72 responses Add your response
Conrad Johnson MF2550SE amp, paired with a Conrad Johnson ET3SE preamp. Spearit sound is going out of business in the next week or so and they still have a MF2550SE for under $5,000. It lists for $8,000 or so, so the deal is already built in (depreciation). It has upgraded capacitors and resistors and sounds great. I would buy that one, but I already own one. And, there's no maintenance on the amp. Truly plug and play. Pairing with a Conrad Johnson single tube preamp (either the ET3SE or the now discontinued ET5 ) creates great sound, beautiful soundstage and works for classical, rock, rap and acoustic. You would need to invest $200 beyond the cost of the preamp for a better tube, but it's really a nice combination.
For those who care, these units are made right here in the USA in Virginia. The owner is usually in the store/factory and he's a delight to chat with.
These units are bulletproof, sound great, well priced and made here. Not too many companies like that out there. I like to support the ones that are.
As always, trust your ears.
It is hard to give advise without knowing more about your system's needs
How efficient are your speakers, What other components are in your current setup.
Do you require a balanced design.
Power amps can run the gamut from warm to bright in sound with small power output to very large
Matching components for synergy from the Audiogon community will be far more helpful
I snagged a mint condition McIntosh MC452 which was something like four months old when I found it on Audiogon.
I really enjoy this amp, which is driving a pair of Focal speakers with that beryllium tweeter, which I found sounds too "sharp" with other amps, not the McIntosh.
You can probably find a mint-condition MC452 for your price range. If you do, please have a friend help with the unboxing and positioning, as this beast is heavy!
Thank you for asking! I'm just looking for some advice. Right now I have SIMs W-5 190 watts. I love it but want more. I'm torn between the Classe CAM-400, Simaudio W-8, and right now the Mcintosh MC452. I'm leaning towards the MC452, but again I'm glad you asked. The problem? The Classe, they say runs very hot but sonically, sounds beautiful. The Simaudio? I'm just wondering if the wattage would be a hinderance in getting the best sound out of my B&M 802's. The MC452, though my research is relatively new, sounds like it has the same characteristics as the SIMS, warm and rich, but with more muscle.
Classe has always sounded a little lean to my ears, so if you're after "warm and rich" then I think you should scratch that from the list.
Not a lot of experience with SIM so I can't comment on that.
Of the three I'd say that the McIntosh is closest to what it sounds like you're after but I still think you should consider the JC1's.
Dealers will let you bring them home for a weekend for an audition.
Good luck with your decision.
Classe and McIntosh are classic pairings with B&W, I don't think you can go wrong with either one. I do think you are on the right track, adding more power to your system. I've owned a lot of McIntosh but not the MC452 so I can't say exactly how that would be, I can only add that for the same dollars you are looking at spending (or even less), you can buy a pair of MC501's (that's me recommending stuff I own). The great thing about the McIntosh is that you won't lose any money on resale if you try it and don't like it. The Classe will hold it's value too if you get it at a rock bottom price. I have only heard Simaudio gear with Dynaudio speakers and can tell you it was impressive.
If your burnt out from your research maybe try approach from the other end. Are there any speakers you particularly like (sonically)? Here in England (UK), there are many who like the ATC speakers and will seek out amplifiers which would go well in synergy with the speakers in order to get that sound (glorious midrange)... Its just another approach.
@roddyboy The MC501’s have been replaced with the MC601’s but you would be hard pressed to hear that much of a difference, or so I was told by a McIntosh rep. They had a trade up program not too long ago and I inquired about upgrading to the MC601's and was told by the McIntosh rep that it really wasn't going to be worth the extra money. How's that for honesty from a manufacturer! The MC501’s sold for $ 11,000.00/pair and the MC601’s sold for $ 14,000.00/pair. Used, the 501’s go between $ 5,500.00/pair to $ 6,500.00. The 601’s are in the $ 8,000.00 to $ 9,000.00/pair range.
I use VTL 450 tube amps with B&W 801 Series 3 speakers. In the past, I have used Classe CAM 300 SS amps with the 801's. If you are into hard pounding bass tubes may not be the way to go with your speakers. Don't get me wrong tube gear do bass great but it just lacks a bit of a punch with most of the tube gear I've used. The Classe amps I had, had good bass a nice mid range but the upper frequencies seem a slightly recessed or maybe veiled presentation best describes it better. Recently, I purchased my first Mcintosh gear, a C2500 Pre-Amp and love it, I don't know what there amps sound like but if they anywhere near a nice the pre's I'd think hard about Mc amps
I only see one available for sale on here. It's the age old question on Agon, why does it seem like there are so many of something for sale. It's simply a matter of the number of units made. There's always McIntosh gear for sale because they sell so much of it. It's just a numbers game. The more there is, the more there is going to be some available for sale.
@vegasears That is a great preamp. As far as the amps go, there is great synergy with McIntosh amps and preamps, they are made to go together. Some will disagree saying the amps are great but not the other components, I disagree when talking about the amps and preamps, they are great together, IMHO.
Did I completely miss where the OP said what speakers he's driving? If he never mentioned that, how exactly are people making these ardent recommendations? There's a hell of a difference between how a Mc and a Classe drive a pair of loudspeakers. Quite frankly I wouldn't buy a Mc on account of those silly transformers and their stunted damping factors. DC coupled amps grip speakers far better and some speakers need that.
I’ll second the note on sheer popularity. Its like why are there so many Toyotas for sale?
I’m getting the impression from this post that you want to change the presentation somehow. Other’s seem to perceive that as well.
