The amp that I regret selling!Conrad Johnson MF-2500 !!!!!!
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I currently have a very highly modified Sumo Nine. It definately leans warm. Before mods, it was slightly warmer, but not as deeeeeep in the bass nor as smooth on top, but still very good. You can probably pick one up for $500. to $600. stock. There is also the Nine Plus, I have never compared it to a Nine, Sumo brought it out after Jim Bonjorno left, I hear that it still is a very nice piece.
Ohhh, there is a pure class a Coda on fleebay right now for $600.00... Steal, Good Listening, Tim
You could also try a tubed pre-amp . Tubes last a very long time , @10,000 hours , in preamps and can be changed or rolled for a change in the sound . As easy as plug N play .
You could try something like a CJ PV10 , a nice pre-amp for less than your budgeted amount .
Just a thought .
Tube equipment has the versatility of having many
voices . Rolling tubes for a different voice is cheaper
and easier than rolling amps !
Good luck .
The B&K 10 series of preamps whether Sonata, pro or MC are probably the best of the B&K equiptment. All are neutral leaning warm and fairly accurate preamps. There are plenty of better preamps out there, but at their price, B&K preamps perform admirably. There is no doubt as Saki70 mentions that you can get more warmth in a tubed preamp, but as EVERYONE know, tubes aren't for everyone.
Dvdgreco, I do like my other suggestions better, maybe out of ignorance (I haven't listened to the big B&K's) but I'm told the big boy B&K amps are also quite good, warm and inviting, but much better slam on bottom than your current ST202.
"IMO, you dont need tubes to get a warmer sound these days..and forgetabout the expense and upkeep of tubes!!McIntosh,Pass Labs yadayadayada"
So, what's your point? Do you have a recommendation?
Dvdgreco, Look for a Forte 1a, stock Moscode 300 or a Moscode 401HR depending on your budget.