Far be it from me to contradict Mr. Porter, but I had both the JC-1s and the VTL 450s at the same time and I chose the JC-1s for a couple of reasons. First off the 450s put out a TON of heat. They also are chock full of tubes which mean problems with them probably. I like to leave my system on and ready to rock all the time and you can't really do that with the tubes. Most of all, I thought the JC-1s sounded better, a little smoother and better in the bass. The VTLs did have the tube magic though, and surprisingly were brighter sounding overall.
I would go for a new amp. Those speakers need some juice and if you've not got a chance to hear some high powered amps you are in for a treat. After fooling with amps of all different power ratings I don't think I'd ever go back to anything below say 300 watts.
First off the pro 9's are not very good...I just got rid of mine. I had the C4's as well and they demand alot of power. Third, try MIT spkr cables for realistic sound. If you like the current amp try the cables from The Cable Co...maybe Magnum M3 if you can fit it in your budget.
With all due respect to Albert... I'd stick with SS on the C4s. I'm sure there are a few high powered tube amps to drive them, but as others have noted, it will require a lot of tubes, and will put off a lot of heat.
I'd look into a higher powered SS amp. The Harmonic cables should be fine. I'd say high current, with 500WPC into 4 ohms for these.
How big is your room? I hope those C4s have some breathing space, because they open up with current.
I had the Plinius 102 on a pair of Dyn S1.4s, which was a great match. The Plinius sound complements Dyns well, so you could look into a used 250. Also, I'd consider McIntosh, Sim, and the JC-1 as mentioned above.
To all: Thanks for your input / advice. I was thrilled to wake up to so much feedback on my question.
Albert - You have instant credibility in my book and you have been quite helpful to me in the past when I've asked your advice. Your suggestion of powerful VTL tube amps is intriguing, and it has passed my mind several times before. I'm quite certain the sound would be top-shelf, however, given the issues with heat, blown fuses & tubes, I think I'd probably be too stressed out to be consistently happy with them. I tend to like gear that's relatively trouble free.
Dave - Thanks for the speaker cable recommendation. I'm not very familiar with MIT's offerings. I've always been a bit leery of their products because there always seems to be a large glut of inventory available. I'll do some research on the Magnum M3.
Eljif - I think following your advice on getting higher powered amplification is sound. I do love my SA-102 and am hesitant to part with it. So as it stands right now, I may wait for another SA-102 to come available in the states and run them as bridged mono-blocks with 400 WPC into 8 ohms.
Bob - After an initial rough patch, my Aesthetix preamp was adjusted to operate in the low gain setting & is working nicely with the Plinius amp. Tube rolling with NOS tubes has made a night & day difference with the sound quality achievable in the Calypso. It's a keeper.
Goatwuss - My room is 21' x 15' and partially open-ended on the far wall perpendicular to the speakers. The front of the speakers are 62" from the front wall and a min. of 36" off the side walls. The room was acoustically treated with GIK panels... made a HUGE difference ;).
Pdreher..I own C4s at present in the same size room,running a mac 402 into them..I had a Pass labs x.5 and really regret selling it..mated well,very well..Ive seen your post in the past and never felt the Plinius was the right choice.IMO tubes are the wrong direction..Two guys I personally know had problems with the JC1 amps,plus the heat,forgetaboutit..again my opinion..Try different cables or other tweeks when the amp situation is taken care of..Given your short list the Pass X250.0 or if you can swing it the 350.5 is a no brainer with the C4s
Pdreher..I know that Tvad is possibly right because he has a better understanding on the tech side of things than I do but Ive never had any issues with impedence matching with any gear Ive ever owned over the past 30 years...Take that preamp of yours and audition with Pass...My preamp im sure didnt match impedence wise with the Pass amp I sold and it sounded great... Just my opinion..let us know what you do and enjoy.
Impedance mismatch can be tough to identify unless you know what a good match sounds like. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Missioncoonery when I say this.
I didn't understand what impedance mismatch sounded like until the past year, and honestly, now I understand why some of the combinations I tried over the years were better than others. In my system, a god impedance match results in deep, well defined bass, and a sound that is not tipped up. A bad match has bass that sounds a bit muddy and ill defined, and sometimes has slightly less volume than the mids and highs, which results in a "bright" sound.
Don't take my word for it. Read John Atkinson's test measurements section of the Stereophile Calypso review. He clearly states the issue, and he mentions what the minimum input impedance that any amplifier should have if used with the Calypso.
Well, I went over my budget and have cut a deal for a second Plinius SA-102 to run as a bridged monoblock with my current SA-102 amp. I'm cautiously optimistic that going from one amp @ 125WPC to two bridged monoblocks @ 400WPC in 8 ohms will help me get the most out of my C4's (within reason considering the mega-dollar SS amps from MBL, Lamm, Levinson, Krell Evolution, Boulder, DartZeel, etcetera) .
I'm also ordering Silent Running Audio (SRA) isolation platforms (VR series) to put under my amps and preamp. I've never really invested much in isolation gear, and the inexpensive tweaks I've tried just seemed to dull the sound. From all of the reading I've done, SRA seems to be the "real deal" when it comes to isolation platforms.
I'm crossing my fingers that these new additions to my system will take me to a new level of satisfaction.... worst case, I'll look at the silver lining knowing that all of these components have strong resale value!
Bill & Dave - Audiogoner Jadem6, owner of Jade Cables reviewed and still uses this combo with his Dunlavy IV/a's with good success. Jade & I also both use the Aesthetix Calypso.
