Tube pre/power combo for Rockport Aviors

I have a pair of Rockport Aviors on order that should arrive sometime in Jan. The Conrad Johnson CT 5 pre and CJ LP 70S power (70 wpc) that I have at present may not have enough juice to do justice to the Aviors. Given the limited availability of brands/dealers in my part of the world,I have shortlisted 3 pre/power combos :
1. Conrad Johnson GAT and ARTsa(140 wpc)
2.ARC 5SE and Ref 150 or Ref 250 monos
3. VTL 7.5 mk 3 pre and 450 MB series3
The Aviors will replace a pair of Quad 2905s that I have enjoyed for 6+ years. My musical tastes extend to the whole spectrum from large orchestral works, chamber music, rock, blues, Indian music but strictly no Rap or Country. The preferred source is vinyl.
Ideally I would love to stay with the CJ line as I like the sonics though I suspect this may not be possible.I am not looking for recommendations per se but to those Agoners who have experience of any of these brands either through ownership or extensive listening etc. I have been fortunate to be in contact with some knowledgeable Agoners .
Many thanks and festive cheer
5730ac72 b4ae 4369 9106 b94235ab9855sunnyboy1956
Let me rephrase the question. I am not looking to owners of Rockport Aviors to share their experience ; I reckon I will have to wait a long time for that given the very few pairs out there. Instead , what electronics(tube only) work with speakers with a broadly similar sonic footprint eg Wilson Audio- Sophias, Sashas and the like. Alternately, users/potential owners of ARC Ref 5SE and Ref 250 mono blocs or CJ GAT or VTL,what swayed you in that direction to make a purchase or contempate one. Any specific musical traits that a particular tube pre/power signifies or excels in compared to some others.
I am in NYC on a short vacation and will try to demo the units on my short list. Would deeply appreciate the views/comments of Agoners who have walked this path
I"ve heard these Rockport Aviors extensively in Austin. Big congratulations, these are a FANTASTIC speaker and really makes one wonder why you ever need to spend more money. They do a few things my Wilson Maxx 3's don't do for 1/2 the price! The transparency and natural presentation is world class in the Rockports..

The amps I heard them with are the Nagra 300b and VPA's along with Ayre MXR's. I think they are going to transmit the sound you put into all of your combo's above will likely work great....the electronic signature will absolutely come through. All combo's I heard above were using a Nagra PLL

I do tend to like preamps based around the 12ax7 or 6922 tube types. I have not heard the recent ARC Ref 5 or 5se however. I did hear the VTL preamp a few time...and felt like something (to me) was a tad hard or not quite so natural in the treble area. I think heard the same system with a Absolare pre amp (12au7 based i think) and it was phenomenal.

Good luck with your pre/amp auditions...please post back as you hear various combos!
Hi John
Many thanks. I should get a peek and hopefully a listen to the VTLs in NYC today. Nagra...why did I not think of that. I have a Nagra dealer in New Delhi but a demo may not be possible.
Will post my impressions.
Excellent choice. My tube amp experience is limited to Marantz 8B, 9s, and just recently Carver VTA 180s powering Avalon Eidolons. It was difficult to find a tube amp to drive the Eidolons after years of solid state.

While the Carvers live up to the few reviews they've had the other amps I liked with my speakers were the VAC 450S. I think the VAC 450 series would be worth your time to consider and audition if only to gain perspective over your current short list.
I am a bit intrigued by your statement that the Nagras 330b and VPAs could successfully drive the Aviors. The Nagras output 20wpc and 50 wpc respectively. Conventional wisdom has it that you need at least 150 wpc to drive the 89db efficient Aviors. This opens up a lot of possibilities. My CJ LP 70S with KT 88S produces 70 wpc. I plan to swap the KT 88s for KT 120s. If i am not mistaken this should output 80 wpc or there abouts. This may be more than adequate !

You have convinced me to listen to the Avior's...if they are "Significantly" better than the Sasha's I'm going to sell them and get the Avior's.
You should really contact Andy Payor at Rockport to see what he recommends both for power requirements and what he likes with the Aviors. Personally I wouldn't do anything until I heard them with my CJ gear and then go from there, which is probably what you're doing. If you like the CJ sound it's a little hard to think you'll like ARC or VTL, which in my experience are not as warm or romantic sounding as CJ gear. But then again who knows? I really liked the VAC idea mentioned above -- perhaps a nice middle ground between CJ and the others you mentioned. You probably know Andy uses Gryphon solid state Class A amps pretty extensively to voice his speakers (I think they may be his favorite amps), but I'm sure he must use some tube amps as well so would be interesting to see what those are just for reference. I heard the Altairs with some big Boulder Class A amps and the sound was pretty damn nice.

