In my experience the power, control and sheer emotion are the advantages of class A and a class A biased A/B designs over class D.
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The frequent advantage of class D is one of hig energy efficiency and overall excellent control over difficult speaker loads. Besides that, there is no outright advantage of class A, A/B, or D. There are only lots of different amps that sound very different and may or may not match your listening prefs, regardless of class 'affiliation'. Guido
I would stay away from stereotypes about any "class" of amplifier. Generalizations such as "class A/B has more emotion than class D" make no sense whatsoever.
For what it's worth, I have a Wyred ST500, which has considerably more control, and sheer emotion than either my class A/B Conrad Johnson sonographe amp, and my class A/B Anthem MCA50, both of which are great sounding amps.
I finally took the plunge into the "Class D" pool and can declare that I shall never look back upon conventional Class A A/B again!
I wholeheartedly agree with Goatwuss though - there are prime examples of all "classes". I auditioned some mediocre Class D amps and outstanding traditional amps before buying a PS Audio GCC-250.
For what it's worth - I'm using the step down from the BE718's, the Usher X-718's with a PS Audio GCC-250 Control Amplifier (ICE based Class-D) with outstanding results. The best synergy I've ever owned and, hands down, one of the best sounding systems I've ever put together.
Ok, forget the classifications then.
I'm still having a real hard time deciding between these 3 amps. All three are known as "sounding as good as amps in the 5K-10K range".
The Odyssey i've heard is a step lower, but there is an upgrade available, that I suspect would bring it close to a similar level, perhaps, (although not sure here).
I am kind of leaning toward the Wyred ST 1000 since the comments of wyred owners sound the most ecstatic and positive in comparison to really expensive amps.
The only disadvantage is that they are quite difficult to find used. And i don't wish to take a big financial hit down the road if i sell.
Anyone out there heard the Wyred amps and/or Odysseys/ Belles and can they comment about it? Thanks!!!
Honestly, as long as the impedances work as Rotarius mentions, I'll bet all three of these amps would sound pretty decent on your Ushers. In a controlled A/B would you prefer one or the other? Maybe... but without a side by side comparison it's going to be tough determine that.
On the money side of things, if you're planning on sticking with this setup for some time, I would just consider what your budget is, and go from there.
The Wyreds for example are already priced so low, that IMHO you're already getting a really solid price at full retail. The useds ones that have popped up (not many as you noticed) sell for close to the original retail anyway. Might as well pick up the warranty and the good service from Wally at Underwood.
If your real budget is closer to $1,500, and you decide to go Wyred, look into the ST500. Do you really need more than 250WPC in 8 and 550WPC into 4 ohms for the Be718's?
I heard the Ushers demoed w. Belles equipment. It sounded wonderful. I would easily recommend it. I have heard several class D systems and they all sounded class D except from the Spectron Musician III se. This sounded different but had a signature.
I have heard Wired for Sound and didn't love it but it could be the room etc.
All my comments are based on shows.
From what I have read the 250 watt Class D amps have better specs than the 500 Watt Class D amps. I assume they would sound better if power isn't a concern.
One last comment, class D has potential and some people will love it. But it does have a signature. It is not for everyone.
Will be using the Tube Audio Design's new TADAC, (not available yet) with improved preamp section, which i guess would be quite similar to their old TAD 150.
Was thinking about a Mapletree and Altmann DAC, but the Altmann is complicated (needs a battery), plus i wanted a nice analog tube sound to my music, since i will not delve into vinyl.
Price is about the same for all three- $1850 for the Odyssey w/ upgrade, $2000 for the Belles, $1600-$2000 for the ST-1000. Would save some money on an extra interconnect and power cord if i went stereo over monoblock though.
My big thing is that i have heard or have a "feeling" that the Wyred is a bit better than the other two---
Yet i spoke with two people, first, the owner of a Belles 350A Ref, and he said that he would highly consider the Wyred, although he has never heard them. Kept emphasizing how they (class d) are the future
Another stated that both the Odyssey and Belles are not in the same league as the Wyred!!!
