The Fastest most musical amp

Since I got the upgrade bug and the only cure is to change my preamp and amp I am looking for some advice of our great Audiophile community to help me find the amplifier and preamp combo that suits me best. My priority are the folowing: I want to find the FASTEST and MOST MUSICAL amp and preamp ( It can be tube preamp ( tough I think all tube preamp are slow) or solid state preamp but only solid state amp.) I know that spectral is known to be one of the fastest but I don`t like the idea of being forced to use the Networked MIT cable (which slow up the sound much)
Plinius SA100 speaks for itself. It doesn't need a super-preamp and you can mate it with McCormack TLC1 in passive mode or Adcom GFP750.
It bests with heavy speakers such as JMLab, Verity and Avalons.
I think I understand by what you mean by "fast".
For tubes, I would recommend an OTL amp such as Atmasphere which I have owned at one time. No transformer to slow things down.
For solid-state, give Naim a listen. I have a Nait 5 integrated now. Didnt think I would be happy with it after
having the Atmasphere but I was wrong. Very musical and satisfying.
Try to audition the Atma-Sphere amps and preamps, they match your stated objectives. I am really happy with mine. An exceptional digital only system can be found by pairing an Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete Variable with Atma-Sphere amps, bypassing a preamp in favor of the DAC's own digital attenuation. The DAX Discrete sounds better this way in my system although it sounds great going thru the preamp as well. I use the balanced version of the DAX Discrete DAC. Obviously this setup bypasses the cost of a preamp as well, allowing a greater percentage of your budget to go towards your source component. Truly exceptional sound reproduction is available in either case.

Atma-Sphere amps require careful matching with your loudspeakers, if your preferred loudspeaker is not a natural match for the Atma-Sphere amps, you can use an autoformer called the ZERO between your amp and loudspeakers to provide the optimum impedance match.
I've never heard a faster amp/preamp combo than the Linn Klimax units. Chord amps and preamps would be pretty close too.
There is a such thing as music soudning "too fast". Linn, Naim, Chord, they all seem to
bumping up leading edges a tad and have a shorter transient decay which
give you a good sense of drive and speed. but, they all seem to lack in
organic substance up top. Not to say, they aren't resolved and extended
or anything but, for me, I would like to have bit more weight and spread
on the high frequency.

You can mix and match between preamps and power amps till you hear
just the right combo. Speakers in the mix make a big difference, too.

The *fastest* I have heard in my rig was Nagra PL-L + Art Audio Jota (
strange, these are Single-ended triodes )
+ Wilson and Krell kps preamp + Quick Silver Triode Mono push-pull amplifiers.

Most larger solid-state amps seem to lack in bass agility one way
or another. ( excluding three above ) And the ones that give good pace
tend to lack in treble decay. Having said that, larger Naim is excellent.
I am not sure if i can live with it long term and for what they don't do
for what they cost, I couldn't justify to own one.
I'd have to throw into the ring the McCormack DNA-2 Revision A or Revision A Gold amplifier.

Pretty phenominal amp that has been essentially rebuilt by Steve McCormack with the best aftermarket parts out there.
See for more info.

In my system it has the warmth and power of a 1000 wpc tube amp with the extreme bass control, speed, and resolution offered by only the finest solid-state amps.

Dismalonyx, you're right on about complex cabling networks messing things up. As for what's fast, I've owned some of what's mentioned above, no names mentioned as I don't care to take prisoners, but have found my current Parasound JC-1 amps to be at least as 'fast' as anything out there (disclaimer: I peddle them). If you don't need as much power there are other good choices out there - before discussing the options, could you please post what the rest of your system is? I'll be happy to make suggestions, including products I don't sell. Would like to help you get an enjoyable synergistic combination.

Brian Walsh
The slew rate is the measure of an amplifiers ability to respond quickly (fast) to the musical signal. It is interpretive based on the power of the amp: a 50 wpc unit can have a lower slew rate than a 100 wpc unit and still be "sufficient". There's alot more to an amp than that, but that's part of "FAST."
Dismalonyx, if you're looking for a completely natural presentation possessing good speed, agility and tonality without sacrificing dynamics or the "life/energy" associated with great music, you should consider Blue Circle's BC8 monoblocks. They're very fast and are one of the most musical amps I've listened to! Regarding a preamp match, I think your musical preferences would need to be known before making a good match... the good news is that there are a number of solid state and tube preamps out there that sound great with the 8s.

Let me know if you'd like to discuss!

