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

Not really sure at this time. I would need to remove them and see if anything changes 
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. 
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. :).
@rsf507 
I am glad that my exposure of this cable served you well.  It is indeed great !
Hi,
I've never used any platforms with my amps. I throw them in my rack and begin to listen. 
I will look at my pictures to see which amps I've forgotten to add to my review. I know I forgot to write about the plinius sa103, sa100mk3, Ati signature 4007, octave audio v110 integrated. 
As i stated above, my front end are the Martin Logan Renaissance, Mcintosh c1100 preamp. Someone mentioned above why not tube amps ? It's simple, I use amps as part of my home theater too and tube amps DO NOT work well in a home theater application. They don't have the dynamic swing capabilities that solid state or class d amps have. I've tried them and they get lost with action scenes not able to keep up with the rest of my solid state amps. If I was only a 2 channel guy then yes I'd try a few. 

All-
i will be responding to everyone tonight after I get off work. I will also add a few more amps to the list. 

Alright guys, i just sat down and started to play these MC601s while i write what follows below:

Plinius SA100MK3: VERY AMAZING AMP. This amp has a gorgeous amount of detail and nice bass. i was very impressed by how much bass it retained even a low volumes which is a hard thing for many amps to do! I really don’t remember ANYTHING bad about this amp. It sounded very nice with my Dynaudio C4s.

Plinius SA103: I bought this amp because i thought the SA100MK3 was amazing so i had to try it. Anyhow, i found this amp very detailed, great overall tonal balance, BUT I DID NOT GET THE SAME OOMPH in the bass department that the sa100mk3 had. I called plinius several times and they told me this amp uses dual transformers and that i needed to re-wire my electrical outlet with a 12 gauge cable, etc, etc which i was not going to do. I felt this amp was a tad more detailed than the plinius sa100mk3, but if i am being honest here, i preferred the sa100mk3. It had bass that "thumped" at any volume level.

Octave Audio v110 integrated: i tried this unit with my Confidence C4s and i will say it REALLY impressed me when i first turned it on. I mean, it was like my speakers became something else. TONS OF BASS that i couldn’t believe what i was hearing. I liked it so much that i wanted to keep it and made it part of my home theater by using its passthrough mode. That said, it just didn’t really keep up with the rest of my amps. It got lost time and time again when action scenes came on. It almost felt as if my front speakers were not even playing at times. I later just realized that Tube amps just don’t have the dynamics and slam needed for movies. I must have tried all sorts of settings, calibrations, etc and i just couldn’t get it to blend with the rest of my set up. If i had a channel set up and no home theater, i would have certainly kept it.


ATI SIGNATURE 4007: Here i was again. Trying to see if maybe i didnt give the 6007 signature amp a fair shot when i first bought it so tried this less powered version. I found that it really is a solid amp if you are looking to do 100% home theater with occasional 2ch listening. This is the amp that you throw in a rack and shut the door and let it play for years and years and years without ever worrying about it. However, it is NOT IN THE SAME LEAGUE as the JC1’s, pass labs, Krell 402e, etc.

EMOTIVA SA250: I was actually very impressed by this affordable amp. i connected my crazy expensive mcintosh c1100 to this amp and i really was amazed by how it handled my electrostatics. I could say that there were other amps that were far more expensive and yet they couldn’t hold a candle to this amp. It had plenty of everything and i really thought if this amp was made by someone else, they could charge 10 times more for it.


Someone above asked me why i don’t try tubes and i think i pretty much said why above. I just feel tubes are awesome for 2 channel and i probably would have an all tube set up if all i did was 2 channel, but in my situation i need an amp that can excel at both.
As far as the xa30.8, that is one great amp. I think it is the amp you use if you live in a nice studio apartment with a nice pair of focal diablo bookshelves speakers or Dynaudio C1s (or something like those) and you do serious listening late at night without ripping your neighbors walls off. This amp will give you every ounce of detail and 3 dimensionality that you wish to have, but IT IS NOT a monster and dynamic amp as the 350.5 or 250.5. or 250.8. The xa30.8 is a very intimate sounding amp. It is not the amp that will make your jaw drop when you let it blast as loud as you can handle. That is when you purchase the x250 or x350.
i want to be very honest, and i want to put this out there. i find the XA pass labs amps to be amazing amps, but you WILL BENEFIT from having speakers with powered woofers such as martin logan electrostatics, goldenear triton 1s,etc. In my personal opinion, the best amps to come from pass labs are the CLASS A/B amps. Any X series amp to be specific. They just have outstanding slam and will knock you back in your chair when you crank them up. Up until this day, i still have not heard a better slam and dynamics than the pass labs x series whether it be the .5 or .8.

