Bob Carver's Signature products are excellent performers. I think they are far better than most folks give them credit for. They are built like tanks, very good looking, high quality input and output connectors (much higher grade than the non-signature products). I own a Sunfire Cinema Grand signature amp (405w x 5), and I use it for both 2 channel and HT purposes, using separate preamps for each. It has finesse, power, blah blah blah...
I am very happy with mine. I'm not a dealer or have any affiliation with Sunfire. I'm just a satisfied customer. The Signature Stereo would be a great choice to drive speakers that demand a lot of current.
The Lightstar II, which was designed by a team headed by someone other than Bob Carver (Jim Croft) was reviewed in TAS a few years ago by Robert E Greene. REG called it "perfect." I don't know what the Sunfire amps have in common with the Lightstar, but have heard good things about them.
I own the original Lightstar Reference amp and can vouch for its outstanding performance and sound. Rich, tubelike sound without the care and feeding often associated with same, and prodigious power to boot.
I, too, have a Lightstar Reference. Drives my stats with ease. Sounds pretty amazing.
Paulwp and I have the post-Lighstar z modular Carver amps designed by Jim Croft, (who also designed the Carver Amazing speakers.) They are unbelievable performers and a tremendous bargain, to boot, (as only available used.)
They include these models:
Now the whole world knows, Paul. But, no worries mate, as 99% of the folks here are too snobby to consider these.
The Lightstar / Lightstar Reference are both more linear and slightly better built than the Sunfire's. The Sunfire's were purposely voiced to sound slightly more romantic ala the "classic" tube sound. Both series of amps are capable of very good performance if the rest of the system is up to snuff. Even though they are pretty efficient in terms of power drawn vs power out, they can pull prodigious amounts of current if cranking the volume on low efficiency, low impedance speakers. The "standard" Sunfire ( 2 x 300 @ 8, 2 x 600 @ 4 ) can easily pull in excess of 10 - 15 amps, so it would perform best on its' own 15 amp or preferably 20 amp dedicated circuit. The bigger 2 channel Sunfire Signature ( 2 x 600 @ 8, 2 x 1200 @ 4 ) and the multi-channel Sunfire Cinema Grand and Cinema Grand Signature all need their own 20 amp circuit at the very minimum in my opinion.
What these amps excell at the most is performing under difficult conditions without ever sounding stressed. You can push them and push them and they never get nasty, hard, gritty or strained sounding. If you are in need of big power and don't want to break the bank, either of these amps would be good candidates. Sean
Twilo, I heard the Carver Lightstar amp at the Stereophile show in 1996. The system was Carver Lightstar amp, Carver Lightstar passive preamp, Wadia 16 CD Player. Carver AL 3+ ribbon speakers, that had a 10 inch woofer at the bottom. All I got to say, this system sounded unbelievable. It sounded fast sweet and had an amazing soundstage. The bass was great.
I have had a pair of Lightstar II's for years. One of the amps I bought from Jim Croft(the main engineer/designer) off the floor of a Stereophile show when it first came out. He even showed me the proof of the REG review in TAS! The other amp was purchased minimally used. I used them to biamp the Carver Amazing Platinum IV's (until 4 yrs ago when I gave/loaned the Amazings to a friend )and was always happy with the sound. Now I use them to drive my Magnepan 20.1's and the sound is heavenly.
I too believe that Sig600 (havent heard the Lightstar) could be the end point and could go with any high performance speaker at any price paid.
I did lots of vs. vs. of modern D class Wyred4Sound, NuVista, Krell KAV400i, Bryston monos and found that sig600 has sonic advantages over models listed plus is affordable. It works its best in the balanced mode.
I can tell you I am lucky to have the Lightstar Reference ver.1 (2 Ac cords Dual Transformer and built-in line conditioning) not clear on the difference between the original Lightstar Reference, and the newer 2.0? - anyway I drive a set of Magnepan MG1.6/QR (Magneplanar loudspeakers) with all the volume I need with no apparent need for more, and can say I think it's a very good fit, with a wonderful detail and presentation with a very nice soundstage, - and I compared it to the Sunfire Cinema Grand Series as my friend (Rolland at Hi-tech Audio) had the Sunfire at the same time we auditioned the lightstar, they both could drive anything you want with ease, but I did prefer the earlier model Lightstar to the newer Model Sunfire Cinema Grand Series for my Magnepan MG1.6/QR loudspeakers, in a single word I would say the Lightstar was a Fuller sound. And would be Very reluctant to get rid of this Amp. without having something better to replace it.
IME, his 1st Sunfire power amp was a killer. Played especially well (no pun) w/ Vandersteen speakers.
Sunfire Signature 2x600 (2x1200 @ 4 ohms) into my Magnepan 1.7's... I'm not looking to change/upgrade anything... it's great.
Yeah. Where do I find one (or four) of those?:)
Check out the Carver Silver 9t solid state monoblocks.
Try (active) Vertically Bi-Amping a pair of (sereies II or later) Sunfire Sig's to your speakers. OUTSTANDING!!! I have a pair of (series II) Sunfire Cinema Grands Sig's vertically (actively) powering a pair of old school Infinity IRS Beta speakers. I have one 3rd gen. Sunfire Sig. amp and I am waiting to get another, so I can use those to power the Betas and see how they sound compared to the set-up I have now. I also tried Bob's new (180 watts per ch.) Cherry 180 tube mono block Amps on these speakers (Tubes on the miss/tweets & one Sunfire Sig on the Bass), and they sounded pretty damn sweet; however, I tried the dual solid state set-up mention above and ended up liking all the extra power/headroom the Sunfires provided compared to the tubes.
I have yet to hear any of the Light Star equipment.
I have heard Mitcth4t's set-up (four Carver Silver9t amps w/ the O.G. Infinity Kappa 9's) and they too are to die for.