Solid state amp to replace my Audio Research Ref 150 amp


I have owned an Audio Research Ref. 150 for 4 years, but with tube changes and the heat, I'd like to find a solid state amp that would mate well with my Baby Nola speakers, as well as be 100% reliable and have the great sound my AR amp has given me. The AR amp was originally recommended by the Nola designer, Carl Marschiotta. 

My listening tastes primarily range in jazz, classical, roots music, and Americana such as Jason Isbell. I do like to rock the house occasionally, but I greatly value the finesse I get from the AR 150, as well as the solid bass and dimensionally my amp provides in my system.

I don't want to replace my Audio Research preamp and phono preamp, so I am wishing for a solid state power amp that will fulfill my amplifier hopes, work with my other AR pieces an continue to provide me the pleasure my Audio Research amp has given me.

 I would like to pay less than $8k on AudiogoN.

Comments and suggestions are appreciated.

shaq
An audition is a must before you make a purchase. 
I would suggest that you start with a PASS. Detailed, slightly warm and smooth.
One persons opinion FWIW. 
Good luck and have fun with it.

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/solid-state-pass-labs-xa-160-5-mono-blocks-passlabs-xa160-5-in-great-condition-2016-05-03-amplifiers-72210-little-rock-ar


Make him an 8k offer.


Cheers George

George, note though that one of the OP’s concerns was heat generation. A pair of XA-160.5 monoblocks apparently draws a total of 1200 watts, all the time (when powered up), since it is biased in class A. While the power consumption of his Ref150 is spec’d as 420 watts at idle, and 730 watts at rated output. So the Pass will generate a good deal more heat than the Ref150.

A similar issue would arise with most comparably powerful class A amps, whether tube or solid state.

Regards,
-- Al

Try a Pass X250.8. It doesn't run too warm; my ModWright preamp puts off more heat than my Pass.

Ooops, your right Al, overlooked the heat concern.

But what a great pair of amps for the money, and those line source of ribbons and mid units of his speakers would never sound as good with Pass class A driving them.


Cheers George 

Pass is good.
I'd also look at Plinius amps.

Consider the PS Audio BHK stereo or other hybrid amps.
By switching to Pass or Plinius you will less-likely get rid of heat. They both like to run hot or even hotter than tube amps.
Bel Canto ref1000 monos may come into play for the fraction of your budget.
I used. Big ole Adcom and B&K amps for years to give me my 200watts, but with lots of heat.  I switched to Bel Canto monoblocks and could not be happier. They stay on and stay cool all the time.  I have the 500m, the new 600m is supposed to be the best yet.  You can also get used 500m or 1000 mk2 for a relative song.  i know, they are class D. I have no issues with the sound, but i did get improvements with power cables (Acoustic Zen) and Nordost cabling, especially Heimdall 2 XLR form the preamp.


I've had good success driving Nola Viper Ref IIIs with Lamm hybrid amps. Synergy is tremendous. Heat is not as bad as when I had BAT VK150SEs, but if you leave them on, they will drive up the electric bill! If you want to see the system, it's posted here as "Silence of the Lamms". Cheers,
Spencer 
I own the Plinius SA Reference amp and have owned several other Plinius amps and one Pass 30.5 amp.
I never thought they ran hot! Especially the Plinius.
I just took the temperature of my Plinius amp with an Infrared Thermometer the Plinius has been playing for an hour in A/B mode in an open rack, 83 degrees Fahrenheit.
Granted in A mode it runs warmer, but who listens in A mode all the time?
The amount of heat an amp will put into the room can be judged based on its AC power requirement specs (or its AC current requirement specs, which can be converted to power numbers by multiplying by the assumed line voltage). Although that judgment will be less precise for class AB and especially class D amps than for class A amps, since those numbers will vary considerably as a function of the volume and dynamics of the music in the cases of class AB and class D. But for example in the case of the OP’s class AB amp we know that the power drawn will be somewhere between 420 and 730 watts, probably closer to 420 than to 730 most of the time.

This assumes, of course, that the specs are provided by the manufacturer and are reasonably accurate.

Temperature measurements (or estimates based on touching the amp) may not necessarily be meaningful because for a given amount of power consumption (and hence heat generation) the measured temperatures will vary depending on the design of the heat sinks (the more substantial they are and the more efficiently they radiate heat into the room the lower their temperature will be, everything else being equal), among other variables.

The amount of heat put into the room by a component is proportional to the power going into it minus the power going out of it. But since nearly all speakers convert just a small fraction of the power going into them into sound, with the rest of that power being converted into heat, the AC current or power drawn by the amp can be a useful indicator by itself.

