The obvious thing to do would be to contact Nola and get their input. All your choices seem fine and I wouldn't rule out Pass Labs either. Best of Luck
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+1 to what Needfreestuff said above about getting Nola's input.
One local audiophile by me who had a big money system used Red Dragon M1000 monoblock amps to power the subs in his system. When I bought them and put them in my system I heard an immediate bump in bass vs the tube amp I had in place before. I say give a class D type amp a try for bass. Maybe an NCore based amp.
thanks for your reply needfreestuff.
Carl Machisotto (head of nola) prefers valve amps all round, leaning towards audio research ref 300's, but accepts that my taste is more for solid state bottom ends.
and i've just had confirmation of the new vtl pre-power price, that rules that one out for the time being.
currently the front runner is boulder used 2010 pre-amp, new vtl 450-iii monoblocks, and used krell 750mcx monos
is there a better amp for bass than the krell 750mcx monoblocks?
or some valve monoblocks that jump all over the vtl 450-iii's ?
and will the vtl 450's (valve)be happy with a boulder 2010?
i realise that's a scatter-gun approach to questioning, but maybe dear reader you know the answer to one of them?
many thanks for your time and help
Infinitelybaffled hi, looks like you aren't short of a buck with these speakers you have, so here goes the best I can conjure up without throwing money away.
The ribbon tweeters they have, they claim to go to 100khz and should be exploited with a wide bandwith amp, for tube amps that only means OTL's, as transformer coupled tubes cannot do that kind of wide bandwith unless they have masses of feedback which then is a problem in itself.
For your Nola Baby Grand Reference I would go solid state and as much class A as I could, with a big backup power for transients of class A/B, and that would be a pair of Pass Labs XA200.8 200 Watt Class A Monoblocks.
For your sub towers I would go for bigger power Pass Labs Class A/B X-350.8 monoblocks
You could go for some quality Class D amps for the bass, as they do bass well, but that's all in my opinion.
I would suggest you go with a tubed preamp as well as the amp for the Baby Grands. I own the Nola Micro References, and have heard the Baby Grands, both using VAC electronics. I have heard the Boulder equipment, and while it is extremely revealing I feel, at least in the preamp and the midrange and up, that it lacks that sense of live music that I only get from tubes. I think you should consider a VAC preamp and the either Phi or Statement amps for the Baby Grands as well as the VTLs. Carl did voice these speakers with tubes, and they really do come alive with them.
For the bass towers, the Boulder amps had the best bass definition and control I've heard, at least driving Dynaudio Temptations. I would say you can't go wrong with either Krell or Boulder (or a big Pass amp) on the bass, though I would not rule out VAC or VTL in that region either--you might lose just a bit of control and extension compared with the solid state amps, but you might get a bit better integration with the Baby Grands. Just my $.02.
thank you for your responses
the vac gear certainly looks good. i'm concerned the reviews speak of the signature pre-amp as being rolled off at the frequency extremes...otherwise i would have been sold on one of those. price is right also
are people of the view that krell 750mcx monos are inferior in the bass to the boulder 2060?
(there was a suggestion the boulder 2060 was wasted / overkill just for sub 40hz, and that a pair of krells could do the same job as well?)
i can't really afford the vtl's AND the boulder 2060, while still buying a pre-amp. krells are half the boulder's price..
..unless i went with the vac pre, that is...but while i don't mind rolled-off treble, rolled-off bass is unforgivable; i'm a bass freak
i haven't yet discovered local pricing & availability of passlabs, but my dealer has some of his gear, i will read up
In the bass, I think you'd have a toss-up between the Boulder and the Krells. While the Boulder I heard was indeed exceptional in the bass, Krell has built its reputation in large part on its reproduction of the bass frequencies, and I've heard a lot of their amps and they do not disappoint in that area. I don't think you'd go wrong with either brand, so I'd suggest you get the Krells and use the money saved to get the VTLs.
thanks again for suggestions
perhaps i should also mention my current speakers...18 month old Focal Stella Utopia EM3. they are terrific speakers but i have failed to bond with them...i put it down to over 20 years listening to open baffle designs from Alon then Nola; my previous speakers were the Alon Phalanx.
