Warm and Detailed S.S. Amp?

I currently own a Modwright preamp and a Pass Labs X150 amp. I really enjoy these components but, I wish the Pass amp had more warmth in my system. What amps have the warmth of tubes but are as detailed and as controlled as this Pass amp. I can't afford the .5 series of Pass amps. I previously had a CJ MF-200 amp and PV-11 preamp in my system, which was much warmer, but not as clean and detailed. I'm looking to spend about $2K used. Thanks!
See if you can find a used Audio Research 100.2. You won't be sorry...
Keep an eye out for a used ML 23.5 or 27.5 (not a 23 or 27.)
Odyssey amps have a 'warm' sound, and are a great bargain to boot. Detail, speed and power are all there. For $2k you can get a used pair of their Mono Extremes.

The newwer c-j ss amps are reputed to be a bit "punchier" than their predecessors, that combined with the more detailed pre (Modwright vs. c-j pv 11) your using now might prove to be satisfying.
I'll offer an alternative suggestion, if you don't mind.

Dan Wright has a new tube rectified PSU for the SWL that adds a very sweet warmth that the original PSU lacks.

From what I heard at RMAF the new PSU and the other changes Dan has made to his preamp changed the SWL from a non tube sound to a more musical tube sound while maintaining the SWLs dynamics and deep bass.

I plan on having my SWLs PSU swapped as soon as I can part with it.

This and a tube swap might add all the warmth you are looking for.
Pass Aleph. Or new first watt aleph series, perhaps. If you read between the lines of Pass' web site, they indicate the aleph series was warmer sounding than the X series, which is the reason for introducing the .5 series. I've heard that the Aleph3 and the monoblocks were better than the 60 watt stereo version.
I would suggest the Pass Labs XA series amps or the Parasound JC1's. These really do blur the line between ss and analog.
I would definitely check out the Electrocompaniet amplifiers in the power range you are considering. They are excellent performers and a joy to spend time with. Very musical..

Oh yeah, plinius is also a good option.
Depends on your definition of "detailed". Many think that the tonal flavouring goes from dark to warm to detailed to bright.
Clayton Audio amps are Class A ans supposed to be quite warm and detailed. They come up used from time to time, check it out. Sugden is another slightly cheaper Class A alternative.
Moscode 401HR...a tube/SS hybrid...can be warm and detailed with the right input tubes. It can also be very neutral. Tube rolling is a benefit of it's design, and they can be easily changed by flipping down the faceplate.
Simaudio amps should give you warmth and musicality while also giving you good detail. They are very "natural" sounding.

I did receive an email from Dan about the Modwright rectifier upgrade. I am considering this. I just wonder if the combo with the Pass amp will still be warm enough for my taste. I do miss that CJ warmth. I did own an Odyssey Stratos amp for a while, and I didn't feel it was a warm amp (not thin either) but very punchy. Wish I could swing the Pass .5 amp and XA series - big $$$s. Thanks for all the help out there!!
The Modwright preamp can be warmed up with Sylvania GB-5687 tubes and/or certain NOS 5AR4 rectifier tubes.
plinius will definitely do a wormer job especially if you move closer to the component:-)
CJ MF 2500A or maybe the 2250. I have the 2500A and love it. It replaced a 2200 and was miles ahead of it. I read one review somewhere in which the reviewer said the 2500A sounded very close to a SET amp. A great amp IMO
i have never heard a solid state that sounds warm.

i will define warm as a coloration entailing extra energy in the upper bass and/or lower midrange, with a corresponding attenuation in the lower treble.

such a presentation would not be perceived as warm.

i would like someone to explain how one can perceive warmth and detail from a stereo system or component.
If you must have a SS amp, McCormack makes some of the best that I have heard. Very powerful with a nice touch of bloom (just a touch, mind you) in the midrange.

