Thinking of buying a solid state amp

I will be moving soon, my BAT 150SE might not work in the new environment due to hotter weather and smaller listening room. My speakers (Aerial 20T) requires lots of power so I can't go BAT 75SE route, I have not found other tube amps physically smaller to sound anywhere as good as BAT either.

So I have two options. Buy a good solid state and sell my BAT. Usual suspects are Pass 350.5, Bryston 14B-SST, McIntosh 501, etc. Question is will I be happy with anyone of them coming from BAT?

My second option is to buy some class D like Bel Canto or Nuforce and keep my BAT to use during cooler days.

I will rather have 1 (or 1 pair) amp than 2, but will any of the above (other suggestions welcome) make a tube guy happy? In my 20+ years of audio journey, I have owned 10+ solid state amps but they never lasted over a couple months.

Pre amp is an Einstein.
I'm not sure how much power you need but I have owned a bunch of tubed amps: Bat VK75se, Music Reference RM200, three from Art Audio, Cary V12-R to name a few. I purchased a Hovland Radia about a year and a half ago and have not looked back. I use it with a Audio Research LS-26(tubed)pre amp and the sound to my ears is steller. I really like the SS amp and tubed preamp combo! It drives my Sonus Faber Cremona's with ease!!

What about a BAT ss?
Well, the 350.5s not going to solve your warm weather issue, since it operates in Class A up to 40wpc.
McIntosh MC402
If you are going to go SS and heat is an issue you can eliminate any class A amp ie Pass. The Nuforce would give you plenty of power an they produce very little heat and take up a small footprint. The fact you are using a tube preamp is also helpful and should match well with the Nuforce. By the way Nuforce is coming out with the V3 later in the fall so you may want to wait.
Smaller listening room probably also means less power required to reach high volume levels. If you like the BAT sound, why not at least try the smaller BAT or some other smaller tube amp?

A lot of people over estimate the amount of power needed to drive a pair of speakers. To achieve high output for either tube or solid state amplification, some sacrifice in terms of sound quality is inevitable. Often this comes having to parallel a lot of output devices (more of an issue, to me, for tube gear than solid state). Perhaps a small compromise on available power for the few instances when really high sustained power is needed will yield greater rewards for the vast majority of your listening.
Hovland is definitely worth considering though not sure if they are in my price range.

As for Pass X350.5 or XA.5, I am aware of the heat they generate but they are still cooler than BAT 150SE. I did consider McCormack DNA500 initially, but read in forum Spectron and Pass are preferred by most.

I will try to borrow some Bel Canto or Nuforce before deciding on either.
I have the Innersound ESL-300 (600 WPC @ 4 ohms). After about an hour warm up it is very tube like, no edges exposed. This amp does not come up on the 'gon very often, usually for <2K. Roger Sanders founded his own company (again) and sells the updated version of the Innersound. 30 day in home trial, money back. But, here's the deal, whatever SS amp you may decide on, please make sure it's broken in before you make a decision. I feel many of the newer amps that come up on the 'gon are not even close to being broken in when the owner gives up on them. HTH.
Semi, if you seek a warmer sound, between the NiuForce and Bel canto Ref 1000 Mk.2, you may want to consider the latter. I have used both in my system driving Vienna Mahler speakers, and BC sounded a little warmer. . . NuForce may have been overdamping the bass among other things. I have reviewed BC Ref 1KMk.2 on Positive Feedback at:
My reference amplifier is the Rowland 312 which I adore, but it is significantly more expensive than the BC.
If you get any class D amps, be prepared to be very patient with break in. . . BC is relative benign at about 600 hours, NuForce seems to require about 1000 hours to settle down, and so do most Jeff Rowland amplifiers. BC is listenable out of the box, but NuForce and Rowland amps will sound pretty dry for the first couple hundred hours.
Larry, you have a good point. The new location will be smaller but not significantly smaller to warrant a lower power amp. Heat is the major issue, ambient temperature there is in the 90+ degree 6 months out of a year with high humidity and the thought of turning on two big tube amps is daunting.

I like BAT tube sound, but from what I read Pass X.5 or XA.5 has an edge over BAT SS and that's why I am leaning toward Pass if I was to go SS only.

I have limited exposure to Rowland 501. Like what Guidocorona pointed out, my negative impression of Rowland 501 was probably due to break in time. I will give BC or NuForce a chance and this time around I will make sure they are fully broken in.
Karan's having a sliding class A circuit, so they are barely warm to the touch.

