Yes, the Dreadnaught 1 and IIs are both outstanding for 2 channel listening and will be competetive, if not better, than most high-end 2 channel amps. You can get a 5 channel version and mute the center and surround channels so the mains get a little more juice for 2 channel listening. I've compared the Dread II vs. Ayre amps directly, and Linn amps on the same system but not at the same time. In most cases, especially on power hungry speakers, I preferred the Dreads.
They make a wonderful combination with Maggies, bringing out their bass, while really enhancing the width and especially the depth of the soundstage. The Dread I was actually the 1st time I heard instruments separated so clearly that the drummer did sound behind the guitars.
The Ayre V-5X, especially if you can get the e version, is also an exceptional amp. If you can afford it, the V-1X at around $9K is about as good as it gets for me. The Dread II has a bit more air about it than the I, with the treble being the biggest difference to me. Clearer and a little purer sounding. Good luck.
I stepped back from an Ayre V5xe for technical match problems with my Aesthetix Calypso-hum! I picked up a Theta Dreadnaught I 2-ch and couldn't be happier with it. It's a little more solid sounding than the Ayre but not quite as holographic through the mids but with a better bottom and more open and extended highs. It is certainly one of the better sounding amps out there.
If you can pick up a copy of Richard Hardesty's "Audio Perfectionist Journal," he compares the Dread to the Dread II and also the Ayre. He thought the Dread I better for music and the Dread II better for HT. He sold his Levinson 33H's for a 4-ch Dreadnaught I to biamp with. He has since switched to the Citadels.
I recently bought a Dreadnaught I three channel here on AgoN. Although I originally wanted it for all my surrounds and center, I am going to try to demo some nice big high-end two channel amps to compare. Build quality seems top notch, and it would be really nice to have the same amp drive everything, even if it means two of the same amps.
For now, I am waiting on spade ends for my speaker wires [currently all bananas]...I am going nuts [or is it bananas]!
The Theta Dreadnought 1 or 2 is excellent. The only amp in the $4k and under price range that can smoke it is the BEL Mk IV or Mk V amp. (Then again, the BEL smokes most things...) For the money you can't lose. However, if you can find a BEL used (Mk IV or Mk V only) then jump on it.
Why used? Even new the BELs' are in the same price range as the Dreads'. Unless of course BEL is no longer and going used is the only option. Is this the case?
BEL is still in business. The new models are still $3,895. I was thinking that a used Dreadnought I would be significantly less than that. A new Mk V is simply the best I've ever heard so I'd certainly recommend it.
What other amps have you tried? And, are your speakers hard to drive?
My speakers [Legacy Focus 20/20] are very efficient, but demand a lot of current. Nominal rating is 4 ohms, but they dip below 2 ohms.
The Dreadnaught I is incredible sounding. The piano in Ray Brown's Soular Energy is simply natural. However, Ray plays bass, and that is where the Dread I gives up a bit. It seems to not be able to deliver this same "realness" in the deep bottom end. I suspect it is because my speaker's impedance drops in the bass region so the amp struggles with current there.
Other than that, the naturalness and space of this amp make it a joy to kick back with.
I think if you had speakers that have a stable impedance characteristic; the Dread would make a great two channel amp.
Nevertheless, I really like this amp
I wish to find an affordable [i.e., not $10K+] high current two-channel mate for it.
I don't think the Dreadnaught is about to run out of current with its 2.2 kva transformer in 2 channel mode(or any other mode.) The bass issue is due to the amp having no global negative feedback. This gives a fantastic midrange purity but makes the amp a touch lighter through the lower registers than amps with feedback. So, you have a trade off, better midrange purity or better bass.
Try a Belles 150a Reference or the 350a. They deliver similiar sonic purity with a kick butt bottom end. Read the Sounstage reviews at www.soundstage.com by Doug Blackburn. They are right on the money IMO. These are a couple of really overlooked amps because most don't know about them.
Bigtee, yes perhaps I shouldn't draw conclusions on matters of which I know little about. And also yes, the dread's midrange was super pure and liquid. The amp seems to not struggle with the sound at all, it sort of emerged, but also it was as if it was even trying to re-create any power from the deep end.
