Spectron Musician III Signature vs VTL Siegfried?

I have the Musician III Signature two months. In my review, a month ago, I wrote:

"the sound, excellent to begin with, dramatically changed for the better. The highs became something magical, I never heard such in any solid state or tube amplifier. Totally silky and extended to heaven!!!! The "see thru" soundstage became immensely three-dimensional, truly, I feel sometimes that I can touch musician, go around him or her, and soundstage huge to begin with became even more specious! Midrange became "alive" like in the best tube amplifiers I ever owned or even auditioned, its magic feeling!!!! Base have now both: more authority and startling clarity - so different from one-note solid state and mushy tube base. I can play it quietly and I can play it loudly - no slightest strain. Additionally, black background became even blacker again as never in any other amplifier I auditioned in the past. It adds to the overall "magic".

Last week, I got well broken in VTL Siegfried monoblocks for a a few days of auditioning. Spectron cost $$6.5k, Siegfried - $35k. Spectron weight 50 lbs, Siegfried - 360 lbs. Both declare power into 8 Ohms - 600 watts and and into 4 Ohms - 800 watts. Headroom, Spectron 3600 watts over 330 msec, Siegfried - unknown. As a matter of fact, VTL except power and few others does not disclose its specs even such important as bandwidth and distortions.

OK, playing - both show big soundstage and good imaging. Treble is Spectron's domain, VTL sound simply murky and veil. Midrange is warmer in tube amp, very pleasant on ear. Bass - here is my problem. First, I though VTL bass is better - weightier and richer. Next I compare a few discs and to my surprise I am starting to believe that this monster tube amp bass is full of distortions, full of warm rich details which are not present at all in cello which I played and Spectron is accurate and after few days even surprisingly for me, I fall in love with Spectron bass - rich weighty. Perhaps, one detail. I am not sure I can physically hear deep bass but I can feel it, my chest is "shaking" my listening chair leather is vibrating etc. I hear it in Spectron very much and just a little bit with Siegfried.
I am eager to know if anybody else have experience with Musician III Signature vs best tube amplifiers? Thank you very much for reply
Thanks for the detailed description but it's hard to get a feel for everything without knowing the rest of your system... Cabling, preamp, speakers, CDP?

I've heard the S400 stereo VTL and the bass was amazing, and the liquid midrange was amazing, and perfect detail in treble without any hardness. This was on my Watt Puppy 7's, Transparent Reference Cabling, and a Casablanca III with a Theta Gen VII DAC and Theta Compli CD player.

I've heard the monoblock VTL's on Wilson Maxx II's with basically the same setup except Transparent Opus Speaker Cable and it wasn't necessary to turn on the Wilson XS sub for any reason the bass was so articulate and low hitting. I use to play the upright bass and the notes with either VTL were spot on in tonal quality and that is one of my key gauges.

Did you have the Spectron control speakers cables on your system? How much of a difference did that make over stock cables?
No but a PS Audio GCA or GCC modified by Underwood HiFi, or the guy that PS recommends in their Forum section,will be tough to beat for a lot less $$$$$$$
It's probably a bit too soon to comment, but Simon asked me if I would and he is such a great guy, how could I say no?

First of all, I have but 330 hours of actual music-time on the Spectron Musician III Signature, and I have been told to hold back on any judgments until I have used the amp for at least 500 hours. That said, I can still make a few comments. Cutting to the chase, I like the amp so much that I ordered a second one to use in a vertical bi-amp mode with my MBL 101Es.

For the past 5 years I have enjoyed a pair of Avantgarde Trios and have run them with a couple of dozen of the finest low-power, mostly single ended tube amplifiers available (including Jadis 845, 300B, several Wavelength models, Audiopax, Kronzilla, Wavac, Lamm 2.1 and finally, the best of the bunch - the Tron 300B amps which are just simply magical on the Trios.)

I had beautiful custom-built woofers specially made for the Trios (their stock woofers are junk!) and bi-amped them and equalized the bass. The sound was about as good as it gets with Trios, and that is very, very good.

Recently, I took delivery on a pair of MBLs and after doing a bit of research, decided to give the Spectron a try. How can you lose with a 30-day money back guaranty. I had my doubts, since I was of the opinion (as are many audiophiles) that class D is great for bass, but not particularly worthy of being used with the finest speakers.

