I'm looking for someone who has real experience with several solid state integrated amplifiers that could provide me with a recommendation.
I'm looking for a solid state integrated, if one exists, with a tube like presentation. I mostly listen to male and female vocalists and are looking for an integrated that excells in midrange warmth/bloom, and richness/sweetness, while maintaining sonic clarity.
I believe that the Ayre may meet my expectations, but is a bit expensive even in the used market.
Are there any other less expensive choices? Thanks in advance...
Please do not recommend any class D amplification. I have had several, including the new Wyred and they are not my cup of tea.
Hybrids will fit the bill nicely with tubes in the preamp stage and SS output stage. There is very little fussing you need to do with the signal tubes in the pre stage and they typically last 5000-10000hrs (depending on the amp design and signal tubes used). Suggestions:
Pathos Logos (100 wpc) Vincent SV-236 Mk II (150 wpc)
I'm preparing a special dinner and would appreciate some recommendations for a sauce to accompany the main entree.
Please pardon the sarcasm, but you wouldn't think of advising me without knowing the entree, right? Then why are there so many requests for amplifier recommendations that neglect to mention any speaker. It's becoming a bit irritating. Or maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Phaelon...the OP was not asking for an amp recommendation to match his speakers. He was asking for SS amp recommendations that have characteristics of tubes with specific emphasis on midrange warmth etc...The presumption is that he is knowledgeable enough to properly match amp suggestions to his speaker's requirements. My 2c worth.
Sfrounds, Sorry, you can't get there from here. If you want all the benefits of tubes, buy tube electronics. However, a recommendation for a very good sounding solid state amplifier is Mark Levinson 20.5. You will not be disappointed with the sound and it shouldn't have a problem driving your speakers, whatever they might be.
Ayre does not sound like tubes at all. Nor does Rowland, a popular recommendation. McIntosh is the only SS that sounds remotely like tubes to me due to the autoformers--but even the Mcs don't have the layered midrange that tubes provide.
Based on the particulars of your needs---get a tube integrated. There are many that are quite good and not expensive. Check out the Stingray for instance. It also depends on what speakers you are running, of course.
I have owned quite a few integrated amps over the years and the amp that meets your description best is the Portal Panache. Now to put that in perspective I have only owned one tube amp in the last five years so take my recommendation for what it's worth.
Cmalac, I believe you missed the point. The issue isn't "his" knowledge, it's the requisite knowledge necessary to give sound advise. The Op is asking for specific amplifier recommendations. Are you suggesting that the sensitivity and impedance of his speakers won't have any influence on your recommendation.
Phaelon...I am absolutely not suggesting that and I do not believe I am missing the point at all. Ofcourse, his speaker's sensitivity and impedance characteristics (not to mention phase angle profile across the frequency spectrum) will determine whether a 30wpc Class A SS integrated is appropriate or not but I am assuming the OP can filter through the suggestions that will match poorly with his speakers. You are correct in that if we knew what his speakers were that will (in general but not always) narrow the list of recommendations to integrated amps that will better match his speakers. In any case, I am not trying to stir up the pot here nor do I want to hijack the OP's thread for this sidebar discussion.
Sfrounds...please let us know what your speakers are so we can better make suggestions that suit your needs.
As Cmalak stated in his response, I was only asking a generic question whether anyone had first hand experienced a SS integrated that had tube like characteristics, and that was pretty much it. end of story.
Thank you all that have provided some insight!
During my forty years in the hobby, I have owned many tube, tube hybrids, and solid state amps/integrateds. I was not looking for an integrated amp recommendation to match a particular pair of one my speakers.
I dont get around much, and was hoping that some of you that have had the pleasure of listening to a vast amount of gear out there may be able to help.
However, in response to a post here today, if I were trying to offer assistance to someone who was trying to match an amp with a pair of speakers, I might ask him to tell me about his room first!
So, I am greatful to all who offered their experiences. I will take a look at the recommendations, and go from there.
not sure if you are looking for new stuff or used but I owned a Classe CAP150 that seemed like what you are describing, on the warm side but still detailed. I kind of regret selling it. There are a few iterations of it, CAP100, CAP151 etc. I have no experience with the newer stuff from Classe.
