Recommend Ayre V-3 solid state with tube-like sound.
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Aronov LS960 tube amp. Natural, musical, and extended range, with unexpectedly superior bass. You will be surprised how a well designed 60 watts per channel of big iron tube power will improve upon your 200 watts per channel of transistor power. This amp just sounds so "right," rather than what your expectation of a tube amp may be.
With top of the line Mapleshade power cord directly into the AC wall outlet, the bass extension, dynamics, and transient speed really impress.
This amplifier has no adjustments for you to make, and is solid, reliable, and aesthetically appealing with its backlit logo when turned on. Available used periodically on Audiogon.
The Music Reference RM-200 is a tube/solid-state hybrid that can be found for approximately $2k on AudioGon. Unlike many tube designs it is not perturbed by low impedances, and can deliver >100 wpc from 20-20kHz into a 4 Ohm load. It even has 2 Ohm taps, and has condsiderable output into even that extreme load. Being a Roger Modjeski design, it is highly reliable, built like a tank, and quite pleasing to the eye. As for its "sound", I can say that it portrays dynamic contrasts as well as I've heard from any amp. It has an amazingly broad tonal palette, and does not spotlight any particular part of the audible spectrum. I think this may be due to atypically taut, tuneful and extended low bass for a tube design. For what it's worth, I find it more desirable than most anything I've heard, regardless of price.
sorry to say the only solid state i heard that sounds like a tube amp is the halcro.
i think it was a bit overpriced and was easily bested by a bat tube amp @ 1/3 the price imo.
there are some very good solid state amps that are musical, neutral and match very well with a tube preamp ( that is the best way to get "tube sound" without the tube hassles and expense, i would estimate the tube sound @ 75%-80%)imo.
in regards to solid state amps:
pse studio V mono's, muse monos, or muse 160 mkII stero amp. both are very, very neutral and will pretty much handle any load with grace, muscle and musicality...
now here is crux of the situation... if.....
if your preamp is up to the task.
a amp will take signal from the pre and amplify it. if you have a great pre the amp will pick up on and move the signal along.the pre is the second most important component in chain imo.
you might want to consider moving (selling your pre) and looking for a tube/hybrid pre and solid state amps.
a good combo is a audio research ls-2bmkii with remote or pse hl-1 ( remote & theatre bypass- both are hybrids and will require minimal tube investment, the bat vk3i or vk5i are great but require more tube - the vk5i is a awesome unit - goes for $1600 with remote) with the above mentioned amps. i think that combo will yield much better results at $1600 - $1900 than a $2000 amp.
average used prices for the above are:
muse 150/160 monos - $700 - $800
pse studio v mono's - $600 - $700
muse 160 mk II stereo- $700
pse hl-1 ($1000)
ARC ls2bmkII w/ remote ($1000)
BAT vk3i $900 to $1000 with remote
BAT vk5i $1500 - $1600 with remote
the units suggested originally retailed ( beside the bat 5vki) went for $2500 to $3000 when they were introduced and very well regarded.
the pse gear is not as well know but well regarded by speaker designers like richard vandersteen. if you can find a pse hl-1 i would suggest picking it up. i saw only 2 of them come on the market last year.. i bought one of them.
the drawback is these units dont come up that often and when they do, they command top dollar.
if you wish to stay with your pre, i would suggest the classe cam monos, they are very nice and some of the best amps i have heard regardless of price ( $2k used for the 100wpc mono blocks) these are the only solid state amps i have found to exceed the above mentioned.
hope that helps,
Don't laugh. But get on e-bay, find a Dynaco Stereo 400 and you will be shocked. It is like a 200W tube amp. Midrange presence, very clean sound, huge sound stage and (unlike a lot of tube amps) center of the earth base. I've owned Conrad-Johnson, McCormick, Adcom, Jolida.
I inhereted a Stereo 400 from my church and have sent it to Vintage Amplifier Restoration in Hattiesburg, MS for and overhaul (they really do a great job of turning the vintage stuff into like new condition).
Mhyde2, Do you have a price estimate or guarantee that a certain price will not be exceeded when you restore your amp at Vintage Amplifier Restoration?
I found that when I stumbled onto a pair of Dynaco A-25 speakers, for only $5, the vintage sound was shockingly enjoyable. The price was almost as good as being paid to take them. I have not taken for any restoration, but your idea to optimize a classic is intriguing, if it is cost effective to do so. Whoever decided on the "voicing" of components at Dynaco seems to have hit the mark with your amplifier, too.
Well..... you could get a nice tube integrated... or tube preamp and save your money for a tube amp.... There is some quite good sounding solid state out there but I've always ended up having to go back to tubes for a lifelike presence of music and real enjoyment. Lot's of integrated choices: Jolida, ASL, Cary... For powerful music seen a 6550/KT88 based ultralinear push pull integrated, for more intimate and seductive sound, go for triode amp, EL-34 based amp, or both.
Same old same old !
Tubes VS Transistors its like comparing apples to pine apples, both have their merits and pit falls, I use an old Dyna ST-400 at 250HZ down in a biamped system for driving my EV-18's sub, the tube amps are MC-60's that are crossed over 250HZ up for mids and highs which are very sweet in this range, transistor amps make very good Low frequency amps and tube amps make wonderful mid to high frequency devices, tube amps tend to get soggy at low frequency due to the output transformer its hard to pass what is close to DC through a transformer, thats why at best 30HZ is the cut off point of MOST tube amps for the exception of OTL's transistor amps seem to screach at high frequency, mosfets has helped that some what but still the same is noticeable
Try mixing and matching with a cross over bi-amped system you may like the results.
I use an ARC LS 16 tube pre. It is just slightly tubey but did the trick. I don't think too many SS amps are going to do what I think you want. Try a tube pre, you won't go back. Also some tube pre's have a home theater bypass so you can run through them using a home theater preamp when watching movies.
Look for a Threshold T200 or T400 on Audiogon. They are solid state amps with very tube-like performance. Powerful as well and they can be had for the money you want to spend. I see them here fairly often and at ridiculously low prices. They are pure class A also which is utterly impossible to find in any current amps. By the way, I still have my T200 after 8 years - no repairs yet either - and I am very reluctant to give it up for newer electronics. Also pairs well with a tube preamp. I used a CJ and now a Hovland with mine. Really beautiful sound. I have a friend who is an all tube guy and he cannot get over how sweet my system sounds.