One last thing i wanted to say is that i am writing this out for all of you who are looking to gather as much info as possible in order to make a smart buying decision. However, my reviews here are based on my own experience and not what some reviewer got paid to say on a magazine. i don’t get paid, i don’t make anything from this. It is just my passion/hobby. Some of you will recommend other amps from brands that nobody has ever heard of or that are so unknown that i simply won’t dare to buy. Why? because as you can see i go through amps almost on a weekly basis and i also need to be able to sell them when i want to try the next amp. Does this mean that i am missing out on a lot of other amps? i am sure i am, but i am also being smart about my buying decisions. Essentially the sale of each amp finances my next amp purchase. i can’t buy an amplifier that i simply can’t sell for 3, 4, 6 months etc.
One more thing i was thinking about doing was to give my opinion on processors. I have owned quite a few as well and can certainly give my personal opinion on many of these, but that will come later.
Anytime you see something that i am selling, rest assured it is only because i am looking to move on to the next thing and not because there is something wrong with it. I could be totally in love with an amp today and think it is the best I’ve owned, but i will still move on from it when something else catches my attention.
In the meantime, i will continue listening to these 601s.
cheers!
the XPR monos were on my bucket list, but they are long gone now so that won’t happen anymore. I almost bought a pair of xpa-1 the other day, but i just didnt do it because i am still playing with the mc601s.
What i think emotiva benefits from besides what you mentioned above is from an excellent source and preamp/processor. I think my mx160 processor (which i am selling on here) sounded spectacular with these emotiva amps. I tried other amps i had here and i honestly couldn’t tell them apart. The mx160 made those emotiva amps sing amazing. People sometimes underestimate the importance of a quality preamp or processor. Right now, i am a believer in a tube preamp with a solid state for a 2ch and home theater application. It is tough to beat. 
All-
Starting with the bhk300s and below that list above, I've used the Martin Logan Renaissance. I no longer own the c4s because the minute I heard the Renaissance, my jaw dropped and went home and immediately listed my c4s. It was a day and night difference. 
As far as the krell amps that someone mentioned above, no I haven't heard those. I don't find krell to have the bass that magazines rave about. I've had a lot of krell amps and NO OTHER AMP in my room gave me more slam than the 350.5 or 250.5 or the jc1s. Those are my top 3 amps when it comes to bass. 
Pass labs x350.5 demolished my krell 402e in bass and midrange. The krell sounded flat and had zero fullness. The 250.8 is better than the 350.5 
I keep saying it again, if you want slam and dynamics with fullness to the sound then you should stay away from the xa series from pass labs. Those are amazing amps but they are more for classical or instrumental music or if you like amazing midrange. They don't give you the bass attack or punch that some of us like. 
As far as how I can do this and constantly buy and sell amps, I am very well connected and have had tons of relationships with many dealers. I have long and good standing relationships with them so there is no problem there. i also send them many of my friends to buy from them. 
Ottablue, I am glad you liked the 250.8. I told you it was killer !! Glad you bought it from me and I didn't really have enough time with it but it was enough to hear a massive improvement from all other amps I've owned. 
I just got finished listening to the Mcintosh mc452 and will list it for sale soon. Review coming !
I'm probably never going to buy that brand . As stated above, I purchase amps that I don't have a hard time selling down the road. I'm sure there are many amps out there that are excellent but being that this is an expensive hobby, I can't buy something that I can't get out of once I'm done with it. Another perfect amp that I'm curious about would be the Magnus audio line of amps. Those are on my taste buds but after doing serious research and talking to a few well known people, that's an amp you buy and keep because it won't sell and that's not something I'm willing to do. 
How about you all think of me as the guy who spends his own money to try amps and give his personal opinion so that you all don't have to spend your own money going around trying all sorts of amps ? Isn't that great for most of you ? At the end of the day you all come on these forums doing your own research about a component you are curious about trying so my thread does exactly that. It gives you preliminary information about an item you are unsure about. I leave my feedback and you guys do your own analysis as to weather what I say makes you reconsider your next amp choice or it just confirms that you are buying the right amp. 