The C4's are rated @ 4 ohms nominal / 3.3 ohms minimum / 88dB.
The Plinius SA-102 owners manual states that bridging them as monoblocks will "provide and extremely high performance option". The manual goes on to state that care should be taken when matching speakers... "the total average impedance for each chanel should in a range between 4 & 8 ohms" . So hopefully I'll be okay ???
If I'm wrong and it does not work out, at least I have two amps with good resale value.
Pdreher ,,sell your Plinius..Take that money along with the cash you have to spend on the second amp and get a gently used X250.5 and be done with it..far better amp with Dyns.You will actually spend less money w/ less effort
Doug - I hopeful the 4 ohm load of the C4's won't be a problem for the bridged SA-102's (as suggested in the earlier posts from Audiofeil & Dave b). However, if bridged SA-102's don't cut the mustard with my C4's, your suggestion of the Pass 250.5 will be a serious consideration.
My second Plinius SA-102 should arrive by the end of next week, so I'll report back on my findings.
03-12-09: Pdreher The C4's are rated @ 4 ohms nominal / 3.3 ohms minimum / 88dB.
The Plinius SA-102 owners manual states that bridging them as monoblocks will "provide an extremely high performance option". The manual goes on to state that care should be taken when matching speakers... "the total average impedance for each chanel should in a range between 4 & 8 ohms" . So hopefully I'll be okay ???
The Stereophile review and measurements of the C4 indicates (at least in the test sample) that the impedance only hit a minimum of 4 ohms and generally seemed to be running around 5-6 ohms from about 500 Hz on up.
I would read both the original Stereophile review and Wes Phillips' 2007 followup to get an idea of what the speakers are capable of and what gear he used with them to get such a compelling match.
I've found that a more involving and livelier sound can come from lowering the noise floor. I was wondering what sort of rack you're using and if you are using any aftermarket footers.
Also, I had a hunch that a quieter cable might help and I notice that Wes was using Shunyata Research speaker cables. Generally the braided designs such as Shunyata and Kimber designs are all about lowering the noise floor and keeping extraneous noise out of the cable runs while maintaining wide bandwidth and speed (which shields often compromise by raising capacitance).
You also might look at how your speakers are platformed. Might it be practical to try them on a set of Vibrapods? There is a lot of buzz that Vibrapods make excellent speaker feet for draining cabinet vibrations and resonances, and this in turn would lower the noise floor and improve microdynamics and inner detail. Unless you already have noise-lowering footers under your components, you might also try the proper weight-rated Vibrapods under each of your components, and consider making a Vibrapod sandwich under your preamp and amp.
Your Plinius as a class A s/b making about 250 wpc into 4 ohms, and in your room and with your listening tastes, this should be enough to give you plenty of volume--like peaks and crescendos up to 111-114 dB. If you're looking for more of a sense of "thereness," the key is vibration control and lowering the noise floor.
Keithr - Pass .5 series amps are intriguing. If my soon-to-be realized plan of bridging a pair of mono-blocked Plinius SA-102's end up not meeting my expectations, my fallback plan would have me leaning towards replacing them with either a Pass 250.5 or 350.5.... or if I feel I'm up to the challenge of trying tube amps, I'd try VTL 450 sigs.
Johnnyb53 - I have three Silent Running Audio VR series isolation platforms on order & due to arrive next week.... so my isolation issues should be largely addressed... and the C4's have nice plinths with adjustable threaded points that isolate the speaker to the floor.
I've tried Vibrapods, but prefer the sound without them. I have twelve of them laying around if interested.
03-18-09: Pdreher Johnnyb53 - I have three Silent Running Audio VR series isolation platforms on order & due to arrive next week.... so my isolation issues should be largely addressed... and the C4's have nice plinths with adjustable threaded points that isolate the speaker to the floor.
Cool! Install your new platforms and let them settle in to see what they do to your noise floor before moving forward with amplification.
I've tried Vibrapods, but prefer the sound without them. I have twelve of them laying around if interested.
Well, they certainly aren't the be-all and end-all of vibration control, but at $6 they ain't bad. What weight rating do you have? I could use eight #3s.
Well, I just agreed to buy a pair of Simaudio W-6 monoblocks, so I should know in a few weeks how these more powerful amps (425 WPC / 8 ohms) match up to to my trusty Plinius SA-102 @ 125 WPC. I've really enjoyed my SA-102 for a long time... so I'm cautiously optimistic that the more powerful sim monoblocks will take my system to a new level???
I appreciate everyones suggestions on amps. I was really leaning towards a Plinius SA 250 mk IV or the PASS 250.5, but neither would fit into my rack.
Well, I tried the Sim W6's for a few days, but found them to be too analytical and bright for my tastes and have already sold them... so I'm happily reunited with my trusty Plinius SA-102, and have no desire to stray.
Not sure what my next move will be... maybe a nice Stealth power cord for my amp.... or better speaker cables like Stealth MLT's or Kimber KS 3035's?
Pdreher..No I didnt sell my C4s, I pulled the ad,I had a pair of Avalons picked out but they were sold from under me..Such is life..The market is too soft right now, the C4s are being hammered and sold well under market..No point in going backwards or giving away such a quality speaker...Im going to try removing a wall and making my listening room larger in the near future
Missioncoonery - I agree that the C4's are very undervalued right now. Probably a good idea to stick with what you have and focus on ways to improve via room treatments, placement, IC's, tube rollling, etcetera...