Spectron Musician III - Can anyone comment on it?

I am currently on the hunt for a pair of amplifiers that have massive peak power capability with excellent micro dynamics and neutral presentation. I am driving a pair of Martin Logan Statement E2's

The Spectron Musician has been reviewed exceptionally well everywhere I looked and seems to fit the bill but I just can't get over 25 years of snobbery telling me to avoid switching amps because linear amps just sound better and, hey, the name on the faceplate ain't Krell or Mark Levinson!

Can I PLEASE get a few people with experience listening to these amps tell me why I should or shouldn't buy them?

I desperately want to buy a pair of the BAT VK-600SE's since I own mostly all BAT equipment but to produce, say, 110db peaks one would comfortably need several thousands watts of power in the bucket to meet the challenge. I don't think the BAT amps have that under the hood.

20 views, no posts.
Surely somebody has heard these amps?


Perhaps you should also consider two Spectron Musician III MK II in mono-block configuration. These amps in balanced mode have all the qualities you're looking for plus a lot more. There is more control, more finesse with a total absence of grain anywhere in the audio spectrum. There is that effortless sound while at the same time staying composed that only the best of the best can achieve.

IMHO, the Spectron amps don't sound like a typical digital amp, they just sound like great amps.
Total agreement with Isanchez.
I cannot speak for the MIII, however, I owned several linear amps, during these ownerships I never found any leaps and bounds between brands. In light of current technology, materials, craftmanship I am starting to feel that linear has maxed out it's design.
Spectron MIIIMKII plays like no other that I have heard. Linear or not.
Unlike me, you will save yourself thousands of dollars, sleepless nights, hours of concentration, weeks of unhappiness, your wife will not start to suspect that you may be having an affair with something else and above all enjoying your listening pleasures.
Like most of us, music is a pleasure that I take seriously us and you see what I mean.
Even if you buy these MIIKII new for the musical presentation that is delivered it is worth every dollar.
I do not have an ultra high end system like some of you other guys but the Spectron Musician III MK2 is part of it and I absolutely love it. Mono-block would be the ultimate along with all V-cap/Bybee upgrades. Don't know a thing about BAT amps but I am thinking about getting a BAT pre-amp just because the guy at Spectron loves them.
If you'll search you'll find a lot more discussion.
The Spectron Musician III Mark 2 is the most neutral yet musical amp I have ever owned (or heard). It has changed my approach to amplifier listening...I think John, Simon and gang have stumbled upon something that all but eliminates distortion anywhere close to an order of magnitude away from the hearing spectrum. Add to that an almost tube-like ease with which music flows. It's really something very special. And although it sounds glorious to me now, I've ordered a second amp to go monoblock and experience the nth degree of this phenomenon.

I'll report back on the monoblock upgrade value prop (prolly in a month or so).

My 2 channel system consists of tube-modded (Modwright) Transporter, Rega P5 vinyl, Modwright Denon 3910 tube -modded universal, Modwright LS 36.5 dual mono 2-box preamp, and it all drives a pair of very custom Mundorf-external-crossover'd SP Tech Revelation MR1 Mark III's. Cables are Syn Research tesla Accelrator SC's, Soundstring and SR XLR IC's and Stealth Nanofiber source IC's.
Here's some other high power amps to look at:

Hi Sashua, while I do not own a Spectron Mus 3, I can only echo what has been said above. By the way, funny you mention Mark Levinson. . . because the new ML No. 53 amp flagship is. . . a switching amp [grins!]


I couldn't help to notice that you have the Modwright LS 36.5 dual mono 2-box preamp. I'm sure it sounds great in your setup.
I have had so many amps, SS and tube, but nothing compares to the finesse, transparency, flow, musicality, detail, dynamics and life-like sound of the new Spectron amps. If you have one (or 2) of these in your system, you will never think about upgrading your power amps again, period. Control, power, quiet background and zero distortion with a complete lack of haze are a bonus. Oh, and by the way, you can call Spectron up and have a really meaningful discussion with the designer and management as well, not something to be dimissed lightly.
Thanks for the sudden flood of very helpful responses everyone! This is just more positive affirmation that I am perhaps on to something.