How wrong I was. Remember that my previous reference sound was a magnificent 300B amp that has, to my experience, no equal in the mid-range, and is very extended and sweet on the top end. Bass was great, being run with a dedicated solid state amp and well equalized. The MBLs are being driven, full range, with a single Spectron.

Here are my feelings after two weeks: The treble is clearly the finest I have ever heard. The sound stage is in a class by itself. Depth, height, width, layering - it's all there in abundance. Dynamics rival the big Trio horns. Even micro dynamics are all there, and that is an area that the Trios are very strong in. The mid-range "magic" is not quite up to the Trons, but then I need 800 watts, not 7 watts. And - the amp is not fully broken in yet.

I have definitely come to the conclusion that the Spectron is VERY power cord sensitive. If you like detail, transparency and tight bass, use the Nordost Brahma. If you want more of a "tube-like" sound, warmer, rounder, but very natural, the Top Gun CCCP is a great choice.

The problem I have with this review of the Spectron is that I am really commenting on TWO new products at the same time and it is, as you know, impossible to attribute all of the results to either the speaker or the amp. Still, I think the potential of the Spectron is great enough that I purchased a second one. It's sound is natural and uncolored. Perhaps the 300B sound is a bit euphonic, which I happen to like a lot.

If you need a high powered amp, I can't think of anything else that will do a better job at anywhere near the price. It is a great effort and one that will remain a secret to the vast number of audiophiles who need to spend more or will avoid it because it is class D. Their loss!

This is an amp you can buy with confidence and chances are, you will never return it after the 30 days are up.
To Tweak1
You wrote "PS Audio GCA or GCC modified by Underwood HiFi, or the guy that PS recommends in their Forum section,will be tough to beat for a lot less $$$$$$$"

Firstly, you did not answered my question. Secondly, you did not compare (as I understand from your brief comment) your favorite amp with Musician III Signature. Thus, how you can say one is better then other is beyond me.

However, I want to make two comment in response to your post
a) PS Audio, with legion of others, just buy 3d party digital modules (ICE, Hypex etc) and put into chasses without any change whatsoever (like Bel Canto) and glue the label with their name or at best put their own power supply - usually, borrowed from other units. Next, you music lover compare the sound coming from the exactly the same module (i.e. output stage) enclosed in the red box vs one enclosed in green box and judge one to sound better then another.
Its not funny, its really sad. Only two or three US companies make their own digital amps - Spectron, NuForce and one more, I forgot its name...

b) Since your modifier cannot possibly open closed digital module from the 3d party all that they can do is tinker on the edges. At best, they change a few capacitors and few diodes in power supply, binding posts and other simplest possible manial job and, Tweak1, they charge you rather big money - around $1k. All this stuff real manufacturer includes in their Signature Edition(SE) like NuForce and Spectron BUT, BUT, Tweak1 - they also change the heart of digital or class D amplifier - digital module which is responsible, frankly for nearly 100% of the sound (not counting effect of power supplies).

Finally, what I said is not related to modifying CD/DVD/SACD Players - peple like Stan Warren, leave only digital chips and chasses and build their own output stages and re-build power supplies. Depending on the modifier, its the most economical path to get excellent digital front.
Hi Dob: I too invested in the Spectron Signature, as a replacement for my ASL Hurricanes. The "Toob" Hurricanes are great amps for music, however they lack the depth and dynamics necessary for good Cinema, and I enjoy both. Even though music is my focus is two channel, I also enjoy Movies. The Spectron is equally adept at both, highly unusual in this era of specialization. I was very pleasantly surprised my the Signature's midrange and it's high frequency output. The mids had more warmth than the ASL's, Don't get me wrong! The ASL's are a wonderful piece of gear, however, they lack the Overall "Complete" presentation of the Signature. Spectron's beautifully spacial highs are truely mezmorizing. I have never heard such detail, although it is rrain free, with absolutely no hint of fatigue. The Signature's bass is subterranian, as one would expect of a quality SS Amplifier. However, once again, I am thrilled with the bass detail. As good as the Hurricane's and the Cary's before them, their bass output is the all too familiar one note "Boom."The Signature reveals all the true harmonics in proper bass reproduction. I made this purchase after reading "RealSoda's"informative review. I think my search for soniv Nirvana is finally over! Thanks Soda and good luck Dob!
I'm taking this thread even more off topic, but since someone mentioned the PS Audio GCC series, I'll add this.