Agreed Bill. Plinius is grea stuff but not everyone is going to be spending the extra money to upgrade their electrical system etc. Plinius should think about these things. To me, the 100mk3 was better sounding with my dynaudio c4s. The bass was better. 
Nothing beats the pass labs 350 or 250 in terms of bass though. It's a game changer. I felt as if all of a sudden the bass was more energized and deeper without me touching anything else. 
Pass labs is the top of my list at this time. Overbuilt, amazing in every way but they do run warm and don't fit in racks so there's a compromise there. 
No i haven't. I've only had the theta dreadnaught d and It was ok. 
It's not so much about bass but rather the fullness in sound. There's nothing more that I hate than an amp that sounds thin and costs tons of money. I like fullness and huge soundstage with the right oomph when needed. A good analogy would be that I don't buy a mustang so that it sounds like a Honda Civic with a muffler when I put the pedal to the metal. I like muscular full sounding amps with enough enough sparkle up top so that I don't get ear fatigue. 
They have powered woofers and yes you can hear the change in bass tone as you change out amplifiers. I noticed this when I owned Montis. Contrary to popular belief, the Martin Logan electrostatics have powered woofers that let you hear more bass if the amplifier has better low end punch. Please refer to the stereophile review of the montis where they can validate what I am stating here. The bass improves and sounds as if you went to the back of the speaker and turned the dial up a few notches.
After I sold the montis, I tried salon 2s, goldenear triton 1s, B&W 800s, dynaudio c4s, and almost owned the klipsch palladium 39f but one day I decided to go and listen to the Renaissance. They were connected with a simaudio preamp and stereo amp and I used my iPhone with a crappy RCA cable and streamed Spotify which is a mediocre source. Well, my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe what I heard. I have ran these Renaissance in full range mode while watching movies and turned off both of my JL audio fathoms and the Renaissance destroy the JL audio subs. They just do everything right. 
Unfortunately, my reviews going forward will be with electrostatic speakers since i have no intention of selling my Renaissance speakers in the near future. For now, here is the review on the MC452:

Mcintosh MC452: TONS OF POWER. It doesn't run out of steam and has enough juice to satisfy any sort of demanding speaker. I also will say that it has very nice detail up top with nice separation. It has enough bass, but it won't match the pass labs or jc1s, but that does not mean it sounds thin either. It actually surprised me enough to say it is a good overall well rounded amp. If you have laid back speakers, THIS IS THE PERFECT AMP to bring them alive. As far as looks, well this is as good as it gets. Mcintosh just looks very pretty regardless of where you place it. I don't think i have been so complimented on how beautiful my looks after i brought Mcintosh gear a few weeks ago. 
Rob,
if you are coming from jc1s and need that type of juice, go for the 350.5 or .8. 
As far as the comment about my selection of amps due to resale value or marketability, yes that's what I choose. This is a hobby and I'm not in it to lose money when I can avoid it. I post my experience here for you all to use it as additional feedback and nothing else. Just because I haven't auditioned an amp that you think is better doesn't mean I wouldn't. Just feel free to send it my way and I'll pay return shipping back to you. As I stated above, I won't try an amp that I can't sell without sitting on it for many months. I like to be able to bring an amp in my home, use it, audition it and then sell it and use that same money to finance my next purchase. So far, I have pass labs as king of the hill. If one day I want to go back to it, it's only a phone call away. As simple as that. That said, right now I'm playing with my mc601s and already making calls to bring in a 350.8 or Bryston 28bsst2. 
I will continue to use my electrostatics for another year or so. One thing you all need to remember is that I don't get paid for this like reviewers do in order to hype a product. Don't believe everything magazines write because I was guilty of that and learned the hard way. For example, the krell 402e got praised as having massive bass which I never heard at all. The most bass I've ever heard was from the 350.5 followed by the jc1s and 250.8. Every other amp was on a separate tier groups in regards to bass. 
I'm about seconds away from bringing back neoliths .... I keep struggling with regular sized speakers. It's like riding on an Escalade and then you hop on a Toyota RAV4. Impossible to forget the massiveness of the big boys. 
Hi all, 
happy holidays to everyone. i have once again abandoned this thread due to family time and work. i read what was asked after my last post on this thread and here are a few things i can say:

