Boulder AE500. But let's not forget our NAFTA brother Canadians! How about them? This is a response from Mexico.
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The McIntosh autoformer is still the best sounding solid state around and,believe me,I've been a music lover for many years and have owned several top American power amps over the years.I've heard most of the rest at one time or another.75% of the "tube sound" that many seem to gush over is simply the quality that expensive,hand crafted output transformers impart to sound.For this reason and also the very fine build quality,McIntosh will always be a winner!
Gentlemen: When it comes to Power,Built Quality,Exceptional sound and the ability to handle any load,ONLY one name comes to mind... the Plinius 250.Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing one of these grand amps will agree.. how sweet is.The bass is D E E P.(and accurate) I have the pleasure of owning this magnificent amp and can honestly say I have heard many others, but none better.
Cello "Suite" or "Platte" are the two most greatest amp ever built on earth. When we judge an equipment whether it is the best overall, we always look for how long it could last. By all means, the one who could survive on the market for a long time should have its own value. For some example, Cello "Suite" or "Platte", Jadis "JP80MC with "JA500", Matisse "Reference" pre-amp and power amp, they are the best whcih I have ever heard in life. You can tell how Krell and Levinson changed their models that often. But, do Porsche or Ferrari changed their model a lot?
Rowland gets my vote. A little obscure - I wonder if that's why there are not other rave reviews about the JRDG amps in posts to this Q. If you ever get the chance to listen to a rowland on a high end pair of ribbons or electrostats - give yourself the treat. The experience brought tears to my eyes. I had been demoing all the big names on electrostats, and stumbled across rowland. The price hurts, but that fact that he is a true purest shows up in his amps. It's not about the money, market share or acalades, it's all about the music. Much to my chagrin - I think if there were some prudent US marketing being done, more people would be aware, experience the difference, make the investment, and more marketshare would bring the prices down to where us mear mortals could share in the glory. Such is the way of the purest... Happy listening to you all - Echotalk
Most of what was posted is true, regarding great good 'ol USA made products. I've owned PS Audio, Krell, Levinson over the years, and have to qualify two amps first.. The Plinus 50 monos are superb and great value, as are the YBA products, but for built in USA; the Threshold gear is about as smooth and coherent as it gets. It doesn't do all things great and misses the point in the bass, lower registers, but what a fast, transparent top end and neutral mid range. With great cables and front end, this unit in single ended or balanced, is just musical. I prefer the single ended due to a slight improvement in intimacy and bloom. Very pleased to learn they are back on the planet doing business. Also readily available in the after market trade.
I have two and they're both about as good as it gets. They are a Bedini 25/23 DE (serial #001) and a Threshold SA 3. Also, a GAS Apmzilla is good (although unreliable) and the Sumo "The Gold" is even better (but noisy and impossible to find). Lastly, a 50 watt English tube job by Michaelson and Austin can make you drool.
I'm sure none of us has heard everyone elses wonderful sounding amp. After auditioning 7 different manufacturers amps in my system, I purchased the Balanced Audio Technology VK500 with Batpak. This amp is exceptionally musical, tubelike sound although solid state, deep, detailed bass, crystal clear midrange and high frequencies. Both of the reviewers from "the audiophile voice" purchased one after their 1997 equipment report on this amp was completed. Some of the other amps I auditioned were Levinson, Krell, Pass Labs and Ayre.
I have to agree that the Warner Imaging VTE amp WAS the best amp I have heard and owned. I have had Krell, Levinson and Theshold in my system at one time or another. I have listened to friends' systems of various componets and nothing has exceeding the sound of the Warner Imaging amp.... until recently. I think the reason for the sound is that the Warner amps are all meticulously handmade, bench tested and matched. Recently auditioned in my system 2 new monoblocks from Warner Imaging called The Electronic Renaissance. Without a doubt these amps were the most sweetest, refined, balanced and powerful amps that has ever lit up my Wilsons. They sounded even better than the Warner VTE. Finally a Warner imaging amp that looks as good as it sounds (the VTE is plain ugly). I think I am going to have to have a firesale or sell dope in order to get these amps, permanently.
Anything by Spectral?? May you spend you life listening to a DMA-50. M-360's certainly are in the running. Threshold went out of business for a reason, and by the way, Nelson Pass's next great design will be his fisrt. Ditto for Dan D'Augustio at Krell - their best amp was years ago and Dan did not design it. David Hafler has done some nice work with various helpers including Bongorno formerly of G.A.S. Levinson the man is again unemployed in the audio world as he well should be. John Curl, Charlie Hansen, and Jeff Rowland are all in the team photo. By default then, the M-360's from Spectral. But rather than be patriotic about it, I would rather save the money and listen to the latest version of the Plinius 250. Near enough to the very, very best in solid state and a bargain by the price standards of the industry.
