Sounds like you have a kick-ass system. Maybe a few tweaks would make you happy.
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I'm driving my Avalon Eidolons, which have a similar load with a pair of Bob Carver's new AT180s tube mono blocks and a pair of Velodyne 12 inch DD Plus subs crossed over at 36Hz.
I have a large room and this combination does it all for me. They also make a 305 watt version. I honestly can't see myself going back to SS now that there's sensible tube amp that can actually power my speakers.
Thanks for the comments so far.
I have heard of the Carver AT180s and will investigate the 305 watt version.
I did hear the ML 532H driving Salon 2s when auditioning gear. I thought it very good with piano and acoustic music and that it had a clear and uncluttered midrange, but IMO the Plinius is more dynamic and authoritative, especially in the bass.
I use the Salon 1's with a Levinson #532H, and although the sound is to die for, I also felt that a friend's Plinius SA Reference, when used in my system, was slightly better. More bass slam, almost to much, and a tat more musical. The down side is the Plinius was not quite as neutral sounding and double the coin.
I also use an Ayre C5exMP CD player but with an Ayre KX-R preamp.
4425 - I'm glad that you mentioned the dac in JRDG's system.
I should have mentioned that our front end for our 532H/Salon 2 set-up is the Berkeley Alpha Dac 2/Alpha USB combo which, in our opinion, mates perfectly to the Revel/ML 532H combo.
If you enjoy the plinius/revel combo then perhaps instead of changing the amplifier you may wish to hear the combo with an improved source?...such as a Berkeley Alpha Dac 2? Honestly, this approach is likely to yield the result you're looking for.
Thanks for the additional replies.
I like Rowland gear but I think it would be more a lateral move from the Plinius stuff than a major upgrade.
I really like the Ayre C-5xeMP player but will eventually add a DAC to handle computer audio, so good to hear that the Berkeley DAC plays nicely with the Salon 2s.
At this point I am considering either standing pat or possibly adding a tubed pre-amp...
I am using a Krell 402e amp, but the key component that really brings the music to life is the BAT Rex preamp that I am using. The solid state amp with the tube pre is really a most musical combination. the sound is never tiring, and low level listening is just as pleasurable. I am listening to CDs and SACDs thru a Esoteric K-01. There is no question that these speakers which sound gorgeous, need a powerful, controlled amp. The most recent upgrade which was a startling and huge change was to switch to a complete
Harmonic Resolution System for the equipment and separate platform for the amp. Honestly it was an audible change for the better that was larger than most equipment upgrades.
I went with a BMC S1 to power my Salon 2's. Compared to the McCormack DNA-750 monoblocks I had before the BMC is a significant upgrade. The soundstage is much larger and more defined with the BMC, low level details are much better fleshed out, and it's more listenable for long periods than the big McCormacks were. And from what I'm told, the BMC goes to even another level once the BMC DAC is added, and the DIGM link is enabled which bypasses gain stages in the amp. I'd give BMC stuff serious consideration.
FYI, I bought mine from Ryan at Vapor Audio - he's a dealer for BMC.
"the key component that really brings the music to life is the BAT Rex preamp that I am using. The solid state amp with the tube pre is really a most musical combination. the sound is never tiring, and low level listening is just as pleasurable."
After having the benefits of a tubed pre + SS amp combo drummed into me by both my audio gurus in recent conversations - and with additional reinforcement like yours - I've just committed to taking a plunge into the tubed pre-amp waters.
And there may even be some additional experimentation with a pair of highly regarded mono blocks. The unfortunate part is that in-home empiricism with this gear means cash outlay BEFORE knowing the results of the trial, but that's how it goes.
Details to follow...
I agree it is not easy to execute with stunning results and with proper impedance matching between amp and pre. My recommendation to P59teitel, if he must try a tube preamplifier with his SS amp, would be to demo several ARC models or the VTL 7.5. However, if he wishes to have a warmer/smoother systemm, yet still retain the detail that the Salon 2's are known for, I maintain that it can be achieved by addressing the source/dac - and that route is usually easily well executed.
I have a pair of the Salon 2s. I use ARC to drive them - a combination consisting of the ARC Ref5SE and the DS450. In my 16X19X9 room, the DS does a very nice job driving the Salon 2s.
I have considered moving to the DS450M (monos) but I'm not sure if this is a worthwhile upgrade. Have also considered a couple of other options - ARC Ref250s (not sure if these would struggle with the Salon 2s), Pass 600.5, Bryston 28 SST2s, and a few others. But frankly, the DS450 is doing a pretty good job right now.