Pass Labs put out significant heat while they idle. They sound good when fully powered-on for at least several hours. My A/C could not keep up during the summer when I had the x600.5. The 350.5 is 1/2 the heat of the 600.5, but it still alot of heat (think 6 - 100 watt light bulbs).

Class D - try before you buy. This is a very polarizing topic, as you are well aware.
Semi, the Rowland 501 is a slightly older design. By itself it may be a little 'cool' sounding compared to BC Ref 1Kmk.2 monos. To perform at their best the 501 monos require a pair of the new Rowland PC-1 rectifiers. . . the sonic difference should be significant, but a pair of PC-1s also adds a non indifferent $3K to the cost of the 501 monos. BTW, never connect PC-1s to Bel canto or NuForce amps. . . you will blow the amps. PC-1 is to be used only with amps set to 240V operations, or amps that have universal autosense and autoranging switch mode power supplies. G.
Very nice sounding Class D amps:

I have heard these driving Apogee Scintillas (1 ohm load) and they sounded very musical (detailed but not at all hard or bright).
I personally don't think that ANY solid state amp sounds like a tube amp, though, many do, nonetheless, sound good to me. The true Class A solid state amps will also run hot, so they may be out of the running. Some of the brands of solid state amps that I personally like, though I would not call them warm sounding, include Ayre, Belles, Dartzeel (quite pricey). The older, non-Class D Rowlands were quite warm sounding, though a bit dynamically dull for my taste.

If you really like the sound of the BAT tube gear, you should at least give there solid state stuff a listen to, regardless of what others may think of how it compares to other gear. To a large extent, the sound of gear is "voiced" by the designer, so the same designer would have similar sounding gear even if the designs are radically different.

I've only heard early iterations of the Bel Canto and Rowland Class-D amps, and neither sounded very good to me. But, I am sure the technology has advanced considerably, so you should certainly consider them, particularly because of their low power consumption and very low heat dissipation.

Good luck in your search.
you say:
>>> As for Pass X350.5 or XA.5, I am aware of the heat they generate but they are still cooler than BAT 150SE. <<<

That so?!
I got a 350.5 and it gets hot in the summer period that you can hardly touch it!
In fact that big mother heats it's environment (the room ~ 300 sq. foot) with doors open and passage with no door so I start getting close to heat exhaustion, not a joke!
If the 150SE is supposed to get any more hot, I'd say it's illegal, > 70 deg. Celsius is not legal any more (at least in Europe)
You can never have too much power! Keep your BAT and invest in a good quite air conditioning system.
Axelwhahl, two of my friends own 350.5 and I didn't notice excessive amount of heat coming from the amp when I am there. maybe the open layout removed heat from listening room quite effectively, but I will for sure pay closer attention next time I am there. I used to own X350, it certainly did not raise the ambient temp as much as single BAT 75SE.

Madhf, that's what I am inclined to do. keep my BAT, buy a class D for the days I am not running AC full blown. but if I can find some SS that comes really close, I might make the switch.

Larryi, I considered Ayre and Dartzeel before. from what I read, both are not designed to drive difficult load even the MX-R. I owned Rowland 8Ti HC before, even the HC version was too "slow" sounding to my ears. smooth it was, but quite boring like you pointed out.
Semi, none of the current class D amps that I have heard can be deemed slow, including the current breed of JRDG products. Nimbleness and authority on difficult speakers seems to be a common characteristic of class D amplification, as it is shared by all amps of this type I have heard: NuForce, Spectron, Bel Canto, Channel Island, Wired4Sound to name a few. The problem of early class D designs was rather a certain lack of harmonic development, only moderate microdynamics, and a slight dryness in the treble. The result was that early class D amps were not very involving and sounded 'matter of fact'. It was a matter of learning curve. . . Some manufacturers have addressed these issues by designing a variety of strategies, including various forms of pre power supply rectification: e.g. Bel Canto Ref 500 and Ref 1000 Mk.2 monos. I believe Spectron may be doing something like that in its designs as well. Rowland uses a rectification variant called Active Power Factor Correction (PFC) in some of its newest models. . . but the problem remained for his earlier designs like the 201 and 501 monos. . . so he created an external unit for performing PFC rectification for the 201 and 501. . . and that is the PC-1 device. Unless you want to go over the $10K mark, within class D amplifiers, you may have a look at one of the newest Spectron variants, BC Ref 1000 Mk.2, and Rowland 501 augmented by twin PC-1s. Above that price point there are at least the Spectron monoblocks and the Rowland 312--the latter being my reference amp. In the $30K+ range, class D amps to look at are at least the Rowland 301 monoblocks (configured for low impedance speakers), and the Levinson No. 54. Happy hunting! G.
I have the same problem with heat that Semi has and I do have a small room. I own the 150se and lived with them for over four years, yes i did purchase the BAT 600se for awhile, but after only four months went back to the 150s. SS just was not working for me. (lost all the texture that tubes bring to the game). But I still had an heat problem. this summer I purchase a Crown K1. Just to get through the summer, it's not the best amp out there, but it will get me to September. I also owned CI D200s but they did not have the bass power that I liked.
if you want to try SS amps do so, but DON'T sell your 150s right away.
The new ModWright kWA 150 is a killer for the money. It can be run in stereo or bridged into mono. A solid state amp that will definitely appeal to a tube lover. Dan Wright is great to deal with.
Guidocorona, thanks for the info on class-D. I haven't followed class-D development that closely since introduction, my impression from the short ownership with class-D was just like what you described, lack of harmonic texture and delicacy. I have heard lots of good words about Rowland 3XX amps, but I wonder how they compared to Pass X350.5 which can be had for much less.

