Richard Hardesty and Shane Buettner, who jointly write "The Audiophile Perfectionist" journal, devoted the last issue to reviews of high-end amps (which were used to drive their Vandy 5A's, which both own). The top two amps in the review were the Theta Citadels and the Ayre V-5x, so it seems likely that either would be a good choice for your 5A's.
Thank you. I'm listening with the Ayre V5x and it is truly outstanding, but I'm just finding it a little lean in the midbass. I was hoping the V-1x might improve upon that one shortcoming as it has a much beefier power supply. At the V-1X's price however, the Theta Enterprise now enters the picture.
I suggest you try different cables before you try a different amp. You might find that a different cable gets rid of your lean mid-bass problem.
I've been running a V-5x for 1.5 yrs. w/VR4 GenIII's & there is no lack of any bass/midbass. When I switched from a Pass to an ARC pre, the bass was even better, although I recall some PC's that choked the bass (along with the soundstage).
I would suggest the standard drill here-spkr. placement, check your AC, clean connections, etc. before swapping out gear.
From what I have heard, I would tend to agreee with both driver and rex. I had not heard the V5x to be at all lean in midbass. I would double-check speaker setup, cables, and room treatments before I moved on...
You might want to check the following things on V5s for mid-bass issues:
(a) High Pass Filter Dip-Switch Settings - need to make sure you are changing this as you try different amps as it affects mid-bass directly (be sure to adjust if amp specs given for Single-ended and you are using balanced cables)
(b) If you are already adjusting this and are still lean in the mid-bass, you may want to try a setting one step down from the suggested setting for your amp's input impedance
To increase mid-bass you can also try the following in terms of speaker positioning:
(c) Can bring speakers slightly closer together, try in 1/2" increments for each speaker
(d) Can move speakers slightly closer to wall behind them in 1/2" increments
(e) Can increase toe-in slightly in 1/8" increments (measured to side wall from speaker corners)
(f) Can put "disks" or "pucks" under the spikes if you have a suspended floor (wood) in your listening room
I have not tried the Ayre, but I do own a pair of Enterprises (which drive my Thiel CS3.6's). I had set off on an amp quest which I thought would end in the purchase of a high end Krell or Edge amplifier, when I had an opportunity to audition the Enterprises. What sold me on the Theta's was the incredible soundstage width and depth, the separation of multiple instruments, and what I consider to be a very musical midrange and top end (for SS amps, of course). The low end is not Krell-heavy, but it was every bit as good as an Edge NL-10, and again very accurate - upright bass sounds like upright bass, electric bass sounds like electric, etc. I know that Mike Fremer's review of the Enterprises was somewhat critical of certain aspects of the them, but if you really read his review, his main complaints seem to fall within the "tube vs SS" realm. All in all, I thought his review was quite favorable. What was also important for me (as I will be running these amps inside a cabinet until my kids are a bit older), the Theta's do not run hot at all.
I have only heard good things about the Ayre, so I would think that the V1x would also be a good route. But, for what it's worth, I am a very happy Enterprise owner (and the CS3.6's are not the easiest speaker to drive).
Thank you all so far for very informative responses.
I have owned both the Enterprises and the Citadels. The Enterprises are nice but to compare them to the Citadels there really isn't much of a comparsion there is nothing the Citadels cannot do, the highs are great the bass is so taut, transparent, soundstage is so large and deep-in another world i could go on and on a true high end amp.!!! The Ayre will not be in the same league with the Citadels. If u got the money get them!!! If not get the Enterprises which are quite good. Citadels are one of the top amps ever made all reviews rave about them and they are that good find a pair and try umm!!
I agree with Rex on the cable point. I've used K-B cables and they're great...but I also noticed a softening of the midbass and a lessening of PRAT. Try other cables before you spend megabucks on another amp.
As for the amps, I suggest that you add another brand to your considerations. A new BEL 1001 Mk V will be as good or better than the Theta or Ayre for less money. Call Audio Concepts in Houston if you want a dealer opinion. Last I checked they carry all three brands. The one they use with the 5As in the high end room is the BEL.
Don't get me wrong, none of these amps are bad choices. But, I have BEL amps at home and have heard many others. There is simply no way to convince you without having you hear them. So if you decide to buy amps, try going to a dealer who can demo them on 5As for you.
Know way a Bel is better than a Citadel!
I'm not sure what you base this on but you're certainly entitled to your opinion. As with any component YMMV in any given system.
That said...I'll happily put the BEL amps up against anything out there. If you can find something better I'll be impressed. If it's at all better, the next question I'll have for you is what is the price difference? At under $4K each, they're VERY affordable compared to the Citadels. I don't think most people will consider them though because they're hard to find and rarely reviewed. Plus, they don't have the "looks" of the Theta...or the price.
Don't get me wrong, the Theta amps are spectacular! I just happen to like the BEL more based on my experience.
although i have not heard the vandy 5a's. i love thiels 2.3's with my pass labs x-350. you get all the benefits of tubes without the litations. the good thing about the pass is they all have the same sonic signature and musicality from the x-150 upto the x-350. the x-600 are only 15% better sounding than the x-150's.
Certainly worth a home audition.
Mike, have you heard the Citadels in your system?
Not yet, but Audio Concepts in Houston has. They still prefer the BEL amps. My system and theirs is very similar...but they have a better front end. I'll have them in my system in the future. Until then, I'll have to go with what I know now. As always, YMMV!
try them and let me know!! There is nothing the Citadels can't do? They probably make more money on the BEL than the Theta. They are over built. The huge chokes, fully diff balance, huge transformers there isn't much out there like them. The audio perfectist who has the same speakers as you just did an article on the Citadel he says the best amps he has ever heard you can check it out on the Theta web site.