I have a GCC100 as modded by Underwood/Parts Conextion. The top mod I have does in fact upgrade parts in the Ice modules themselves.

I had the amp stock, then had it modded so I could clearly hear the improvement. The gain cell volume is a huge boost in transparency. This integrated amp on a Power Plant offered some of the best Solid State I have ever heard.

I also own some ATma-sphere MA1's (older 12 tube) and when I finally retubed them and hooked them up to my Cerious Speakers ( I figured I should hear the tubes and maybe sell them) I was shocked at how much more like real music they sounded like. It was like going from a 2D high definition image to a holigram. Great I thought, I can just sell the GCC. Well then before selling the GCC I thought just as an experiment I should hear it on my woofer section and the Atma's on the mids/highs. Well that was expensive, since I now have to keep the GCC. The bass is quite tight and being able to dial in as much or as little bass as needed is welcome after so many years without tone control.

I have also heard the Sigfried but only at the NY hi fi show, and have heard the Tron 300B, but in an unfamilar system. I was surprised how well the Tron fleshed out the bass.

Did I appologize for taking this off topic?
To Emailist,
Well, I made inquries as the the mod:

Level 2 modification
One sheet of SoundCoat chassis damping material cut & applied where applicable
One sheet of ERS EMI/RFI suppression paper applied in critical locations
Twelve Japanese Riken ½ and 1 watt signal-path carbon resistors with gold-plated leads
Five feet of DH Labs 18-gauge Revelation Series pure 99.999% silver solid-core input signal wire with Teflon tape-wrap dielectric
One pair of premium WBT-0210-Cu 'direct gold plated over copper body' RCA female jacks
Four premium WBT-0763 single output binding posts
Four EAR large Sorbothane isolation feet
Ten feet TRT WonderSolder used throughout
6 hours labor
Note: This mod does not contain any ICEpower module changes and is covered by the full PS Audio factory warranty.

Level 3 modification [$1,295 retrofit to your GCA/GCC 100, and $2,995 for GCC-500 for the same power level as Spectron - to compare apples with apples]
The Level 3 is the same as the Level 2, plus upgrades to the ICEpower boards. These upgrades are:
Eight more Japanese Riken ½ and 1 watt signal path carbon resistors with gold-plated leads
Four Black Gate ultra-premium electrolytic capacitors
7 hours labor (one more hour than the Level-2)

So, for three thousand dollars you got parts substution and even not the best in its class (Ricken is cheap resistor with relativey poor bottom. When the same modifier wanted to install better quality he/they used Tantalum by Audio Note - just a few dollars more).

SHAME !!!!!!!
I started the this thread not to discuss expensive part sabstitutors (prostitutors?)
but to compare best in class D design versus best in tube design amplifier, If you have anything to add then please do so - otherwise, please start your own discussion
Hello Dob,
I agree with you fully. Musician III Signature is a killer, just a killer. I have it, matched to my own tube preamp and it drives power hungry Diapasons by Shahinian Acoustic. I, tried it with borrowed ($20k, sorry) BAT flagship preamp, REX which IS THE BEST preamp in the world and Spectron bloomed, just bloomed.
I think that people who buy $20k-$30k components do not realize that this $6k - $7k (retail) amp is incredible performer, particualarly for difficult to drive speakers.
Thank you.
Disclaimer - I do audio engineering consulting and BAT as well as Spectron are companies are worked.
to Simontju,
Thank you Simon, I also noted that most of Spectron owners formerly owned tube amplifiers and compare Spectron to the tube gear - theirs or others. Also, many of them have very difficult speakers to drive.
I've listened to a lot of amps over the years, and built a few, too: mostly triode tube amps. As the years passed, my audio budget became more ample, and I have been able to try
just about all the "killer" amps out there, tube and solid state. The good news is that the art form is actually improving. The bad news is that audio mags and their advertisers have done a great job pushing the price of amplification skyward. But I was prepared to suck that up, and just get the "killer amp" that would make it unnecessary to wring hands again about amplification. At least for several years.