No i have not heard any Coda amps. I did get some feedback from someone i know who claims they are very good amps for the money and they sound very musical ( i trust his ears). 
As far as the anthem p5, i did own it and it is a tank. That said, i find ALL ANTHEM amps to sound sterile, cold and very lifeless. They seem to have plenty of power, but they are not amps that can be really enjoyed in terms of 2 channel. They are more targeted to be part of a home theater set up. Again, that is my personal opinion based on my prior experience with the anthem P5. 
Some of you have asked that i should mention what i own in terms of components so you can get a clear understanding and here is what i own right now:
Speakers:
Martin Logan Renaissance (sold 2 weeks ago)
Monitor Audio Pl 300 Platinums
Revel Salon 2s
JL audio Gothams
Jl audio F113s

Preamps:
Classe Audio CP800
Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp
Mcintosh C2500
Mcintosh C52

Processors:
Mcintosh mx161
Mcintosh mx122
Krell foundation 4k

Sources:
Cambridge audio 851 network player
Ps audio Direct stream dac with Bridge 2
NAS DRIVE with DSD files

Amplifiers:
Mcintosh MC601s
Emotiva SA250s
Krell Chorus 7200
Classe Audio CA5200

i also ordered a pair of Mcintosh mc275 MK6 tube amps which i will use as monos. My intention here is to hear these puppies in a 2 channel configuration and choose from the different preamps that i currently own to see what sounds best with them. 
I made the mistake of selling my electrostatics and the buyer does not seem to like them. He had never owned electrostatics so he is really not feeling them. I can honestly say i love the electrostatic sound and the reason why i bought these mcintosh mc275s (which will be here next  tuesday) is because i want to try them with electrostatics. i am going to probably either buy another pair of renaissance or just a pair of 13a which are smaller and probably easier to live with. 

Someone above asked if the emotiva is in the same conversation as a pass labs 250.8 or 350.5 and my answer is no it is not. It is a hell of an amp for the money and i have verified this by using my different preamps with those amps and i am always impressed at how much bang for the buck they truly are. That said, pass labs is pass labs and in my opinion they are really the best for electrostatics aside from tube amps. 
As far as my Mcintosh mc601s, they are good amps (beautiful looking too), but they are no pass labs in terms of OOMPH. 
One thing to remember is that i have previous experience using a tube integrated to drive my renaissance speakers and they seemed to simply get lost when watching movies. What i can say so far (without listening to my mc275s in mono mode yet until they arrive) is that tube amps for some reason tend to pull back the sparkle and detail that exists in movies which tends to make the front speakers not "jump" as much as the rest of the speakers. It is a weird effect to say the least, but i will be able to test this out once again but now with 150 watts per channel rather than 75 and see if the extra power makes a difference.
I want to say to everyone that i always have a lot of audio equipment that i go through and that i end up selling not because i hate it or i don't like it, but rather because i am simply looking to try something else that caught my eye. i have vast experience with many pieces of equipment and everything i say here is because I ACTUALLY have owned it and not something that i just read about on the magazines which i don't trust to begin with. i have read sooo many glowing reviews on different things and i ended up buying them and was truly disappointed. The point i am trying to make for you all is that you should not believe everything you read about audio. Let your ears be the judge. 
If anyone is interested in anything i currently own just message me. i can give you my honest advice and opinion and i won't sell you anything that i don't think will take you in the right direction. i have received a lot of messages from people who were misguided by their dealer or magazines and are looking for true hands on advice. i am glad to take you in the direction you want as long as you have the budget of course. i won't transform your stereo to sound like a $100k sound system with only a 3,000 dollar investment so let's be a realist first. however, i  can guide you each step of the way so that you don't have to keep buying more and more equipment and yet you are still not where you want to be in terms of sound. Some of you who are reading this and who have messaged me and i have helped to elevate their listening experience can chime in here and vouch for me.
Happy holidays for you all !! 


