need amplification help for sonus faber amati

Hallo everybody,

I was lucky to get a pair of SF Amati speakers.listening to them with a McIntosh mc402 and a preamp McIntosh c2200 does not satisfy me. I feel that the Amatis are just perfect for my ears but I need to amplify them better. I would like to find an amplifier and Preamp combination that makes them disapear completely. also I need a second hand combination under 10k € for money reason.
What is out there, a little bit older but still reliable (tube or solid state) that you would recommand to have a big soundstage, lots of details and enough power.
Thank you for your help,
greatings from Paris

I also have two understanding questions:
1- the power rating seems so different between solid state and tube amps. why do I need less watts in tube amps for the same result?
2- what is more responsable for a wide soundstage: the amp or the preamp?
Room size? Placement? Are you using the spikes and are the speakers tilted back a bit? How far away do you listen? These things have a profound effect on soundstage. It also has a big influence on how much amp power you need.

What are your sources? Some create a good soundstage, some not so much. Cabling can also help with imaging or diminish it.

How your speakers are placed and aimed, how far into the room they are, how much distance to the sidewalls, your listening distance and position, how the room is furnished and damped--all these have a profound influence on soundstage and imaging.

Tubes seem more powerful because their distortion curves are progressive whereas solid state amps have low distortion right up to their power rating and then the distortion shoots up like a wall.

When Michael Fremer reviewed the original Amati for Stereophile, he variously used Conrad-Johnson Premier 12 monoblocks, Ayre V-1, and the KR Enterprise VT 8000 as amplification. He was totally smitten by that loudspeaker and didn't really mention differences in what he got swapping the various amps in and out, so they must have all worked at least pretty well. I'd go for an amp with some speed yet smoothness, and good bass extension and control.

Stereophile's measurements indicate that the speakers present a load that requires an amp that's comfortable in to a 4-ohm load. Your McIntosh has separate speaker taps for 2-, 4-, and 8-ohm loads? Try hooking the speakers with the 4-ohm output, and even try the 2-ohm taps as long as you're at it. You may find that the McIntosh is a better match than you thought.
Thank you Johnnyb53. There is a lot of good sens in your answer. I will be mooving in some month and will pay attention to have a good listening room.
So far they are standing in a big room and each of the speakers does not have the same distance to the walls on the side. I guess this does not help.
I have been reading the Michael Fremer review, but as you mentioned, I did not know on what amp he did realy like them.
In Europe I found announcements on resonably priced CJ Premier 12 and I wondered If they would still be considered as a having good bass extention and control. I also have been offered to by a ARC VT200 stereo. What is a better choise.
Last thing: how does the preamp influence the soundstage.

For information: I have Cardas golden reference cables (thanks to Microstrip!), a Cyrus 8x CD player with the external power supply.
I mostly listen to classical music , contemporary music, jazz and improvised music, sometimes a nice pop recording or some so called worldmusic.
I would go with a european amp... since you're in Europe!,
KR Enterprise, Nagra,EAR, Goldmund, FM acoustic... you name it! then, since y4're french: Jadis!!!
You might consider the Gryphon Diablo integrated amp. There are two used ones now on Audiogon below your top price, and both have the right voltage for use in France. You may also be able to buy a used one within the European Common Market (Gryphon is designed and manufactured in Denmark). While the Amatis have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, they dip down to 2.6 ohms, so you want an amplifier that is stable down to 2 ohms and that has enough power to drive the Amatis. I had a pair for seven years, and tried a number of amplifier=preamplifier combinations, both tubed and solid state. I didn't actually try the Gryphon with the Amatis, but have heard them in other systems. In my system, the best solid state amplifier that I used was the Accupahse A-50V, and the best tubed was the VAC Phi Beta integrated.
Daniel, as to what is out there, try:
* yr macintosh as Johnny recommends above;
* a used (it's expensive new)YBA amp & pre if possible
* a used class A Accuphase amp
* if still unsatisfied, try different pre's with your amp -- ss rather than tube.

