SS Amp Designer by Reputation


It looks like I'm going to try my first solid state amp soon. Looking for used < $3k. I've seen many brands here like Krell Jeff Roland, Pass, PS Audio, etc. Frankly, I don't have time to read endless reviews or discussion threads and auditioning before I purchase is out of the question.

So, is there a consensus on the top 3 manufacturers/designers that I can focus on when shopping? I will certainly end up selling it and trying something else anywho so, it's not important that I'll nail it on my first try. I just want to make sure my first purchase is close to the bulls eye.

Once I get the three brands, I'll do my research on a particular model from there.

thanx!!
pawlowski6132
You should add McIntosh to your list. They have been making amps for 70 years. I have friends that own their gear and swear by it!
Also, McCormack, which should fit your budget. And, you can have SMcAudio upgrade it.
What are your other components?That would help in narrowing down the choices.
Bob
Check out Cary Audio's SA200.
I forget what they sell for though.

NICE amps!
Don't take this the wrong way but I'd avoid the pitfalls of a popularity contest. The same caveats you raise about reviews and discussion would apply to any list that anyone cares to come up with.

Having said that, there's an amp maker named Liu, from China, who's fond of the Swiss approach to amp design. Think champagne taste on a beer budget, without the bloat.

The amp is the Kinki EX-M1 and there are two versions that both come under your price limits. I have the first version and I'll die with this integrated.

All the best,
Nonoise
Second McCormack. DNA 1, and done. Why shotgun when you can nail a bulls-eye first try?
Assuming used is okay and you have been a tube guy. I'd look at SST Son of Ampzilla 2000. Pass has some models that x tube guys like. You didn't say how much power that you needed. I don't see a tube head liking any PS Audio all solid state amps, any affordable Krell, I could see you leaning towards an older Jeff Rowland.  One of the better old pure class A amps that are properly rebuild might work... Kinergetic KBA75?  
I owned a Rowland Concentra I for years, and thought it was outstanding. However, they are getting a bit old now, and the design is not independent-tech friendly, so re-capping, etc., could be expensive.
You definitely want to stay a way from older Krell amps Like the KMA and KSA series. They used an insufficient number of output devices and were under cooled. Many of them blew their output stages.
I am a Pass fan if you can find a decent unit for the money you plan on spending which is unfortunately not likely. You might find a used Sanders amp for that money and they are a great value if you like the sound which is more like the Boulder amps. If you could save up to $5000 you might find a pair of JC-1s which blow everyone away. McIntosh is always an option if you value reliability over everything. They have a very comfortable if slightly veiled sound quality.    
Try Parasound A21+ not A21  
Mark  Levinson 532h is outstanding,  great midrange ranked as about the best and will drive anything with ease. 
You can find on Agon for just over $3,000 Used and will be worth it. 
Their reputation is outstanding.  
With a budget of < $3K it is tough to make a rep based on my experience. But first I would want to know what kind of speakers you are driving. What is the sensitivity in dB and impedance in ohms. Having said that I don’t think you can go wrong with getting a pair of Schiit Vidar monoblocks and you will have money to spare. An amp that I have been circling around because the personal reviews and specs are amazing is the Benchmark AHB2 which is $2999. Another favorite, but you will have to stretch the budget a little is the Bryston 4B3 which you can get used with proper negotiating for around $3300-$3600. 
You could try a used Anthem P2 it will last a very long time, built like a tank and able to drive any speaker out there, 325wpc @ 8ohms
Marantz reference series and or rogue audio are my preferences....very happy with both my pm14s1 and sphinx v2...
Bryston is another excellent choice.
I'd pounce on the Pass X30.5 on here right now for 2800.  No affiliation to seller....I used to own a X250 fantastic!
@ pawlowski6132 


I've been to Troy Michigan...you have a great audio store nearby if I remember correctly....Audio Dimensions?

Your profile says the LS50s are your current loudspeakers...and as you know, they need lots of good quality power to sound their best.  I'm going to make a recommendation that is a little counter to those already made...a new amp from a brilliant designer which you can try for 30+ days and return if its not your cup of tea.  It weighs 18lbs so it won't cost a lot to return and if you look at all the reviews on the company's products you will see praise that notes things like combines the best of tube and solid state.

I own this amp (the 2Cherry) so like others, I'm speaking from my own experience.  Here is a link...and I see the company is having a summer sale so I'm pretty sure that if you email them , you will find that the price is $300+ lower than the normal retail price....so well under your $3k budget depending on the version you choose.


https://www.cherryamp.com/5-channel-amp

Here is a link to the most recent review I've seen of one of their products...and on their home page, they have many links to others.

https://www.audiopursuit.com/2019/03/cherry-amplifier-maraschino-desktop.html

Here is a link to their audio circle page...lots of interesting reading here.

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=174

Good Luck
 As noted , McCormack is a good choice. So is Modwright.
PS Audio BHK 300 monoblocks! 
Thanx for all the great replies. I'm beginning to get the picture on what some of the most popular brands are.

Also, I may do a little research after all because there are a few brands I haven't heard of yet!


 At the end of the day....nothing beats trying it in your own system...so don't let analysis paralysis rule the day....let us know what you decide.
Check out Benchmark AHB2 amp at $3000 new; an incredible buy.
It did wonders for my system.
The very best is Spectral - Keith Johnson is a true master...sorry I just saw the budget. I'd look for a used Ayre integrated then.
Another vote for the McCormack DNA series.  You might even be able to score a DNA 500 between $3k and $3.5 k.  If so, you will have hit the bullseye on your first try!
The TFM 45 Carver from the 80s is dead quite, very powerful at 375 wpc and inexpensive. Run one through the Carver shop for updates & the sound great. IMHO
DNA-500 especially if you are driving low impedance speakers. I have one driving my Thiel CS5's effortlessly.

Thanks for listening,

Dsper
Got my Threshold S/550E for 2k. It's nice as long as you don't mind moving 100lbs around.