The Odeon is the best multi-channel amp there is. The other amp that comes second is the Classe CA5200. The Odeon does run very warm when driven hard just like a pass labs. I used the Odeon with 110v without any issues. 
I have tried both and can't hear a difference. I now just plug them into my furman piece 
Neoliths , sonus Faber Aida, von scheikert vr55, vivid audio g1 s2,.... Hmmm decisions ... decisions..
i just received a pair of mc275s tube amps which I will run in mono mode with my renaissance. I recently bought a second pair of renaissance because after I sold my first pair, I really regretted it. The guy who bought them from me doesn't like them in his room with his set up. Anyhow, I got lucky and bought a used pair locally for a great deal and I'll be using now an all out tube amp and preamp and keep the mc601s in my garage for the time being. I want to focus on a 2 channel set up in the beginning of the next year and just put multichannel on hold. 
Several of you have messaged me asking for advice and purchased a few of my pieces based on what you told me you needed out of your set up. 
i plan to keep venturing and trying more gear next year and share more with you all. I realized that my first passion is 2 channel. That said, I began my journey with movies and have vast experience with many top processors. So far, I feel atmos is great but it's very minimal in terms of improvement unless you have a true dedicated room for it. A solid 7.1 set up is still hard to beat. 
Happy holidays !
quick update:
i just unpacked the mc275s and connected them to the Renaissance and wow.... i think i can go ahead and say that the mc275s are something special.. After 1 hour of use, they sound so beautiful and full with nice midrange and highs. 
Emotiva is a good amplifier. i actually own 3 emotiva sa250 stereo amps and have used them with the mcintosh c1100 tube preamp and they do sound wonderful. Remember one thing though, if you are going cheap with the amps, YOU MUST go higher on the preampfification/ processor. I had the anthem avm60 connected to the odeon and it sounded spectacular. The bryson sp3 with the odeon did not impress me at all though so this is a prime example of system matching. The bryson sp3 is an amazing processor though, but it does not work well with the odeon just like plinius amps don't sound great with electrostatics (too harsh sounding). 
I love plinius and their products are outstanding, but you gotta be really careful with system matching. For now, i am here having a drink and listening to the Renaissance and a pair of mc275s and it is heaven to say the least. Incredible synergy and musicality and to my ears they sound better than the 601s do with electrostatics. 
interesting. i am running them in mono and i love them. i will say one bold statement which is that i prefer the mc275s over my mc601s for electrostatics. It just seems to sound like a perfect match. it is like wine and cheese. Incredible musicality and yes, 75 watts of tube power sound better to my ears than 600 watts of solid state when using electrostatics. Heck, i own 2 pairs of martin logan renaissance right now.. .
Zaks,
pass Labs is still a great amp for electrostatics. In my opinion, tubes are a better match but for 2 channel listening. If you are running a 2 channel and home theater simultaneously then pass is your best bet. Tubes are amazing for music but they don't have the dynamics for movies as solid state does. 
Dave,
I've always wanted to try the 28b model but they are just too pricey and the Bryston brand is whored a bit too much that one never knows when a good deal is really a good deal. I don't buy amps to keep forever. My joy is to keep trying stuff out and write down my findings. This is why I don't go for brands like ayre, certain Bryston models, dan agostino, etc. They just have such a crazy used market value that swings all over in terms of resale value. I'm not in the market to buy an amp and then once I'm done with it, ill have to lose 1,000 dollars or more to unload it. If I did that then I would be living under a bridge after owning 160 amplifiers in the last 2 years. 
Hey Ron,
the classe amps are great but you need to be careful with what speakers you use. I have found them to be somewhat warm sounding and if you have speakers like sonus faber then you'll be disappointed. They need bright or forward sounding speakers to really sound great. The pass Labs amps you mentioned are on another level than the c2200 you want. Pass simply smokes classe audio in my opinion. Classe has gone backwards with their amps rather than forward. I feel they haven't really revamped their amps and everyone has either caught up or surpassed them. It's a shame because their stuff is really well built. 
Hi,
i have zero experience with 350.8. I would say the 250.8 should suffice in most applications plus it's easier to live with than the 350.8. The 350.5 ran really warm and I would never attempt to put it in an enclosure. 
