Which line of Vincent Power amplifiers are you looking at? I've had a McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe but not the SMc audio modded kinds and I found I really enjoyed the Vincent Audio SP-993 amplifier over the DNA-1 Delxue.
I think the latest generation from Vincent Audio is the SP-994.
If you can get a DNA line of amplifiers already modded by SMc Audio. It is a long waiting game though. If you can find them used are a wonderful value and sound awesome from what I read.
I don't know if these are a step over the Aragon 4004 Mk2 you have but they could be different in sound.
Another thing that came to mind is that with Vincent Audio stuff I'm not sure how much support there is here stateside for them or if they have any dealers other than online sellers. If something goes wrong with the amp you may be in trouble. With SMc Audio modified McCormack amps there is support available from Steve McCormack himself and Kris Jeter.
The Vincent power amp when fully burned in has very defined,deep bass with slam, It is a hybred amp, solid state/tube amp, you also attain tube magic with the vincent amp, The vincent gear is the best bang for the dollar I know of out there, I got rid of a $6,350.00 dollar digital player for the $2,800.00 vincent cd-s7 player, The vincent digital player has a 3-dimensional sound that the more exspensive Ayon cd-2s player could not come close to, cheers.
I was considering the DNA 1 there is also the virginia series 225. So lets day I have $2000 to 2500 go in the used market. I Van Alstine is another option as well.
I'd go with the known entity the SMC. As for Audiolabyrinth's suggestion on a Vincent I never had heard of the brand until he had told me about the CD-S7 and after talking to the importer it was discontinued b/c it was not a good seller (to me meaning no one liked it). I have listened extensively to an Ayon CD-2S and all I can tell you is it was fantastic! Almost bought one myself it was that good.
Stick with the SMC you can not go wrong.
@ Sksos1, Steve, I am sorry I have to correct you on the vincent cd-s7 player, This unit started on the market in 2009, had a 5 year run, was the top tube unit seller for ws distributing, two weeks ago, I bought the very last one available that audio-visor saved for me, I am doing some modding on the player that is profound, like internal Tara labs wireing, furetech cryo treated top model XLR out-puts, The Furetech FT-785M, as far as I know, there is no better XLR out-put on the market, This modd alone will be more profound than any tube rolling!, I am also breaking-in the Tara Labs cobalt power cord special order with Oyaide top model IEC and Plug termiated at the Tara Labs factory connected to the Vincent cd-s7, with the Tara Labs Zero Gold with HFX grounding station 1-meter Balanced interconnect connected to the Vincent cd-s7 player, I also want you to know, The vincent in stock form was substanialy more musical and real sounding than the Ayon cd-2s ever dreamed of being!, why do you think I bought another one of these players the second time for?, Good to see you, cheers.
I had an SMC "Gold" version amp. It sounded wonderful, one of the best SS amps I have owned right alongside a Plinius SA-102. Ultimately though, I am a tube guy so I sold the amp.
McCormack no question. I called to ask some questions before mine arrived, Steve McCormack answers his own phone, and takes his time explaining things. You just don't get that kind of service many places ! ! !
Getting back to Jed's comment though, would anyone want to venture if the SMC is/should be better than a 4004 mk II?
I checked the archives and found an old discussion post regarding Aragon vs. McCormack.
It may shed a little light on the topic at hand. McCormack got the nod in the previous discussion.
Things may have changed though. Sorry if you saw this thread already.
The speakers are my own build, Hybrid open baffles around 88db, 3 way design (doesn't tell you much, I know :(
It seems that most people are saying that a modded DNA will outperform a Aragon. In other circles it was suggested that I look at something "newer" such as Parasound.
My guess is others are saying Parasound because of the cost and the Parasound is newer I believe. If you were to acquire a DNA-1 in stock form it will run you $750 to $950 shipped depending on your luck/patience nowadays. Then to have it sent to SMc Audio for modifications which will run you $1500 to $2000 depending on the level of modification you desire. So you may be in the $2200 to $2900 range on money spent.
A new Parasound Halo A21 goes for $2650 shipped from Audio Advisor. You get a newer designed amp but to me an SMc Audio DNA-1 is pretty much re-built from the ground up so it is new IMO once you get it back from them.
I'm thinking I'd go with the SMc Audio modded DNA-1 for the customer service as well as the experience of many others who have had glowing reviews of SMc Audio modded gear.
Aragon is still in business I believe. Do they modify or restore the older line of Aragon amps? Maybe they can modernize your 4004 MK2?
Steve McCormack provides some of the best support in the business. His modded amps are among the best SS amps i have ever heard. Disclaimer- I'm now a "tube" believer, so haven't heard too many ss amps recently.
You know, just for a different set of options...have you thot about some of the class d amps? I had a DNA 1 w/ what was called the Rev. A mods for close to 15 years and they are indeed great amps and Steve is super to deal w/. But I took the jump over to class d w/ the Wyred mAmps and couldn't be happier. Like the DNA they are passive friendly to boot. Just a thot.
It's now Indy Labs. From what I remember they don't mod the 4004 only because they are onto newer stuff now.
You pretty much nailed the discussion on the head regarding the new/old and $$. It came down to some people saying, if you are going to spend $2500, just look for a newer amp on the used market to not futz around.
Is the new Aragon stuff from the guys who used to be Mondial? I had an Acurus A250 that now defunct Mondial fixed a couple of times...I suppose I could look that up...also, I hope Audio Advisor knows people who can work on Vincent stuff in case my Kavent (re-badged Vincent) preamp ever gets sick.
Buying an un-modded used McCormack amp and then modding it is not a good idea. Better to wait for a Rev. A or Gold level modded amp and buy that used so you get big discounts on both the amp and the mods. My experience is they don't need much service, but if they ever do you know they're very well supported. The bonus is that you can buy one used and sell it for little/no loss if it's not to your liking. Best of luck.
I have 2 platinum+ modded DNA.5 (one is stereo and one is converted to a monoblock).
There really is no weakness in these amps except with 2 caveats...
1. If your speakers require more power than whatever version of McCormack you buy. Amp purchases are all about proper mating with the speaker. Thus, the #1 priority is buying an amp that meets the demands of your speakers. Don't forget though, you can throw an autoformer on speakers and tweak low impedance speakers into something more friendly to drive.
2. If your speakers have challenging impedance curves, which are more suited to amplifiers that can swing voltage more than current. In which case, you should consider a tube amp and not SS amps.
Otherwise, you are crazy not to buy a McCormack product.
There are some Class A and OTL designs that are quite good and you could eek out more performance, but they come with a much higher cost and other trade-offs.
McCormacks give you a modest cost for entry, plus you never have to buy another amp again and pay dealer markup...just have Steve mod it if anything new comes up.
I've had the original .5 for probably 20 years now, but they have been routinely modded and upgraded to still be competitive with virtually everything out there. The parts in mine are far above what I've seen in amps costing 5x as much.
Here's a funny story that also highlights another benefit...I used to have a hardcore dedicated room, but my McCormacks are now used by my wife and 8 yr old in a 3 channel HT setup I created for them. It's huge overkill and my wife almost got me to sell them so she could get an easy to switch on/off receiver, but I couldn't do it. However, I was amazed that if I did sell them, I could get a much higher % of my cost back.
Try that formula with any new amplifier and you will lose tons of money the instance you plug it in.