May I humbly suggest the MusikLab Dual-Mono amplifiers from Denmark. The designer, Michael Edinger, designed the circuits for amplifiers receiving the TAS "Golden EAr" Awards. The Dual Mono D-220 represents the "next generation"of thse previous deisgns but now on his personal brand.

As a tube lover, I am absolutely shocked at the sonics, purity, speed and resolution with exceptional bass control of the D-220. It easily surpasses large 833 SET amps in every area including parts quality.

more info at http://www.tmhaudio.com/MusikLab.htm

Jim Ricketts
tmh audio
i would like someone to explain how one can perceive warmth and detail from a stereo system or component.

I'll take a stab at that. My guess is that most are using the word "warmth" as the common metaphor frequently used here and elsewhere to describe a certain coloration of the upper bass and lower midrange, just as you've surmised. The 'detail' may be coming through elsewhere throughout the range, while the region that primarily defines the descriptor is being slightly softened, colored or distorted (however you want to look at it). As in another thread I'd point out that we are all just struggling to put words to describe something each of us perceives rather uniquely and individually. They are hardly adequate in most cases, but I'd say the general consensus in responses here reflect commonly held observations in many cases. Certainly I can say they do in the case the ones I've heard myself; Pass Aleph, Odyssey, Plinius, McCormack. Now please just don't start talking about "Accuracy" or I'll blow a fuse!

Hey Marco, Warm in relationship to what! Maybe that upperbass lower midrange 'emphasis/coloration' is actually not either, but represents the sound of live music. :-)

Just kidding, sort of. BUT one's description is always relative to their experience. Personally speaking, I'm one of those guys who likes a bit of that bloom, just a bit now. But its interesting to read reviews and users comments made by folks which describe contemporary stuff with which I'm fairly familar and consider anything but 'warmish' in any aspect. I cringe when I hear some one describe some popular tube amps, and many SS amps, as having any 'warmth' at all. I wonder sometimes what are they comparing them to! Gives me aural chills. Burrrrrrrr :-)
Mrtennis I guess you have never heard a good SS amp?
I did have the McCormack .5 stock amp on have to compare to my CJ MF-200 amp. The McCormack did have some bloom to it, But I still preferred the CJ since it was warmer and just as detailed, and a not as dry sounding from what I remember.
The sound I am looking for is natural warmth, as in live. I'm a musician, and I know what live is! If it errs on one side I'd take slightly too fat over thin. Jusat a little bloom suits me well. The combo Modwright pre, Pass X-150 and my speakers leans too lean :). I was also thinking about a hybrid amp. You think a VanAlstine, or a Butler amp would work?
Thanks again guys!!!
I'm impressed with the Butler amps. A nice affordable (used) hybrid OTL design. They'll provide some warmth, without sacrificing too much in the process.
hi sam, the combination of solid state and good is an oxymoron (just kidding). solid state is a miserable state (just kidding, again).

i have heard many solid state amps, but have liked none. all of them sound like transistors. they have no color.

perhaps you can suggest a solid state amp and planar speaker which you feel is an outstanding combination. i will try to lieten to bot together.

i will add, that most amps manufactured in 2006 are unkind to the ear--both tubes and solid state.
if warmth implies an attenuation in the lower treble, a component cannot be warm and detailed.

so, it boils down to how a word is defined. for me warmth implies subtraction in the treble and also, slightly in the upper mids. too mjuch detail in the aforementioned regions more than offsets any benefit in the lower frequencies. it is the lower treble and upper midrange which can be the cause of listener fatigue.
if warmth implies an attenuation in the lower treble, a component cannot be warm and detailed.

You are the only one who's mentioned attenuation in the lower treble. I don't think all the amps we're talking about here necessarily have that defect ("defect" being your opinion). I'd associate warmth more with the upper bass and lower mid. In my mind, it does not negate detail. I've heard tube amps that I'd certainly call "warm" or "colored", yet some exhibit hair-raising detail. Most of those have been P/P or pentode. The Mesa Baron I had for a while comes to mind.