I love pass Labs and maybe that's why I'm planning on purchasing my next pass lab amp (200.8 monos). 
The issue with pass Labs is that it's a tough sale on the used market. I think it's Reno who's really hurting dealers across the board. Pass Labs is a great brand but it just doesn't hold it's value. It really depreciates as fast as an audi does. I still can't understand the used market. Nothing holds value better than McIntosh and b&w. It's like having apple products. 
Not really... anyone who buys it will lose 1,000 or more trying to unload it. Trust me that's not a good deal. Reno offered me one for less than that during Christmas. The 250.8 is the safest amp to invest on. It sells, its popular and not a lot of $. The expensive pass Labs don't move. They sit for years and don't move. Believe me, I've had dealers offer me their demos below cost just to get out of them. 
If you are a person who worries a lot about heat, pass Labs, old krell, plinius, old delta classe are all amps you should never ever consider. Those are heat guns. 
I have just purchased a pair of McIntosh mc2301s tube monoblocks. I currently have the mc601s and a pair of mc275s. I Believe I will be the first person to ever have all 3 amps at once so I will be sure to give you all a complete rundown of my listening impressions. It should be really interesting because pass Labs is stil at the top of my list but the mc275s seem more holographic than the pass Labs were. They don't have the low end oomph that the pass Labs has because it's tube amp but based on everything I've read and consulted with others, the mc2301 is the last amp to own. It's supposed to have the least floor noise than any other McIntosh amp which could make its presentation really amazing.  If the 2301 defeats the pass Labs I owned, I'll be sure to share that. That said, remember I use Martin Logan renaissance speakers so tube based amps will always have more voltage than solid state amps which carry more current. Electrostatics sound better with more voltage than with current which is why I seem to find the mc275s better sounding at normal to moderate levels than pass Labs. However, I also have a different source which I didn't have when I owned the pass Labs amps so I'm sure that's also impacting my listening impressions. 
2 of my buddies heard the mc2301s with some sonus faber 100k speakers and they said that it was Mind boggling what they heard. Just simply better than being at the live presentation. I'll be sure to report back to you all. 
Been a pass owner myself. That said, if you have doubts about my findings or my personal opinions then you can certainly skip over my thread and don't read it. I don't collect a dime from anyone for doing this. Nobody pays me a cent. I buy all this gear with my hard earned money and share my personal views so that audiophiles who don't have the means to buy as much gear as I do can actually read what I have to say and let them make their own decisions. If they doubt me then they don't have to follow my thread. There have been a few users here who share my views on a lot of the amps I've owned. I actually have recommended amps to some
of them based on their goals and they are extremely happy with what I recommended. Some of them even message me directly thanking me for my input because it gave them clarity about a certain amp they wanted to purchase. A perfect example would be to go on all forums and try to find someone who has the McIntosh mc275s, mc601s and mc2301s all at once and provide direct comparisons. Right now pass is king with electrostatics in my opinion but the 2301s are SUPPOSED to best anything out there that is tube based. Again, I can't confirm but I will in about 2 weeks. Please know that this hobby is subjective. Magazines are always hyping up products that pay them nice royalties for doing so. Take stereophile for example. They hyped the hell out of the salon 2s and I thought they were really poor performers. No bass and not exciting. Why would all magazines hype them up ? Well it's simple; Harman international  does tons of advertising on these magazines And talking  crap about their products would mean a loss of revenue in advertising. Makes sense? 
I was banned from the avs forum for a reason. I gave my true opinion on several threads and that didn't sit well with dealers who sell stuff through there including their own sales department. It impacts sales when someone with actual experience in the field makes bold statements about products but I don't care. Im very well connected in this industry and can snap my fingers and I get calls for good deals because dealers need money to pay bills and guess what? High end gear doesn't exactly fly off the shelf but bills keep piling up. This is how I have been able to remain on top of this hobby and in other aspects of my life. Remember, at the end of the day I'll tell it like it is. You wanna know why? Because  I don't have anything to lose. 

