones, or ears, because it dosnt get much better than this. The midrange is fantastic, and certainly lacks nothing in soul or anything else. Tecno, a thumbs down? Really? Why?
Lol, I have zero doubts about what jay has said about the mephisto. Remember we already heard them with different amps, and with all the different products he’s heard, I’m sure he has a really good feel for what is giving him what he’s hearing. Yes, those alexias certainly have more bass then then what he’s had previously, no doubt. It’s not the cheering section. The mephisto is really that good.
We heard some amps on his previous video playing on the current Alexia he has now. Therefore he has an idea of what they sound like with other amps, and is comparing the mephisto to that, and anything b else he had had or heard
You don’t have to assume if you don’t think it’s the case. I just know what I know, for me. In the end, I’m the only one I can speak for. 
It’s evident on this end. Obviously we never got to hear the coliseum with these speakers, but it’s more than that. As good as the coliseum was, it was never that sure footed. Where the coliseum have a sound that you can hear it’s strengths , but felt like you could reach your hand into it, like smoke, this amp feels like a wall of sound, if you could touch the sound, it would be solid, and a foot thick. It did not have the same control at every level, maybe better at some levels than others. The mephisto seems to have that control at all levels. And that’s just what I can hear from YouTube. I’m sure there more of the story there in the room with it. Holographic comparisons. Can you define where each instrument is in the soundstage better? Those and more are the things not really possible to hear online. 
Techno, jay isn’t a paid reviewer, he’s never claimed to use scientific methods, and not necessarily trying to prove or show each individual component to the degree you’re looking for. Reviewers do sometimes change components, ie soeakers in their systems, and still continue to make comparisons to products they’ve heard in the past on their past setup. Jay has made it clear he’s giving his opinions, not trying to make scientifically proven statements. With the numbers of products he’s had, I believe he is able to give a pretty fair assessment of what he is hearing despite the differences in speakers. All paid reviewers must do this also over time, as they update their systems as time goes by, and they’re having to use memory to make those comparisons with. Jay has stated he does this for fun, his enjoyment, and for those that like what he does, for their enjoyment also. The only way to do what you’ve stated would be to have all the products he has ever tested on hand all the time and then test them all on the same speakers. I don’t know any reviewer anywhere that does that. It would be cool to be able to do that and keep everything, just not realistic. 
I agree jay. The problem is that I’m not sure they believe, or want to believe, that other product work better. I havnt yet heard the P20, and it seems you feel it did less than the review I read. The SR power cell did make an audible and noticeable difference, so that one I can attest to first hand. I know different people hear different things when it comes to some equipment, as your most recent video proves. While most agreed that number 3 was best, with only one person I saw who didn’t care for it, there was not a conscious on the other two. 
Teasing us with new toys when you still havnt told us what the last ones were. 
I don’t know when my time will come, but I’m 59 and still find ways to lift and move 230lb amps, speakers, subs, by myself, upstairs. I also find myself needing breaks more often after I move them, eventually I’ll have a permanent break, until then, hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing what I’m doing.
Jay, I believe you mentioned that you use the Vivaldi to stream with. I could be wrong. After ready up some I did not see that it had an app like naim or nad do to stream tidal, iTunes, etc while using their mobile device to control it. I’m sure you can hook up a roon( which I dropped after the trial period, just couldn’t figure it out, and didn’t have the patience to learn) or an NAS, though I don’t follow how those work either. I could have misunderstood what you said, but if it does, that would really be great, or I’ll have to use a naim streamer etc with it
There s pluses and minuses to separates vs integrated. You should get great synergy with an integrated. One issue could be that one portion is that one component might be an after thought as opposed to a full commitment to the same level as the rest of the unit. Another issue might be that you like another component better, like a tube phono stage when using a solid state integrated. You can tailor to preferences better with separates, while integrated can cost less, and simplify the setup. Certainly don’t need so many expensive interconnect cables with integrated. A case can be made for both, it just depends on the individuals preferences.
Jay, I think I’d sell the MLs. For even better performance at an even lower price point, look at the Tekton Ulfers. Many are gravitating to the Moabs for cost and a good percentage of the performance of the Ulfers. I believe the Tekton’s would even give the Wilson’s a bit of competition. ( not sayi g they’d win, but I bet they would in some categories)
I started reading this thread from  it’s start in 2016 last night. I started looking up and reading reviews on every new best thing that Jay came across. Pretty fun do that really and seeing how the reviews compared to what Jay found. Five hours later I started and the last post and started reading back, as I was intrested in his thinking about how he chose the sashas that I just bought. After three hours I had not yet gotten to that story yet, but I learned that if I wait another couple of weeks, or not much longer, there will indeed be a new next best thing that I need to research. Plus I still have close to three years of history here to read about and discover some more jewels. The journey will never end until or unless the world runs out of products to discover. Then there will be the endless combinations that havnt tried before. Add in  our constantly evolving tastes and we find more than enough options to outlast either our  energy,  money, or  time. Should be great fun trying though! 
I just purchased the ayre kxr 20 today myself. Without reading through hundreds of pages, what’s your YouTube so I can watch
I’m not much into the vintage stuff. Most of mine are new, or newer. I do have a few inexpensive guitars, but then ranging up to about 10k. Most 8n the 3-6k range. A lot of custom builds. For me it’s about how they sound, quality over quantity, though I know from the number it might not seem like it, lol. 