The CJ 12s should outperform the AR200 -- but don't know about the bass performance...
Lastly, the pre affects sound-stage by introducing -or not- phase anomalies in the amplified signal. However, correct speaker placement is more important. Regards
Thank you all so far. This is great help, but I still would like some more information.
(I definately will try to improve the speaker placement.)
In the above recomandations I find some amps that I don't realy like for the reason of personal tast. The Jadis is to colored "tube" for me, the Gryphon and YBA have a little electronic taste to my ears, Nagra is not open enough and FM to slow. I guess I'm a difficult case.
The old KR enterprise VT8000 are suposed to be great. I never had a chance to hear them. Does anybody know if their more recent models are as good? the don't show up in the reviews? They use this strange tube called "Krozilla"!(it seems imposible to find a KR VT8000)
I also never realy had a chance to listen to a good Acuphase or VAC. Can somebody discribe them a little?
Does everybody agree with Gregm "The CJ 12s should outperform the AR200". This would be nice since they are cheaper.
thank you all very much,
Dacapobone, as the Amati appear to belong to the type of speakers that are best driven with a modicum of stout control, you may also consider some higher end class D amplifiers. Am particularly fond and familiar with the Jeff Rowland 312. I use them to drive a pair of Vienna Mahlers with great success, which are also somewhat difficult to drive with many amps because of their reasonably wild impedance curves. I have written a discussion of the 312 on The Absolute Sound 188, as a sidebar in my review of the Vienna Mahler speakers.
In my experience, some switching class D amps can sound as refined as amps of any other class. . . and they have the great advantage of generating almost no heat. . . and of driving difficult loads with great ease.

BTW, does 'bone' stand for posaune?

Saluti, Guido
former Amati Homage owner, I have tried many amps on them and I agreed with Denmark Sonus Faber importer the best sound was achieved with BAT VK-75SE/150SE. not Rowland, Pass, ARC, Sonic Frontiers, McCormack, Accuphase, and a few others I can't recall now.
I guess Guidocorona knows who I am, the mask has fallen. Yes I am the german trombone (posaune) player that lives in Paris you are propably thinking of. (I will send you an email over audiogon to find out who you are and how did you guess.This is not so interesting for the others here.)

About the Rowland D class, I think they are very good but I have the feeling the D class amps, including Rowland, give what I would discribe a liquide sound instead of an airy one. I prefaire more air between the instruments. longer listening seems more tyering to me with the Ds

Concerning the BATs, I have never heard any. What I read is that they are indeed a very good choise for the Amatis, but in a big room I would need the VK-150SEs. Is this true? Those are too expensive for me.
The big room also gives me a little doubt about the souperiority of the CJ premier 12s over the ARC VT200?
I will see if I find a chance to listen to some BATs.
Go to your own people... "Pathi"

Read my review

Note, at the head of the review the price is not $5,500 each, but at the time per pair! This is very affordable, and very effective, as well as aesthetically pleasing in every respect.
Hallo Douglas,
thank you very much for the review. Those "Pathis" realy look nice and special and I believe thats what they sound like.I will try to find a place to listen to them in Paris, France (they are Italien).Here comes the BUT:
I don't think they work for the Amatis in a big room.
As you reported :
"Gianni made clear to me that the unit was not intended for driving 4-ohm speakers in bridged mode. The unit would handle 8 ohm speakers easily, but was not officially rated for 4 ohms. The concern was to not overwork the transformer. He warned me that pushing the amps too hard could result in damage."
Kusina informed us above here "While the Amatis have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, they dip down to 2.6 ohms, so you want an amplifier that is stable down to 2 ohms and that has enough power to drive the Amatis."
Thank you any way.
Dacapobone, speakers dipping down to 2.6 Ohms is not unheard of.

Gianni was being cautious as the specs for selling them did not officially state their use for 4 Ohms bridged, but I have used them in that capacity and have never had an issue. No clipping, no distortion, etc.

Now, I do not try to listen at "live" levels for long periods. I do not want to stress the ears, but caress the ears.

What size room do you consider "big"? My room is 13'x23'x8', and the amps push the sound so easily that I believe the speakers could be put in a room twice the size and the level doubled.

If you are going to consider the Pathi you definitely should go with the MkIII version as the voltage seems to be higher than with the other two versions. I noticed a dramatic improvement in the power available with the MkIII version. I have driven large floorstanding speakers such as the Legacy Focus HD - note it's Impedance dips to 3.2 Ohms - with EASE. The amps do not even break a sweat. I listen often with the digital readout (which goes to 100) at less than 30. Push past 40 and the sound would drive me out of the room!