Exactly what sort of presentation are you trying to obtain? Looking to tame something? Increase something? Improve things overall? What?
As for preamps…. Houses make preamps for their own associated amps. That should be plain enough. Will or can these preamps be mixed with other amps? Well, that’s why we are here and the interesting aspect of the past tie. Isn’t it?
A former Krell KAV 250 I owned was incredibly dynamic, very extended, but until It was paired with its partner preamp, it was just too too too much thru much of the bandwidth, especially up top.
With bAT it was a bit different. Stay in your house, and there is gonna be built in synergy. Roam beyond and its almost anyone’s guess what will occur. UNLESS, one of the amps uses tubes. Then you can better adjust the sonic parameters to your preffs… or merely towards performance.
I’ve owned several models of BW. I’ve not yet met a BW speaker that doesn’t like power. Nor, have I met one that hasn’t needed tubes in the chain somewhere. Usually at the source or preferably, the preamp. Their top ends are an area one must ‘respect’ or address, for these guys to be stellar performers.
Some yers ago, BW usually were in the salon as either Krell or Levinson. Why? Both have excellent bottom end production. BW are OK in the lower areas but exell with those two amp brands even more.
Keeping at or above 300wpc should improve things noticeably. Albeit, IMO that ain’t the end of the line.
I’ve heard the Big Macs and as decent a power amp as they sound each one has something a bit different to offer. The 500 monos were IMO the more transparent. The 601 2 ch amp seemed the best fit for a BW 802 IMO. The 600wpc monos might be the best fit, if, again, a preamp with tubes in it were in the mix.
If memory serves, a MAC 602 or 601 2 ch amp weighs about 140lbs. ouch.
The note on BC 600s and keep the change is a good pick. Easy sound. Good power. Balanced thruput.
A Levinson with good power would be decent fit too.
Not heard it, but on paper the PSA hybrid monos seem pretty interesting and there seems a few available fairly often within the budget. Rolling that tube in each amp, and trying different Power Cords might lead to Audio pleasure city. You’d get tubes, poer, flexibility, not a pair of space heaters or back breakers to lug about compared to the Macs.
Lastly, room acoustics and their treatments may be in order. For me they wuld if I owned anything in the BW 800 series despite the iteration. But then, I don’t have your ears.
No, I'm not trying to change the presentation, I just want as much information as possible. With so many being sold i thought someone would bring up the issues surrounding this MC501 mono-bloc.
Anyways I bought a brand new Mc501 mono bloc for 4750. I want to thank everyone because believe it or not, I researched at least 40% of what was suggested, but when it came down to it, my decision came from everyones feedback and what I read and researched online. I may have overpaid a little bit, but it was under the $6k I thought I'd pay, so I'm happy.
What sold me on the Macintosh was the information I took from Mc501 owners on this discussion and what I read online. Consistently, the reviews describe this AMP as being warm and full bodied with tube like sonic character. It does say the tonal balance is a little dark, but I doubt I'll notice. On a lot of the music played, it described hearing the drums beating a little harder and you feel it.
I could go on and on, but In a nutshell, my decision was made base on these questions; What company has been in business longer than McIntosh? What products have a better reputation for reliability? What products have a better resale value? What products have a higher Wife Acceptance Factor? And what speaker can this amp not drive? And let’s not forget, its easy to enjoy music with these things. It is for these reasons that the MC501s represent the lowest risk audio purchase one can make. It's the total package! THANKS EVERYONE, REALLY, THANK YOU EVERYONE!
If you can have anything, I'd definitely opt for Classe DR3 VHC. They only made around 180 of them and they're hard to find, but usually go for c. $3K unserviced and $5K serviced.
They will run absolutely any speaker ever made, including 1 ohm speaker killers like the Apogee Scintilla with 1 ohm impedance. Only 45 watts but they are Class A watts and if you need more power, buy two and bridge them.
The only other amp I'd go for are almost impossible to find - Levinson ML-2.
Nobody can recommend an amp by itself without knowing your sonic preferences and the rest of your chain from source to speakers. Ignore any and all advice from those who do. And, if you want good advice, then provide this info.ljgm is exactly right.
We are living in a golden age of hi-fi and there are ... what? 20 amps? 30 amps? that would suit your needs. All info would be good, but to fine-tune the options at an absolute minimum you should include your speakers. In fact the amp/speaker combination can be seen as a single unit ... active speakers anyone.
(I am running Pass Xxxx.8 at the moment. If you can live with its downsides of the .8 - weight, heat, warm-up time then it will drive almost any speakers in almost any room.)
It’s hard to say what you will like in your system. If you have a local dealer, maybe they can let you borrow a few different amps. Else I suggest purchasing an amp from someone that has a generous trial period / return policy and will not hassle you should you want to send it back.
I use a Sanders Sound Magtech. It’s wonderful and dynamic and right at $5 with lifetime warranty. It’s 900 watts per channel into 4 ohms. It has 20 transistors per channel in the output stage, which can handle 7000 watts. For this reason there is no protective circuitry like other amps. That means no chokes! It doesn’t get hot even at full blast. It can be left on all the time and uses next to no power at idle. It’s the only fully regulated transformer; it regulates both current and voltage. And it has been an Absolute Sound’s editors choice for many years now.
If I were to dare try another, I’d want to try the PS Audio BHK Signature 250 amp. It’s a little more than what you want to pay, but I think PS Audio will give a good discount if you trade in your amp to them. Just a thought.
Best of luck!