No contest VTL, although I have not heard the latest from Jolida, and --- Jolida while not up to VTL standards, is no slouch, and for da money!!!!
Between the B&W 703s vs Martin Logan's. This is at least as drastic as SS and tube amps. I own the Logans' and love them. I compared them long term to the B&W 604/S2's which I believe are somewhat similar to the 703s. To me, the Logans were far superior in most aspects, but I love stats. As a side note, tubes and martin logans are a wonderful match up!
Hope this helps. BTW, I am currently tossing around VTL, Cary amps for my next change.
You're looking at some pretty power hungry speakers there. Also, Jolida (and I've heard 4-5 of their products) are rather 'classic tube' sounding - kinda soft and difuse. By difuse I mean not a lot of resolution and dynamics which may be a good thing depending on the amp and CD player used. VTL makes some powerful amps which would most likely sound more involving with quality speakers like the B&Ws. Cary is also a rather classic tube sound but more guts, resolution, and musicality than any of the Jolida integrateds I've heard. However, it of course depends on which Cary you get.
Since you've now expanded to three tube lines, why not check out the other 35? (Just kidding! Be smart and pick out three you're interested in and don't drive yourself crazy with "choice obsession".) You might want to check out a Mesa Baron since it can be run in 4 different modes with all or various forms of pentode and triode operation.
Finally, be careful if you buy through A'gon or any other used audio website. Double and triple check whomever you're buying from and e-mail if you have any concerns or want tips on how to avoid getting ripped off.
To Pmwoodward ref Martin Logan's. How powerful an amp needed and aren't Martin Logans placement sensitive? Doesn't the quality suffer if you move out of the sweetspot? I really like MLs, but this is what I heard. I like the sound of MLs on SS and can only imagine the sound with tubes. VTL has an 85W tube amp. Would that work? I heard MLs needed a lot of power. More than the B&Ws? Which MLs do you have? The room they are going in have 18' ceilings and is 17X22.
I've only heard the smaller M-Ls and in small to medium rooms. Even then they could not replicate the body and solidity that real music has. I would think you'd need something like the Statements for your rather large room, but again, I've not had experience with of them.
I also have always heard M-Ls with larger SS amps like Classe and SS McIntosh. Not sure of the driveability but am pretty sure you'll need power and voltage to get the best from them.
Try Quicksilver and Rogue. Yes, the build quality and the fact (I believe) that VTL is made in the USA versus (?) China for Jolida (or even ASL) is likely worth the price difference between the two brands.
I'd look to Quicksilver or Rogue audio for some sanely priced 'toob' gear. You might not like the sound of a "cheap" tube amp. But who knows.
also check out the iTube line. They were going to be market by Innersound at some time. But I think they sell direct now. ALso consider Conrad Johnson (CJ).
Are the Maggies and Martin Logan's comparable to each other? One of my concerns is good music in the room from several locations and not just sitting in the speakers' sweetspot. Is a box speaker generally better in that regard?
Will a similarly powered tube amp generally push more power than a SS amp?
I have alot of recent listening experience regarding the amps and speakers in question. I have two other threads running at the moment.
First, to answer your question, VTL vs. Jolida, I think I would concur with my fellow compatriots that the answer is VTL, and I would agree with most of the comments already made. I think VTL is generally articulate, and powerful and everything you want a tube amp to be... that's in the sweetspot of the tube spectrum. I'm powering Maggie 3.6s with used VTL MB450 Signature monoblocks (six years old). I will also say that I've heard the Jolidas (3000 monos) sound really good with the Maggies as well. But as one of your prior posts mentioned (I think it was tomryan), the Jolidas are going to sound very tubey (the tubey end of the spectrum), whereas I think VTL probably sits in the center of tube sound, while maybe ARC sounds on the lean end (closer to ss) of tube sound. And yes, VTL comes from Southern California.
You might consider looking for a powerful pair of used VTLs on A-gon.
Also, if you go electrostatic or planar, (as everyone on A-gon will tell you) err on the side of more power rather than less. I think more power will positively influence the quality of your sound more so than the ss vs. tube question.
As for the speakers, I've always had a thing for electrostatics and planars. They just produce a different sound than what comes out of a box. I started searching for Martin Logans almost a year ago and auditioned Ascents and Odysseys at three different stores. They all sounded fantastic, though I thought the Ascents were a better price point. I was just about to pull the trigger on the Ascents when I finally came across the Maggies. And that was it. The first time I heard them, I was sold. I think the Maggies just presented a truer musical sound with less coloring and more life. The Martin Logans (all of them) have a certain sonic character or color to them. Don't get me wrong, Martin Logans are fantastic speakers, I do think they're exceptionally well made -probably better than the maggies- and they are esthetically unique. I don't think you could ge wrong with either the MLs or the Maggies. They both sound great! It's a personal listening preference. Opt for the sound that makes you emotional.... forget about what idiots like me will tell you.