Hearing the Spectron Musician III Signature has put an end to my amp questing. There just is no amp out there that combines the authority, tonal rightness and delicacy of this amp. It will drive anything, and laughs at tough loads that send a lot of amps into deep depression. {I've used it with the Shahinian Diapasons (19K), which are notoriously tough to drive, and also with the new Fried Reference (25K) which are not) But what really blew me away is how the M3 Sig does so with utter transparency and tonal accuracy. Its treble reproduces the almost-impossible-to-reproduce sound of massed violins with no haze, no glare and enough vividness that you feel you can hear the rosin on the bow. Voices have the kind of immediacy that many associate with single ended tube amps. And when it is time for the kettle drums in Malher, or the juicy bass of, say, Charlie Haden, the amp controls the speaker with complete authority. Not just firm bass; rock solid, clean, REAL bass. [NB I was a symphony musician for several years. Sitting in the middle of an orchestra really teaches what real instruments in real space sound like.]

All of this performance for so few dollars, comparatively, and with complete reliablility and no furnace effect. Yikes!

I was prepared to spend up to 30K for amplification, and end the quest. I was thrilled to spend less. But I am even more thrilled to be out of the amp-comparing business. Its just not as good as listening to the music.
Very intriguing indeed. The most enjoyable amp I have heard this far is the relatively new Rowland 312. Has anyone A/Bd the Spctron Sig and the 312? At less than half the price of the 312, the Spectron would be quite appealing if it can match the amazing sound I heard from the Rowland. Does anyone knoew if Spectron will be present at the Denver AudioFest this fall?
I don't think so. They are busy with their professional audio amps. They are designing 8000 watts and not peak, continious amp (!!!!!!!) and they presented the prototype a few months ago at NSCA convention in Orlando, FL. I don't think they will be at CES 2008 but I heard already 6-7 speaker manufacturers asked them to let then use their latest amp at CES
Thank you Dob. I was actually asking about Spectron presence at the Denver Rocky Mountain Audiofest, rather than CES. Do you know if any speaker manufacturers would be featuring Spectron there?
I called them - No, they will not. If one of the speaker manufacterer will go there then you will see this amp there but they did not anything about it.
Meanwhile, I was able to listen Musiciam III Signature with fantastic tube preamp, Einstein and with this amp it was heaven, just heaven
I also just bought the Spectron on the recomendation of someone that I respect in this forum but was not expecting great things from it for I had not read any of the forums or any of the literature about it. Sounds dumb but I had a demo show here planned where I had the local hifi dealer coming with my new pair of B&W 802d's and he was bringing his best monoblock amplifiers to play on them for the day for we had a guest coming in from out of tomn to show us his new amplifier which I will not name at this point because it was suppose to be the greatest new amp made and he was going to show our group how so.

Anyway, the Spectron showed up on the doorstep about an hour after the meeting started so we already were comparing the reference monoblocks from the local store (13k) and comparing them to the new amplifier from our out of town guest which retails for about 11k. They were a very close match but we decided to stick in this Spectron amp into the mix also.

The minute it started playing you saw about 12 heads snap around to see what amp it was. Even the owner of the store said he could here immediatly how much it bettered his reference monoblocks from his store. We were using my Einstein "The Tube" pre amp and this combo just seemed like magic.