I prefer tubes as well, overall, but I have heard several SS systems that I've enjoyed very much, and have not found fatiguing to listen to at length. Nothing specifically that comes to mind with planar speakers though, as I have had little exposure to that realm. My good friend just got a pair of Maggie 20.1's which I'll no doubt be hearing frequently with various amps, knowing him. So if I hear something SS that I like I'll let you know.

Upper bass, lower mid, upper mid, lower treble...

Sometimes, I wonder if we're all discussing the same frequencies when we write about these things.

Specifically what frequency ranges define these terms?
OK lets see if we can reach an agreement on that 'simple' request. :-)

I nominate 100 to 300 hz for upper bass/lower mid range and 1500 to 4000 hz for upper mid-range lower treble.

Are you keeping score Tvad? :-)
No. It is 114 to 354 Hz and 1257 to 3643 Hz with 14dB per octave rolloffs.
My question is genuine. I don't believe we can have a discussion about upper bass, lower mid, etc if we all are talking about different frequency ranges (or even worse, if we don't know what frequency ranges are involved, which is a scenario more common then we might like to admit).

Robert Harley, in " The Complete Guide to High End Audio" defines them thusly:
16Hz-40Hz Deep Bass
40Hz-100Hz Midbass
100Hz-250Hz Upper Bass
250Hz-500Hz Lower Midrange
500Hz-1000Hz Middle Midrange
1000Hz-2000Hz Upper Midrange
2000Hz-3500Hz Lower Treble
3500Hz-6000Hz Middle Treble
6000Hz-10,000Hz Upper Treble
10,000Hz-20,000Hz Top Octave
i am most concerned about upper midrange lower treble. any extra energy in this region, 1000 to 3000 hz can be most distressing to the ear. regardless of what happens say in the region 100 to 300 hz, the upper frequencies are critical to make a listening experience enjoyable.

it doesn't matter what word you use. it is better, as tvad suugests, to be precise in frequency response terms.

based upon my experiences, i prefer a drop in the range 1000 to 3000 hz. at 1000 hz, i prefer a drop of 1 to 2 db, and at 2000 hz, 2 to 4db. the purpose of this attenuation, is to compensate for most mediocre cds which have too much energy in that range, in my opinion.

i am not aware of any ss amps that are down in the range 1000 to 3000 hz.
OK I vote for Harleys definitions! Now just tell me when I'm listening to the fat lady sing how i know when the high note is 1500 or 2500 hz.

Maybe in addition to Harleys breakdown, we also need one of those charts that show the range of all of the musical instruments etc so when I describe low bass coming from a flute you can look at the chart and tell me I'm FOS because a flute don't go that low!

Tvad, I'm kidding!!!!!!!!!!
ARC 100.2: Refined, detailed, awesome presence, easy to listen too. Warm... tube like....? Not sure too subjective... but it's the best solid state for my system (Dynaudio 1.8 MK II, LS-15 pre, Marantz 8001, AZ cabling). I used to have DNA 0.5, DNA 0.5 dlx rev B,DNA 225 stock.
For me, in my house, with my music, walls and ears, the 100.2 beats them all hands down at everything.
The ARC 100.2 is a masterpiece at the retail asking price, and a serious value on the used market.

Has any one considered using two, but each modified for mono? This would be a useful setup for difficult speakers. Just a thought.

Happy hunting!

Your system(s): Klipsh (horn), tubes, Muse digital

My system: CLS stats (planar), SS, Wadia digital

Originally though, I had all tube electronics, ARC SP-14 pre and two ARC trioded M300 MkII monoblks. So my before/after comparisons should be, I feel, fairly credible.

Today my system sounds just as inviting and involving, and easy to listen to, as when it used tube electonics. For your consideration, I should add that I DID make some (other) ancillary changes when I switched from tubes to SS:

1. Added a power regenerator and a bal. power unit (to dedicated circuits, mind you!)

2. Re-cabled the entire system, EVERYTHING, with PAD Venustas IC and Dominus PCs, and fitted an Aural Symphonics Optimism V.2 fiberoptic glass cable from CDT to DAC.

