I have Wilson 5.1's and used a VT 100mk2. I then tried a ML 335. Only then did I realize the ARC amp, as good as it is, cannot drive the Wilson's to their full potential. Other than the last bit of bloom and hall ambience the ML 335 was vastly, and I mean vastly, better. The ML 335 has a smooth tonal balance that works well with the Wilson's tendency to be a little overly analytical. The bass control is beyond words, the ARC was no where near the 335. After years of trying to tame the Wilson's tendency to be a little bright with massed strings I settled on the CAT Ultimate, the 335 and Transparent Cables. You'll need a massive tube amp with all the hassle that comes with it, why not try the 335 or 336 first? Of course the pre amp you have will influence things but you don't need a tube amp to tame the Wilson's.
I partly disagree with the above post. The Wilson WP's speaker sound much better with tubes than with solid sate. The key is that they like a lot of power. On the WP's, I have compared the Levinson, Classe and Krell gear head to head with the ARC VT200 / VTM200 / Ref 600 and the tubes were better in almost every way. The solid state did not have the harmonic texture of the tubes and seemed to distort at the higher frequencies. While the ARC gear was not as quiet as the Levinson, I still preferred the ARC gear.
On another note, I went over to a friend's house about a month ago and heard the WP 6's driven by the ML Reference 33's. It was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunatley, it would be difficult to compare that listening experience to my A/B with the ARC's.
I have also heard the BAT VK-150SE's on the WP's and they too, are a wonderful match. They are extremely quiet and beautiful sounding. They run class a so do not let the 150 watt rating fool you.
The best amps I have heard on WP's are the Atma-sphere MA2 MKII.2's. They are amazing but even used are out of your price range.
Good luck... it should be fun!
As suggested above, you need huevos. Esp, to get orchestral dynamics and to couple the P's with the W's on the V. The best results (caution: to my ears) with WP 6's were in descending order, Atmasphere-2 (as above), Lamm, Ref 600, Mesa Baron in pentode mode.
Don't know if this helps any.
the ONLY time i've been really impressed with the sound of watts/puppies was when i heard 'em driven by nagra vpa's. FWIW, dave wilson uses the nagra tube monoblocks and a pl-p pre with his personal watts/puppies (he told me that at ces-2000). while the nagra's have a msrp of a little over $12k, they can be found discounted (new) for around your max, or less. -kelly
VAC gear works great with the speakers. If you can do mono amps the better. Remember to keep in mind the amps only reproduce what comes down the audio chain. Frankly a CAT Pre-amp makes a amazing difference.
Sorry Kelly, but I disagree. I had both pieces in my system when I still had the WP's and it was mediocre at best. The WP's like power and at 50-60 watts, they did not help the speakers reach their potential. Dave uses it in an office system and does not use it for dynamics, more for background music. The Watt Puppies need more power.
jtinn: thanx for your polite response. i would assume, however, that you were not at ces2001, where nagra was showing with the latest watts/puppies (via vpa's,a pl-line and an analogue 1/4" tape with 2nd generation masters). there was plenty of power, plenty of sound. indeed, my choice for "best of show" (and i'm usually a great Unbeliever of wilson speaks). perhaps you had an earlier version of watts or, more likely, hadn't the pleasure of getting your system set up by the swiss wizards. -kelly
How about 'driving' only Wilson Watt monitors? Any suggestions? Thanks!
i own WP6s and medium powered amps just don't make them sing. the WP5s are an even tougher load than the WP6. when i went from levinson 33h to 33 it made a world of difference. the WP6 will still sound good with medium power. i tried the red rose amp 1, which has twice the power of the nagra vpa, and it was very dynamicaly limited. the red rose sounded good, but did not allow the WP6 to really strut it's stuff like the 33s or the halcro dm58.
i now have atma-sphere ma2 mk2.2 connected to the WP6. this amp works great with the WP6; there is no percieved dynamic limitations. it doesn't quite have the effortlessness of the 33 or the halcro, but it is much better than the red rose or even the 33h as far as dynamics. also extended in the bass and treble. the MA2 is easily the best amp i have heard.(period)
the atma-sphere MA1 might work on the WP but i have not tried it. it would be in your price range.
the MA2 is more $ than your upper limit. i would personally suggest that you at least demo a high powered amp with the watt/puppys before you settle for medium power so you will at least know what you are missing.
Hey Kelly: I did indeed listen to the Nagra amps and preamp with the WP 6's in my home. The Watt Puppies are terrific speakers and I am sure they sounded quite good at the show. But, if you really want to hear what they can do, listen to them with a high power tube amplifier. It is a huge difference. Compared with the higher powered amps, the Nagras are mediocre on the WP 6's. Mediocre on WP's is better than good on most speakers. :)
I respect what you heard and agree with many of your opinions, this one we just see a bit differently.
I agree with you 100% I am also heard the Watt-Puppy 6 with solid state and tube (ARC) vt100....and was more satisfied with the tubed gear. It seamed to tame the highs a bit.