Regards,
-- Al

ARC Ref250SE is my main amps and I use a Hegel H30 in the summer for obvious reasons.  It's not tubes but excellent nevertheless.   It's runs cool, not dry like most SS amps, linear and dead quiet (no transformer hum or HF hiss).

I compare to many ... could live with most, found Pass XA160.5 accentuated mid too much for my taste.    

Hegel H30 listing.

Carl Marschiotta always use ARC at shows.  It's interesting he was using VAC Master pre and 200iq amps at CES.  
You should consider an Aesthetix Atlas. Tube front end (2 tubes) and solid state output. Runs warm but not like an Audio research tube amp.
Had ARC D150 many years ago using Pass 350.8 wonderful sounding amp very reliable as well. Good luck.

Hegel H30 the end of the road. Amp that perfoms at 3x the price.
have to say that the Krell Chorus amps are awesome w fans that you can't hear.,Can find a good price too.,

I appreciate ARC gear and your current combination seems terrific. I would guess you'd miss the 150 the minute you turned on whichever solid state you choose.

Why not consider a decent performing lower dollar solid state with proven resale like a Parasound or older Ayre V3 and keep the 150 and do the turbo upgrade when it's available. 
Wells Audio Innamorata or the Innamorata Signature.
A solid state amp to replace your Ref 150?  Same level of performance?  hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
Perhaps consider the Modwright KWA-150SE. In my system it strikes a nice balance of tube and solid state virtues. You can switch between low and high bias modes--in high bias it runs slightly warm (Class A for the first 15w) and sounds more like tubes, in low bias mode (Class A/B) it generates little heat and sound almost as good. Built like a tank with great product support from Dan. I've had mine for years and the only thing that would lure me away are the right SE tube monoblocks (my speakers are 97db efficient). BTW, you can also run the Modwright in bridged mono for speakers that need crazy power.
Both ModWright and Pass will give your Ref 150 a run for the money. They don't pretend to be tubes, but they are both great amps. I like many don't have any desires to go back to a tube amp for the same reasons you're considering the change. I've listened to a lot of SS amps and Pass has gotten me closer to the magic of tubes. I love listening to a fine tube amp but I don't want the headaches or cost of re-tubing a big tube amp; no thank you. I've had several tube amp owners hear my Pass and they have commented on how great it sounds and how it doesn't sound like a SS amp. I'm using a tube preamp so I'm sure that helps as well.
Last year when I was in the market for a new set of amps, I had all these amps at the same time  and did a thorough comparison. My findings as follows: Ref250, Lamm 2.2, Pass Labs XA160.5 and XA100.5, Krell 402e and Levinson No. 532 and I likes the amps in the below order.
1. REF250 with KT150
2. Lamm M2.2
3. Pass Labs XA160.5 
3. Krell 402e
4. XA100.5
5. ML 532

It was a tossed up between the the XA160.5 and 402e.
Speakers was Hansen The Prince V2 and Focal Nova Be.
I have a Plinius amp and was concerned about the heat factor as well. I can tell you that I have never had an issue with heat even in class A. I suppose it depends on the load it is driving. Maybe take a look at Jeff Rowland amps.
I've been happy with the Cary SA 200.2 solid state amp, which replaced a Cary tube amp. Running it with the Cary SLP98L pre. A nice combo IMHO.
Try a symphonic line amplifier.  Maybe used Boulder but for that budget might be a stretch.  
Surprised that nobody recommended McCormack.  My favorite solid state.  And won't break the bank. 
Hi Shaq:

Sanders Sound Systems makes the finest Audio Solid State Magtech Power amplifier I have had the pleasure to own in my 40+ years as an Audiophile.
Presently using it with a Audio Research REF-5 Line Source Tube Preamp and REF Phono 2 Phono Tube Preamp. Fantastic Combination.

A new one can be purchased Direct from Sander Sound Systems for $5500.00.
If you are luck you may be able to find a Used owned one on Audiogon
for $4000-$4500.  The Magtech will deliver close to 800 WPC.

Please do yourself a favor and check out Sanders Sound System White papers on the Magtech Stereo Amplifier.

 Yes I do own a pair of Mr Sanders Magtech Amplifiers.
Almost forgot: Check out The lifetime warranty to Original Owner.
Also check out The in Home preview.  Also available for potential purchasers.