Oh, and one other thing,

3. Got my CLSs up on Sound Anchor stands (huge benefits which I won't detail here.)

Is there a big difference? Not really. The only word that comes to mind is "definition". Not 'analytical' (that's become a dirty word in audio ;--) Actually, for me, the system today is subtly more involving than in its tube incarnation, perhaps in the same way HD television is so deliciously involving you can hardly take your eyes off it. Like eating salted peanuts, I just can't stop listening. The sound isn't hard or fatiguing, and the presence/atmosphere of the venue always surrounds the performance. But, it IS a pricey system -- even counting some pre-owned equipment purchases.

I honestly think SS sonics are again improving across the board, to the point where very soon, tube designers will find themselves competing with even modestly priced SS gear (a decided reversal of the present situation!)

I'll never forget when Mike Lavigne, not long after putting together his brilliant listening room (except for the windows, sorry Mike) one fine day the Tenor amps disappeared, replaced by a bridged PAIR of $37k darTZeel SS amps (and $22k preamp!) (and speakers to match) and I thought WHOA!, Mike would never do this unless this gear did everything his tube gear did, and MORE!! (including MORE convenience ;--)

So I think we'll be seeing companies like darTZeel (why do they spell their name so weird?), Pass, Levinson (hopefully), Boulder, Goldmund, FM Acoustics, (maybe one day even Krell;--) learn how to remove the remaining "impurities" from solid state, and build amps at the same reasonable price/performance level which today, lets face it, is the sole domain of affordable tube gear.
10-31-06: Newbee
Maybe in addition to Harleys breakdown, we also need one of those charts that show the range of all of the musical instruments etc so when I describe low bass coming from a flute you can look at the chart and tell me I'm FOS because a flute don't go that low!

I have an outstanding chart like the one you describe. It's in an Audio Control C-101 manual. After I sold my C-101, I recalled the chart was in the manual, so I wrote Audio Control and asked if they had any old manuals left. They did, and they sent me one. That company is excellent...and some of the best, most user friendly manuals ever written, IMO.
Gosh you guys! It's all online now ;--) Here's a couple:



Good stuff, Nsgarch. Thank you.
IMO both Plinius and Electrocompaniet stuff shoud fit the bill.
Down 40 posts, no one mentioned Bedini?

Bass is outstanding. Midrange while fast and detailed still has warmth of a tube amp. Treble is natural and not exaggerated like in some ss amps.
I thought Bedini made pasta sauce?
Stunningly Good.

Just listen to it and you forget about trying to analyze all the little things. The harmony, heart and soul of the music just flows through as a whole . . .
I second the Bedini recommendation - Vitalik's discription is right on.

I haven't tried their pasta sauce however . . .
Tvad, I think you got confused with names here. Vitali makes pasta sauce:) and Bedini makes amplifiers.
For some reason his main website is down right now, but here is the link anyway.
Vitalik, Bdgregory, before I got my AVA FetValve I would have been the first to recommend the Bedini. I used a 250/250, later upgraded to an 803, for close to 16 years. In all that time I heard plenty of other big name amps in my system. Some were better at a significantly higher price, but none made the grade for me replacing the 803...

...until I got the FetValve. I knew what to expect because my friend had an older HC series AVA amp, or I thought I did. The 500EXR turned out to be noticably better: the amp that made me retire my beloved Bedini. At the price point indicated by Jeffjazz he can buy a new 350 direct from van Alstine.

