Upgrade from Forte F40/4A

Forte F40 and 4A have served me well. Ok not me, but my parents. I am looking for convenience (remote) and ease of use (integrated?) so they will use the system more often. System will be used in high heat and humidity location in Asia so prefer cool running gears.

Have been tempted with digital amps like Bel Canto or NuForce. How do they compare sonically with a stock Forte 4A? I like almost everything about Forte 4A, but sound is a little flat with F40 but can't afford to use a tube pre to add more dimension due to heat and operation complexity.

Are there any integrated or pre/power combo that can beat Forte combo in $2k range used? Speakers to pair with are Sonus Faber floor stander.
Hi Semi,

I have been auditioning digital amps (UcD and ICEpower based designs as well as NuForce) and I caution you to not sell the Forte equipment until you have an opportunity to drop any of these newer designed amps into your system. Forte is going to be hard to beat unless you go much higher in cost.

Good luck,
I had a 4A and F44 combo that I liked very much. Went from the 4A to a McCormack DNA125 and ran the F44 with it. The 4A runs warm as many Class A amps do but it's sound is distinctive. It has clear pleasing mids and highs but left the bass a little murkey for me and did not extend down to the capabilities of my speakers. To me my Mc is more dynamic, mildly less detailed mids and highs but more musical bounce. I recently left the F44 (which I like very much) for a TAD tubed pre. Biggest difference was in a wider soundstage thrown with the TAD but the Forte holds it's own for musicality. I can't think of anything SS pre in the used market Forte price range that I would rather have. I think you will spend big to get a small improvement but I always had my eye on getting a Classe DR-6 but never found one priced right enough for me. If you are looking for a nice integrated look at Blue Circle or Plinius. But the Plinius may run warm also. Have not not heard the new PS Audio integrated but it gets good press from the rags. Or keep your 40 and match it with a Good class AB amp SS amp(Classe, McCormack, CJ etc.) that runs cooler than the 4A but that does not sound SS glarey and save yourself some major bucks. I am not familiar with Bel Cantos sound and I am negaitively biased because it is digital. I suspect it will sound vastly different from your Forte setup but that may not be bad for you. Can't speak of NuForce either.
all your Forte owners are so happy no one ever thought of upgrading?

I forgot to mention that you may want to consider an alternative path and contact Jon Soderberg @ Vintage Amp Repair http://www.vintageamprepair.net/ and ask him about his mod/upgrade of both those units. He perfomed some updating to my Threshold Amp (it made a noticeable difference in sound performance). It has been mentioned here and at other forums how he has improved both of the units you own and he has a great reputation.

Good luck,
So Forte still holds its own against the newer digital amps, or newer amps in general? I did try the PS Audio HCA-2 with my bigger Sonus Faber and liked the sound, but I know digital amps are very load sensitive and have to be heard with the speaker to accurately judge the sound. But because the system is located oversea, I will have to buy the amps here, bring them over and try, bring them back to sell if I don't like. Now, that's difficult to do especially with amps.

As for modding, that does not solve any of my initial concerns, heat and convenience, so I will most likely keep them stock until I upgrade the system all together.

Any integrated out there that sounds close to the Forte combo?
I still use my Forte 4a that I bought new.
And plan to use it until it passes into audio-heaven.
The grass is greener right here.
As usual in posts the responses are drifting. If the 4A running warm is a big problem for you and you want to aleviate that a) buy a couple of small fans and keep them blowing on it or b) keep the 40 and sell your 4A ($600 give or take) buy a Mc DNA125 (8-900) used or a used CJ MF 2250 or maybe a DR-9 Classe about the same price range. These will still give you a clear accurate sound you have been used to with the Forte with more low end punch. You may give up a little of the "pristiness" of Class A sound but you will gain in dynamics and bass. I still believe without spending big you are going to beat your combo for sound with an integrated setup.
Hoopster, that's a good suggestion. The reason I am looking into integrated is convenience. One machine and one remote, now is two machines with no remote.

I do have a Placette RVC, thought about pairing it up with 4A but that will only allow one input. I am loading up my 30G iPod with Apple Lossless Compression music to use as a music server, but still prefer to have multiple input options in case I want to use tuner or CDP.

I have good experience with McCormack, I had a DNA-2 Deluxe in the past and very happy with it, drove my Sonus Faber Extrema better than Rowland 8Ti HC! Maybe it's time for another McCormack?
>> have good experience with McCormack, I had a DNA-2
>> Deluxe in the past and very happy with it, drove my
>> Sonus Faber Extrema better than Rowland 8Ti HC!

i don't doubt you but, boy, am I very surprised to read this or what??!!

>> 04-26-06: Elizabeth
>> I still use my Forte 4a that I bought new.
>> And plan to use it until it passes into audio-heaven.
>> The grass is greener right here.

yes, I have seen a lot of posts from you re. the 4A power amp! You seem to be the most die-hard fan of this amp! :-) Don't you think that it might be a good idea to listen to other stuff on the market (new or old) from time to time just to ensure that the 4A is still holding up its end of the bargain? Or, maybe you have hence the grass is greener comment?
Hijacking the post! Bombaywalla: I am a satisfied audiophile. If what I have is what I want, then why chase after something else?
Is that a new requirement to be a 'true audiophile'?
'Never satisfied' as part of the definition?
(I do go listen to other stuff once in awhile, but just to see what is around... and maybe buy something.. I just bought some new speakers in Dec 05.. So I do spend a few bucks on this stuff now and then)

If you are dead set on an integrated check out the Blue Circle CS or NSCS. All you will get with the remote is volume control but excellent sonics. Go to Audio Asylum and read the threads as well as here. Try to listen to them. I have never dealt with the company but they get rave reviews for customer service. Good luck Semi!


I am sure there may be a few others but here is where I would start. Let us know what you decide to do.

Elizabeth is correct, the 4A is a product worth staying excited about and is a best value for what they go for in the used market. What else you gonna spend $600 or so for that is going to sound any better? They have increased in value over the past 18 months following the asking prices and sales trends and I sold mine for what I had in it. Not many used electronics can make that boast and this from a company that is not even in business any longer. It is usually a good idea to stay away from a company that cannot service what you buy used, not so with Forte (thank goodness for Jon Soderberg). However, you rarely hear of problems with the 4A. IMHO sonic improvement comes slowly incremental in an amp from the 4A, even as the $s go up dramatically. She has reached equilibrium and can enjoy more software with her money, give to charity or eat out more often instead of chasing equipment nirvana. Congratulations Elizabeth!