Anyway, fwiw and best of luck with your high-quality problem -- and congrats on a great pair of speakers.
They have gotten great reviews when shown with the BAT REX pre and amps. Heard them with BAT SS amp at RMAF and sound was also good there.
I know at one point Andy had C-J amps in house, the Premier 12's I believe. This is going back some time, but he may still have them.
You may be happy with your CJ amps. It depends how big your room is, how loud you listen etc etc...I've also heard them with the Nagra MSA's (a pair), that's one nice little amp.

I've never heard the BAT Rex amp...but used to own bat before and that's likely a good combo to. Kinda wish I'd can hear this amp soon...

Soix, those Gryphon SS amps are VERY nice...I heard them with the Altair's...If I could handle the heat output in Texas, I'd be lusting for those one day...
Many thanks to all who have responded. I did speak to Andy Payor yesterday . He was clear that 70/80 wpc will be adequate unless you play at head banging levels which hopefully I don't . I am not too concerned about extracting the last bit of LFE as my pair of REL G1 subs are simply outstanding at this.
Soix is correct. I am going to spend a lot of time getting to know the Aviors with the existing CJ gear and only then upgrade. I obviously don't want to spend a lot of money and end up with a sideways shift.
I did get a brief demo of the VTL 7.5 mk 3 pre hooked to a pair of VTL Seigfred monos and the new Wison XLFs. This was a majestic display especially with the large orchestral works. Probably just me but there was no emotional connect with the music . Played a variety of music from Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen( not the best demo material ) Paricia Barber and Bernstein conducting Shostakovich . All the music came via a dcs( forget the model) controlled with a iPad . I am not a great fan of computer audio though I will be acquiring a Mytek Dac this trip. Will demo the VTL 450 MBs driving the Wilson Sashas post Xmas and revert.

Once again many thanks for all your thoughtful advice and comments.
Have a great Christmas
Hi Predeep...did you get to listen to any more pre/amp combo's while in NY? Curious on your thoughts and listening sessions...

Sorry I'm a little late getting in on the responses here, but I just took delivery of an ARC Ref Phono 2 SE and Ref 250 monoblocks. I also have, like you, and TW Acustic analog front end.

I must say the Ref 2 SE phono and ref 250 monos are incredible. This is with only around 10 hours on them right now. The inner detail, ambience, and sound stage cohesiveness was a step up from my Rowland gear. As always, much of this is system dependent and listener preference dependent. But I would certainly recommend a listen to the new ARC gear coming out. It's certainly a different beast from its former gear in the past. And yes, I still love my Rowland gear too!
Hi John
Not very successful . Did hear the VTL 7.5 mk 3 pre, the big Siegfried monos and the Wilson XLFs. I suspect the room was not large enough. Majestic sweep but the problem I guess is me. When I walk into a demo of a 300k system I expect the moon and anything less is a big letdown.
Was hoping to hear the VTL MB 450 monos paired to the Sashas and the Alexias but that didn't work out.
The good news is that the Aviors have reached my dealer in New Delhi but I get home only after ten days :(
Am checking out the pricing /availability of the Absolare pre amp. Will keep you posted ...
Congrats on your ARC gear. I have heard great things about the Ref 250 monos. Am pretty familiar with ARC. I had a vintage LSB2 pre and later a SP 16. I think there is more convergence than divergence between the latter CJ and ARC gear either because of the Teflon caps and/or KT 120 tubes. Just my 0.2 cents worth.
If as I suspect I get enough juice from my LP70S with KT 120s, I may just upgrade the pre, a CJ CT 5, to an Absolare. Ideally would love to snare a CJ GAT ,preferably a demo unit.
Many thanks for your inputs and all the others who have contributed.
Pradeep, congrats on your Rockports too! They are phenomenal loudspeakers.
A quick update. Over the weekend I snagged a CJ GAT preamp on Agon. I believe it's a good deal and allows me to significantly improve on a sonic footprint that I love. The minor hassle is converting the GAT to 230v. My tech friend back home says this should not be a problem. Will stick to my Conrad Johnson LP70 S with KT 120s for now.Will keep you posted when I get home from my long vacation in NYC.
Many thanks to everyone who chimed in with suggestions and comments.
Have a great 2013
Reached home at 2am on Sat after a long flight from JFK. At noon the Rockport Aviors arrived in 2 huge cartons. Really impressive packing.I have less than 8 hours on the Rockport Aviors. Initially was a wee bit underwhelmed , if not disappointed. The treble had a metallic sheen, bass was a bit loose. Over the weekend, the Aviors seem to be settling. The treble is opening up, the the bass is much tighter. Am still experimenting with placement. Not too many options given the room configuration . My reference is a 6 year old pair of Quads 2905s coupled with a pair of REL G1 subs. The magic of ELS, a holographic midrange with a deep , musically coherent bottom end. The Aviors have a hard act to follow but I guess they will surpass the Quads. Early days yet.
Many thanks for nudging me towards the Aviors. A brief audition in Singapore at Passion Audio clinched it.
Happy days are here
when i bought a pair of merak / sheritan IIs, these used speakers took over a week to 'resettle' in.

