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  1. #1
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    Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    My 15 yrs old Kenwood VR-4090 receiver died recently & now I've an opportunity to upgrade my setup. I usually watch movies (80%) & listen to music/tapes (20%) since I've several old tracks. I'm planning to use the Oppo BDP-105 as Pre/Pro in 5.1 setup.

    I read tonnes & tonnes of reviews & forums and am considering the following, similarly priced ($1500-$2000), 5 channel used/refurbished Amplifiers. The objective is to break the barrier between Tube & SS:
    1.) Parasound A 51
    1.) Emotiva XPR-5
    2.) ATI 2005
    2.) Outlaw 7500 or 755
    2.) Parasound A 52/ 5250/ 5125
    2.) Theta Digital Intrepid
    3.) Anthem MCA-50
    3.) MARANTZ MM8077
    3.) Onkyo PA-MC5500

    Current Setup:
    Room 20x18x9 with open area, so sound can bleed
    Speaker: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II (L, R,C)
    Speaker: JBL S312 (RL, RR)
    BD: Oppo 105
    Tape Deck: Nakamichi RX-505

    I know that I don't need a lot of Power. However, it's my understanding that the overall SQ in high-end Amps gets better & better. The above list is created based on responses in a few forums, with no actual listening experience. Since most of them are old, I don't think I will have that opportunity anyway.

    Please let me know what do you think & do you agree? Which one would you personally recommend based on your actual listening experience. Otherwise, it's like a blind leading a blind.

    Hey, and any good place to buy? Are you selling? PM me.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Nice Tape deck!!!. I have not seen a Nak take deck in years and especially a spinner deck.

    IMO the Parasound A51/52 and ATI stand out to me as the better of the bunch listed there but like I said that is my opinion. In fact I would pick the A51 over the 52 because it seems Parasound puts more effort into their bigger amps. I know that ATI makes very good multi channel amps and you can customize them with modules that can take it up to 7 or 8 channels i believe.

    If you want the best in sound quality I would stay with a class a or a/b and not go with a class d amp. I lived with one for almost a year and hated it. I did not hardly listen to my system when I had the class d amp because it would fatigue my ears after 20 minutes or so and now that I have went to a Pass Labs amp i will never go back to class d unless they make some improvements.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
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    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
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    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
    Dell I660 music server running fidelizer windows 8 audio optimizer
    PS Audio Quintet power center



  3. #3
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    I agree either the ATI or Parasound. The Theta isn't bad but the 2005 is better than the Intrepid. I know the ATI 3000 series has a special 20 amp cord and connector, I think the 2000 series may as well, the 2k & 3k ATI's are beasts. The Parasound Halo stuff is built really well and IMO not as warm as the ATI. Coming from a Kenwood receiver though any of those on your list you would probably be thrilled with. The Emotiva you could afford to buy new and get a warranty but despite the fan boy raves on forums they aren't in the league with ATI or Parasound, especially sound. Marantz and Onkyo, decent at their price but again not in the league with ATI.
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I have a Parasound Halo A21 and it is built like a tank, and high quality. It sounds great and looks great. I would strongly consider an A51 or A52 if you don't need the 400wpc x5. The strength of the Halo's are bass control, rhythm and pace, detail and a sweet high end. However, if your main focus is movies and not music, then consider a very good processor and maybe a lesser amp like an Emotiva.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for sharing your experience & comments. I'm also leaning towards Parasound A 51 or ATI 2005 or Halo A 52 (in that order).

    I'll try to find Halo A51. However, they're hard to come-by at the right price point & condition. Any pointer is appreciated.

    Thank you!

  6. #6
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    There is an A51 and A52 for sale on audiogon. Also, call audioadvisor and see if they have any demo or returned units. My A21 was a return and I got $300 off.


    Parasound A51 Power Amplifier | Audio Video InteriorsAudio Video Interiors
    Last edited by blackraven; 07-04-2013 at 02:49 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  7. #7
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    Thank you guys! I finally bought Parasound Halo A 51 from AudioGon. Visually there are a few blemishes & it trips-off in Auto 12V setting. I managed to get it for $2100. I must say it's heavy & it gets really hot.

    Currently listening to various types of music (stereo) & movies & comparing notes. In defense of Kenwood VR-4090 (MSRP 1200/ Used 450) receiver I must say that though it's 1/4th price of A51 (MSRP 4500 Used 2100) it was no slouch in terms of SQ.

    Anyway, thank you all for your timely responses.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Some members might want to congratulate you or ask your opinion on the amp.
    JohnMichael

    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Ringmat Anniversary mat, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1

    Digital Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001

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  9. #9
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Give us a review on it. My A21 barely breaks a sweat driving my Maggies, even at loud volumes so I am surprised that the 51 gets hot. Congrats on the purchase!
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Give us a review on it. My A21 barely breaks a sweat driving my Maggies, even at loud volumes so I am surprised that the 51 gets hot. Congrats on the purchase!
    blackraven: Not sure about Maggies but all my speakers are 8 ohms with Sensitivity of 89db. Does it have anything to do with it?

    It's almost 36 hrs since I first plugged in. Still exploring & justifying whether it's worth 4 times the cost of previous receiver. Makes me think how much one should believe all the 'Expert' reviews! So far, I haven't seen anyone saying anything bad about other Amps/Receivers.

    I guess, until you do side-by-side blind test you can take anyone's opinion with a grain of salt.

    Anyway, will keep you posted.

  11. #11
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post
    [COLOR=#3E3E3E]
    I guess, until you do side-by-side blind test you can take anyone's opinion with a grain of salt.
    You're getting the picture, HOM.

  12. #12
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    I've owned and sold Kenwood, the A51 should be giving you a noticeable improvement, especially for music listening. I'm wondering if it has something to do with you using the Oppo as a preamp.

    If you consider a preamp there are some Marantz AV7005's still around at a great price. If Music Direct still have them you will get a 30 day return if not happy. IMO the preamp would drive the amp better and give you more set up flexibility including auto set up and equalization.

    I was also curious on the pricing you showed for the 4090, Kenwood has been out of home audio so long I couldn't see any one paying $450.00 for it today due to the technology being so obsolete.
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  13. #13
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Bingo Mr. P! He needs a good preamp. Running a $3000 amp with a preamp from a BluRay player is not going to take full advantage of the amp. I tried running my A21 with the Preamp from my Adom AVR. The sound is pretty good but nothing compared to when I have the A21 connected to my Van Alstine Preamp.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

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