Kevin Allen
My recollection is that Spectral and Goldmund have the highest slew rates among solid state amplifiers (1,000 volts per microsecond, I think). Atma-Sphere is certainly among the fastest tube amps, with a slew rate of 600 volts per microsecond. Note that 50 volts per microsecond is a typical solid state slew rate, and 25 volts per microsecond is probably typical for a push-pull tube amp.

Since I'm an Atma-Sphere dealer that's where most of my experience lies as far as "fast" amplifiers goes. Atma-Sphere amps really like to be driven by Atma-Sphere tube amps, using balanced connections. I would expect likewise that there's a very good synergy between Spectral amps & preamps, and between Goldmund amps & preamps.

I would not see the Spectral/MIT combination as some kind of sacred bond. I bet Spectral amps sound just fine with other high-quality cables.

Best of luck in your quest!

I agree that fast + tubes equals Blue Circle. The Naim gear is fast also...
Duke: you can actually damage Spectral amps, in particular the newest ones, without MIT/Spectral cables. The MIT cables act as a low pass filter to eliminate any HF hash getting through.
..i agree with 'audiokinesis' regarding the goldmund. i have a goldmund 29m and have had tenor 7w wis' prior to the goldmund and the goldmund is the fastest amp i have ever is also as musical as the tenor and does everything the tenor does but better.that being my opinion but also the opinion of those few lucky enough to have heard the for preamp..i use an audio tekne 'simona' which is a tubed preamp with all point to point wiring.the combination is unbelievable.good luck
Iam sure there are more musical and fast amp out there
But I thought the SA 100 is the most musical Ive heard
until the SA 102 put it class A untouchable but its 5k
i think, just ask Jademo on AG.By the way The SA 100
and 102 are both Plinius.IMO
SchubertMANIAC -

YEEEESH! Thanks for correcting me!

Okay folks, ignore my post above postulating that Spectral amps can be used with cables other than MIT.

Give the Spectral 360 monoblocks a shot. For tubes, the Tenors are really special -- "fast" yet not clinical or edgy.

BTW; why do you think MIT cables "slow up the sound". Have you heard them in a Spectral system? I've used the Oracle V2 UWB in an all Spectral system, as well as with Tenors, and they were anything but slow. The new Oracle v1.1 are even better -- more articulation and less mechanical sounding. IMO, one of the best set of cables out there.

Enjoy your search.

I auditioned a pair of Watt/Puppy 7's. The dealer had Spectral 360 Monos with the Spectral Pre and MIT cables.
I believe he had a Wadia 861 on the front end.

It was clear as a bell, extremely fast, but completely
lacking bass.

I don't know if it was the Amps, the speakers, or what.

I own a pair of Krell FPB 350 MCX's. These things
are extremely fast and took the bass response in my
speakers so low I turned my sub-woof completely off
during 2 channel music listening.

If you are into solid state, fast and sensitive amps,
want full bass response -- put Krell Mono's on your

I would love to hear the Watt/Puppies with my Krells.

Just to clear up some misinformation above...
1. Spectral equipment is super wideband & can go into self-destructive parasitic inaudible ultrasonic oscillation modes without networked cables, which present a more stable load than any reactive speaker possibly can.
2. MIT cables do not slow anything down. They are not filters; the networks are in fact paralleled. The networks behave similar to Zoebel terminations across a driver's terminals, helping to absorb the reflected counter emf from the linear motor's winding. A super wideband amp seeing these reflactions coming back into it at full amplitude can go wild & destroy itself without any audible indications of problems until the output devices fail.
With what speakers? The amp and speaker combination affects the overall "speed" of the music. Try using the Tenor amp with an inefficient low impedence speaker and find out for yourself (Or a slow SET with a Lowther).
Nomenclature in the audio world can be a little strange at times. "Fast" what is fast in an amplifier. All electons travel at the same speed. While I make some fun of the term, and can not explain fully what "fast" is--I immediately knew what character was being referred to. The amp that immediately came to mind was the Bel Canto Evo 200.2 (I believe that was the model). I was really impressed with this amp, it seemed to effortlessly be there with all the reserves for the music. What was more impressive is that it is a digital amp and did not lose it's musicality--something I did not expect. I've only auditioned it once, and thus do not have enough experience with it to point out where it might fall short. But I can say on my short audition--it is definitely "fast".

Not a clue as to where you are coming from, based on your posts/answers (which seem to be all over the map), and also considering that you do not have a listed system.

As far as an informed opinions go I will suggest that you list the rest of the intended setup, then go from there.
Dismalonyx writes: "I think all tube preamp are slow"

Ah, nothing like generalizations to stir the pot.