My two cents would be the McIntosh MA 6600. Integrated amp used before and loving every minute with it was the Quest for Sound SQ-88 a 55 watt tube unit, The MA 6600 gives me all of the best of the tube amp and more. It gives me the magic of tubes with the solidity and ease of SS. A host of user features makes it even more livable and lovable. Good hunting.
I would look into the Rega Elicit. I wouldn't say that it is "tube=like" but I would say that it has good PRAT characteristics with a touch of warmth and no exaggerated brightness. Overall, it's extremely musical and natural. That's not to say it's going to be a great match for everyone. If your speakers are bright, it will seem bright. If your speakers are warm or neutral, it will likely be a good fit. If your speakers are dark, it seem dark. Also, the Elicit has a sufficient 82wpc, but it won't drive current-hungry 4ohm loads very well.
I've used this amp on WLM La Scala monitors and it sounded great. It also is a good partner with my Zu Essence (it doesn't make them over-bright) like some other solid state gear. I also hooked up my Cambridge Siroccos S30's from my office system and it made them sound great as well.
Not saying this should be your destination, but I might try to start listening with the Rega, listen to some LFD gear or Luxman gear, and listen to Ayre gear, and listen to some Naim gear to get a good flavor of what's available in this area.
I second some of the other suggestions to go with a hybrid. While I haven't auditioned any of the hybrid gear, the Jolida gear is relatively inexpensive and upgradeable.
Also, if you are interested in tubes, look at Van Alstine's new Ultravalve amp. Relatively inexpensive, highly recommended, and comes with a 30-day in-home audition. Also, I think it's discounted 15% in December. The only issue there is you will still need a pre-amp.
I've got a Wyred STI-500 breaking in at home, and it sounds VERY promising so far. It is very cable sensitive I notice. So I am curious as to your negative reaction to Wyred or other class D integrateds. Thanks, Art
Thanks for your opinion. I respectfully disagree. As far as SS amps go I believe the XA30.5/60.5/INT-30 have it more than any other SS amp I have ever heard. If you want tubes, get tubes, but this is as close in my opinion.
We are both avid Pass owners and post on the product often as we are both big fans so I dont want to debate you, but the X series is dead neutral, the XA is just sweet/rich side of neutral and what it does like tubes is the openness. Vocals are rich to me.
I seem to think that it will be very difficult to find a SS amp that portrays the very best qualities of tubes, but there may be some that come close. I recommend listening to something from Red Wine Audio. My dad just upgraded to a pair of the new Signature 70.2 mono blocks and they sound very nice. The newer models now incorporate a tube input stage, which helps to give them that magic.
Italy's Audio Analogue makes super sweet integrated amps that are very close to my Sony V-Fet amp (now the V-Fet does sound like a tube in harmonic richness; I have the low powered TA-4650 with only two VFET devices per channel and often prefer it even to my all tube Scott 222D it's that good).
Gryphon is a brand, while not that well known to the US, due to lack of distribution, which has an unmistakably 'musical' quality. Your description: "I'm looking for a solid state integrated, if one exists, with a tube like presentation. I mostly listen to male and female vocalists and are looking for an integrated that excells in midrange warmth/bloom, and richness/sweetness, while maintaining sonic clarity." ...makes it clear that the finer perceived aspects of tubes, low level resolution, micro and macro dynamics, which really flesh out the nuance of vocals, are your priorities. The Gryphon is kind of enigmatic to me, in that it doesn't sound like tubes, per se, but has these qualities--AND never has an edge of transisitor harshness. Walking the fine line of musical, but without obvious coloration. Its a shame the Mr. Rassmussen of Gryphon has had such woeful experiences in his attempted US Distribution, as this is ONE REALLY FINE PRODUCT LINE. You should look at this...IMHO, as it may be just what the Doctor ordered. Good Luck,
This amplifier has over performed almost all amplification I had and I did have some serious gear including Bel Canto Ref1000, McCormack DNA-250, Conrad Johnson Premier 12 and others. The CA200 is simply wonderful. I have never heard my Sonus Faber Amati Anniversarios sing better. The musicality, detail, soundstage are simply phenominal. Everything I throw at it comes out as beautifuly as I have ever heard it. Unforetunately CJ stopped manufacturing them as they were not succesful enough in the market. I guess if they took the same amp and put it in a twice as large case things would be different. Read the numerous review on the net and you will get an idea.