Shindo stuff is supposed to be world class and they know it, thus are able to charge whatever they want, although they’re simply wires in a box like everything else (well done and well selected components of course)…count on at least a 50% to 60% price reduction if and when you want to sell a Shindo amp. Dennis Had "Inspire" amps and preamps are only available on Ebay generally (sold used elsewhere from time to time), but they’re hand wired masterpieces that cost around $1500 for each component and are considered to be among the finest amps anywhere at any cost, but they’re hard to get…one of his SEP amps is for sale on Ebay now actually, and it’s the latest version (no connection to me and I own one already, but there ya go).
Shindo makes some very good sounding tube gear, albeit, at a fairly stiff price. I think that a good competitive alternative would be Audio Note (uk) gear. They have a wide range of options and prices. The lower price models are quite a decent bargain for the sound they deliver, the pricier stuff being better, but not nearly as good a bargain. Like the Shindo gear, Audio Note's phono stages have only enough gain for moving magnet cartridges and are meant to be used with a step up transformer. As a broad statement, I would say these two brands have a similar sound (which I like).
Whether or not any alternative would sound better to you, would be purely a guess. There really isn't a "tube sound;" the differences in sound between high end tube gear is, to me, much greater than the differences between comparably priced solid state gear.
Given that the Devores are quite efficient and easy to drive, you have the advantage of being able to use low-powered amps. To me, low-powered tube gear sounds much better than higher-powered stuff. I find the O/96 to be a little on the "polite" side and not as lively sounding as I would like. That might mean that they could use the kind of "kick" that an output transformer-less (OTL) amp can deliver. While I have not heard the O/96 with such an amp, it might be worthwhile looking into the lower-powered Atmasphere OTL amp and their very good linestage.
I listened to the o/96's for several hours at my local dealer. Amplification was a Leben CS 300x which is an integrated of 15W per channel (and it totally kicks #*# in dynamics) the sound was pure magic. The Leben is under 4000.00 and saves you buying at least a pair of interconnects. The dealer carries Shindo as well as Leben and Line Magnetic. I don't recall the model of speaker cables.
I believe most Shndo dealers also carry Leben and Line Magnetic products. If possible I'd try to hear all three with your speakers to determine if Shindo is indeed worth the premium (maybe, maybe not). Line Magnetic has gotten excellent owner word of mouth support, in particular their SET 300b, 845 and 805 tube based models.
With your efficient speakers you do have many fine opprotunities to use excellent sounding low/mid power amplifiers. I agree with Larry's comments above, this genre of amps make beautiful music with the right speaker match. Dennis Had amp mentioned by Wolf or say the Coincident Dynamo MK II are lower priced but could be terrific mated with your speakers. Many good options for you.
Also within the Shindo line, there are less expensive options such as the Cortese. (There are two for sale on Audiogon.) I have heard the Cortese (although not with the O/96); and it is a good amp at a more reasonable price than the more expensive Shindo separates. However, as others have noted, within the range of low/midpower SET, there are many options; and the differences among the good ones tend to be smaller than the differences among the different flavors of tubes.
My friend has those same speakers and runs them with a Vosne-Romanee/Corton-Charlemagne combo to great effect. The Shindo gear is gorgeous and certainly sounds fantastic. Are you paying a premium? Probably but it's up to you to decide if it's worth it. Sounds like you have a good dealer to work with take your time auditioning.
Congrats on your new purchase. It's very exciting. First thing to seriously consider is your budget, or what you feel comfortable investing in. Then work within those parameters to get the most performance you can for your money. Everyone thus far has provided you with very sage suggestions.
To add to it I would say check out Rogue Audio - slightly lower price point without sacrificing quality. It would allow you maximize your investment by opening up potential funds in your budget to also invest in cabling, etc.
I have heard the Hera 2 preamp & M180 from Rogue, in Triode Mode hooked into the DeVore Nines with Thales Cabling and it was truly magical. I am sure it would be even better with Orangutan O/96.
What I like about Rogue is that it sounds as good if not better than products 2 - 3 times their price point. They are also very friendly to Tweaks, like tube rolling. The Thales cables are the best cables for the money, hands down.
Something that has not been mentioned , but also very important is that you want to make sure that you have enough in your budget to invest in your Power - whether it be chords, distributor, Outlet or a combination.
