Solid state "backup" amp recommendation

Too hot to run my BAT VK-75SE all day on weekend during summer, like to have a solid state amp to fill that job instead. Will be a "backup" amp to my BAT, so can't spend a fortune on it. Budget can be $1k to $2.5k, it's a big range I know. Another criteria is XLR input so I don't need an adaptor.

Have tried Pass X-350, Rowland 8TiHC, McCormack DNA-2 Deluxe, Accuphase P-450, Levinson 331, Forte 4A and many others in the past, favorite was Forte for its musical and tube like sound especially considering its price. But I would like a little more power not to mention something newer for peace of mind.

Amps I am considering, Pass X-250, BAT VK-200/500, Classe CAM-200. What will you vote for? I am leaning toward Pass. Anything else I should consider?
Hi Semi, take a look at the CI Audio D200 monoblocks. $2299/pair. Available with XLR inputs.

Dusty also has D100 monoblocks for $1699/pair. I have heard these, and they are clean, dynamic, and sweet.

Outstanding customer service, too.
I can relate to your situation. I primarily run a Bel Canto SET40 which runs very hot, and use a BAT VK200 as an alternate. The only thing is that the VK200 runs pretty damn hot as well! I really liked the Pass Aleph 3 in my system, and if not for an impedance mismatch I would have kept it. That makes the X-250 an intriguing possibility.
I much enjoy Classe CAM 200's with Avalon speakers. Slightly short of the power I like, but pretty darn musical and nice extension.
i would suggest an amp with mosfets
No doubt about it, the McIntosh MC-122. There's one on the 'gon now.
Ok, very diversed suggestions so far.

The 3 candidates I menioned above are safe bets, amps like Channel Island (or NuForce for that matter) are amps of the future and I am not sure if I am ready for the future :) Had a PS Audio HCA-2 before, though pleasant sounding it fell short on refinements. NuForce received raved reviews everywhere except Apogee forum where sub 1 ohm torture test on Scintilla nearly destroyed the NuForce. If I am old fashioned enough to use tubes, I can live with MOSFET or BJT.

McIntosh MC-122? Can't find one on Audiogon right now.
Semi, I'm not going to beat this to death, but I use a VAC Phi 110/110 tube amp, and I listened to the 70wpc NuForce amps in my system...along with the D100 amps. I think the D100 are worth a listen if you are even a tiny bit interested. Channel Islands audio offers a money back guarantee (minus a 10% restocking fee).

Like Gunbei, I too have a BAT VK 200. I can vouch that it runs too hot. I have also owned a YBA amp, and can tell you that they run extremely cool and are very high current. I think there is a YBA 2 HDCT listed that can be had for around $2K. Only 70 WPC, but very high current... also Stereophile Class A in its day.
Get totally cool, and gain power, detail, speed, and liquidness, and try an S-
H2O Signature. At least give it a try. You only pay return postage.

The builder hasn't produced a decent site, but you will find fine owner
testimonials, and a link to a superb 6Moons review. http://
Try Bel Canto eVo2. It comes with balanced I/O and run extremely cool.
Or if you prefer tube like warmth, Naim NAP 250.2.

They both have spacious midrange and run cool, albeit both need relatively easy speaker load to shine.
I can't imagine why you'd want to have a superior amp for half the year and an inferior amp the other half.

I won't say which is which, but why not just buy a better replacement amp, be done with it, and save a few grand in the process?

Thanks for the fine suggestions so far.

Heat is part of the reason I need a solid state, the other part is playing music all day on weekend for background really does not justify using the BAT. On top, I have gone thru more amps than listed above and I can honestly say I can NOT live with a solid state as my primary amp. So as good a suggestions as Stehno's is, solid state can only be my "backup" amp. In fact, I had VK-150 and had to downsize to single amp due to heat issue.

I have not heard the newer and better switching power amps like H2O and NuForce, so I don't know what I am missing. But those amps are still relatively new in technology I rather wait a couple more years before I commit big bucks on those.

So BAT VK-200 runs very hot like Pass? So hot you can't rest your hand on the unit for more than a second?
what makse you think that MOSFETs run cooler?
>>I can't imagine why you'd want to have a superior amp for half the year and an inferior amp the other half.<<

Amen. Seems to me that a room A/C and/or whisper fans are less expensive than a sonically inferior back up sand amp. However if you have an extremely difficult load you're stuck with solid state or digital.

I have to second TVAD on the CI Audio and NuForce "new technology" amps. I purchased both as a backup to my Antique Sound Labs 1009 tube monoblocks. I've since sold the ASLs.

The CI Audio amps are based on the Hypex UCD chip which is widely available, and Dusty at Channel Islands has a long track record of providing high quality, reliable products at a fair price.

The NuForces are based on proprietary technology, and may be a little further out on the "risk/reward" curve for you. That said the NuForce folks have a great product on their hands and continue to refine their amps based on real customer feedback; imagine that!

My suggestion is purchase both, try them in your system, and return one or both at the end of 30 days.

Best of luck in your search!

As Pdreher says,the VK200 does indeed run hot. You may be able to touch the top of the case, but the heatsinks will definitely give you permanent waffle fingers, heheh.

If the newer Pass Labs amps runs hot as well, I'd consider the CI Audio monoblocks as Tvad suggests.

Let us know what you decide on!
My situation is identical to yours. In my main system I am using Joule Electra Heaven’s Gate mono amps & Joule Preamp which heats the room up to sauna like conditions in the summer even with central air. For summer use I use a BAT VK 200 with a BAT 5i preamp. It does get a bit warm but nowhere near the heat of the Joules. The room stays comfortable. In my second system I use Pass Aleph 2 mono amps, same problem, these might even get hotter than the Joules but it’s a close call. For the summer/fall months I use a VAC PA80/80 tube amp (KT88s) which does no throw off all that much heat. Anyway this set-up works very to solve my summer heat problems.