Moemoney, I know exactly what you meant. I have always owned tube amps and buy SS from time to time to see how things have improved over time. but as recent as a couple years ago, I still found BAT to outgun $20K+ SS amp in midrange and up. I might very well take the same route as you do, buy an inexpensive SS to use in hot days.
Luxman are priced different in asia and worth a look. I used to own Rowland 312 and x350.5. Knowing your taste, I doubt you'll like the 312.

I will miss a good listening buddy.
'd' just like any other topology has good and bad examples.
PF correction is used to help present a more resistive load to the power company. Large factories are penalized by the electric company when there PF drops below 0.9 or so, which is a moderate phase angle. I have measured my 40watt fluorescent tube at 0.8, when warmed up.

If such a circuit is presented B4 the amplifier, the amp's power supply need not be any different than without the PF correction circuit.

I have not yet measured my 'd' amp's PF, but will have data within a week. I suspect the PF to change as a function of load on the amp, but not sure in which direction it will go. I will be able to measure total draw, as well.

The Spectron amp is an animal. A very large number of smaller caps on each rail is featured in the power supply for lower resistance. Quite an amp, at least on paper. I'd like to hear it on my Maggies.
GLI, what sonic differences did you perceive between JRDG 312 and Pass X350.5?

Thanks, Guido

We have spoken on the phone regarding your positive experience with the Rowland. Many thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I was waiting on a VAC for so long so I ended up taking the plunge.

The 312 has a crystalline transparent quality while being exceptionally coherent and smooth. Other switching amps I have previously owned includes the rowland 201, Nuforce 9se. The 312 is way better. The pass lab did not have quite have the same crystalline quality but displayed a richer tonal balance. In my previous system with Avalon Diamond speakers and ARC Ref 3, the pass was able to portray a wider tonal spectrum. The sound of the violin, viola, cello were more differentiated. The different horns were also more distinct. I tried the Rowland into my previous second system with quad 2805 and results are similar. When I played vinyl, the subtle differences between different instruments are lost and that is the deal breaker for me. An unexpected benefit from the Rowland was that background noise form the record is less apparent. I suspect that switching amps need filtering and during the implementation, something musical was lost or obscured. X350.5 and 312 are equally dynamic with 312 displaying tighter bass. Both lost out to the Boulder 1060 on bass and macrodynamics.

I really wanted to love the Rowland for efficiency, looks and long successful history of the company. Unlike some of the other posters, I have never had treble glare. It was just too smooth. I left it on for 6 month continuously with music playing most of the time and also tried different power cords.

I absolutely do not have great ears and yours are way more trained than mine. I took your advise and visited the Sounding Room with Rod at RMAF. It sounded better than thru my system. If others would attribute my less positive experience to lack of break in, synergy with preamp or speakers or lack of care in other areas, I can accept it. Different folks or different strokes.
How about Boulder or Moon 7 lots of power out from both
Tube pre with class "d". I have a custom built 12au7 based pre and a Hypex class "d". Been running the combo for about 18 months. I think it sounds extraordinarily great. Tight highs, tight deep bass, extreme detail but, believe it or not, it still has that "warm" tube sound. I have heard class d amps with ss pre's and I think the sound is thin and dry. It reminds me of the early days of cd players through solid state everything. That's why I went to a tube pre. Have tried a variety of ss amps through the years. Tried a Tripath based class "d" and it sounded fine, but the Hypex is, in my system, better. Channel Islands is Hypex based, very well reviewed. I built my power amp using the upgraded Hypex components. I have no plans to replace it.