I have a BAT REX preamp and VK-P10SE (w/Superpak) phono preamp. I am using Martin Logan Statement E2 speakers.

This is some very wonderful high end gear and I am blessed to own it. I just wanted to be sure that I was doing it all justice by choosing an amplifier that is up to its standard. I can afford much more expensive gear but that doesn't mean that I am actively looking for a reason to do so :-)

I am thinking of running a pair of the SM3 M2 monoblocks (perhaps with upgrades) bi-wired to my towers and another pair of stock monoblocks to the bass stacks. This should provide limitless reserves of power on demand and take tight-fisted control of these massive and authoritative speakers. The best news is that Simon will simply take them back within 30 days if I am wrong! Don't see how I can lose in this case.

My original idea was to use two BAT VK-600SE's bi-amping the towers and a pair of Krell 750's on the bass stacks. Also a nice (though more costly) combo that is now looking to be my "plan B".

Any thoughts on all of this?
I think you'll prefer Spectron to Krell.

I can't even imagine what dual monoblocks powering a biamped set of Statements would sound like. Holy S! Please, please report back, if your sensory capabilities are still in tact!
Haha! Ted, I am both excited and confused by the possibilities!

I'm either going to run the towers jumpered and full range with Spectron Monoblocks, bi-wire with a pair of Spectrons in stereo or vertically bi-amp with the BAT VK-600SE's in stereo. I don't really have a good understanding of the positives and negatives that each setup would bring to the table and have no way to try them all out over a nice long weekend :-)

I am definitely leaning towards a pair of Spectron Monos for the bass towers but the stat and midrange panels are a horse of a different color.

It's a tough call because I've read a lot about the Spectrons being somewhat "rolled off" in the upper register but, then, they also have twice the power of the BAT's, which counts for a lot on Statement E2's.

What's a boy to do?

If all of you out there in happy Audiogonreaderland were in this happy dilemma, what would your decision be?

With your 1600 lbs E2s I feel you will eventually get 4 pcs MIIIKII or even more with the Bybees and V-Cap upgrades, operating in mono. If you do decide to go that way. In my mind your speakers compell this line of amps.
Mixing up different brands of amp in this type of config will require much more efforts cutting into listening time and you may not be satisfied with the end results, I didn't.
Rex is fitted with true balanced outputs which I am hoping that your active crossover will accept.
''It's a tough call because I've read a lot about the Spectrons being somewhat "rolled off" in the upper register''-- Not at all in my system.
The Spectrons do take some break-in time so when they first come out to the box you may not entirely like what you hear. But after 400-500 hours your will be re-listening to all of your lp's and cd's as if it were the first time.
"I've read a lot about the Spectrons being somewhat "rolled off" in the upper register. . ."

If the above meant that Spectron's treble is not sizzly enough to make your ears bleed uncontrollably, and jarring enough to make your teeth feel like they are being clean with the ultrasound wand by a Sadam Hussein in a bad mood. . . then it is absolutely true.

Else. . . it's just an urban legend; Spectron's treble is open and musical. G.
I've not heard the Spectrons (mono or stereo) with any of my equipment but at a customer's with Maggie 20.1, the Musician III was incredibly good.

If you need a lot of horsepower, Spectron is worth a listen IMO.
Spectrons being somewhat "rolled off"

I do agree with you on it, there was some truth in it a few years ago - I heard it on standard Musician III. When they made Signature, I was told, the special attention was given to treble and indeed after I upgraded my M3 to Signature I could hear immense improvement and I thought its one of the best highs I ever heard. May be the best. About the same as Plinius Reference -M - similar signature.

From my conversation with Simon, I understood that in Mk2 they concentrated on the top-to bottom approach and during the process, he said, he noted some schematics which he felt was not needed. John agreed and after they removed it , already fantastic highs became much more open, they bloom, etc

I am cello player and with Mk2 and GOOD (!!!) recordings I close my eyes and I have uncanny feeling that the player(s) is in the room.