Just looked at the specs of the Amati Anniversary - sensitivity of 92 dB! PERFECT! You should not be scared at all by this speaker with these amps. Unless you are a maniac with the volume. If you listen at lower levels you will never have an issue; if you listen at moderate levels then you will almost certainly not have an issue. If you crank the sound to high heaven then... well, it's your issue as you'll likely go deaf as well!

I would not hesitate to put my Pathi on these speakers and I would run them at moderate levels easily. Note that the Legacy Audio Focus HD (I just upgraded to the SE version, and I believe the sensitivity is 93dB.) I used extensively is very similar specs to the Amati (4 Ohm nominal impedance and above 90 dB sensitivity.

I have run these speakers for hours at moderate levels without the slightest strain on the amps.

At the very least, tell the audio salon you will visit in France to set up the Pathi (mono block!) for you and put some speakers with similar characteristics on them. Judge for yourself. I'm guessing you will be impressed at how much ooomph these have.

How's that for good news for you? :)
Thank you Douglas,
I do not listen to music on a super loud level, but I do aprechead recordings with little compretion, true double or tripple pianissimos and real fortissimos (for example Mahlers 10th symph. Rattle / Berlin phil., great recording quality!!!). I will try to listen to the Pathos when I get a chance.

The person who is proposing me to by his ARC VT200 will propably have the possibility to bring them, so I can try them in situation saturday. If the result is convincing I will buy those. I can always look for better later.
Of cause I will spend all evening Friday to improve the placement of the speakers.

This does not mean I am not interested anymore in this forum! There are still some unanswered questions:
1.What I read is that they are indeed a very good choise for the Amatis, but in a big room I would need the VK-150SEs. Is this true? Are the VK-75SE to small to have real orchestral fortissimos at some points? Is there anyone in France reading this that can propose a listening with the BATs and any bigger speaker?
2.Does everybody agree with Gregm "The CJ 12s should outperform the AR200". This would be nice since they are cheaper.
3.I also never realy had a chance to listen to a good Acuphase or VAC. Can somebody discribe them a little? Somebody has a precise model in mind?

This is the first time I put a question on this Forum and I aprecheate very much the quality and diversity of the answers. Thank you all very much so far already.
Dacapobone, you won't go wrong with any of the brands you list. Enjoy the hunt for the amp! :)
I would consider Unison Research Mystery as a good match for SF
Doug, is right on with his comments on the monoblocking of the Pathos integrated. THey do a qreat job with my Sonus Faber speakers and don't even have any problem in a very, very large room 15 wide by 30 long. I bought the monoblocks after reading his review on dagogo and he was absolutely right. Two of them do a great job! rudge
I am driving my SF Guarneri with a pair of Gryphon pre/power combo with great success, and integrated from Gryphon could also serve you well.
I own the Strad's and 2x Mac MC2102 tube amps are very nice. A lot better than the SS Mac amps IMO.

If you can't find s/h in Europe, I would contact audioclassics and have them convert the voltage and ship over to you.

good luck
Jeff Rowland pre and 2x JR monos
Bonjour Daniel,

I have the SF Strads and have spent many long months considering my options by careful listening, reading, speaking with great A'Goners (like Downunder above), Tuboo, Mihalis, Schorly and others. I recently acquired a Gryphon Antileon. It is (to my ears) a remarkable amplifier who has loved tubes for nearly 10 years straight. I still have CJ Act 2 and Zanden DAC (so still very much a tube person)...but the Antileon has added a pure tonality and limitless power and dynamics (which so far have not gotten 'hard' sounding) with which I am very pleased. I have listened carefully to krell, ARC, CJ (my old amp for 9 years), Jadis, MBL, Levinson, Cello, and others). So far I am still discovering the strengths of this amp as I type this. Hope this one man's opinion is helpful.

See if this review sounds like what you are looking for.
Hi, Daniel
I have to agree with those A'goners recommending the Gryphon amps. I drive the SF Amati with the Gryphon Antileon stereo amp and a Burmester 808MKiii pre and the results are very satisfactory. I had also the same problem as you regarding the "electronic taste" you mention. Since I have other pair of loudspeakers (Audiodata Avancé) I bought a ASR Emitter II HD (which can be bought second hand in for a reasonable price) and I ended driving the SF Amati with the Emitter (power enough, analog sound, elimination of digital glare, etc..).
Best regards