Ok, you guys are making a difficult decision more difficult. Before posting, I thought listing out the safe bets will help me narrow my choices but instead I now have more options than ever.

Fortunately, I am open minded and NuForce does have a demo unit out here in SF Bay Area. But if a BAT VK-200 showed up on Audiogon at a good price, I will still go for it.

I travel to Japan & Taiwan often, Usher (Taiwan) has a very good amp R-1.5 that mimics the older Threshold for very little money. But I can't figure out how to transport a 90lb amp back here as a luggage w/o paying stiff penalty.
Try a Plinius SA102 used on the 'Gon for ~$2500

Great sounding amp, and you can use the 'Class A vs class A/B' switch, very versatile.

May even give your bat a run for its money in many areas! Definitely freq. extremes and dynamics.
Semi, a couple of us keep mentioning CI Audio D100 or D200 and you keep repeating NuForce. Is there a disconnect here, or are you just dead set on trying only the NuForce if you decide to try a digital amp? The NuForce and CI Audio amps DO NOT sound the same so you cannot listen to one and assume "you've heard them all".

IMO, if you want something that sounds similar to your BAT amp and is extremely musical you'll try the CI Audio. If you want something that has Uber clarity and dynamics, but to my ear is a bit cold sounding, you'll love the NuForce. Just my opinion, of course...
Hi Semi - in reading of your system configuration and what you want the new amplifier for, I would certainly add the NuForce Ref 8B ( for balanced) monoblocks @ $1600/pair. These light-weight wonders are analog switching amps and are very chameleon-like in their presentation - ie, they take the sonic characteristics of the pre-amp and will sound "tubey" with tubed pre. Though they are rated at 100 watts, they have more than enough power to drive my Magnepan 3.6R's as well as most other speakers with moderate to poor efficiency. As to how to get the best sound, just give them a fast power cord ( Shunyata Diamondback, Audio Magic Trinium, Synergistic AC Master Coupler) and ENJOY! Demo units can be had from the Cable Company or directly from the NuForce company.
A nice guy locally just offered both CI & NuForce for me to try in my system, how can I resist?

It will be fun to hear how new generation digital amps compared to old fashion tube triode. I did hear Rowland 502 in my system, I will just say I much prefer the BAT except in sound quantity. Let's hope CI & NuForce will change my mind about digital amps.
Semi, do it! That's an offer you can't refuse!
Yeah, I agree with Tvad (gulp) do that an hurry back with your findings.
Kumbaya, Muralman1, kumbaya...
"However if you have an extremely difficult load you're stuck with solid state or digital."

The CAT JL amps are neither solid state nor digital and they drive difficult loads incredibly well. Unfortunately they can increase the room temp by 5-8 degrees in the course of a few hours.

"I can't imagine why you'd want to have a superior amp for half the year and an inferior amp the other half."

I Can! There are many times I want to have the music playing for several hours but not be solely dedicated to just the music. This keeps the replacement of output power tubes less frequent AND keeps the room a lot cooler as well for such times. No need to double my electric bill to drive powerful amps and the A/C for casual listening.

I have found the Counterpoint SA or NPS hybrid amps to be a perfect fit as a backup amp to the CAT amps. I tried the H20 stereo amp and the Counterpoint was far more dimensional and musical.
Despite Counterpoint amps being hybrid or fully solid state they tend to run as hot as tube ones.
I have to disagree with Marakanetz. I have owned ARC CL150 and Wolcott monos as well as ARC CL60 and VT130 stereo amps, and the Counterpoint affects the room temperature very minimally compared to these.
Jafox gets what I am talking about - reducing heat and tube wear during the day for background msuic. When late at night, I will switch back to tube amp, if I am in the mood, and listen critically.

Many have experiences on hot running solid state amps like BAT and Pass, but I can honestly say even hot solid state gears like Pass X350 does not heat up room as much as my BAT VK-75SE since I had one before. Less heat is even better if digital amp can deliver the goods, will report back once I hear CI and NuForce in person.

You can get the Forte 4 serviced if need be so why not get another one for biamping? It's one of my favorite used SS amps but it does not solve the heat problem.

Regarding the new crop of "digital" amps and I'm not sure what your speakers are, but I can recommend the PS Audio HCA-2 as well. Great bang for the buck. Also, at the top of your price range, I highly recommend the ICE H2O S250 Signature for ~$2800 new. A VERY good amp period. The Tact 2150 amps are hoots too and a very different animal, very clever too.

However, I've found that all the new digital amps (especially the Tact)sound much better when working from really good conditioned power like a PS Audio P-600 regenerator.

I agree with Semi. The Forte Model 4 is darned hard to beat for the price. He's right about the heat though... heatsinks run 50 degrees Celsius.

Have you considered one of the A-A/B Forte's? The Model 6 is the same exact amplifier as the Model 4, but uses different transformer taps, lower voltage bias, and lower idle current... components are all the same. The 6 runs much cooler and it sounds fabulous. In fact, I can hear little difference between the two. The only way I could tell the difference is via side-by-side comparison. The Model 6 is truly that good.
Semi, how is the channel D100?
threshold sa3 class A solid state amp is a good value at around 800/850 and a great performer

levinson 27.5 also wonderful used value but quite a bit more at just under 2000 used for a pristine example
classe cams are very nice... would also consider muse amps...
still haven't had a chance to hear CI or Nuforce, but weather is cooling down and urge to get that backup amp is fading.