Boulder might have something different and perhaps better to offer, but not cheap!
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IS you pre-amp SS or tube?
If tube, any amp with 60K or greater input impedance might offer an improvement. I seem to recall that most of the amps you have had might not fall into that category for best match to a tube pre-amp but not certain.
IF a SS, you might have to drop more bucks to really upgrade. Not sure. Boulder is the one line I have heard that I would consider in this case.
I don't know if another kind of amp sounds better than another. It just may sound different or you may prefer one type of sound an amp makes in your system vs. another. Just my opinion. The reason I say that is I had the lower powered Red Dragon M100 monoblocks for a bit and a Hypex UcD based Class D amp and I found myself missing the sound of a McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe I had along with some other Class A amps.
I think out of the bunch you mentioned I say go with the McCormack or Odyssey. One audiophile some time ago suggested to me if you like the McCormack sound check out amps by Belles. Especially the Hot Rodded amps. Also what about the Emotiva XPA-1 monoblocks? Emotiva also has a 30 day return policy and pretty good customer service.
Krell may be of interest. I have the KAV-150a from 1999 and cannot seem to part with it even though it can sound harsh when pushed with low impedence speakers. my solution was to mate it with a small bookshelf design. Maybe something in the 250w area is a better idea if you like to crank it up and maintain great sound. Dont dismiss the star names in amplifier design cause they cost alot, amazing amps avail here because someone has the upgrade bug or just need a bigger unit. great amps go up for sale at 1/2 the cost you mention" just stay on the hunt and research as much as possible. Listen if you have the chance and remember quality over quantity when it comes to watts
I owned a pair of Adagios for a year or so. The amplifier that I liked best with them was the RedWine Audio Signature 30.2.
This amp. is a Tripath design, so not a class "D", and has much more warmth and flesh compared to class "D"'s.
I usually listen at 75dB average or so, and the RedWine could certainly play quite a bit louder than that without distortion, despite its lower power rating.
Thanks to all responded so far. To Mapman: Boulder amps are off the scope in price....see used items on AG under their name. The old lady would put me under a "boulder" if I spent 15 to 20K for an amp. The question must be ask: how is (or should)a $20,000 plus amp "supposed" to sound to validate the investment
The Redwine amps are low powered, don't come up often, and I play it louder tham 75db I have been told that the McCormack DNA-.05 is the best sounding of most of the DNA series, EVEN before the REV A, B, C,level modds. You rarely see a DNA-125 come up which might make a good platform for at least the B level modds. The DNA-1 amps even if it can be purchased for $600, is about $1600 total with Level B modds, and much much more to get the gold REV A.
Yes, me to in regards to expensive amps like boulder.
I would still recommend giving them a listen. I have not heard them on many systems but the struck me as unique sounding and possibly quite good, a useful reference. You might then be able to find something similar and more affordable if that sound floats your boat. I'm thinking something along the bryston or mccormick line maybe.
To Daniel, I have a Bel Canto PRe-3 pre-amp line stage which is excellent. I believe it has balanced outputs...amd also has RCA outputs for the amp. I am not sure what you mean by a "truly balanced pre-amp" I assume that the Rowland amp like Sim Audio amps sound best only with balanced inputs/outputs.
To Mapman, Excellent suggestion. However there are no Boulder dealer in Honolulu; There is a Soulution dealer, but I don't relish lifting 120lbs small frig of an amp or its $45,000 price tag. Nevertheless, a good suggestion. It look like a modded McCormack is my future. Hopefully, it sounds outstanding as so many claim and not like an Adcom, Dynaco or BK amps of some years ago. Thanks!!!
What I mean by truly balanced is a component that has balanced circuitry throughout the piece, like all later generation Rowland gear. An example of gear not truly balanced is the Adcom 5802 amp. It has balanced inputs, but they are just converted to single ended, after they enter the amp.
I own (5) Murano P1000 monoblocs, with the B&O module.
They are truly balanced...
JohnnyB53. Audiogon keeps assuring me that they will soon install off-line e-mail contact with "thread" responders, like the good old days before furniture and camera ads appeared in the margins. The set-up now sucks.....Nevertheless, to answer your question. Red Dragons M-500 are very good for the money, so I don't have a particular clawing complaint. I have caught the upgrade bug again, and just assume there is a "better" amp out there for my speakers and system. I have some minor quibbles: speaker connections on the amps are only spade lugs, held in place by a plastic bar and knurled knob that can be torqued tight. However, they will not accomodate banana plugs, or possibly bare wire a solder tip. The on/off switch is on the back of each amp which is not very accessible if you are using a component rack. I could keep the amps on all the time, but prefer not to. They are built well.
Sound wise, ONCE THEY BREAK IN, they provide good, neutral, detailed sound which (to me)is also somewhat tipped up, and bass is good but not outstanding.
I used Acoustic Zen Hologram 2 cable for 2 years, and there was no interfacing problem. The Dragons drive the AZ Adagios very well. Interestingly, I recently changed speaker cable because the fire hose girth of AZ cables was getting to be difficult to deal with. The cables now are less expensive Audio Art SC-5 which are remarkable sounding cables for the money, (but I still have not reached any final conclusion about them). They were pre-burned at the factory, and I don't have more than 20 hours on them, but the sound stage seems larger and the bass a tighter...BUT... there is fullness lacking in mids which Hologram 2 cable had in spades.
OK, so let me cut to the chase, some bloggers claim class "D" digital amps sound good but the listener is less drawn into the music which is less natural sounding compared to a class A amps, or "some" mega bucks amps.
So should I should buy into to that?? No!! and I don't, but nevertheless, I have seem enough testimonials about the sound quality and performance level of other amps to consider if there may be a better amp for my system. Many of us have been doing hi-end audio for years, or at least a percentage of years to be aware of hype, the law of diminsihing returns ratio to price, component interface and cable dilemmas, and room acoustics anomalies, and also "philes" who may just need ear wax removal and are not as golden ears as they like others to believe. Be that as it may, part of the fun of this hobby/obsession is making new musical discoveries that brings us deeper and closer to the music. Several threads would be needed to plummet the depth of the question of when you have reached the nirvana of sound. Let me just say, I could never reached the level of musical enjoyment and satisfaction without upgrading the system over the years, and trying different components. I hope this helps. Jim
To Tholt, Sorry, but what are "reco's" If you mean reconnaissance. I spoke to Robert Lee about 2-3 years ago, and he claimed almost any amp works well with AZ's, including SET amp...but,I am not into flea power. However, I was told by the designer and owner of Red Dragon that he often uses AZ's Adagios at CES. He finds the synergy very good. (See my response to JohnnyB52) Your suggestion is well taken.
The Adcom 5802 owners manual shows the following values for input impedance:
Unbalanced 105K ohms
Balanced 10K ohms
If the amp was truly balanced, the balanced value would be double the unbalanced value.
Since this is not the case, the amp just uses a converter
to transfer the balanced input to single ended after the signal enters the amp.
Other brands do this too, usually in their entry level pieces....
I also own the Red Dragon M 500 amps and I agree that for the $'s they are quite remarkable sounding amps. I have also been using them with banana plugs with no problems. I have not found them to be tipped up in the detail dept although maybe with certain speakers that may be a perception. I'm using Vandersteen 3A Sigs and also an ARC SP16 Tube Preamp. I did not like the amps with a NuForce P8 preamp in comparison. It would be interesting to hear from other owners of these amps to find out which speaker/preamp combos they are using. Good luck with your quest. The upgrade bug is indeed hard to resist.