they also love power. preferably class A.

and, they are wonderful. suspect the aviors will last you forever.
Many thanks. I seem to be getting enough juice from my 70/80 wpc Conrad Johnson LP 70s with KT 120s. Not sure what a more powerful amp will achieve in my 23x14x 9 feet room. The system plays pretty loud as it is and the speakers are a long way from break in.
Will post more on my system page
How are the new Aviors sounding? Very curious to get a report !
Hi John
Thanks for asking.Still breaking in. Been home for two weeks but no much listening time. The initial harshness in the treble has mellowed. I have owned ESLs for 8 years with the ML Odyessy and then the Quads and never thought I would go back to a box speaker. The Aviors are almost ESL like in the overall coherence with much greater body. The bass is beginning to tighten. What's the breakin for a speaker with a beryllium tweeter ? I have about 30 hrs max but initial and evolving impressions indicate that this is a truly phenomenal speaker.
Chimes of Freedom- A Dylan compilation with various artistes has deep , guttural bass and almost shrill, ear piercing higher frequencies . It was almost unlistenable but is now sounding sublime on the Aviors.
It's early days yet with the Quads stacked next to the Aviors. Hopefully the Quads should leave for a new home this week providing the Aviors more breathing space.
In my 40 years in this hobby this is the best sound I have ever heard in a home environment .
Will post more on my systems page after further breakin.

I have decided to check into the Aviors as an alternative to Sashas. Can you give an update on your impressions after breaking please. Also, which amps did you end with?

Thanks. Howard
Hi Howard
I think I have the break in nailed. Still fine tuning the speaker placement. Wonderfully transparent speaker with resolution and coherence that exceeds any ESL that I have heard. Not sure how it stacks up against the Sashas as my experience of WA is limited to the Max2 and the early Watt/Puppy5.
At this level would strongly recommend a audition.
As to amps am toying with the idea of 150 watt Japanese SET mono blocs. Only hassle is that a demo is not possible. The new pre/power amps will arrive end April
More info on the Aviors on my systems page. Do send me a PM if you need anymore details
Congrats on the Aviors! They are a wonderful speaker. We are a Rockport dealer here in Southern California. Regarding break in, they sound great from the start but improve with time. At about 200 hours they seemed to relax a bit and became even smoother. Bass response seems to extend deeper as well.

Experiment with placement, where they end up sounding best may be different than where you think they would be placed.

Happy listening.
Cake Audio
Many thanks. I guess I have yet to reach the 200 hr mark but yes the overall presentation is a tad smoother. Tremendous speaker. Never thought a box speaker could match, let alone surpass ,my beloved Quads.
Pradeep, its been about a year since your Aviors arrived. Care to send us a '1 year' owner update about them? I will soon have my last piece of ARC gear arrive (ref 5se) and then I will be looking for the speaker to 'end the journey' this fall. I'm figuring RMAF 2014 would be the best place to start while I'm trying to decide if the Aviors are a significant step up from the Avalon Eidolon Diamonds.

Again, congrats on you fabulous system!

Hi Phil
Thanks for looking. The Aviors have the CJ GAT pre and a pair of Wavac HE 833 V2 SET mono blocs for company. The Wavacs were never on the horizon but I am delighted it worked out. More details and pics on my system page.
I am in the happy situation of having completed my final upgrades before retirement ....
Truly thrilled with the Aviors. The Avior is like a box speaker without a crossover. To my mind this is the ultimate praise for a box/cone speaker. The sense of balance and coherence is unbelievable almost like a ESL but better with more body and weight.
I would strongly urge an audition as that is the only way to go.
The Rockport Avior has my highest recommendation.
Do PM me if I can be of any help