As much as I love stereo Mk2, the monoblocks remove additional layers of veil or whatever between me and soundstage. Again Simon explained it by totally removing distortions (don't confuse with random noise) in mono mode and letting music out undistorted.

I know BAT stuff. I agree with you that REX may be the best preamp in the world. I love it! I also know well BAT600SE-M as truly excellent amplifier - however, Spectron is much better. BAT have even order distortions present and you can hear them, particularly during crescendo where no amplifier in the world come even close to Spectron.

I owned or auditioned extensively MBL 90011, Gamut 200 MkIII-M, BAT VK600SE-M, Plinius SA-Reference-M, VTL Siegfrieds and CAT JL1. Sonically, Spectron Mk2 monoblock is simply in another league.

"the name on the faceplate ain't Krell or Mark Levinson!"

If you want noble pedigree then Spectron chief designer John Ulrick is the designer of famous Infinity speakers in the 70's and inventor of the first digital amp. Simply,from 80's he went into pro audio and thus his name has gone from short-term audiophiles memories. However, he has HUGE name among professional designers. He loves music and Simon is (was) professional classical pianist and Yada, Yada, Yada Musician III Mk2 was born

Finally, my friend owned M-L Summits and power requirements were not in the bass region but strangely enough at the top, can't remember why - check your M-L speakers as well.

Whatever you decide - be happy.
All The Best in Your Search
Thanks so much to each and every one of you for helping me to make this tough decision. Rafael, you have really used some top shelf amps! If you feel that The Spectrons can run with that pack then I feel I should give them the green light and order them.

Terry, the Exos crossover does accept the REX's true balanced outs and will mate perfectly.

So, let's get down to configuration....

Ideally, money not being the primary deciding factor, what is the best choice using Spectrons?

I have two towers (two sets of terminals), stat and midrange, which are currently jumpered. Simon had recommended bi-wiring them with a pair of SM3 MK2's. Is this the best choice? Should I go for one upgrade...both? What about that Neutrik Cable they offer....is it a better choice than sticking with standard high end speaker cable?

I will be running the separate bass stacks with a pair of SM3 MK2 monos. Are the mods at all necessary when running just the bass? I will spend money where it makes a difference but not where the gains are very minimal for the $$ spent.

You have all been SO great in helping me to this point. I'd appreciate finishing up the conversation with these last bits of practical advice so I have a clear picture of what to order when I'm ready to do so in a couple weeks.

Thanks all,
Hello Russ,

1 Their Remote Sense cable is better then all inexpensive -to medium price cables but is inferior (in some respects) to true high end cables like Valhalla and similar so I do not recommend them.

2 Set up at the top: If Simon suggest you to bi-wire then he must mean to use two amps in monoblocks configuration. You can use the same amps both in mono and in stereo mode so you can do and compare yourself what is the best for you
a) monoblocks with bi-wire or
b) stereo in bi-amp
Same two amps, same two sets of speaker cables

With BAT, however, you would need to send them to factory to reconfigure every time you want to go from stereo to mono

Upgrades - I don't know if anyone can tell you where they will be better : at the top or bottom. I have them. I love them - its question of the budget, on my opinion

All The Best
I believe you can order the Spectron built for mono only so that you do not need to do anything outside the amp like y-cables or anything like that. talk to Simon for more info. As far as upgrades I see Rafael has weighed in but also check with Terryakhan. He has 3 of these amps all with the upgrades and looking to go with a 4th.

Going with upgrades on an amp that is just going to drive the bass doesn't make much sense imho.
My $.02 I would run monoblock config on the tweet/mid towers, with good biwired speaker cables. I demo'd the Remote Sensing cables and they are very nice, but my wonderful Synergistic Research Tesla Accelerator biwires beat them in almost every category....at 3x the price of course.