However, this is the problem. As Dgad says, the opposite is true. And i have heard that the Belles and Usher are a superb combination. And finally, a lot of people seem to say negative things about Class D amps.
So without auditioning them for myself, it seems difficult to tell.
Will simply wait to get ST-1000 used at least 20% off if i go that direction. I am building my very first system. If i feel that it is not worth the money when fully assembled, i will sell it. Plus with the economy how it is, you never really know how stable you are financially, if something were to happen.
As for the 500 watt model vs 250, i've heard my speakers with 500 watts and it does make a difference, so if i go with Class D, to offset any disadvantages, i figure the extra power will help. Plus there's the option for a little more to go with 500 watts, whereas the others don't have this option, so why not, since my speakers are quite inefficient.
I have a W4S 125 wpc amplifier. It sounds almost pathologically smooth. I previously owned the Usher speaker you have. With a Meridian 200 wpc solid state amp it was too forward,etched and brittle for me. I ended up selling both.
I can only guess the the ultra silky smooth W4S amp would be a very nice mathch for the Usher speakers.
Quite a few. I forget all the names but when I was at the German show many of the rooms were using Class D. Also a few at RMAF. At first I felt wow, this isn't bad. But as time wore on I found it was missing something. To sterile maybe. I guess I like my tube distortion. W4S is one. Roland, AVM? (I think that is the name), Bel Canto, Veloce, Spectron, which I did like, but it aint cheap either. I have the pictures somewhere. I just honestly feel Class D is a must audition. Also, I heard the Berning Quadrature & the Belles. The Berning is excellent, but the Belles is an incredible value. I spent a good 1 1/2 hours in that room.
I want to be specific, all were at shows so I can't go beyond that. I would love a home audition one day but this year I am staying calm.
Thank you Dgad, I agree, tubes can be captivating. Which sound is 'better' is of course a matter of personal preference. For what's worth, even within the same brand, including class D amps, price and sonic signature can vary enormously. I believe that Spectron varies in price from under $6K to over $20K; Rowland ranges from under $2K to over $30K. I admit that none of the switching amps I am familiar with sound stereotypically 'tube like'. Unfortunately I am not yet familiar with Wired4Sound; Among the class D amps I have played with, the Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 may perhaps be the slightly warmer sounding one.
Dgad, btw which model Belles did you hear? I read somewhere else about the Ushers and Belles combo at a show. Perhaps it is their top of the line stuff-- in which case it would not be a fair comparison.
The model i am interested in is the 350a Reference amp with 250watts. Thanks!!
I myself prefer tubes as well. That's why i'm going with a tube DAC and preamp. The Ushers are pretty inefficient and need some power-- hard to find in tube amps on a budget.
You won't like my answer. It is not going to be fair. I had to look at my pictures & go to the website to see what it in fact is. Top of the line MB500 amps. But it was a very large room. Maybe the 350a Reference will be fine. I don't have any personal experience w. Belles equipment except for 25 years ago when I purchased his first 2 amps as a kid & started getting into audio. I used to take them to friends houses and convert them to audiophiles. They sounded great. A little 50 watter and then an 80 watter if I remember right.
Hello. I've owned a W4S ST1000 since mid 2008 - with Usher Be-718s, and an ARC SP9MkIII. Sounds great. Previously ran tubes - Jadis Orchestra Reference, and prior to that ARC power amps + the pre. Frankly found the W4S smoother, sweeter, and far more detailed - the complete lack of any grain is amazing. I've a pair of Wilson CUBS in storage, and ran the amp with these for a short time - definitely tames the highs, as per tubes - these speakers are quite tiring with SS generally. Actually recently sold the Jadis, despite sentimental attachment, as I simply prefer the sound of the W4S with either set of speaker.
The current system is especially good for classical music - old recordings have extra detail, while flaws, such as inherent harshness in the transfer, are diminished.
I know this isn't a direct answer to your thread, but I can't imagine you'd be grossly disappointed by the W4S.