Spectral amp/preamp

I know Spectral wants users to mate their products together, but I was wondering if anyone has used a different brand preamp with a Spectral amp or vice versa and what they thought.
A friend of mine did that and it blew the Spectral amp. Spectral gave him a reason for it but I do not remember what it was. He now runs Mcintosh gear.
Spectral is overpriced garbage with just ok sound.
Now c'mon ebm. It may not be your taste, but garbage? I have heard a Spectral set up several times at a now closed audio store in Philly, and it wasn't my thing either, but it isn't garbage.
Well maybe its not garbage but it not great either. 
There are many brands of amps/preamps that are as good as and better than the Spectral. Why would you want to limit yourself to just one brand.
I do think that it's very expensive for what it is. It's funny, if you read their blurb about haw fast the amps are etc., it is pretty impressive; and they certainly look good, but in the end, it always comes down to how it sounds. 
@runner You can use a Spectral pre amp with another brands amp but, not vice versa.

Personally, I wouldn’t risk voiding a warranty or a service issue. If you have a problem with those requirements or using MIT Cables. I wouldn’t even bother with Spectral.  Spectral is really designed as a system. Pre+Amp+MIT Cables

As others have stated. There are plenty of other great brands out there to try.

@ebm Not over priced garbage. Under priced compared to high end solid state from Europe; in specific Switzerland (Soulution, CH, Dartzel).

It may not be your cup of tea but, please Mcintosh isn’t in the same league as Spectral. Current and modern Mcintosh gear although nice is midfi compared to the current Spectral stuff.

Current McIntosh is certainly not mid-fi. You are delusional
I have all my components  from the same manufacturer. 
Too often, this and that doesn't work well together, even though they could work wonderfully in a different system.
@stereo5 Compared to those brands I mentioned it most certainly is.

I’m not delusional and I won’t go into a debate with McIntosh owners as this hobby is very subjective but , if we use the car analogy.

The only thing a Mustang GT and Porsche 911 have in common is 4 tires and a steering wheel.

You’d only be able to tell the diff if  one drove them back to back.

There is reason the 911 costs more but , won’t dispute the mustang Gt is a great car and value compared to the 911.

But at the end of the day ; it’s no Porsche.

Likewise at the p end of the day a McIntosh amp isn’t a Spectral or Soulution amp.
Its a bargin ill jump on one asap DUDE!!!!


If Spectral is that good, why hasn't the company grown very much? They have certainly ben around long enough. I think that you may be one of those who make judgements by perceived "sophistication", but it all comes down to what it sounds like.

@roxy54 By choice. They’ve had the same owner for 40 years.  How many cars does Ferrari produce a year compared to Toyota?

How many high end manufactures at the mercy of audio reviewers ; who in turn write a positive review based on a financial interest of the product they are reviewing ?

You are right that you have let your ears be the judge and make your own conclusions.

Too bad that there only I think 3 Spectral dealers I think in the us.  Additionally , I don’t they have been or dealer has shown Spectral at a us audio show in many years.

Just don’t assume that because they are a low volume brand compared to say McIntosh that they lack the engineering or quality of a bigger big box brand.

Hardly the case but , as I’ve said most audiophiles will never experience Spectral even at dealer or show conditions because of the points I made above. 
And my point is that it's all different flavors of ice cream. Whether it's McIntosh, which I admittedly own, or any other brand, I lose patience with people commenting that this or that perfectly good brand is "not in the same league" as another brand that is perceived to be more esoteric. Yes, I do think that there is poor, fair, good and better than that, but at a certain level of quality, it is just a matter of taste.
@roxy54 Fair enough and look this hobby is so subjective that we all never agree or like same thing.

That’s what makes in unique but , I wanted to help @runner out with the original post and question bout Spectral.

When it turned to people critical of his question and started to malign Spectral based of their past experiences ; I had to chime in.

Yes , maybe I was wrong calling McIntosh midfi and offended the owners on this forum.

But, should have stated that it’s not my flavor of ice cream.

To each their own.
I recently visited Goodwin's High End in Waltham, MA. and listened to the Rockport Cygnus being driven by Spectral, fronted by a dCS Vivaldi stack.

The performance quality was excellent.