the Focals are more musical, show extraordinary separation between instruments and vocals, and provide effortless room-filling bass as well as being very easy to listen to. they are a lot more forgiving than my phalanx was, seeming to pull off the trick of making all music sound good.
but to my ears now all closed baffle designs sound....wrong? closed in? i'm only hearing half the music;
i guess i've been trained for two decades to love a certain sound...
i think i may be at my final decision, amp-wise.
i am going to complete the deal i struck at the start of the year, trading up my yba passion 1000 monoblocks for a boulder 2060.
i will then look at vtl 450 monos or similar, so completing the power amp stage of things.
finally i will audition new pre-amps here in the complete system.
any further thoughts or suggestions?
btw i'm selling the focals, pm me if you are interested!
i did consider a pair of big brystons (28bsst), but my reading informed me that they might not be as good in the lower frequencies as the other contenders, krell and boulder. my dealer concurred they were not at the same level.
i am very intrigued by VAC. do any of you
(rcprince, i'm looking at you!)
have a perspective on the notion that the signature pre-amp is 'rolled off at the frequency extremes'?
this was the deal breaker for me, as extended bass is the most important single characteristic i aim for in my system. otherwise the signature pre-amp would be a shoe-in
i have pretty much decided to buy one component at a time as no price incentives have been offered to do a larger deal. so i will continue paying for the boulder 2060, then choose monoblock valve power amps, vtl 450 or similar, and finally the pre-amp, again leaning towards valves in the shape of vac or vtl
George-lofi i hear what you are saying about OTL valve amps. my big concern there is that the baby grands aren't the most efficient and i enjoy full-bodied sounds at high spl's, so fear they will lack the power i need for bass-orientated music.
i have never heard any of pass labs' offerings....would the x350.8 compare well with the boulder 2060?
i am inclined to let the boulder handle the bass, and drive the baby grands with valves
thank you again for all your helpful inputs
I can't comment much on the VAC preamps, as I use a Shindo preamp with my VAC amplifier. I had used VAC's Renaissance preamp (an older top-of-the-line model) in my old system for a little while a long time ago, which system went down below 20 Hz, and noticed no lack of bass, but I can't comment on their current models. I'm surprised by that information to some extent, given the fine engineering and power supplies in VAC's products. I would expect, unless the source you're referring to has measurements, that the VAC is at the worst fine to at least 25-30 Hz, which might cover a lot of the music you listen to unless it uses a synthesizer to go down to 20Hz and below. Rolled off highs don't bother me, I'm too old to hear them and I think the rolled off highs sound more natural and closer to what I hear in live venues anyway. Out of curiosity, what is the source of the rolled off comment? Were there measurements?
here you go:
i get the feeling that over the next year i will be comparing products from vac and vtl, to complement the boulder 2060's handling of the bass.
has anyone tried their respective power amps a to b?
i guess on cost basis the vtl mb 450-III would be equivalent to the phi300, i think it is?
and is there a more direct equivalent vac pre-amp to vtl's 6.5 series 2, cost-wise?
george your 'not short of a buck' observation requires an answer...my income isn't high, equivalent to about $40k pa.
the last few years i have been living a hermit's lifestyle and spending exactly half of my income on my system, possible on account of a lack of kids and living on a smallholding, so growing lots of essentials.
and in the interest of humility, i will confess i have been suffering under a driving ban for a while, so all the money i would usually be converting to co2 has been rescued for the sake of mankind. or hifi.
no, that's definitely hifi
Yes the only reason I mentioned the OTL's is because you have some fine tweeters that extend to 100khz. And the only tubes to make full use of this extened frquency would be OTL's, but yes there would be a ? on their abilty to drive them to huge volume.
That's why I made mention of the Pass Labs XA250.8, as these will drive it and make use of your extended frequency tweeters and because of the class A should be just as good through the mids as well.
As for the bass, yes the Boulder should do the job as well.
i've made offers on both Wavac and VAC pre-power combos to work alongside the boulder
(despite my better half assuring me this is a dreadful time to try and close a deal. something to do with mercury going retrograde apparently)
i'm waiting to see if either are accepted. if they are i will come back here and update. i will have plenty of time...it will take me 30-40 months to save the money...
a massive thank you to all who have posted. it's been highly informative reading your replies