The best mainstream recommendation is a used mint-condition Bryston 4B-ST, it is the best all-around amp out there in this price range (generally can get them for about $1400-1500), has virtually no risk of breaking, and is much better sonically than anything Levinson or Krell in the same price range. More esoteric and less powerful but somewhat more open and dynamic is the BAT VK-200 (about $1800-2000 used), which is vastly better than any Levinson or Krell anywhere near the price.
Couldn't have said it better myself Karls, I think the biggest factor out of the two would be what you are trying to power, but I would rec. the BAT over the Bryston, just my personal preference.
I second Karls thoughts. I have a Bryston 4B-ST, and at their used price, you can't do better. They also carry a 20-year, unconditional, transferrable warranty, and Bryston provides outstanding repair service.
I had both the Bryston 4b-st and BAT VK-200. The BAT was better in all areas and had way better low level resolution. The Bryston ran cooler and had the better warranty, but had really unfriendly speaker connectors.
However, I sold both of them in favor of a Marsh A400. The Marsh is way more neutral and revealing than either the Bryston or the BAT and equally as powerful. The Bryston, in comparison, sounded veiled, dark and sluggish with undetailed (monotone like) bass emphasis; it made the bass notes sound all alike regardless of what music I was listening to. The BAT was a little thin and lean in the midrange, but much better than the Bryston, but not as good overall as the Marsh.
What about Pass X150 about $1900-2000 used. Isn't it better choise? This is a question not recommendation.
First make sure the amp will match up well with your preamp and is suitable to drive your speakers. Try to find a dealer who will let you audition the amp at your place or that will let you return it should things not sound like you want. I have bought used equipment and had good luck with it - you might want to give it a shot. Also, if tubes will work give'em a try. Cary, Rogue, VTL all have stuff in your price range.
There is a EAR 534 tube amp for sale on audiogon. I own one and it is a great amp with a low maintenance design and great looks. It is 50 wpc of pure and clean sound. It is not widely known but you would not be disappointed. Mine has balanced and rca inputs and separate gain controls for each channel - it can also be used in a bridged mono mode for upgrade power when using two amps - retails for 3695 - 3895 - I think the guy has one for 2200 asking. I'm using mine to push Eggleston Andras and it really makes them sing even at its 50 wpc.
With all of these folks clamoring for Bryston 4B-ST's, i might need to check one out. All i can say is that i hope that they are a VAST improvement over the older original 4B's, cuz those were surely nothing to write home about.
As to the question at hand, try checking into some of Nelson Pass' old Threshold amps. They are a phenomenal bang for the buck in my opinion.
Out of curiosity, what are you going to be running this amp with ? Sean
Look into a belles 150A hotrod. Can't do better for the price ($1499 new. about $1000 used). Solid as a rock and has a very smooth sound
Rogue 120 would be a good choice.I heard a 4B-ST today and would take the Rogue over it.
I would go used, personally. You get a much better amp at a significantly lower price. In the $2K price range, I don't know how much power you need, but I'd recommend the Threshold T400 for 150 wpc of pure Class A power. If you need more than this, I'd recommend a Classe CA-300, which is 300 wpc (not Class A).
If you get lucky you may see an Audio Research D400MKIII or a Plinius SA100MKIII for sale on audiogon for under $2K. I haven't heard all the other amps memtioned above but I now for a fact those 2 will beat a Bryston hands down and better any Krell for under $8K. Levinson starts to get really good amps about $3K used. For my money it would be the ARC though.
Hey Thought I Would let everyone know I have a VTL 2 Preamp,
Epos ES-11's, VPI HW19 Jr.& McCormack Phono Drive. I'm changing
speakers later this year.
Risking some negative comments, give a listen to the Creek 5350SE integrated, 85wpc, available from time to time at about $1150 used. If you like it, you can sell the preamp and buy more vinyl! See the Stereophile review, but I'll tell you my Creek/Alon Petite bedroom system sounds darn near as good as my $20k retail living room system.
The best you can get (in my opinion) for that price range if you are considering tubes is the VTL ST-85. You can get a used one for about $900. This Amp is excellent in every way. Great bass, highs and superb vocals and very liquid. I have this matched with Muse Model 2 DAC ( about $450 used with Bessell filter), Theta Data Basic ll ( about $500 used),Plinius 12 pre-amp, Reference 3A La Suprema speakers and Siltech cables. The combination is just amazing. Another one I'm considering is the Manley 50W Monoblocks. Good luck on your search.
If you want waranty and phenomenal sound, you can get a new Musical Fidelity A3cr for around $1500. They are truly wonderful sounding and Stereophile "Class A" (if you care). To me they sound much better than the 4B-st unless you need the extra power (the 4B-ST is the champion in the WATTS/Buck category).
Lots of good suggestions from the cognoscenti! I think the first decision is whether you prefer tubes or solid state. I'm firmly rooted in the tube camp. At CES, Cary unveiled the Rocket 88, 4 KT88s, 20 watts triode, 40 in pentode. They used it to drive a B&W Nautilus 801, to demonstrate how it handles difficult loads...in triode mode!! Most important, it was extremely impressive in delivering the music...$2500.