The new (to me anyway) tube pre-amp has arrived - the Symphonic Line "The Enlightenment."
This beat the pending arrival of a new set of RCA interconnects and power cords to arrive (was using balanced ICs and the Plinius M8 pre-amp is 240V). So right now I'm stuck using $7 Rat Shack ICs and a power cord from my Pioneer plasma display. Not exactly audiophile grade stuff, yet I can already hear a significant improvement over the Plinius pre. The treble is much more detailed and realistic, yet more relaxed and pleasing to the ear. The mids have seen a like improvement as well, and my one concern that bass weight - perhaps the best attribute of the M8 - might be diminished has proven unfounded.
The soundstage width has shrunk a bit but I'm thinking the new ICs will expand that back out. In any event it matches up very well with the Plinius SB-301 power amp and so far I'm extremely happy with the way it meshes with the Salon 2s.
But I'm guessing I'll be even happier when I hear it with the SL Kraft 250 monos that should also be arriving soon. What the hell, a new car can wait until next year...
The SL pre-amp has been in place for ten days and the new ICs are starting to break in, so a few observations can be made.
The Plinius M8 did quite a few things well, including deep bass with authority, good macro-dynamics, a quiet background and a wide soundstage.
The SL tubed pre-amp improves on all of those things except the dead quiet background, and even there I can't hear anything unless I stick my ear 18" away from the speakers, which is a big who cares. But the improvements don't stop there.
There is a plainly more natural sounding mid-range, and a far more detailed that is less fatiguing treble at volume. Micro-dynamics are much improved and more life-like - you can hear much deeper into ensemble playing and I'll be interested to hear how symphonies sound once the ICs are fully broken in. The soundstage is deeper and layered.
Overall, I find it just slightly on the warm side of neutral but not at all rolled off or overly polite. And it does not lack attack - drum hits and aggressively plucked notes are dramatic and vivid, and music does not sound at all slow.
None of this is to say that the Plinius M8 is not a solid pre-amp. It is, and during the time it has spent in my system it has performed very well. But the Symphonic Line is a substantial upgrade and gets me closer to my ideal of what music should sound like.
Would you be willing to burn a copy of the Alpha USB Win 7 drivers for me and send them to my address? I will compensate you for your time! I contacted Berkeley and they're on holiday until September and I need to install the Alpha USB for a customer ASAP! Any help out there would be greatly appreciated...
Update - the Symphonic Line Kraft 250 monos have been in my system for two weeks now. While they didn't even have 100 hours on them when they arrived and so are still breaking in/settling in a bit, I can say that they are stunning with the Salon 2s.
Detailed high end without fatigue, amazing dynamics and micro-dynamics, extended powerful bass without bloat or boom , plucked instruments sound like they're really being plucked, and vocals are smooth without being euphonic. Fast as all get-out too.
Really though the best thing I can say about them is that they simply produce the music so that you can listen to it without hi-fi considerations intruding into your consciousness - I know that sounds a bit New Agey but I don't know how else to say it. I also don't know why they aren't better known over here.
Actually I can kinda guess even though I'm no marketing expert: no USA advertising or show appearances, confusing English-side website, odd nomenclature for gear, and Mr. Gemein's apparent penchant for not providing the kinds of technical measurement we Americans crave. Be advised for example that the nominal 250 watts into 8 ohms output designation is essentially meaningless; these puppies drive my Salon 2s louder than my Plinius SB-301 with a stated 310 wpc does.
Despite all that, the product is "until death do us part" incredible and is well worth investigating in the top tier of solid state amplification. Thanks to Klaus Bunge, the Symphonic Line USA rep (and Odyssey Audio principal), for alerting me to their availability when I called with an inquiry about the history of the SL tube pre-amp I ended up getting. I thought he was over the top when he gushed on and on about the Kraft 250s, but after two weeks of listening to them I can say that his enthusiasm was entirely justified.
As a Revel Ultima Salon 2 owner I would like to chime in despite the fact that I am late to the party!
My setup includes Weiss DAC 202 -> GamuT D3i pre and Gamut D200i.
Can't say I have auditoned many systems with Salon2's to make comparison, but...the sound this system reproduces, to me, is akin to $100K systems I happen to listen in high end audiofests that I have been to.
And I would like to disclose I have no commercial relationship with any brand I've cited above.