Solid state amps under 1000

I know this thread has been done. I still would like more opinions. My current line up is:

Musichall MMF-25 cd player
Musichall MMF-5 Turntable
NEC T-6 tuner
C-J pv10a preamp with phono
Hafler 9500 Transnova power amp
Spica TC-60 monitor speakers
ACI Sub-One stereo subwoofers
Audioquest Crystal/type 6 tri-wire speaker cable
Various interconnects, mostly Homegrown Audio silver

I have enjoyed the Hafler for over 8 years. At 250 watts, it is probably overkill for my Spica's however (16 X 14 ft room). I love the c-j preamp and have an itch to replace the power amp. Oldest starts college this fall and finances are tight. $1000 tops. Candidates are:

Conrad Johnson 2250 (my leading choice)
Bryston 3B-St (always recomended)
Musical Fidelity A3cr (anytime Sam Tellig likes something this much, I get nervous)
Belles 150A hot rod
McCormick DNA .5 (so many versions out there)

Criteria, a definite improvement over the Hafler or why bother. A good value at or below $1000 used. A piece that will hold its value for future resale and be reliable. Must run cool as we also have a new baby in the house. Finally, if possible, looks other than a simple black box ( see why the C-J is leading).

Thanks in advance for your interest and opinions.

i'd add the odyssey stratos to your short list. it has gotten very good reviews (reviewer's choice by soundstage), and should fall right in your price range. it is a black box design, but it is built like a tank, and quite elegant IMHO. if you call odyssey, they might offer you a special deal. when i was shopping for an amp in this price range about 6 months ago, gunther offered to build me a stratos with the 120,000 cap upgrade for $1025 using B-stock metal (which he said had *very* slight cosmetic defects). i ended up getting a belles 150a hot rod because i found one for a very low price. it, too, is a great amp.

also, there is a marsh a200s that recently came up for sale for under $1000. marsh amps have also been very well received, and i think they are very cool looking.

finally, i'd like to suggest that you look into the norh le amps. they are mono-blocks, and for the price, they are very, very good (~$500 for the pair new). i used them before i got the belles, and they were not far behind in terms of performance. for $1000, you could bi-amp with four mono's. you can get more info at or at

best of luck, and happy listening.

Good lineup...
I have had the Musical Fidelity a3cr and it is a great amp..
Super high current.. and dual mono design..
beautiful to look at as well. Build quality is excellent.
Weighs a ton.. will drive super low loads. can definately get one for within your budget.. Sound is very detailed higs and nice mids great sound stage.. almost warm sounding and good but not fantastic bottom end. Down side.
No balanced inputs.. upside nu vista binding posts very nice.
Second choice... My favorite as always... Aragon 8002 dual mono yes... black box but a krell killer for the money
can buy for 700 all day long. I own 2 and they are fantastic all around. May want to check out the Mcintosh mc 122 solid state amp... nice piece and 20 times more musical than an adcom or band k for the money.. nice to look at.
How about a Classe ca 100 ? warm and detailed and great reputation and build .... silver is beautiful.
Well thats my two cents..
Good luck
I would go with the CJ it would be a wonderful accompaniment to your pv10. I have an MF2500 with a premiere 16ls2 and the combination is outstanding huge soundstage and 3 dimensional. The MF2500 runs, slightly warm to the touch, and drives my Thiels extremely well.

Hope I could help

Used: Belles Hotrod, Pass Labs Aleph 3 could be a real good choice. Nothing wrong with the CJ 2200 not sure if I like the looks of the 2250.
Great list so far. I guess I can add the Blue Circle BC22. It was made to go with tube preamps.
You simply won't find a better amp for the money (or anything even close) than this:

I have no affiliation with the seller I'm just offering a suggestion.
I would warn against the Aleph 3 if you don't want a hot amp. You could fry an egg on the top plate of that sucker (but it sounds good).
Thanks for all the suggestions. Sugarbrie, I don't know much about Blue Circle, but I thought they were tube amps. Is this a solid state design? What is the power rating etc? Eric, I will look into both Odyssey and Norh amps. Obviously I would prefer to hear all the amps under consideration, but that is not possible. Please keep the thread going. Any C-J 2250 owners out there that have also heard the Belles and Musical Fidelity amps?

Hi Paul,
Blue Circle makes three solid state amps. The BC22 is 125 watts; the BC26 is 200 watts; and the CS is 85 watts. The BC22's matching preamp is the tube BC21. It is a great combination. There are quite a few Agon members with the BC21/22 combo. I do know there is at least one happy Agon member who runs the BC22 with a CJ PV-10.
Here's one you don't hear much about but it is a little wonder. The Job stereo. They can be found used for around $750. I would imagine them to be a great match with the Spica. They are a brushed silver and tiny (think cigar box) very industrial design and have a volumn pot so it can be used as a single source integrated. They are 60w and very good.
For a bit more you can get the Job mono's around $1100 used and these provide a bit more of everything.
If you go to the Glodmund site and find the Job tab you can learn about these fine amps.
I also strongly second the Coda 10.5....a very nice amp and a big bargin at that price.....maybe too much of the black box you are looking to avoid.
I would easily recommend a Aragon 8008ST. I sold one, but they are definately one of the best in this price range. I currently have a Musical Fidelity A3CR. I think the MF is more revealing, but the Aragon has more muscle and finesse. It depends on what you feel is lacking in your system. You could probably get either used for 1K.
I used to have the Aragon 8008BB which is their top of the line model before getting my MF A3cr. The Aragon certainly had much more muscle, but paled in comparison when it came to musicality, transparency, detail and depth of image. Other than the great bass of the Aragon, the MF is really in a completely different class of amplifiers. The MF has much tighter, accurate bass, although less of it. I think if you A/Bed these amps, the MF would be by far the most musical and transparent amp around!
Thanks for all the responses. I haven't heard the Aragon 8008, but I have compared my Hafler to the older 4004. For my taste, I preferred the Hafler which had a larger soundstage and greater sense of space and air. I enjoy bass but am not a bass hound. I listen to a wide variety of music but find I tend to do my evaluations based more on acoustical, female vocals etc.
I am surprised by the the lack of comments on c-j and Bryston products. For such a great reputation, there seems to be a lot of Bryston products for sale. At this point, I am still considering the c-j 2250, Musical Fidelity, Blue Circle, and the Belles 150A Hot Rod. I saw an Odyssey amp sold yesterday for $500. I should have reacted quickly at that price to try it.

Thanks again for your input. If my buyer for the Hafler comes through, I hope to do something by the end of the month.

I think a Forte 4A would work very nicely with your Spica TC-60's. You might even be able to afford two and bi-amp. They are no longer in business, so parts and service may be an issue.
Don't forget Audio by Van marketed, no dealer markups, solidly engineered.
I just ordered the Musical Fidelity Acr3. I got a great deal on a demo piece. I have also been successful in selling my Hafler, so it has been a good transaction. I choose the MF because of glowing reviews, style and the demo comes with a 5 year warranty. I will let you know if a few weeks what my impressions are.

Thanks to everyone who responded.