Then I would start with a stereo MK 2 on the bass towers and see how that goes. A stereo Spectron is no slouch, especially when all it has to do is one thing.
Just got my Spectron Musician II SE and it's been running about an hour or so. I got this amp to run a second system with Dali Helicon 400MK IIs. My main rig is homemade horns that use an active crossover using a PX4 SET amp on top and a digital amp on the bottom. In just one hour of listening to the Spectron on the Dali's has got me second guessing horns and SETs. Maybe I'm smitten with something different at the moment but, I have to remember that this rig has only been playing an hour. I don't like the binding post. A real pain in the butt if you biwire. Plus, I don't use terminations so bare wire is a real treat to make fit tight. I told Simmon that this kind of amp should have two sets of binding post! So far, so good. A little edgy on attacks for now but I'm sure that after some break in it will be just fine. It's already competing with my favorite ss amp.
Hello Philefreak,

Thank you for your post. I coudn't stand the amp during first 100-200 hours! I am glad you like it but in a a month or so you simply will not recognize the sound.

I also agree with you that Cardass patented bining post is a pain in a .... Some people like it, I don't but its really small detail.

For the point of comparison - what is your favorite ss amp?

Thank you


I had the Remote Sense cables for a while. They were much better than the Nordost Red Dawn Rev II, and I'll put it against many cables costing twice as much. I agree with Rafael, they may not be in competition with the best cables out there. I recently got the Stereovox Reference cables throughout my system and the level of detail, speed and transparency I get from the amps with these cables is simply uncanny. But again the Stereovox Ref SC is 5.4x the price of the Remote Sense.

I also talked to Simon regarding to go mono-block or go biamp when I was getting the second amp. He suggested to go with mono-block. The improvement in sound quality was so great with the mono-blocks that I now doubt that bi-amping could have made so much of an improvement. This might be a different story in your case, but I think mono-block is the way to go for the technical reasons explained in Spectron's site.

My brother finds my system spooky because he says that the musicians are for sure in the room, he knows exactly where they are playing in reference to one another, but he can't seem them. And that freaks him out! He said that after I setup the mono-blocks.
Rafael, My reference in the second rig has been a Plinius SA 102. Not a piece of junk by any means. But, sitting here listening to Ronnie Earl it's so dynamic that's it's scary! Just downright scary. If(and I know it will) it gets much better I'll have to sell off the some of the main rig. It's amazing how dynamic conventional speakers can be. The leading edges and trailing (decay) of notes is so evident.
I believe the Spectron in its new MK2 form would be a great solution for you ML speakers which have a nominal ohm rating of 6 but can dip to much lower than that. The Spectron can handle ohms down to .01.

It is a very musical amp with plent of headroom with out being harsh at all at, very musical,great midrange and tight base. You can spend a ton more on the BATs and not get the sound of the Spectron MK2.

I have this amp and it is better than any other amp I have owned.
Well then, I am overwhelmed by all the praise for these amps.

I have always been a fan of tubes and was originally planning on a pair of Rogue Zeus amps to run the stat/mid panels. Then I was advised that more power would be necessary so I decided to stick with BAT, since a lot of my other equipment is BAT.

Now it seems like I have found an amp that offers the best of all worlds. High power to take hold of the massive Statements, sweet mids and highs for that tube-like quality (and a natural pairing with my BAT REX preamp) and finally, with a pair of monoblocks grabbing the bass towers, enough current to bottom feed like there's no limitation whatsoever.

The Spectron Musician III MK2 is now topping my list. 4 of them should drive these speakers to perfection but the real kicker is that if, after the break-in period, it turns out that I (and all of you) were off track then I can always return them.