Here is more information on amplifier compatibility from Goodwin's website:

"Founded in 1977, Spectral is one of the most respected names in high end audio today. Spectral Audio makes wide bandwidth, extremely fast, high resolution amplifiers. Notably their amplifiers use many smaller distributed power supplies, rather than only one large one. This approach allows Spectral to locate a power supply (capacitors, rectifiers, regulators, and secondary windings) closer to each FET output device. Spectral amplifiers have a very transparent sound, with excellent settling (the ability of the amplifier to stop the speaker after a transient)."

"Note: Whereas other Spectral Audio components (i.e. their preamplifiers and digital source components) may be used with any other brand of equipment, Spectral mandates that their non-Universal amplifiers be driven by a Spectral preamplifier to ensure reliable operation. Spectral Universal amplifiers however may be driven directly by any brand of preamp, D-A, or surround sound processor. In addition, Spectral amplifiers need to be used in conjunction with the proper Spectral-approved MIT interconnects and speaker cables. These usage guidelines are now a condition of Spectral's warranty on their amplifiers. There are several reasons for these guidelines:

  1. Because of their wide bandwidth, Spectral amplifiers can amplify high frequency signals in the MHz range at massive power levels. Therefore radio frequency noise must be kept out of the amplifier. The MIT interconnects contain RF protection, and Spectral preamplifiers are stable at these high frequencies.
  2. Unlike most all solid state preamps, Spectral preamplifiers are true discrete designs, are DC coupled, and can output the high current that the (non-Universal) Spectral power amps are designed to be driven by. Other brands of preamplifiers often use integrated circuits or other devices which may not be able to drive the amplifier properly. It is interesting to know that IC's (integrated circuits) simply cannot provide for high current output in a preamp design which utilizes them. Whereas a fully discrete Spectral preamp—fully discrete meaning no IC's in the signal path—can provide on the order of 1 ampere of output current per channel!
  3. As part of their stability design, Spectral amplifiers are designed to be used with the type of output network found in the Spectral-approved MIT speaker cables. (You might be interested to know Spectral has found that by placing this network close to the load, i.e. the speaker, they can achieve superior results.)

What will happen if you don't follow these guidelines? Well, it's a probability thing. You may not encounter any problems—or you may encounter premature failure of some components in the amplifier. Or (worst case) your amplifier may suffer severe RF problems, and you will have to pay to have all the output devices replaced (which is expensive). Therefore, we highly recommend that you follow Spectral's operational and warranty guidelines for both peace of mind as well as highest performance and fidelity. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to call us as 781-893-9000.

So why would anybody bother using an amplifier that needs such precise conditions to be operated properly? Because for music lovers who value naturalness and linearity—for instance those who truly wish to hear what the musicians were playing in an acoustic space on a recording—Spectral offers an incredibly transparent window on recorded musical events. And for the many satisfied Spectral clients, nothing else meets their demanding criteria for emotional involvement with their music."

The only thing a Mustang GT and Porsche 911 have in common is 4 tires and a steering wheel.

You're not even right about that. Not even close!  Similarly with the ignorant comparisons of audio brands. Try engaging in more learning and less hyperbole.
lol comparing mcintosh to spectral and solution... spectral is several order of magnitudes more expensive then mcintosh, and solution is literally 10x the price

It was the mid fi remark about McIntosh that ticked me off.  
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Right. The Parasound JC-1 is just as fast and doesn’t blow up if you put someone else preamp on it. It is also watt for watt less than 1/2 the cost.
And one more thing. I would not buy a 1955 Zenith from Goodwin’s high end. Unless you spend $500,000 with him and he has to think you will do this every three years, he would not give you the time of day. That friend with the blown up Spectral got his system at Goodwin’s and he got s---- for support. If it were not for the fact that the store is in an area with extremely wealthy people with money to burn he would be OOB.
Having been inside both Spectral and Mcintosh equipment I can tell you that the construction quality of Spectral gear is no better than Mcintosh. Sound quality is a subjective matter that I will leave for people more familiar with that gear than me. Neither is my cup of tea. But I can tell you that Mcintosh has great service and support and to some of us spending more than we can afford on this stuff that is very comforting.

Wow , I didn't expect to have folks get in a debate comparing Spectral with other brands. I have a Spectral DMA-150 series II amp and DMC-20 series 2 preamp. I have had them for several years mated to Avalon Ascendant speakers and find them to my liking. My reason for asking is should the amp or pre go bad, beyond repair etc I would not be in a position to purchase  another Spectral component. Obviously I would need to look at used or replace both units. Anyway, thanks to those who directed their response to my question.