29 responses Add your response
You should check out the Bryston and the Classe amplifier lines. I have owned both and found them to work well with many preamplifiers. I would say that the Classe amp seemed more musical and that the Bryston amp had a better bottom end in my system. Both were excellent performers and they are readily available on Audiogon. Good Luck!!
I second the Bryston suggestion. I personally dislike Classe (sounds to me like it's loaded with a bunch of butterflies), but lots of folks really like it. Over either of these though, try the older McCormack amps (get your hands on a revision A upgraded model), I like them over the newer McCormack models. Last, if any way you can spend more, look at the Simaudio Moon W-5.
stowne, buy my older electrocompaniet aw100 - i'm only asking $800! ;~)
of course, ewe can spend more on one of electrocompaniet's newer offerings - i presently am quite happy w/a pair of aw60ftt's werticially bi-amping my monitors; preamp is a melos tubed unit... electrocompaniet makes great amps, imo. while i've never heard the ayre, from what i've heard folks say about it, i'd hazard a guess that electrocompaniet is closer in sound to that, compared w/the other amps yuve mentioned
I'm a Bryston owner also (4B-ST and 5B-ST), and think they're fine amps and an excellent value (very well build, and have a 20-year transferrable warranty) -- well worth putting on your short list. The other amp that has gotten very good reviews over the past 6 months is the Marsh Sound Design A400S. If I were in the market for a new amp today, it is one I would definitely audition. The other amsp I think you should audition are the Aragon 8008BB and the Rotel amp that retails for $1995 (can't think of the model number right now).
Go west young man! To California. (If you're already there, go north.) That's where they make the Pass/Volksamp Aleph 30. You will do yourself a disservice if you don't audition it. A very special amp right in your price range. Check this review (by a tube guy):http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0701/volksamp.htm
Please e-mail me if you have any questions.
Pass Labs. The Aleph series can be had for a steal (used) at less than half retail. If you can get ahold of an X-series, by all means give it a listen. I had a Bryston 4B ST & replaced it with a Pass Aleph 5. The Bryston is a very nice amp but I found it to be too dry; in other words too analytical. The Pass has a better soundstage, more detail, tighter bass & is definitely more musical. I also have a Meridian (506.24). Ultimately you have to pick a unit you will be happy with, so if possible audition with the rest of your gear. Have fun!
You owe it to yourself to listen to a Audio Research 100.2 SS amp. I have owned a Bryston 4b NRB and the 100.2 totally blows it away in my opinion. The 100.2 has all the smooth non fatiging sound of a great tube amp without the hassles. It is a real sleeper in the ARC line of amps. Check out the post under amps/preamps "Audio Research convert". I have spoken to Gary and he replaced his Ayre V3 with a ARC 100.2. Read what he has to say. You wont't find many of these on the used market because people hang onto them, but they are worth the money.
I agree that Bryston amplifiers are about as good as transistor gets in this price range. The 20 year waranty that is easily transfered makes these the best buy in the under 2K range. The Conrad-Johnson amplifiers are another interesting choice because of the MOSFET sound, i.e. a little more spacious and maybe just a little smoother, but a different kind of bass compared to bipolar. Thanks, Rich M. (aka nita)
Pass Labs Aleph-3 or Aleph-5 Now that they have been discontinued they are a steal! 50% or more off retail for a mint shape amp.I bought my 3 for under 1K ($2500 list)shipping included.It looks brand new,had <50 hours on it and a "Dont worry about it" warranty.Nelson Pass himself told me they have never charged a customer a dime for repair of one of their Alephs.At 30 wpc constant Class A bias this amp rocks with my 92dB 8 ohm speakers.I like tube amps but I like my Aleph-3 better.
i *almost sprung for a pair of the odysseys, but i found my electrocompaniet aw60ftt's at such a good price, i couldn't pass up these $2k retail beauties. and, i was already familiar w/the electro sonic signature.
klaus of odyssey is a pleasure to deal w/, i got a great deal on a symphonic-line re-tipped lyra clavis.
re: getting a pair of the odyssey amps, if yer speeks are bi-ampable, i wood strongly recommend a pair of the stereo amps, instead of the monoblocs - ewe give up little in power, ewe still get to run separate amps for each speaker, and ewe get to bi-amp as well, using the two channels of each amp, one for the woofer, the other for the tweeter. this is how i'm running my aw60's & i couldn't be happier. well, mebbe if i was running a pair of melos mat-180's in this fashion, i mite be happier... ;~)
One thing about a krell ksa100, you won't lose much money if you decide to trade it out in the future. they seem to hold their value like those old levinson amps and somebody always wants the old classics. I use one for my bass on a bi-amp system and they're a battleship for sure as well as reliable. Plus, krell has a good customer service dept. and will repair them should trouble arise. These days, I don't buy anything from a high end audio company unless they've been around 10 years--after getting screwed a few times by these guys going under years ago and get put in a bind just because you're looking for a 3% sonic improvement. You've already narrowed it down quite well.
I don't like the 805s with Krell or NAD. I think The 805s are too dry to be paired with amps that white and analytical sounding. The NAD in particular is no good. It sounds a little bleached out and harsh to me. I think Classe is a natural choice for B&W. Tubes, although, would probably be better. It depends on what sort of sound your going for. This is just my opinion as I perhaps like a smoother sound than some.
I've owned an Ayre V3. I never thought I would say this but you really owe it to your self to hear an Audio Research 100.2, depending on what your impedence match is between your amp and preamp the difference can be night and day. I had been useing an Audible Illusions M3A with my Ayre and it never came to life. The Ayre is fairly low. The 100.2 was a text book match with my AIM3A. The difference is better high and low end and dynamics in spades. I could never figure it out why reviewers never empraised the 100.2 although that should never be an issue when auditioning a amp. Do yourself a favor and go listen to one. By the way the Krell will make your ears bleed, the BAT is preety good and the McCormack is great bang for the buck. IMHO...All the Best-Gary
I've owned 3 Classe amps over the years, Classe 10, Classe CA-100, Classe CA-200. The 200 was the best and can be found for $1500 +/- depending on age and condition. For the price, its a lot of amp for the money. Personally, I didn't like Bryston but many people do. Listened to a friend's Krell and thought it not to be very musical, accurate perhaps but didn't do it for me.
Noone has mentioned it yet, so I'll throw in the Musical Fidelity A3cr. I know one can't go just on reviews, but it is Stereophile Recommended "Class A" and sells for $1500. I believe that upscale Audio is selling them with a moneyback guaranty (like AAs policy) since they are hard to find in nearby stores. I think the price is due to go up, but it should still be well under 2K. I just bought one, but have not yet received it. I already have the A3cr preamp which is phenomenal.
The Classe' CA-100, when run in bridged mode (so you'll need a pair), is a totally different amp than its' acceptable but unremarkable performance as a stereo amp. Given that you can pick these up at $700 each used, you might be amazed as I was. I owned one CA-100 and called my dealer to order a Levinson 331 (several years ago) and he talked me into buying another CA-100 - said if I didn't think the pair run as monoblocks was better than the 331 he'd give me all I'd paid for the 2 CA-100s towards the ML.
I am a ML fan (own their digital seperates). There was no comparison on sonics, let alone value.
2 CA-100's (or 150's, assuming you can find 2) are a great amp for <$2k. Unless you're driving speakers that go down to an ohm or two (big Thiels etc) which probably won't work well with bridged amps.