I have heard all of the above and all decent yet what you now have is in another league especially with your Nola speakers.
ARC is what Car Nolas designer Voices with and also loves I would stay the course with the Ref 150 and even upgrade it to the 150 SE its a superb improvement.
 Best JohnnyR
Post removed 
Hi,

now your ears are adjusted to tube sound, maybe at the beginig the ss amps come to you little bit straight without soul!!
But there is only one brand that has power, swet and warm sound ! The brand is Constalletion Audio if you have budget go and buy any product from its reference sereies or performance series! Thats the end of the road, if you dont know the sound go and listen in a distrp.

my best
Keep a lookout for a used Bedini, Class A. The 100/100 and 200/200 put out Class A sound but only Class B heat.
You probably can't imagine how much amplifier you can get for less money  with the 250 watt/ch Gilmore Audio Raptor mono blocks or his stereo Raven with half the power. Power doubles into 4 ohm load . I had a fine tube amp and these sound so much the same without hum, noise , or distortion . Best amps I've ever heard , not counting David Berning's ZH-270 . Gilmore's are Class D and run cool to the touch . Damn fine man to deal with as well .
Krell Duo 300 sounds fantastic.  Huge soundstage, exquisite detail, and of course Krell bass extension!  It's like having a perfectly integrated sub, but without one.  Nice.  :-)
Ypsilon , do some research before you purchase any thing else , GOOD LUCK!!!
I would suggest u go to the pbn audio website and check out there amps
SHAQ-

Bryston or Pass Labs.
This is rather tube-like in certain respects, but the bass is tighter than what tubes can offer.  I have personally auditioned one. 

http://www.nuprimeaudio.com/index.php/products/amplifiers-and-preamps/stereo-amps/st-10.html

Here is a short review I did.

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=134516.0
You won't find a solid state amp that is as good as your Ref 150.  I have tried many times, just out of curiosity.  Many of the amps mentioned here are not even close.  I am pretty sure these suggestions come from people who have not had a 150  in their system.  Even the Pass, which many recommend, is an nice solid state amp that sounds like solid state.    If you are willing to get a compromise but still excellent amp, the Ayre VX-5 is a very good amp.  But I recommend getting the SE upgrade on your 150 and a quiet fan.  Maybe the Dyson?

" You won't find a solid state amp that is as good as your Ref 150. "

I have owned tube equipment. Once owned a refurbished Mac MC 275. With  many solid state amps I would agree with your point.  NuPrime is not really typical solid state..though it uses no tubes. I hear a finer transparency with my modified Nuforce (same parent company) that I could never achieve with tubes. Its different than tube sound.  But transparent just the same. NuPrime offers an upgrade done by its authorized factory service that would surprise you.
 Just because the price is not stratospheric? Some will look the other way.  Keep an open mind when you get a money back guarantee.
genez - what are the upgrades Nuprime performs
" You won't find a solid state amp that is as good as your Ref 150. "

all of my digital amplifier experiences have been pretty disappointing.   I would be completely shocked if a digital amp could compete seriously with a ref 150!

I find most Pass would do good job for you, similar to Pass .5 or .8 is Coda. I like their amps a great deal and Coda also is the basis for Sanders amps and lastly,  Jim Bongiorno has passed,  but his last amp is exceptional. Ampzilla 2000... Wired for sound has bought Jims company and have finished his last amp called Son of Ampzilla II.  I've heard it is very good, but I doubt that it will be in the league of the Pass, Coda or Ampzilla 2000.

I hope this helps, Tim

Need to hear a dartzeel or Agostino before dissing all solid state. IMO

"Need to hear a dartzeel or Agostino before dissing all solid state. IMO"

Good point.  I have only heard the D'agostino at shows, but these are at a very different price point.  I think the OP was looking at spending $8k.

dbarger151 posts05-22-2016 8:39amYou won't find a solid state amp that is as good as your Ref 150.  I have tried many times, just out of curiosity.  Many of the amps mentioned here are not even close.  I am pretty sure these suggestions come from people who have not had a 150  in their system.

You think???

OP, great news.  You can replace the ARC REF150 with any SS amp!.  
I don't think the Ref 150 is easily replaced by ss. The only one in a sane price range that I have heard and believe would give it a run is the Wells Innamorata. I have heard this amp in 2 settings and was very very impressed but have not done an AB comparison.
I once did an in home audition of the Dag stereo amp which bettered the Ref 150 in some respects but not others. That is how strong the Ref150 is. And that was not even the SE version. BTW--- I loved the Dag too.

I have already mentioned it, but the SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks are in the league.  These are worth a listen. No, not the same,    but they do portray a fine line between tubes and solid state and truly are wonderful amps.  Will they shaq's cup of tea? I don't know, but these are fine amps by any standard. 

Tim

Hi shaq,

You've received a bunch of "recommendations" so far , any thoughts on what you are planning on doing? I am curious because I have both tubes and solid state. I go back and forth when I get tired of one, I move to the other. It keeps things interesting for me.

Thanks.