Jay, you are ripping through all these changes very quickly. Not sure how as it dosnt seem like it’s products you can just pick up at the local audio store from off their shelf. I would imagine even the manufacturers have a backlog of products. However you’re doing it, keep it up. I do agree that you need to hear a big difference to make it worthwhile. When I read reviews online, it almost seems as if every positive review is leaps and bounds above, meaning amp, preamp, speaker, dac, transport, power cables, interconnects, speaker cables, power conditioner, etc etc. with all these huge improvements, it sure seems like better than perfection should have been achievable by now, lol. In reality I believe it’s more like very minor differences, and then only in certain areas, each piece has its strengths and weaknesses. The goal is putting together pieces that give the best compliment. Even then I find I enjoy many different sounds, so my perfection cannot be defined as x. 
Hmmm, I’d hold off on that thinking. If nothing else I’d say that what jays experiments have shown is that it definitely, absolutely, depends. It depends on the matchup. I’d bet anything that in the right matchup, the Luxman may not fare so well compared to a different preamp. The question may not be what’s the best x or y, but more like what’s the best combo of x and ys that work together, and achieve the sound I like the best. There’s so many variables. We ourselves are the biggest variable. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I have heard so many different sounds that I can pick pieces, or in entirety, that I like. Why force myself into just one? Then you add in the factor, that the next guy likes something different, and I’ve seen some that are 100percent looking for a certain sound and hone in on that. At least for those, the choices are a bit easier. Having read back through much of this thread, I’ve learned that during Jays journey, his tastes have changed. Maybe what he thought about something, isn’t the way he feels about it now. I love Captain Crunch, but I bet I’d get sick of it if I ate it every day
The silver is beautiful, and who cares what it sounds like. It’s a work of art if it dosnt work out for the system. I’ve been buying mine used to find “ bargains” got the Ayre for 16k vs regular. I saw a Soulution Audio amp ( reg 55k) for 17k just now. Things that make you go hmmm... never thought I’d spend that much on an entire system at one time, much less think of those prices as bargains
Jay, I noticed the Luxmans went up for sale. I believe that a lead in to what the video may fortell 
If I were to bet, I’d bet that number three was the Vivaldi direct based on one of your comments that if you want great sound, buy a world class dac. Will be intresting to find out if that’s the case or not. I’m secretly hoping the ayre was the number three since I just purchased one, lol. 
I auditioned and purchased the Synergistic Research Power Cell SRX with their Galileo power cord yesterday. I read a review online that pitched this against the PSA product and a different brand that uses magnetics. I feel most people over state the differences they hear. I have been a sceptic about Expensive cords,and maybe I still am, only had time to listen to this one product. Once we switched a couple of time, I noticed a background hiss between notes, that was appear to because of its total absence with the power cell running. Obviously this his wasn’t huge since I had not noticed it before, but we were listening at fairly low levels compared to my normal, so it’s possible would have been more noticeable if louder. I also noticed a bit more impact and punch I. The highs and lows, and likely through the whole range if I had more time to listen. At the low volume levels, the fact that it was apparent got my interest. I did end up purchasing the unit, and I suppose I may be headed down the road of high end cables, interconnects etc, after I find time to audition those. Some sources, Audioholics is the main one I can think of, feel it’s all snake oil. Again, I was skeptical to say the least, and truly expected to not hear a difference as I did not many 15 years ago when I first started on the high end journey. I also just purchased the PSA P20 thinking that even if there was no sound improve the, I would have great surge protection and will experiment with that in line before and after the Power Cell at the outlet. I wonder if Jay has tried this product and how he felt it worked for him if so. 
Next month? Not sure I can wait that long. Just brought a c202 to go with the krell 402e yesterday and use krell caste to connect.  so now that frees up my ayre kxr twenty that needs to be matched up with a new amp. 
You can’t do that Jay, the butter particles from the popcorn would affect the diaelectric value of your cables. Get a grip, lol. On the other hand I heard that the fat molecules from a hotdog machine will help disperse the sound waves more evenly by breaking up the negative diffuse energy found in some conversations.
There’s a solution 710 I almost got, but 180 watts is pretty low for me. I like something with at least four hundred, and more is better
Forget the d’aganstino, I’m looking for a sweet deal on a Vilvadi. And I’d be happy to share some brownies with whipped cream on top while we watch the video. 
Yeah I was looking for the bigger ones also, but seem hard to find. To me more power just gives plenty of headroom and a feeling of ease about the music that that headroom is able to provide. I like a “wall” of sound, I tend to listen as fairly high volume levels. I just don’t feel the full dynamic range at lower volumes. 
Forget the d’aganstino, I’m looking for a sweet deal on a Vilvadi. And I’d be happy to share some brownies with whipped cream on top while we watch the video. 
Wow viber6. Don’t pull any punches. Say what really think. Are you sure it was whip cream, maybe it was sour cream because those comments didn’t seem so sweet to me, lol 
If I can have some pecans with those brownies, I’m all in. Yes, I’ve heard great products sound less than great in bad matchups. There is no such thing as best, just best in this case. Also I do believe that in some of these cases you tube does no favors and makes it sound worse than it really is in person
Sounds like maybe a solution? Lol. So many toys, not enough time or money. Maybe one day jay will head out the door in search of the next new discovery and when he opens the door there will be a sign. You have reached the end of the internet. Let’s hope he never runs of out of new discoveries.