Believe me, I'd have used that 803 forever if I hadn't tried the EXR.
Nsgarch - My system pix are dated and need revision. My Klipsch horn speakers are temporarily in storage. I listen primarily to two systems, one tube, on SS. Along with the Muse 2+ DAC, which I still love though it is long in the tooth as far as current technology is concerned, I also use a Wavelength Brick (also a great DAC). Dedicated circuits, power conditioning, decent cabling, blahbadeeblahblah. I enjoy both systems. They sound entirely different. I don't give a tinker's cuss whether either could be called accurate, or either could be called "colored". Both are very easy to listen to at length, both very compelling. I enjoy listening to certain music more on the tube rig, and other music sounds best to me on the SS rig. They are quite different, and have different strengths and weaknesses. The tube SET system is very seductive and dimensional. The SS is more detailed and impactful but has a more 2-dimensional soundstage. The SS is currently in transition (I just changed amps). I agree that SS can be very enjoyable in its own right and does not have to be fatiguing or hard on the ears. But I kind of missed the point you were making in bringing up my system and comparing it to your current system. Could you clarify that? I may be missing something.

I'll third the Bedini vote (not the pasta, the amp). I had a 25/25 for a while that was a very enjoyable amp. I would have called it a 'warm' amp as well. I'm sorry, Mr. Tennis, but I'm not versed, nor inclined to such objective and analytical ways of describing and understanding this stuff. I can say that I've heard SS amps that are fatiguing and unpleasent to my ears as they were implemented, in spite of the fact that others seemed to like them. I've also heard SS amps that sound great and do many things right. Does this imply they fit your criteria. I have no idea, nor does in concern me, (nor should it). For whatever reason, and I cannot pin it down to frequency response, I would probably call these amps "warm" sounding if pressed to put words to it, and some of them also exhibit remarkable detail. But perhaps they might be the very amps that you disdain.

Marco, what SS amp replaced your Panache? I know you were a Panache enthusiast, so whatever you have now must be quite good.
Grant - Yes, I have been very impressed with the Panache over the past year. It is a difficult amp to fault. I've replaced it for now with an Odyssey dual mono. It does some things better, but then there are also some qualities it is missing. The Panache has a midrange purity that is hard to beat. Nothing I've had over the years did a piano like the Panache did. What the Panache lacked, in my experience, was low end muscle and it was also not the last word in resolving detail, both of which I've found the Odyssey does better. Ultimately I wish I could have both, of course. Currently I've been running the Odyssey with the Cary SLP-50a as well as direct through a Benchmark DAC1 I'm borrowing. The latter combination I do not like at all...in fact I really haven't found much to like about the Benchmark DAC at all. The highs really grate on me, and it has a very amplified sound to it, rather than a natural presence. These characteristics have shown themselves in several configurations I've tried it with. Just one opinion though...obviously some folks like it a whole lot, I'm just not one of them, or haven't heard it with the right system. Going direct through the SS system, it sounds on the flat side and I do not find it engaging in any way. As I stated before, it can be quite harsh in the upper mid and highs. Going to the tubed Cary Pre, the Odyssey is wonderful...dynamic, engaging, with a commanding hold on my Silverline SR17's. I would certainly call it a warm sounding amp with the tube pre pushing it. I've yet to try an SS pre, but I will at some point soon. Alas, it does not do Piano like the Panache did. Overall, the strengths it does have were enough for me to make the change, and experiment a bit more with SS and some added power (though it is only 80watts more it does seem to play out as a greater difference for some reason). I'd say the Odyssey is a more overall balanced amp, where the Panache's primary strength was in it's midrange purity. I do miss that. Though I still find with most of the music I favor (acoustic, vocals, small ensemble stuff) the SET system is what I prefer to listen on, I still would not kick the SS out of bed for eating crackers. I do miss my horns, but they're just too large for our modest house. The SET system currently is played through Galante Rhapsody speakers, which do very well indeed with the smaller space. Not as lightening fast and dynamic as horns, but then again, what is?

Marco, Can you tell me more about the Cary SLP. I recently acquired the 'matching' SLM50BmkII's and was wondering if the '50' would be additive warmth wise (not a good thing for me), more neutral, or just plain synergetic. Have you used it with anything other than the Panache? E-mail me if you don't want to clutter up this thread. Thanks.......