NuForce Ref 8 driving Quad ESL57 modified.
117 responses Add your response
I have had several Krell FPB (200, and 700cx) amps which I enjoyed, Aragon makes a good amp, but I think that would be a step back for you, some of the Classe stuff can be had fairly inexpensively since the newer models are out.
I bought a used Classe Omicron and I think it is really something special. The Krell FPB 700cx can be had in your price range, and it will drive anything without flattening out. Of all the amps I've owned, the Krell gets out of the way of the music the best. I found it to be very musical, more so than the older Krell amps. This probably creates an ugly image in your mind, but when I'm really enjoying the music I find myself singing along. With the Krell, I sang a lot!
I am using the Innersound ESL-300. I know it doesn't cost enough ($1500 used) but I stand behind it. Drove the pee-diddly out of Maggie 3.6s and sounded better the hotter it got. Never petered out. 600WPC @ 4 ohms. Now drives my Eros MkIII very well, naturally. Spend more, go ahead, 20K for the dartzHeel 100WPC. Excuse me?
Son of Ampzilla. 80w/ch. 8ohms. All transistor. Almost 30 years old. Used around $250. My speakers are around 89db efficient. I love this amp. How can one old box produce sound powerful AND revealing? Very tight bass control. I listen to mostly classical and jazz. I know they have a rep for trouble, but mine has been no trouble at all. For a hoot; get one, get it bench tested, hook it up and see what you think. You may be surprised.
Outside of the VAC Phi 220 mono amps, most complete and balanced sounding amp I have had the pleasure of owning or spending time with.
It has tremedous bass, a nice musical and detailed midrange, with an extended treble.
Really gets the toes tapping and is very engaging.
On top of all that, it can drive anything and sounds effortless doing it.
That's a fair question. No. The room is on a dedicated circuit, but the audio system shares through a modest Monster line conditioner, the $400 one. I've made some overall improvements to the system by upgrading power cords, adding the line conditioner, upgrading cables, etc, but the deficiency I'm experiencing sounds to me a while lot like the amp is running out of steam. It's a 1999 vintage Musical Fidelity Amp which is rated at 120 watts. Within a year, I may even build up enough diplomacy points with my wife so that I can do some moderate construction to create a much better "audio" room. That room will certainly have the requisit AC power specs.
My preamp, btw is an Audio Research SP16 which may also be a weakish link in the chain; although, not awful by any stretch.
My current favorite SS amp is the Hovland Radia driving W/P 7s but I do not think it would improve the dynamics of the system you describe. I think the weak link is your power conditioner. Highly (or poorly) conditioned AC power can render electronics voiced on "average" RF-hash-tainted power somewhat neutered. Try plugging your amp and/or preamp directly into the dedicated line. Or buy a more neutral conditioner. Or any of the amps suggested above. Maybe a new preamp or different cables or power cords. Rethink the speakers. Try to hold on to your wife.
Take a look at the threads concerning the new PASS LABS X-.5 series amps.I was using an EDGE NL-10 very happily until I audtioned a X-350.5 and was shocked at how much better it was than the NL-10,which is a world class amp.I also wrote a review that you might want take a look at here on the GON.I have no doubt that this amp will give you all the dynamics and sound pressure levels you are looking for,than its your personnal taste about how it matchs your system always.Hope this helps.
I am thoroughly enjoying my Mac 501's, they are simply incredible at all levels and when cranked take my thiel 3.6's to a level I've only ready about! For the money you get a ton of power, real world bass, and see way into midrange. They do not sound congested or flat when pushed, actually, I can't even push them - I feel like the guy in the old maxell commercial when I try...
Get one BEL 1001 Mk5 if you want the most transparent amp ever made, get two and run them in bridged mono mode if you want to be completely free of "upgraditis" for the duration. I have never heard anything better in solid state. And you can also use Richard Brown's (BEL) IC's and speaker cables for a relatively inexpensive treat.
Denf, Unfortunately, I have never heard the Halo JC-1's, but I would really like to hear them someday. They were actually my other "finalist" when I purchased the McCormack and I forgot to list them in my post above. I don't know that they would better the DNA-500, but I would guess the choice would boil down to system matching. The McCormack works well in mine.
I have heard the JC-1's, but never in a very familiar system or head to head with the DNA-500.
As such, I don't think it would add any value to comment on its sound.
One thing I will say is that the JC-1's run pretty darn hot while the DNA-500 stays pretty much cool.
If sound was equal, that could be an issue for some.
I second the McIntosh vote. I drive Shahinian Diapasons with a MC402, and although the Diapasons are no easy load, the Mac drives them with ease. Even at listening at hairsplitting volumes to Mahler or AC/DC, the amp hardly gets warm. I was looking for a bass-strong, musica l amp, and have found it. A friend of mine runs his Diapasons with a Plinius SA-102, and is equally happy. Two fine amps which are easy to find used, too.
Danielk and others,
I've done some reading and taken a step in the right direction by ordering a Hydra 4 which should be here in the next few days. Maybe that will get me on the road to better amplification.
The question I want to throw out there now is the converse of the original: What amps, in the supposedly hi-end class are to be avoided like the plague?