Life is sweet!
4 Spectron mono blocks with a BAT Rex and ML Statements. That will be some system. I'll bet Simon at Spectron will will work very closely with you to get you exactly what you need.
Hi Guys as I pass the 45 hr mark on break in. I seem to notice that when I first start the music playing in the morning the amp seems flat but after about an hour of a signal it's just amazing. At night I just leave the on with no signal. Should I let a signal run through the amp at all times? Even if it's very low volume. Can't believe this amp so far and I'm just starting to hear it. Never knew solid state,much less digital, could be so holographic and natural.
Spectron monoblock(w/Vcaps)review has just been posted
on Stereotimes.com
Great review. I still stand by my recommendation that you could save the cost one one full stereo amp by monoblocking only the mid towers, not the bass tower. A stereo Mk2 will be enough there, really (as stated in the review, he uses 3 as well, for his 81 db inefficient Apogee Stages).
Well, I'm near 50hrs. The system goes from bass heavy to treble heavy. Listening to Anders Osborne, he whistles and it's just magical. I'm sure a whistle is hard to reproduce. I'm really shocked by these amps.
I just received my pair of Musician III SE Mk2 with bybee and V-cap upgrades, to use with Vandersteen 5a's (mandatory biwire). I set them up in biamp configuration with new speaker cables, and they sounded very nice right out of the box- very relaxed presentation and extended highs. I just got off the phone with Simon, and he recommends that I now try monoblock configuration, which will be my holiday project. Simon returned my email with a phone call on the eve of a holiday weekend- What audiophile company gives better service than that?
Wow so much news on the Spectron, I have been out of the loop for a time.
I got my Spectron III SE MK 2 V-cap/Bybee SE broken in now am getting into the critical listening.
I am using my H-Cat pre amp and comparing Spectron to BEL 1001 MkV mono block set on Usher 718 BE and Adagio Jrs for now.
My SP-Tech Revelation MR1 MkIII will be in this fall.

To start, I must echo the above.
I have never heard a purer unrestrained reproduction of the recorded input.
CD Denon 3910 modified Upgrade Co., Soundstring cables/cords.

With the Tremendous Increases going to mono block and the simplified set-up compared to verticle bi-amping I also concur that as the way to go.


More to come,
And a 2nd to go mono too!

For those that went from a well broken-in stereo Spectron to monoblock config, how did you manage the break-in process of the new (say left channel) amp? Did you run it as a stereo amp on another system? If so, did you run it loud or soft, does that even matter?

I'd normally run a new piece of euqipment softly and for a long time, when not actually listening, but to "integrate" or "introduce" a brand new amp into a monoblock situation is a different story; I don't want my left channel way out of whack to my right. So I will likely need to put it on a different signal source (easy for me to do; I have a second pre, my surround Continuums, a separate SB3 that i can run in a 24/7 loop, etc.) and wondered what other monoblock converts have done. Thx
Here is a followup to my post from a few days ago. I've now listened to the Musician III single amp, biamp, and monoblock. Here are my impressions in comparison to my previous amps (entry-level Class D monoblocks, which I will refer to as 'the old monos'):

One Spectron amplifier only: Similar to my old monos (with >1000 hours of use). The single Spectron had more natural and brilliant highs and better overall dynamics and power than the old monos. The old monos had slightly fuller and warmer midrange. I'm told that the Spectron midrange will be changing and improving by 300-500 hours.

Two Spectron in biamp configuration: Very similar to one Spectron amplifier.

Two Spectron in monoblock configuration: Big difference! It sounds like I am using bigger speakers and more sensitive speakers. Notes are more forward, more defined, fuller, and more detailed from attack to decay. Soundstage is expanded in width and depth. Dynamics are increased, and crescendos are more powerful. Also higher frequencies are more brilliant and lifelike than the old monos. I had chills again, which I never had with the old monos.
Psag: What are your old monos?

The Spectrons are the most incredible high powered amps that I have ever heard and I have gone through or heard dozens. For a power hungry speaker like yours I would highly recommend the Spectrons and if you want to go all out, get a pair and use them as monoblocks. Read the new review just posted by Don Shaulis on Stereo Times regarding this approach.
They are Rowland 201s. Not really a fair comparison, given the switching power supply utilized the Rowland, which is both excellent and practical. The Rowlands are only a fraction the size, weight, and cost of the Spectrons. A more fair comparison would be the Rowland 312, but I don't know if it can be used as a monoblock.