I happen to be sitting on an extra pair of Thales RCA interconnects if your interested. I moved into a pair of XLRs.
Whatever you decide - Have Fun and Good Luck
While my entire system is not Shindo, at one time or another, I've demo'd each of the Shindo amps, preamps and Devore O/96 in my home.
When I think of Shindo and Devore, of course the Box Furniture Audio Rack comes to mind......best purchase I've made in years.
Anyway, I have A23 products (Turntable Mat, T2 Step-Up Transformer) as well as the EMT 75th Anniversary Cartridge (perfect match for the A23 Hommage T2 SUT).
I also have Shindo cabling throughout. The A23 cabling is more "easy going," but I preferred the Shindo cabling.
Not sure what kind of music you listen to, but the Cortese is my favorite (and least expensive) SET Shindo amp for Classical and Jazz. With your O/96 speakers, you really would have something special for the price.
Even with my current mono amps, which are more expensive than the Cortese, I have never been able to reproduce strings and wood instruments as I did with the Cortese.
I'd recommend spending more on a Shindo pre-amp (than on the Shindo amp)......they really are that good. I'm taking my Giscours Western Electric 349A pre-amp to my grave!
To avoid a debate, I'm not suggesting that the pre-amp is more important than the amp!
With the high-efficiency O/96, I'd go for the Shindo Cortese and the Shindo Vosne-Romanee pre-amp.
Fell free to send additional questions on Shindo and A23.
I listened to some Shindo gear at Don Better Audio in Shaker Heights, Ohio a few years back. Also heard the Leben gear, Audio Note speakers and Devore Fidelity speakers. I ended up buying a Line Magnetic Audio amp (because that was the limit of my budget), but the Shindo equipment was superb in every way. I think Ken Shindo had passed in early 2014. I can say if I come into mucho dinero I might buy his Shindo/Garrard 301 turntable.
The Shindo and Devore combination with a quality turntable was very, very musical and warm sounding. A very inviting sound that one could listen for days... with that system. I would look at the upper end Line Magnetic gear, since you also get great sounding gear but not as high in price. The LM Audio gear to my ears had a better sound than Rogue, Primaluna or ARC. The LM Audio 218ia and the 219ia SET amps are very musical.
Yes I did. Audio Note and Devore Fidelity are really fine with lower powered tube amps. You cannot go wrong with either brand. I only had a short listening session with the Audio Note speakers.
It’s kinda funny because higher powered tube amps and SS amps with hard to drive speakers sound great, but many audiophiles can miss the marvelous sound often achieved when matching great lower powered tube amps to very efficient quality speakers, like AN.
I also listened to the LM Audio field coil speaker. Just a work of art. Take a look here
..... so beautiful and paired with a good analog front end. HEAVEN!
Jond I think you will really like the AN speakers. What other equipment will you be using??? Also charles1 you are dead on the money, LM Audio gets lumped into the "poorly made Chinese audio products" category. It’s a shame so many audiophiles and audio buffs will make incorrect snap judgements on the company...
Having owned a couple of the Shindo Apetite amps previously, I would like to chime in here. Shindo is nice sounding gear.
However, unless you buy it new from a dealer you will never get original tubes, parts, service or help from Shindo.
It is like some magic club you can only belong to by paying the new entry price.
buyers and sellers beware on the used market.
Muzikat - I can't speak your experiences but that's not entirely true. I bought my Montrachet amp here on A-Gon and it arrived DOA. Johnathan H. the importer worked with me via phone and email trying numerous different things. When all failed he arranged to have the amp go back to Japan and have a full check up top to bottom. It was shipped back to Johnathan who double checked everything before sending it on to me. Baring a Mr. T and a some A23 cabling I've bought all my Shindo gear second hand, only because it's what I could afford at the time. Of course if $$$ was not a concern I'd prefer to support the dealers as I've had great experiences with both Don Better and Matt R. (much less so with Steve at In Living Stereo).
Well in my case I was trying to find the original 6v6 tubes. Which I understand there is a stockpile of NOS 6v6 held by Shindo as that particular one is not made anymore.
I had contact with Shindo Labs. They referred me to the US dealers. I contacted two of them. Neither was interested in helping me, even though I was willing to send in the amp for a full service as well as new tubes.