Ultimate pre/power amp for Sonus Faber Memento


I'm on a quest for new amplification for my wonderful Sonus Faber Mementos. I'm currently using a Pathos Logos intregrated parnered with an Audio Aero Capitole CD-player. Cables are Harmonic Technology Pro-9 + Pro Silway. I do believe that the Pathos is the weak link in the chain at this point.

I'm aiming for the following:

1. A stable, trustworthy amp to hold on to for a long time (> 5-10 years).
2. Great dynamics, timbre and imaging are all things that I strive for, where I do favor midrange and treble excellence before "bass slam" as I mostly listen to sing and songwriters, small scale pop-music etc.

I'm open for either tube or transistor, even though the latter usually has an advantage when it comes to "trustworthiness" and ease of use.

The contenders so far:

1. Audio Research Ref 110 + LS26
2. BAT VK600SE + ?
3. ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue
4. Mcintosh 2102 + C220

These are all more or less within the same price range (used) here in the northern parts of Europe.

I would truly appreciate additional contenders based on your experiences!

Many thanks!

You should add Plinius to your list of potential choices also as they offer at least 2-3 models which would meet all of your criteria.
There are 2 jeff roland amps I would add that are listed now:models 8t and 9t for solid state and Audiovalve Challanger 180 monoblocks;I have these on my soundlab m2 and you can run el34,6550 and kt88's.
I can strongly recommend you Jadis amplifier paired with Jadis preamp.
Preferably JA80 monoblocks and JP80MC preamplifier.
As a bonus you get great phono stage for future use.

Incredible musicality, reliability and great match with Sonus Faber.
I have had Audio Research before and it is not even close to Jadis musicality.
A Ayre amplifier will match very well with your memento. I used to drive them with a pair of Ayre MXR mono amps to great effects. In addition, the Ayre products hold their values very well as they don't change the models too often. When they have upgrades, existing owners do not have to pay too much for upgrades. If you want to upgrade your speaker cables, you may also want to consider getting the yteer (forgot how to spell it correctly) cables made by Sonus Faber for the homage series speakers including the Memento.
I am trying to build a 2nd system around my Memento.

I have tried several amps in the past few months including:

Pass INT-30A. Musical and warm. Maybe it's not broken in, it doesn't have quite the extensions on both ends. Details are there, but not apparent like some amps.

Spectron Musician III SE. Very detail, fast, transparent, and dynamic, a blast to listen to. Slightly on the lean side of spectrum.

Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 300. Powerful, musical, but somewhere roll off sounding, not in the same league with big boys when it comes to transparency and extension.

McIntosh MC501. Just sounded veil to me.

Atma Sphere MP60. Great transparency, but lacks PRAT. Doesn't have quite the authority of BAT 75SE in bass and image lacks weight as well.

BAT 75SE/150SE. Just wonderful, has everything I seek for. Musicality, liquidity, extension, bass slam, dynamic, sharp focus, image weight, transparency, and on and on. I use 150SE in my main system, just picked up another 75SE for my Memento.

Not to bad mouth ARC, but you should proceed with caution with ARC newer gears. I had Ref 3 in my system for a week and tried both Aerial 20T & Memento, the famous "whitish" sound was apparent since first note. I think it has something to do with 6H30 implementation in their circuits, BAT & Conrad Johnson do not have that sound.

I have also owned many amps over the years, just a short list below:

Rowland 8Ti HC, a bit slow sounding and rolled off when compared to newer offering
McCormack DNA2 Deluxe, a bit unrefined sounding, but has PRAT
Pass X350, too lean and therefore not engaging
Sonic Frontiers Power 1/2/2SE/3, good bang for the buck
ARC VT-100 Mk 1/2/3, I will take SF amp over ARC any time

Have fun shopping, I am also shopping for pre amp to go with my 75SE, most likely a BAT 51SE or 32SE.
Thanks everyone for suggestions and advice!

Plinius might be an option, yes.
Jeff Rowland is hard to find in Scandinavia. The same goes for Ayre unfortenately.
Jadis would be interesting to try out...

There is a BAT VK600SE as well as an BAT 75SE available at about half retail price close to where I am at the moment. Would you (Semi?) describe them as different animals all together, or do they share a similar "BAT-signature"?

Anyone with Sonus Faber + Mcintosh (tube) experiences?
I would not go with Plinius based on my 9200 integrated experience, sound was not transparent and extended enough for me.

I have never owned a BAT SS amp, so can't comment on that. Some claimed BAT SS amps do share a house sound as BAT tube amps, I seriously doubt that. I have never heard a SS amp that capture the soul of a good tube amp and I have heard many including top line Lamm, Ayre, Plinius, Levinson, etc.
I echo Semi's thoughts on the Plinius. It depends on system matching as always. Plinius sound great with Dynaudios but can be too warm and shut-in with Sonus Fabers. I have used the SA100Mk3 to drive lower range Sonus Fabers and the result is not good with undefined bass, muddled midrange and rolled-off highs. The newer range Memento may not be as warm and colored but still I would advise caution against the use of Plinius amps with Sonus Faber speakers.

Pathos Logos is a pretty engaging hybrid amp. One of my friends owned the amp for a while and eventually sold it off as it didn't give him the PRaT and excitement he was looking for. For what you seek you might want to look at Naims. There are quite a few Sonus Faber users who used Naim amps on the speakers with excellent results. A 282/250 might be worthy of consideration.
Another contender is the Accuphase A60 power amp.

Any experiences?


Believe it or not, I have experienced extremely good results using a plain-old integrated amp with my Mementos - well, maybe not so "plain-old" but an integrated never-the-less.

I'm using a McIntosh MA-7000 and I think the results are phenomenal. I have (current) Spectral separates on another system, I've tried them on the Mementos and I really like the MA-7000 just as well.

I also use a McIntosh MCD500 player and I think the combination is wonderful