That's not my experience. I do own a hand-made valve preamp from the '80s (made by Allen Wright) that one may call a little slow, but it has a ton of magic. In contrast, my BAT VK-50SE is a rocket ship - slow is not a word that springs to mind when listening to this unit at my place.

The Edge NL10 is very fast, and lets you hear micro- dynamic contrasts better than any amp I've ever heard. It allows you to listen deep into the music, and hear things you've never heard. Indeed, many high-end amps I've had lately didn't even reproduce these contrasts and micro-dynamics. But the truly remarkable thing about the NL10 is how grain free, liquid, and full bodied the midrange is. This is the only solidstate amp I've owned that I can honestly say reproduces music in ways very similar to the best tube amps, while still keeping all the advantages of solidstate. I have owned and auditioned solidstate amps in the past that pretend to be tube amps by making the midrange more robust and full bodied, but less transparent in the process. I truly disdain this when I hear it. My allegiance is really towards tube amps, my last being a Wyetech Topaz and ASL Hurricanes modified by Israel Blume. But because of current hungry speakers, I bought the Edge. I now have very efficient speakers (97db), and surprisingly, the Edge works equally well with them.

The Edge is very transparent, but in a natural way that is totally unfatiguing and amazingly detailed. Speed is excellent at all frequencies. Cymbals have the right amount of attack and decay, guitar strings and bass sound natural without a thickening of the notes and overemphasis on sounds that are incidental to the playing of the instrument, such as fingers sliding off the strings (a phenomenon I have found in the best SETs), but not part of the music itself. Human breaths in vocals sounds right, without becoming too obvious (a fault I noted in the Joule Electra OTL). The wetness of the breath is still there, and the Edge is the only solidstate amp I've heard to date that can reproduce it.

For bass speed, I would use the example of the Waterworld soundtrack, where the solo bass drums are used in the opening title. When the drums hit their lowest notes, the lowest note of the drum can sometimes linger into the next, higher note. The Edge keeps each note clean, without any exageration of the decay of the instrument.

I read a comment in the Audiogon Discussion Forums about the Edge amps having a "bite". The NL10 does, until you have about 200 hours on it, but really sounds great after 500. After that, this amp is completely free of electronic artifacts, and an absolute joy to listen to. The amps I would consider from here would possibly be the Tenor OTLs, which I heard at the 2003 CES.
DARTZEEL FROM SWİSS.incredible amp
Dismalonyx, to my knowledge the Spectral and the Goldmund amps used to have the fastest slew rates in the industry. Furthermore I can assure you out of my own experience, that the MIT cables (I use the Oracle V2 and EVO ics ) do not slow down the Spectral's performance in the least. As far as tubes are concerend, the Jadis 500 and the 200 are no slouches either.
Hi Gang - Dismalonx, I have a few questions that are strictly curiosity-driven and NOT meant to disparage in any way.
1. What speakers are you mating this "fast" amp to?
2. What source are you using mostly: LP? CD? XRCD? SACD?
3. What type of music do you listen to that is recorded well enough to take advantage of this fast system? I'm interested because I think most music commercially available is recorded & mixed on less dynamic equipment than most of us possess, thus is either muddy and ill-defined, or overly detailed ear-bleed material. Could you list for me the 5 (or so) albums that you listen to most on your system? I'm always interested in finding well recorded music of any type, and would be willing to try some of your favorites - if I don't own them already. :-)

Gettin' more cynical every day, I'm still
interesting thread. "i want to find the FASTEST and MOST MUSICAL amp and preamp"......

what is "fast"? my perception is that some amps achieve speed thru skipping over texture and nuance. the very best pieces of gear and the best software seem to actually slow things down and allow you to hear deeper into music (oh yeah, music!). speed without texture and nuance is misguided IMHO. one amp, the Halcro, is most likely the fastest amp currently out there.....but it doesn't stir my it's not for me.

real speed is the ability to render MICRODYNAMICS in a real way. when these microdynamics are combined with tonal texture and nuance you get the magic......veils are lifted and reality is suggested.

real speed is also the ability to be fast in the bass while getting tonality, texture and linearity thru the mid-bass. this is really an amp/speaker interface issue and not just an amp issue.

in my experience, the Tenor OTL is unique in it's ability to get this whole package correct. like the Atmasphere, the Tenor (as an OTL) is a tube amp with speed.

