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!


whitecamaross

Showing 50 responses by whitecamaross

Possible. Look, wilson uses transparent cables inside their speakers for instance and the alexx and models above the Alex use their ultra expensive transparent opus cables inside. So what could this possibly mean? That MAAAAAAAAYBE getting transparent opus cables which are ultra expensive could be the best way to go. People don't understand that THIS IS NO DIFFERENT with many industries. 
I want everyone to be clear on the fact that there are levels in different industries and only those who don't play at the highest levels tend to be the ones who looooove to criticize (although this is not everyone who does this). 
There was no Friday video but there is a Saturday video:
Magico m3 , here you go!

https://youtu.be/TYMXPrFPAYA
The following list of amps are my next statement power amp:

Constellation Hercules stereo mk2
Nagra HD monos 
Mephisto stereo 
Dartzeel 458 Monos
Ch precision 1.1 Monos 
Boulder 3060
Dan agostino Relentless

One of the amps above will be pretty much the point of no return. 



You can still get a great set of headphones for your phone....or ipad...
Let's see men.... Just know that it has taken quite a bit of resources to close this deal. It wasn't something that I did rather easy. At these price points , there is nothing that Is going to be cheap even with a significant discount. Everything on that list is serious money. 
The funny thing here is that 90% of the people who actively post here are still chasing something superior and seeing what they can buy to improve their systems... Doesn’t that really technically turn you into WSS to a certain extent? If the argument is " no because I don’t change all the time like wcss " then that is like saying well, "someone saying he/she is not an alcoholic because they only drink every Friday night until they black out and John drinks Friday, Saturday and Sunday until he passes out.".... Really ? So the frequency of how often you get wasted is what determines if you are an alcoholic? So your soul is spared because you only get SH!t faced Friday. Lol. Only john who drinks Friday  Saturday Sunday is going to hell :-)
No need to delete anything. You made valid points and if you are able to hear changes with the tweaks outlined, that's awesome. You got a great thing. 
We all hear very different. We all choose different genres of music too. It's very subjective like judging the miss universe pageant. Who determined who's the prettiest woman? How did they arrive at that conclusion? Based on height ? Skin color? Accent? Smile ? Etc etc. Who the hell knows. 
Not really sure at this time. I would need to remove them and see if anything changes 
Well the boulder is cooking ... The next few weeks will be crucial before another big upgrade arrives. 
Is Block Audio making a return? 
Boulder monos coming?
Full Boulder vs Full Gryphon?
MSB dac replaces DCS ? 
Relentless monos?
Wilson Alexx replaces Alexia 2?
All you can do is tune in...

@tjassoc 
You're correct. 
Once again speed bump, you stole the words out of my mouth.
If you find the link above offensive, then you might want to look in the mirror and figure out WHY you find it offensive. The link posted doesn’t target a specific person. It is meant to address the negative behavior that occurs from time to time on here and clearly on my YouTube channel.
I found the link informative and it explains certain behavior that occurs here repeatedly. Hell, it actually made me understand the WHYs of such behavior. 


You are correct. I haven't owned every speaker under 15k. I'll say it is the best speaker  under 25k that I have owned. 
interesting. 
Right now, i have a failed experiment: the artesania stand i had the momentum on DOES NOT on the Mephisto because the amp is too massive and there is no way to make it work. 
I am also playing with the powercords i have on hand and trying to determine if the odin 1 powercords sound better on the dac/clock or the amp. 

ok doctor techno_dude. You are right, i am wrong. Should i ship you my stuff and you send me yours? i am sure since your ears are not "beat up" like mine then you should be able to educate my untrained ear with all the thousands of hours they have in front of some serious components.
Let me know what carrier i should use to ship you the Mephisto. It won’t go via fed ex ground.
Who said I wasn't going to try it ? Not sure where I mentioned that ? 