For me, Maggies and powerful tubes are a hard combination to beat.
This post addresses "Angelsmtn" post more than anything else:-
Well, I have not heard VTL amps thus far so I cannot say how a JoLida would sound vs. a VTL.
However, I do own the 502A stereo power amp which is rated @ 60W/ch. It's an inexpensive power amp. For the price I paid for it used, it has very good sound as a stock unit. I had the parts modified & in bargain my friend put in new preamp & driver tubes (you can read the description in my Bedroom virtual system). My intention to modify it was always there from the 1st day I got this amp.
After modification I can compare the 2 sounds: the stock sound was dark or brooding as my modifier friend said. There was plenty of bass but it was thick. The top end was present but missing lustre. After modification, all these bad things are gone! The amp sounds quick, etc, etc (once again read my comments post modification in my Bedroom virtual system. I won't bore you by repeating it here). I have not yet tried KT88s, which can be used as output tubes without changing the circuitry & by only changing the bias manually thru an external pot.
So, what I want to say is that, if you know what you are doing, you can modify or have the JoLida modified (if you don't know what you are doing! :-) ) to sound immensely better & far more neutral than you can ever image a JoLida sounding. This tube amp seems to have basically a good pedigree/design & responds superbly to modifications.
I would say that whichever amp you end up buying don't use it stock over the long term - you are doing yourself a big disfavour. Even the big VTL amps will respond to mods (esp. power supply mods) & will sound much better post mod.
Now, there might not be a JoLida amp w/ sufficient power to drive B&Ws or Martin-Logans, which might rule JoLida out on the power output basis rather than on the "tubey" basis.
Bombaywalla brings up an interesting point. Modifications. I'll be honest with you in that I am torn on this issue. The whole business of "modifications" is new to me as I have re-rentered audiophiledom. First, I will agree that mods can make a world of difference. And if you know what you're doing, you can use mods to get great (or better) sound out of audio gear and work the economics to your advantage.
I have not had such an experience with mods, and some of my gear is modified (the maggies). I think there are experts who really know how to make good mods. And I also think there are folks who have figured out how to just make a living on this. I understand that high-end audio dealers probably only make about 30% margin. And I get the sense that dealers who do mods can probably double their margin. This doesn't really bother me in as much as people have to make a living. What bothers me is that I've dealt with dealers who have modified literally everything in the store. So, they can guarantee that not only will you Not leave the store paying retail or less, but they're actually justifying retail plus 30-50% for the mods. When I take a step back, I realize that these people just have a racket going. They sell only high-end equipment, but they're saying is that Maggie, VAC, VTL, Avant Garde, and of course the Japanese/Chinese stuff isn't good enough.... without their modifications. Isn't good enough as is!?... Further, I don't believe these people can possibly be experts on all this gear. They muck around and maybe they get some of the gear to sound better. But at what price? Since they're the only ones who know the mods, you have to go back to them for the service, because even the manufacturer doesn't know what the hell they've done. So, the racket continues.
As you can see, this gets on my nerves. Bombaywalla, I'm sure that you're a sharp enough person that you can work the modification angle to your advantage. And I applaud you for that. I don't think I can work the mod angle to my advantage in that way. Others may have difficulty as well. For me, I'm a better business man than alot of these dealers. I'm much better at figuring out exactly what I want; then I'll figure out a way to work down the price. I guess I don't want to spend any more time than necessary searching for nirvana.
Jon, I own the ML SL3's. sorry that I did not respond earlier, have not seen this post in a while. as to how much power they need? In my experience, they do not need nearly as much power as most seem to imply. I have found that 30 (tube) Watts make them sing quite pretty. I at one time had the Oddessy Stratus 150W SS amp. A very nice amp, but a change to a much lower tube amp brought out a whole new dimension, but not the SPL. I have heard the Maggie's but only in a shop that was not well set up, so the comparison is probably not fair. yes, the ML are room sensitive, but so are many other speakers. as far as the sweet spot, I am not the best one to ask as I listen only in the sweet spot.
short answer, ML's and a good nuetral 60W tube amp is hard to beat.
good luck, Paul