no doubt there are other amps i've not heard that may posses these attributes.
Mikelavigne to my mind has put it very well. It is the closeness to the "real thing" especially in the microdynamics, where "speed" is important. The way a sharply struck chord on a Steinway springs at you and decays, the resin on the bow of the violin, how a guitarstring plucked softly or hard and fast comes across. I share some of Egoss's thoughts, but to my mind that is not really the point. Rather I feel, Mike has hit it right on the dot.
Without getting into semantic corn syrup, speed to me
describes an amps ability to start and stop each tone
on time which keeps tones from smearing. Smearing,
or notes bleeding into one another will make for grainy
sound and detail, blackness, and rhythm will be lost under the smear. As has been stated, if an amp doesn't have enough power, often the bass is loose, flabby, or even missing. Maybe agility is a better word. When speakers are driven properly, I suppose some people could feel that the amp is slowing things down, but I certainly don't hear it that way -- to me it sounds pleasingly quick, or "agile" and it results in better
music. So, we can argue over terminology or we can see that we all want the same thing. Less grain, no smearing, detail, deep, tight, bass and uh...magic. Now, there's a word that needs no explaining, huh? Heh-heh-heh. Why doesn't someone start a thread
asking which is the slowest amplifier -- just for the heck
of it. Nahhhh....
The speed with which dynamic changes in music are reproduced relative to one another... i.e. the term includes the notion of relativity. In this sense, it's what Mikelavigne & Detlof and most others I believe, refer to.
Other amps that I've heard corresponding to this, are big Symphonic Lines. As Mike aptly put it, subjectively the music seems to be "slower" because of the plethora of detail -- easily perceptpible if you forget about the music & just listen to sounds (not very easy!). However, here too, slew rates are allegedly very high across the bandwidth (wide-band amps).

A small note: this seems a bit like an academic discussion as we still don't know what Dismalonyx's goal is, what speakers are in play. Or maybe it's intended as an open discussion? Cheers
I couldn't agree more with Mikelavigne regarding "fast", nuance, texture, microdynamics, etc. My personal combination - that I love because it meets Mike's stated criteria for me - is the CTC Blowtorch and Jeff Rowland 302. The latter, by the way, is far better than what Rowland has produced in the past.
I also agree with Mikelavigne...

***real speed is the ability to render MICRODYNAMICS in a real way. when these microdynamics are combined with tonal texture and nuance you get the magic......veils are lifted and reality is suggested.***

Check out the Bel Canto EVO's im listening to one right
now with Dave Matthews playing... Mike descibed exactly
what im hearing right now. They are very fast and not at
the expense of leaving anything behind. You wont miss anything. If you can listen to a "newer" EVO not the EVO200.2 or EVO200.4 the one you want if you can swing it is the EV02. Or EVO4 if you are going to run it in Differential bridge mode. I highly recommend...
Although Mikelavigne nicely describes some interesting and keen insights toward the terms 'fast' and 'musical', I respectfully disagree with a few of his statements. Particularly:

"what is 'fast'? my perception is that some amps achieve speed thru skipping over texture and nuance." and
"real speed is also the ability to be fast in the bass while getting tonality, texture and linearity thru the mid-bass. this is really an amp/speaker interface issue and not just an amp issue."

I would not think that an amp could be so fast that it skips over texture and nuance." Correct me if I am wrong, but I would think that 'fast' and 'skipping nuance' is somewhat of an oxymoron. I always thought that the 'slower' the amp, the less likelihood an amp can pick up the nuances. I suppose it would be easy to conclude that an amp's excellent transient speed could be perceived to be overemphasized at the expense of an amp's more lacking characteristic i.e. texture or tonality. But I would think it erroneous to assume that just because an amp has 'fast' transistors, that is also why it lacks texture. These characteristics are not an either/or (Hopefully it's both/and.) If a characteristic is lacking in a given amp, then it is entirely possible and probable that one of the amp's stronger characteristics simply sound overemphasized and one or more of it's weaker characteristics sound diminished. Thereby giving the appearance that one or more of an amp's (or any other component) other characteristic(s) had to be compromised in order to implement the stronger one. When in fact the amp simply is not properly weighted to balance it's numerous and somewhat equally important characteristics.

With regards to fast amps, perhaps Peter Moncrief of IAR said it best during his reviewing a fast amp. To paraphrase Moncrief's description of a fast amp:

"(This fast amp) effortlessly reveals layers of musical nuance, is more extended, with the rise and fall time on music's transient details such that each fast nuance is executed more individually, with better intertransient silence, yet at the same time each fast nuance sounds more delicate because it does not sluggishly linger at the peak or get clogged up there, as most amps do to varying degrees.

Some amps try for musicality and delicacy by softening and defocusing the music, smudging and veiling everything. (This fast amp) doesn't need any such trickery as it can go for full articulation and sharp focus, yet still sound accurately musical and delicate, because it is so capably fast and transparent... and is so capable that it handles the entire spectrum, and all of music's demanding complexities, with the remarkable sense of relaxed ease that is the hallmark of a truly great audio component."