I have to say the Spectron is at this point the best amp I have ever heard, and I cannot wait til I get it broken in. And like some of you above, I have owned a great variaty of amps and speakers. We tried it with a cheap solid state amp that I had on hand as well and all it did was amplify every flaw that it had. Having a great pre-amp and preferably a tubed one at that I think is a great match with the Spectron. In fact, I cant think of a better one.
Duly noted Farmersre. Unfortunately comparisons with 'mystery' amps' are not noticeably helpful nor are they particularly credible, until the veil of mystery is lifted, identities are revealed, and some detailed findings are offered. Please tell us more when you are in a position of telling us what all the contenders were and what were the various pros and cons of each amp.
this original posting is simular to my thoughts on this amplifier. i was running carey mono blocks....and parasound amps at one time before i went to a musician II (signature). these were all being played thru dynaudio confidence series speakers and a joule pre amp with all the tweaks. i have since evolved into a musician III signature played thru a BAT 51SE and Vonschwiekerts VR5SE speakers. Well i find the cary amps are now for sale, i will never play them again....though they were very good and my long time benchmark. the parasound is gone. this musician III is a sneaky sort of (wonderful) amp. i keep thinking i can do better....but then when listening...it is just so seamlessly accurate, without harshness....matches perfect with the VR5's....and the soundstage is ...huge. from jazz and classical to old rock...at any volume level this is an unbelieveable amp. maybe they should start charging more and make it more exclusive ... as this seems to be the only reason not to own one of these. i have now had spectron make me another amp (elite) with the musician III signature front L/R, and 5 regular musician III amps for a monster 7 channel amp for my theater system.....and this is such a monumental step forward from any multi amp i had listened to....i guess the bottom line is i am becoming pretty opinioned that these amps are going to be hard to improve on at any price
Guidocorona, this guy is a neighbor of mine. He really has gone through a lot of expensive gear. I am going to be trying the Musician in the near future.
Thanks Muralman, I am looking forward to reading your comparative findings once you have an opportunity of auditioning the Musician 3 in your system!
I will cut to the chase - I do not know of a better buy in high end audio than the Musician III. It will drive virtaully any load no matter how power hungy or nasty. It plays in a musically natural fashion with outstanding treble and bass. The transparency, staging and dynamics leave nothing to be desired. If you want a $20,000 amp for thirty cents on the dollar, look no farther.

You will have to really nit-pik to find something not to like about this amp. But - give it 4-500 hours break in and have a high quality power cord to mate with it (I use the Nordost Brahma). Satisfacton guaranteed!

PS: I am the source of the Spectron to the review below by Farmerse. He agrees with my assesment, as you can see. So will you.
Molly, what amps have you been able to compare directly with Spectron Mus 3?

I have my Signature, now, with more then 1000 hours burn-in. To my amazement, the amp continues to play better and better. Specifically, background became significantly more blacker. The top obtain some really heavenly qualities, bloom if you wish for luck of better word. ,Midrange has more finesse and bass is tighter which is very, very pleasant to hear. Its truly the best bass I ever heard in my entire life (except live concerts, of course). Its sound very different then 500 hours ago and it still improving..... I can't believe it!!!!!

Thank you Guidocorona and SimonTJU for bringing the subject of balanced class D amplifier versus single ended... You both are right, there are certain advantages to use them in balanced mode. Yesterday, I changed my interconnects between my preamp and Spectron amp from SE to balanced and.... to begin with, I think sound pressure increased by 6 dB so Spectron should change specs info in their web site. HOWEVER, sound became more "musical" more liquid, more "seductive" - slam appeared to me stronger (vicious!) and bass somewhat deeper. I have read your discussions and expected some changes ...but not as much. I can only wonder how Spectron will sound in balanced monoblocks mode....

One more thing - before, I had to turn off my amp every night but I don't need to do it anymore and background became even more blacker. Verrrrrry nice.
Thank you, guys again!
Molly, Wondering if you were able to compare the Spectrum to the MBL's 9008 monoblocks?
Hello Cyrus,
Molly does compared , in one of his posts, rather favorably two ultra expensive MBL monoblocks vs single stereo 6.5k Spectron. I would bet that Molly's praise for Spectron would be even higher if he would compare two MBL's with two Spectron monoblocks in fully balanced mode. Still, even two, Spectron is many times cheaper then MBL's...
All The best
Hi all,
I think I'm the only one here have a chance to try the Bridged-mono balanced mode. See the ad below!
Since I'm the dealer so I won't say too much here. Also, lots of good things about the Musician III SE had been post here already.
I had a chance hosting a listening session during the RMAF in Denver using one single amp with awesome results. Interested parties can check out the Audio circle http://www.audiocircle.com under SP Technology Speakers. Lots of good comments about the system performance.
Last week, just for the fun of it. I try the bridged-mono balanced mode and the results was more than stunning. If you think one amp is good wait till you try two. Of course, make sure your speaker is low in distortion, high power handling. We're talking 2kW/8ohms, not many speakers out there can take this kind of "abused".