That's the plan guys. We will do it together. This might be an "intermission" before we play with the boulder 2150s. 
We have cables to play with, boulder monos, boulder vs Gryphon shootout AND the secret component that might shock a lot of you here...HERE more than on my YouTube channel...
Gryphon cables are on their way to me. They should be here next week. Xlr and speaker cables. Let’s see what goes down with their own cables and the mephisto. Will synergy be here ?.
No problem Ron! 
Yep each cable is system dependent. It's certainly an art that is costly and painful but once you have arrived, it really makes all the efforts worth it. 
Maybe...
Waaaay too many possibilities to be 100% sure. You can just sit tight and wait for me to unveil the component. 
Many positive comments on my YouTube channel. 
@rsf507 
I know exactly what you're trying to say. Thank you for articulating things so well. You presented your point and stayed in your lane. I respect that. 
here is the livestream for those who missed it:

https://youtu.be/jiaa3wv6ifo 
Issue is this thread is a small platform in comparison to YouTube. Also, the video allows for people to actually see the equipment and feel a little closer to the entire experience. I do appreciate your opinion though. 
It's all personal taste. The room has ALOT to do with Wilson audio speakers. More so than with focal .
both also wildly CHEAPER than the DAW let alone the Alexia 2. :) 
The ARC won't be at the level of the mephisto. Sure we can improve its sound my adding fuses, footers etc but it won't be able to "drive " the mephisto to its full potential. I am trying to reach the highest performance possible from the mephisto and I don't believe audio research will do this. I believe a solid state Preamp will take it where it needs but finding that is what will be Russian roulette. For now, I have just purchased the next preamplification for it. I will disclose what it is on a future Video. 
I will be uploading another video of the mephisto but now with the Merrill Christine Preamp. Once again, you'll be able to hear how EASY it is to hear the change in sound with the Alexia 2 and mephisto. I think deaf people can hear it using their iPads. 
Simaudio could be good actually. I respect simaudio tremendously. 

I heard my Gryphon Colosseum with zena....in my room....I believe if you watched my YouTube videos you can spot the Gryphon zena...
I don't really quite know...I think you could count them on the videos I have uploaded though. 
Here is one interesting fact that youtube sent me:

My last video has had the most views in less than 24 hours than any other video i have ever uploaded. This seems to indicate that people are certainly tuning in to see my madness and that the Focal Stella have been very well-received. 
As always - my money is available for you all to spend. Lol. 
There's a video dropping today at 1pm ET. 
Odin 1 xlr is better then ansuz c2 xlr. I have owned both. 
I like playing with my Wilson speakers out from the wall. Shows don't have the space in their rooms to do what I do because they need to accommodate a bunch of chairs. Having enough space behind the speaker allows for more depth and feeling that there is no wall behind. 
Same cables and amps...only difference was that I did what people requested. Many people said " oh don’t use a tube amp that isn’t even broken in blah blah blah " so please use the momentum HD preamp. Well...that is what I just did and now people are seeing how IMPORTANT system matching is. This exercise has nothing to do with anything else other than system matching and synergy. It seems clear that the magnepan seem to like a tube linestage. I hope that is something that a few have quickly learned ? 
@golfnuts   

Youre right. I am sure I'll keep playing around more with their positioning. I am not done but I feel I have found an improvement with that I did last night. More will be done as they get more playtime. 
Hmmm...i have never owned 800d3 so I can't comment on those. Between Daw and sopra 3 I'd take the DAW all day every day. No question. They aren't even in the same conversation with the sopra. 
Odin 2 pc Is better than Odin 1 but I didn't really make sense to do Odin 2 unless you do the full loom. I believe Odin 2 is amazing but Odin 1 is probably the better price/performance ratio. 
Video dropping today at 4pm ET 
If you hadn't been abrasive at first with me, we wouldn't have had all this drama from the past. 

Some jaws will drop when i announce it next week. You never know where or when I'll be bringing something else. 
Before I announce what is coming, I need to give my opinion on the boulder and pandora. Many people have messaged me about this and they want to know my input so I'll do my review on both. 
Behind the scenes on a Saturday afternoon at Jay's 

https://youtu.be/nIHXnlN5qnM
Not sure why I answered that question above. 
Most people don’t know this but ALL focal speakers have now gone up in price effective today.

Scala Evo was 40k and it’s now 52k... Good luck trying to find one for less than 30k :)

Focal sopra 2 was 15k and it’s now 19k...sopra 3 was 20 and I think it’s 23k now... Maestro evo was 65k and it’s now 72k I think.
Ahhhh focal jacked up the Scala Evo price the most out of any other speaker they manufacture because it is indeed their money making machine... I'm SO HAPPY I got mine before this nasty price increase. :).
Not sure if you all saw this but it is a recent article where wilson wasn't even mentioned? Focal and vivid are mentioned in one of the paragraphs. 

https://www.soundstageultra.com/index.php/equipment-menu/995-the-best-loudspeaker-brands-for-both-lu...