Constellation versus gryphon :

https://youtu.be/TajuT4o70wc

Enjoy and leave me your comments on YouTube!
So in order to avoid any issues with a comment I made about women on my video , I have decided to take the video down. I have to keep in mind that although there is "freedom of speech " , it is really still frowned upon to say certain things. I don't feel like editing anything out so if you got to see the video then great. 

As far as luxman, I'm in talks and could potentially bring one 900u which could be the return of an amp I've owned before. Can't make promises but you never know. 
For those of you who love to assume , the constellation stuff is already packed up and ready to ship to its new owner before I even released this video. 
As far as Gryphon, we shall see what I end up deciding. For now, it's staying until .... 
@blumartini 
Thank you for your comment above. 
I’ll edit the video and upload later. I was being "unfiltered" so my apologies to you all. I thought it was only men watching !!! I deserve to take a punch for the team !
My apologies to all ladies!
Cheers
Over 150 amps owned in the last 3 years. From pass Labs, classe, krell, bryston, simaudio, ati signature, theta digital, nad, Cary audio, Plinius, and many more I can't remember right now. The McIntosh mc2301 tube amps have totally distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. They are in first place and everyone else fights to earn my second place vote. For right now, the mc2301s have unquestionably destroyed the rest of the amps that I've had the pleasure to listen to. They are more neutral than my mc275s and won't make a crappy recording sound amazing but they will make a good recording sound spectacular. 
McIntosh 2301s are without a doubt more engaging and holographic. I can hear the artist take a breath between each pause. The midrange is MASSIVE to the point that words that used to be mumbled in certain songs are now CLEAR and articulate. These amps put the artist in the middle of your living room. They are VASTLY superior to the mc601s I had to the point that they make the 601s sound anemic and compressed due to the fact that the 2301s throw a large soundstage. I began to dig up music from the 90s and 80s that I heard when I was a kid and I almost don't even recognize the songs because of how much detail that was uncovered by these amps 117db SN ratio. They are a mc275 but with a big turbocharger attached to it that makes them sound unreal. At this point, I am going to begin researching all preamplifiers from all manufacturers and hopefully find a superior preamp. I know these amps can give me more and although I am happy with them, I wonder if my preamp is a bottle neck. 
With all that said, I have my top 4 for electrostatics:
1. Mc2301s (#1 by a huge margin)
2. Mc275s 
3 pass Labs 250.8
4. Pass Labs 350.5
Hi,
unfortunately you won't get all those things when you are using a receiver as your preamp. Save your money and replace that thing with a better processor. I think the best processor out right now is the McIntosh mx160. Amazing machine but a big cost for sure. If you need something cheaper then look into a bryston sp3. Forget about buying amps when you have a weak source. 
Gryphon versus constellation
Coming...
McIntosh 207 doesn't touch the Odeon. Odeon is the best multi channel amp there is. Period 
Sure. I'd be happy to audition it. Message me directly. 
Send me a private message 
The big update i have is that as many of you know, I find the weak link in my set up to be my preamp. I tried the c2500, classe cp800 and McIntosh mx122. So far, I feel I can get more out of the mc2301s. With that said, I have ordered the reference mark Levinson no52 preamplifier. This would be the most expensive component that I have ever owned at $30,000. Reviews are speaking as if this is the last preamp to own. I can't wait to hear this machine. 
Also, I will be taking a stab at the bel canto m600 monoblocks. These are class d amps and according to a good friend of money who owns far superior gear to what I own, he claims the bel canto will kill my mc2301s. I don't personally believe it but coming from his mouth is certainly enough to make me want to try them out. I don't personally like class d amps because I find them too fatiguing but I have not tried these and they are supposed to be amazing and smooth so here I go again. If these bel canto which retail at 6,000 per pair can take out the $24,000 mc2301s, this will be the biggest upset to my audiophile ears. I simply don't think this will be the case but if they do, I will have to completely redo my set up. 
Stay tuned, things are just about to start getting interesting. :)