Clayton Audio amps. I had Quad USA monitors and Gradient subs and was using a Conrad Johnson tube amp to drive the Quads and Clayton M-40's to drive the subs because of their superb control. Then one day, don't ask me why, I tried using the solid-state Claytons on the Quads. I sold the CJ's without ever hooking them back up. Now don't get me wrong - I love tube gear, especially Conrad Johnson, but this little solid state wonder was more musical in what is traditionally tube-only territory: Quads. I haven't heard M-70 monoblocks, probably even better.
This is not a cut-and-dried issue. The higher the definition an amp is, at this extreme would be Spectral, there is more chance at some dryness. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the "musical" sounding amp; a musical amp will, of necessity, be lacking in that last bit of detail. You don't get something for nothing! A good "musical" sounding amp is the Plinius SA-250. Personally, I have a Spectral DMA-200; this amp, when mated with the Spectral DMC-20 preamp, is a hard combo to beat. It is lightning fast, surgical, but can have just a hint of dryness depending on the matching equipment. To me, with a neutral sounding speaker and the right cables, Spectral is it.
Wo...Wo..Woh! Fellow audiophiles, don't you think you have to tell us your complete equipment list. Don't get me wrong, all SSAmps mentioned are all great stuff for any price. But the amp is only one vital link in any audiophile's dream system; please tell us the rest of the system & price, some did. I need to know before decide a first step into hi-end (deep end?)audio. Thanks to all, phil.
TO PHIL "ICERAVEN": I say Krell makes the best amps (and I'm NOT ALONE), but I'm not sure which model is the best price/performance value (if there's no limit on the money spent)...not that Brian cared to be that specific in his original question...YOU SEEM TO BE TAKING AN AWFULLY LONG TIME TO DECIDE, SINCE THIS POST IS A YEAR OLD. You have to try for yourself, because there'll never be concensus. JUST TAKE THE PLUNGE, AND STOP LOOKING FOR APPROVAL FROM STRANGERS ALREADY!! I mean, these discussion forums work for specific system aspects, BUT ASKING TO SUGGEST AN ENTIRE SYSTEM IS JUST PLAIN SILLY AND WRONGMINDED! It'll always be a subjective decision by the individual who'll be using the system, and if he's a real audiophile, HE'LL NEVER BE TOTALLY SATISFIED ANYWAY! That's what the hobby is about, THE JOURNEY TO THE MUSIC, not the destination. That's pretty much what ALL HOBBIES are about, "the process". GUYS WHO LOOK TO THEIR DEALERS OR BUDDIES FOR APPROVAL, ESPECIALLY TO SUGGEST AN ENTIRE SYSTEM, ARE TOTAL WUSSES! Use your own ears, or you'll never be happy. I SHOULD POST THE QUESTION: "Is it important to listen to your system, and make your own decisions?" That's about as intelligent as asking what the best solid state amp is...
Some interesting leads. But I've been thru a LOT of solid state amps (Krell, Rowland, Levison, Pass, Bryston...) but the ones that I keep coming back to on a musical basis are : For the money : The humble little Forte 4a and Money be damned : Reference Line Silver Signature There were only about 70 of the Reference Line units made but they are the most natural, grain free, flowing amp I've ever had and are outright steals on the used market when they do surface. They are still serviced and upgraded thru Scott Dixon. His number and E-mail address can be found under Reference Line in the Manufacturers list here in Audiogon. The Forte 4a actually sounds quite similar (tube like) thru the midrange and is marveloulsy dynamic & punchy.
Canada is about to invade and take over the U.S. so here goes. Bryston 7b's I would put against most U.S amps.... especially the Krell. I did enjoy the levinson 33h's better than the Bryston so I guess they would be my favorite if I was Bill Gates and didn't know what to do with all that money, and even if I did have all that dough I wouldn't pay the difference. 4x the cost for about 5% improvement at most. It kind of also depends on what speakers you mate with the amplifier doesn't it. At least for my ears.
That was cool. everybody just kept posting right past carls prior post. Why do we have to keep rebuking you carl? Yes you have a good point but if we get enough people casting their vote then we can see a patern as to what the largest number of people like. Thereby narrowing the bad buy factor. And can give someone a good idea of where to start. And if they explain why they like it then we will have a good idea of it's characteristics. It just helps to point the way. But dude Wus up with just wanting american amps?