The Vandersteen 5A is relatively sensitive for a speaker of its size and capabilities. As others have mentioned, it will be driven capably by at least some 50 watt amps.
PSAG, setting up a pair of JRDG 312 as monos, can probably be done.. . you may want to check with JRDG. . . but if you were using Vandersteen 5 or 5As, the JRDG 301 monos may work better, as they are created for sensitive speakers. . . But I have heard Vandersteens 5As with Theta Citadels many times. . . and they sounded simply magnificent.
Hello Guido,
Yes, I'm sure the 301s would have been a great match for the Vandersteens. The 201s have a warm rich midrange but I wanted something a little more forward and immediate to "push" the Vandersteens, and I believe that the Spectrons fit that description.
Spectron is a good choice PSAG. . . JRDG 201 may not have sufficient power and current for the big Vandersteen. Guido
Just thought I'd chime in, as I'm a member of the Spectron club.
I started building my new system back in Jan. and it's taken a while to get everything in the house at the same time and operating properly.
And just when I thought it was safe to turn it on, along comes Hur. Gustav and it was time to leave.
But all is safe and now I really treasure my system.
I'm fairly new to all this good gear and bought the Spectron based on other people's opinions and ownership.
But I'd like to say I can see a long and healthy audio relationship in my future.

Spectron's sound, in my system, in my view and based on my experience is simply an open window into the music. First thing that people comment on when they hear my system, people who know nothing about stereo systems but know a thing about good music and love good music is " Wow, that sounds really clear! " Music sounds so natural, so layered, so effortless, that it's a very addictive experience. I have excellent components in my system, but I truly think the Spectrons are the best I have, since they made the most improvement in the overall sound.
I've been a little vague in my description and intentionally so. When you hear the Spectron you hear music. If you're an audiophile and dissect the sound into bass, mids, treble, soundstage, PRAT, i challenge nonbelievers to find me any single amp doing same or better than Spectron in any 2 or more categories.
As far as name recognition, a valid concern in my book as well, Spectron is an established name with an excellent reputation, while Krell and Levinson are simply names with a good reputation back in the '80s and '90s but who simply can't keep up with today's best. Just listen for yourself. I think it's an insult to Spectron to put Spectron, Levinson and Krell in the same line. Buck for buck, it's simply laughable.
I own Spectron M3 SE w Bybees and V-cap. Also Von Schweikert VR7, Audiologic 34MXL DAC, Benchmark USB DAC.
Hey Romandoc, did you get your super tube preamp to run your Spectron monoblocks?
Hi Rafael,

Not yet. The guy does good quality work at a reasonable price so he's swamped with orders. I also made a couple of changes to the original design. I heard of a couple of very highly regarded preamps using DHTs so I asked Nicholas what he thought of this. He said no problem, my own preamp uses a 45 tube driven by 6922. He adapted his preamp for the use of 6FQ7, electrically similar to 6SN7 and sat down and listened to pure 6SN7 vs 6FQ7 driving a 45. 6SN7 was darker, 45 was fuller sounding, better upper extension and more microdetail.
So now my preamp will be a choke coupled 6SN7 driving a 45 conservatively, the output transformer lowers the gain to 4dB in low gain mode or 8dB in high gain mode, I have 2 pairs of XLR outs and 2 pairs of SE outs , output impedance around 50 ohms with both XLRs used, which is very low.
The other thing is that the remote control unit didn't work out as expected and manual was significantly better sounding, so that's what I chose.
Will let you know how it sounds driving the Spectrons in monoblock mode.

"Will let you know how it sounds driving the Spectrons in monoblock mode"

Thank you very much - post your impressions
All The Best
My second Mark II amp (for monoblock)showed up and I'm beginning the 250-400 hr process of breaking it in. It's on a separate system running 24/7 with mono out of phase XLO break-in tracks running continuously via Squeezebox and a set of speakers facing each other, with thick comforter over them....works darn well, with little in-phase noise leaking out, even at decent gain levels.

I'll report back when I officially go monoblock. I'm geeked.