Upgrade Time Again.... please help

OK it’s upgrade time once again. Sometime this year I will be upgrading my amps so the hunt begins. I have compiled a “short” list of amps and would like constructive feedback on what else I should consider or not consider. First my system: Front End CAL Delta (next upgrade after amps), dCS Purcell/Delius combo and two Golden Tube monoblocks (re-tubed with 6L6GC and NOS driver tubes) and B&W Nautilus 802 Speakers. I listen to mostly to Jazz, a little Rock and some Classical music. What I like about the Golden Tubes – great midrange, deep and wide soundstage with instruments precisely placed. What I don’t like – flabby bass and highs are not as airy and delicate as I would like. What I am looking for in the amp – great midrange (not syrupy or overly warm, but not dry either), extended deep very well controlled bass, and delicate extended highs that are not in the least bit bright or harsh. The amp needs to throw a wide and deep soundstage without giving up accuracy in instrument placement (no fuzz around the instruments). JA had this to say about the impedance of the Nautilus 801 in Stereophile - “(The impedance for the 801) drops to 3 ohms through the midrange and to 4 ohms in the high treble. In addition, a punishingly high capacitive phase angle in the midbass, coupled with a low magnitude, will demand a good, current-worthy amplifier.” My absolute max budget is 10K and I prefer to buy used but if need be I will by new. Here’s the list: Bryston 7BST Monoblocks, Plinius SA-250 Mk IV, (2) Plinius SA-100 Mk III, Jeff Rowland 8TIHC, Jeff Rowland 10TI, Jeff Rowland Model 12, Ayre V-1x, Mark Levinson 336, 335, 334, Lamm 2.1 Monoblocks, Lamm 1.1 Monoblocks, AR VT-200, (2) AR VT-100, and Wolcott Presence 220 Mono Blocks. I am looking for informed feedback from owners of these amps or people with a similar system. If I had to make a choice today I think I would go with Levinson, Lamm, or Rowland. Cheers – Dan.

Showing 2 responses by jerie

Wait! Here's one last recommendation! I own both Rowland and Classe products and it's hard for me to imagine you going wrong with either. The Classe CAM-350 MONAURAL amps have the guts and glory to drive your impedance loads with sweetness and authority. I've heard these amps with the ML Prodigy on three separate occasions and was totally impressed. Insofar as methodology goes, I would start with what you know, Rowland and Classe and go from there. Personally I would start with the CAM-350's and audition them first. I believe they are well within your price range brand new.
I'm going to venture out on a limb here and agree with everyone. Now, before you hit me over the head let me qualify that statement. I think it is really all about what turns you on and off and how the whole system blends together. Just as some have a passion for tube amps and dislike solid state. I love dipole ribbon panels and electrostatic speakers. Box speakers with dynamic drivers bug the hell out of me. I owned a pair of Apogee Stages for years. Great speaker with fabulous mids and a very challenging load to drive. Tube gear sounded great at low volumes but when you turned it up the mids seemed bloated and the dynamics went flat. Perhaps it was due to the 1-2 ohm load at times and the tubes ran out of steam. Yeah, I know, maybe I just didn't find the right tube amp or maybe it was something else in the audio chain. My point here is that both tubes and solid state have an equally valued place in this hobby. Both can sound really good or really bad depending on what you have in your system, what you can afford, what your musical preference is, your room and a host of other things. We don't need King Henry or rolling heads. What we do need is both tube and solid state gear.