Many, many good ones...but Top Ten?, the VAC 30/30 and 70/70 series should be included.
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My vote, at least one of my ten votes, goes for the Cary sli 80 signature. It's the new integrated with all the previous add-on options included. It's got all the usual stuff we all rave about, incredible imaging, big tight bass, smooooooth clear extended highs, and a midrange with such body you'd swear you were there. That all sounds so cliche but it's true, worth checking out. A Great all in one.
Ferrari: You and I are of the same "generation". Working my way through college, I sold both Marantz and McIntosh tube equipment. My hands down favorite from that period was the 8B. Within its power range, I preferred it to the model 9. The original model 8 (30wpc) was nothing more than a two channel model 5 with a common power supply. Contemporary comments were that the 5 did not compare favorably with the original Marantz amplifier, the model 2! Therefore, as good as the classic 8B was--and in spite of my never having heard the 2, I have to pick a pair of Marantz model 2 mono amplifiers (40watt ea.). Cheers,
Finally after coming to this site for about a year now, finally a post Im not afraid of getting "razzed" on. Thanks Ferrari. I really get a lot of pleasure from my McIntosh 240 amp. To this day, I never tire of listening to my music and can go on for hours and on end. Really lyrical, great soundstage, crisp, rich, detail. Realistic vocals. Even when playing a movie on DVD, my heart has been known to skip a beat during an explosion scene. Ive had my 240 since the early 80s as a gift from my cousin. Never had any desire to get rid of it. Once in a while, I take a reality check by going in to a salon and reminding myself how good I have it. Currently I have it paired with CJ PV11 pre-amp, CJ CD player, Allison one speakers, Golden Tube AC enhancer, MIT interconnects and monster speaker cables. After reading all the banter on Audiogon about brands of tubes, I took my amp to a McIntosh authorized shop to be re-tubed. The guys laughed at all the hype and reminded me of a simple fact, there is a reason why the audio designers choose the specs that they want. To make a long story short, we ended up upgrading the capacitors, jacks, terminals and AC cord and used Mac spec tubes. All I can say is the end result was amazing. When I went to pick up my amp, they were beaming. When they brought it out from the back, one of the techs came out (a young pup who wasnt born when my amp was built). He came out to tell me in his opinion the 240 could go up against a lot of current high-end gear. Oh BTW, recently I stopped by my local "high end" audio salon (one that frequently has Mac tubes in the window) to shop for MIT speaker cables. Ive been using the same ones for 15 years now and thought it was time for a change. The sales man thought my speakers were not up to par with the rest of my gear and tried to convince me that instead of upgrading the speaker cables, a set of ProAcs would bring the system into the new era... any thoughts?
Lamapp You have a fine piece in the McIntosh 240 and I'm sure with the upgrades it does hold its own with many. I have a pair of MC-60s which I have owned for 10 years. They have been extensively modified and I'll still take them (got rid of a Threshold in favor of them) over ANY solid state amp I have heard to date. There is something in the midrange that is so compelling with tube amps, that presence that I never hear with solid statem, even a classic design like yours. My ARC amp certainly has better highs, better defined bass and a more dimensional soundstage than the MC-60s but I doubt if it has a better midrange. And of course there is the art in those power transformers from MAC. They don't make them like that anymore.
I guess "all time" includes now. There's one amp that I believe stands head and shoulders above the crowd...the Art Audio Diavolo. This is the one that sounds like music. Single-ended, yes. Dynamic, extended, coherent, palpable, resolving, true, the whole schmagoo. And the price is reasonable for an amp that will truly take you into the high end. artaudio.com