I have read about the global negative feedback, and perhaps this is exactly what is happening. I want that midrange, but WITH the bottom end.
I have never heard a Belles, so I cannot comment there.
"under price range that can smoke it is the BEL Mk IV or Mk V amp. (Then again, the BEL smokes most things...) "
What company are you talking about Bel Canto?
Brown Electronic Labs (BEL) model 1001 MKIV or MKV
Bigtee, I am using the Dreadnaught I, how much more bottom end do you think the Dread II would deliver?
The Dread II sounds more powerful overall-no doubt about that. Sounds more than 25/ch more. The bass is definitely stronger overall. It is a little more dynamic. I think it is aimed more at home theater and its requirements. I must say that the better bottom end, power and dynamics of the Dread II is offset by not being quite as musical overall. I think the Dread I has a little better midrange which fits into the realm of my priorities better overall. The Dread II is certainly a good amp and if I didn't have the I, I'd buy the II. It certainly would serve my purpose about as well. I use Vandersteen's and the bottom is taken care of by sub drivers. So, it's not an issue with me as it would be with some. Hope this helps and if you decide to sell your Dread I, let me know.
I am not getting rid of the Dread I anytime soon. The mids are too sweet. My mains have two 12" bass drivers plus a 12" mid-bass driver, but they need external power. The bottom end is there, I just need an amp to bring it out.
I have heard what you mention concerning the differences between the two versions. I guess I'll need to get a Dreadnaught II in my room to really know if it can deliver what I want. I really don't want to compromise the mids though, and I am not too keen on bi-amping.
Hi, sorry for the late reply...I've been travelling.
The BEL amp I'm referring to is the Brown Electronic Labs 1001 Mk V. It's been in production since the 70's.
I've compared it to a lot of different amps over the years in various systems. It's simply the most natural sound I've heard yet. The sound is less dependant on the amp than on the pre-amp and source you put in front as it can resolve everything it sees. Also, you will want BEL cables as well so you can get the best out of the system it's used in. Try it...you'll "see".
I compared a MkIV to the Dreadnought I several years ago. There was no comparison. The BEL smoked it in every way. The new Mk V amps are an order of magnitude better than the older Mk IVs. So if this amp is in your price range ($3,895) it should satisfy your requirements without a problem. Just remember that the associated gear will make a big difference!
As for impedance, that is relevant with the Theta amps to some degree. You would have to try the BEL or another amp that doesn't have Zero Negative Feedback to see if it's a difference for you on your speakers.
IMHO, if you can try a BEL do so. If not, the Dreadnought I is a spectacular amp for the money.
6 years later and I'm resurrecting this thread...
Years ago I changed from the Legacy Focus 20/20s to the Legacy Whisper. Since the posts above I went from the Dreadnaught as two channel amp, to a McIntosh MC-352, to a Krell FPB-300c, and finally to a pair of Theta Enterprise monos. Each step along the way was a clear improvement.
From the Mac to the Krell, the Mac excelled at more simple acoustical music, and seemed to be ready to go right away. The Krell at first seemed stereotypical Krell, harsh and lean, but after some warm-up it really opened up. With the Krell I found myself listening to all kinds of music from the simple acoustic stuff to much more complex and busy stuff, and it remained crystal clear and wonderful.
Then came the Enterprises. By this time I had the Whisper speakers, and had a modified CDP which was also a huge jump up in performance. When I installed the Enterprises, SACD and DVD-A suddenly became clearly the superior media. Before the difference between hi-rez and redbook was "ho-hum", but now it was clear...pun intended. Suddenly it was much more like an open window between myself and the music.
Now comes the relevant part...finally...
A while back I connected the Whispers to the Dreadnaught and found that the bass was surprisingly NOT lacking at all in comparison to the Krell, or the Enterprises. This I cannot explain. Years ago with the Focus 20/20s, the deficiency was immediately noticeable. With the Whispers however, it was not. I will add that the Enterprises still did a better job than the Dreadnaught though. The overall presentation was much less veiled, like that open window I mentioned, not that it seems veiled with either amp, but it simply sounds better with the somewhat controversial Enterprises. I really like the Enterprises.