My 8871 (slightly different animal for sure) sounded best with a McIntosh, but make sure you get enough power, say 200w.
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I have driven my BE-10 with Parasound Halo A21, Pass Labs XA160, and now Ayre MXR. For my tastes, the Ayre really takes advantage of the Usher transparency, dynamics, and detail. I felt that both the HAlo and Pass was a bit too slow and veiled. Of course all of this is based on my personal tastes. I love listening to strings (piano, guitar) and female vocals. With the combo I have now, I not heard strings sound more realistic and vocals more clear.
Regarding the BE-20, I say you only need that if you a very large room or want to use these speakers in an HT setup. I find the BE-10 to be more than adequate in terms of bass and its ability to move air.
The system I heard in San Jose with the VTL monoblocks (SS) sounded amazingly good. On your next trip back here, make sure you stop by and give them a listen. I believe he has both BE-10 and -20 in store.
They also used the NuForce amps. I only listened to them for like 10 minutes, but they sounded like they were pushed to the limit and not been able to deliver.
We are Ushers dealer and have found the larger BE speakers really perform best with at least 100 watts of power. We have had equally good results with tubes (like the Cary 120s) and solid state (like the Gamut DI-150 and Plinius 301). While you can run the BE-10/20 with smaller amps, we have found that the speakers dynamics can be limited. We have not tried the Ushers with NuForce amps. I think my favorite combo to date is the Cary SLP-05 preamp and Plinius SB-301. In terms of cables, the speakers seem to be less finicky than other speakers, as long as they are quality cables.
So I gathered some muscles are needed to move those big Eton woofers, not a surprise. My little BE-718 is very power hungry too, but they do so wonderful with Plinius 9200.
Reason I am seeking for amp advice, Usher BE-10/20 are more analytical than 8571/8871 and many other speakers due in part to the BE midrange which is super sharp and detail. Almost like a Leica lens if you will. So getting a super detail amp like Halcro or Spectral might not be ideal given the nature of the speaker. McIntosh sounds like a good idea, but will it mask out too much of BE's strength? Plinius is usually associated warmth, I think that also explains why Jeff likes it with the big Usher.
Without spending a fortune, say in the $5k range for used amp, what else is capable of getting the most out of the big Usher?
Currently I own a few amps, BAT 75SE (soon to be 150SE), Edge G8+, and Forte 4A. I think Edge is probably the best amp to drive the Usher or I can sell them and get Parasound JC-1 for about the same money but I don't care for Parasound's apperance. Edge sounds exceptional with my Amati Homage. Not as exceptional as BAT, but very fine for a solid state.
Since Edge is more on the clean & transparent side, I will think Edge is not a good match with Usher as Usher is also a bit lean. I know Tommy loves his Ayre MX-R with Usher, I normally would not think that's a good combination given Ayre's house sound. Exception does happen, something in that link must be balancing the sound so perfectly to make Ayre edging out the Pass XA.
Any Usher owner in SF bay area willing to hear what your speakers sound like with Edge? will be happy to bring them over to try out.
semi, normally I would agree with you about Ayre and Usher. before the MX-R I did not care for the Ayre house sound at all. I have always thought Ayre sounded clean and transparent but a bit thin. The MX-R retains the transparency but does not sound thin or tinny at all. By the way, I hope you do not think the Ushers sound too detailed or etched. Yes they sound transparent, dynamic, airy, etc but I dont think adding good components that share these same attributes will lead to a bright or etched sound. You will run into trouble if you mate the Ushers with upstream components that are too detailed since these speakers are so uncolored and true. Personally, I think the Edge would be a good match. By the way, I also have the MBL 5011 preamp which is incredibly musical which brought all of my components together nicely. Some say it is ever so slightly warm which may help.
Anyways, good luck!
Why not, bring your amps to a local dealer? I am sure they would allow you to hook them up.
I heard the BE-20s at dealer's place, they were using antiques soundlab monoblock at the time. They sound very good, indeed, I think they are one of the best sounding box type speakers I have heard so far, the beryllium tweeters and mid-ranges really work wonders. I have also heard Be-718s with a pair of newly arrived VTL MB450 signatures while I visited, again it sounds amazing, it hard to believe the sound (music) is actually coming from two smalled boxes. It will be very interesting to hear the BE-20/10 with the VTL MB450 sigatures.
I own Usher Audio 6381 upgraded with Be tweeter
I tried a lot of amps to drive them and what I found - they really like power and solid state amps. Tubes did not match my tastes. I tried manley and Dynaco mark 6 (2 monoblokes 120) and the sound always was a bit dry in midrange which i do not like and pay much attantion to avoid it. The best result i got was with Electrocompaniet stuff. So I can surely advive this brand to drive Usher. Perfect combo (my friend in Holland auditioned EC and Plinius and chose EC either).
I would also recommend to be careful with cables. I personally did not like silver stuff because it added dry taste in midrange as well (i tried a lot of brands)
Different loudspeaker, no question about it but maybe the house sound is the same... I use Jeff Rowland Concerto Integrated (250w - 8 ohm), Weiss DAC2, Audioquest Sky, Volcano and NRG-5 cables, Fisch AC passive filter and an Aavik rack with Nordost Pulsar Points and to me the system sounds fabulous. I tottaly recommend the JR for Be-718. U should give it a try with the Be-10/20's. Great damping factor, very dynamic amp. Cheers.