Moncrief then relates this to Fred Astaire's dancing which Fred did so effortlessly. Other dancers might come close to Fred but they sweated like pigs trying to do so. Thus the other dancer's straining and sweating were a distraction for the audience toward their performance. Whereas, with Fred, the audience saw only the performance. Not the performer.

I also believe a fast amp generically will work it's speed across the freq. spectrum unless of course there are other and perhaps unrelated shortcomings in the amplifier (of which there usually are). I'm thinking here of the Moon W-5 which is somewhat fast but has difficulties in the bass regions (some say because of it's zero feedback design and/or it's use of J-FETS). In other words, 'fast' is not a cure-all, nor would I think it is meant to be. 'Fast' is simply another characteristic like texture or tonality that should be on the mandatory list for every amp but is lacking in some to many.

Perhaps that is why Dismalonyx opened this thread realizing it is difficult to find such a 'fast' amp.

I respectfully also disagree that a fast amp has anything directly to do with speakers, amp/speakers, or the specific synergy thereof. An amplifier's characteristics stand alone in and of itself. An amp is either fast, or it is not. Whether or not a speaker is able to reproduce transients with the same articulation and speed as the amplifier has nothing directly to do with an amplifier's identifiable characteristics.

Again, correct me if I am wrong, but I simply do not see any direct correlation between the two. Nor would I think there should be. At least not any more or less than the typical synergizing between or amongst any given component to any other component in the system. Of course, with obvious exceptions to one or more given component's deficiencies as I stated above.

And yes, it is indeed nice when an amp combines excellent transient speed along with excellent texture and tonality. I could be wrong, but I simply cannot see how slower transistors are going to make up for an already lack of texture and/or tonality.

Stehno -- excellent points.
"And yes, it is indeed nice when an amp combines excellent transient speed along with excellent texture and tonality"

Yes Stehno it certainly is and I do believe that that would summarize the definition of a great amp of which Mike speaks. It is unmistakable, it is a revelation. Your analogy to Astaire vs the rest nails it, it is effortlessly musical and transcends words to describe it. To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun on his ruling in a landmark case "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."
For me, fast means fast risetime high slew rate and a wide frequency response. Spectral and Goldmund are fast, as already mentioned, but also check out Gryphon.
Go to

They have what you're looking for.
Audio by Van Alstine as well as Spectral.
Fet valve or Omega
SET's sound "shouty" and hyped to my ears more than fast. Maybe higher 2nd order harmonics are part of the reason.
Thank you all for you really great and informative reply!

I started this thread as a open one without having to let you know what is my taste and my setup (since this setup is ever changing) but to try to find out with the help of our really great Audiophiles comunity what amp/preamp would qualify as the fastest to help anyone with that kind of taste to find their match.

Try something like a Naim 82/Hicap/250 combination. Very fast, very tuneful, terrific sounding. Also built extremely well, will last forever, and the company will be around in 20 years if anything does go wrong.

Best Regards,

I used to own an all Spectral/MIT system driving speakers very similar to JM Labs Utopias. This system was extremely fast. The MIT cables actually opened the sound up tremendously,i.e., they did ib no way slow things down. The one complaint I had for this set-up was that it could have been a touch warmer. But, hey, this is THE big trade-off still out there, speed vs. musicality. The choice is up to you.

I have since been forced (economically) to downsize my system. I currently use a tube hybrid AVA Transcendence 7 preamp. This unit is in now way "slow". It is extremely fast (not as fast as the Spectral DMC-20 pre) with very good dynamics and bass control, all qualities I like in a system. Tubes do not have to be slow. Just do your research on this subject.

Hope this helps.
Fast? You want fast?
Atma-sphere OTL amps are amongst the fastest amps out there, and they do it so effortlessly that you at first may not even be aware of the speed...until you realize that you are hearing leading and trailing edges of notes that you don't even hear on the Spectral. Just bloody amazing...but...there is always a but...OTL amps tend to be a bit persnickity about speaker loads. The Zero autoformer alliviates most of the impedance problems though.

If slew rates alone mean anything, the Atma-sphere runs in excess of 600 volts per microsecond...and actually sounds like it. Great settling time is the other side of the equation; and most amp companies don't ever talk about that.

Spectral preamps are very fast, and the Atma-sphere preamp is synergistic with their amps.
I tried many high end amps the oddyssey stratos extreme.
is the fastest, and plinius SA100 mark ll second.IMS