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  1. #1
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    Best Amplifier Choices under $3000 for AV123 LS6 speakers.

    Hi I am a new member and I just wanted to say hi to all members on this forum. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with AV123 LS6 speakers and what amplifiers make them sound the best they can. The only catch is that I'd like to spend $3000 or less. I currently have an Emotiva XPA-3 that is run through my Yamaha RXV1700 receiver and they sound pretty good but at times they seem a bit forward or bright to me. That may be due to a number of factors; room without treatments, recording,etc. Some of the brightness I am hearing is perhaps an increase in overall detail that has been introduced due to the addition of the Emotiva. I have read in a couple of forums that the LS speakers sound great with tube amplification and I was wondering if anyone can suggest some best bang for the buck amp or amps to run these speakers, considering my budget. I was thinking of getting a nice 2ch pre-amp and two Emotiva XPA-1 mono blocks but after listening to the XPA-3 I think I have an idea of how they would sound. I know that the XPA-1's will sound significantly better and will have a lot more power, but I think I have a small taste of what the Emotiva sound is. I still like the Emotiva sound, I just would like to try an amp or amps that are perhaps a bit more warm and smooth. I am open to any suggestions, solid state or tube or hybrid. I am also open to any other suggestions that will help. I will be getting room treatments in the near future, as I have already had discussions with a tech at GIK acoustics and we have come up with a number of room treatment products for my listening area. Please excuse the poor terrminology, as I am not an audiophile; however, I am an enthusiast and I am wanting to learn more and get more involved with the audio hobby. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would look at the Van Alstine FET Valve Hybrid tube power amp. 250wpc at 8ohm and 500wpc at 4 ohm. Its an excellent amp with great detail, transparency and air. It has excellent bass and a warmer sound. Another option would be to keep your emotiva amp and consider a tube pre-amp by Van Alstine or some other brand. Van Alstine is well known in the audio community and custom makes his equipment per order here in Minnesota in his home. He has a 30 day money back guarantee. He always answers his phone and emails. If you want to buy a year old Parasound Halo. I'll sell you mine so that I can buy the VA amp! These VA amps are very quiet, liquid and well built amps with no frills. His solid state amps all have a similar tube sound. His high current SS amps can drive 1 ohm loads and double their power at 4 ohms.

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    Last edited by blackraven; 10-04-2009 at 03:45 PM.
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  3. #3
    _ Luvin Da Blues's Avatar
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    I agree with Blackraven's suggestion about a tube re-amp. Her's another option to look at.

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  4. #4
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    My question is whether the Yamaha is used for home theater? If so, I wouldn't use tubes, do you want that many hours on parts that have to be replaced for watching movies? And, even more important those tube amps won't blend with your other channels of amplification.

    If not doing home theater, dump the receiver and get a dedicated preamp. You'll get a larger improvement in sound that way. You might consider the Emotiva matching preamp or hold off until their selling the HT preamp. Of course, that may not give you warmth but the brightness you hear could be coming from the receiver's preamp section.

    You could also place some rugs around and maybe a strategic tapestry.

    What are you using for interconnects?
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  5. #5
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    "..........they sound pretty good but at times they seem a bit forward or bright to me. That may be due to a number of factors; room without treatments, recording,etc. Some of the brightness I am hearing is perhaps an increase in overall detail that has been introduced due to the addition of the Emotiva..........." (devuonoste)

    Bingo


    "...........the brightness you hear could be coming from the receiver's preamp section..........." (Mr Peabody)

    Bingo


    "..........The BG Neo8.8 (as we call it) is wonderfully detailed, resolving of the tiniest of nuances..........." (AV123 website)

    Bingo


    I think it might be a combination of all three of the above. You have gone from a midrange receiver driving the LS6's to the a combination of the receiver preamp and a XPA-3. The XPA-3 from all the reports I have read is a very neutral sounding amp just like my XPA-5. I think you are hearing details in the LS6 you were missing before, which you might for awhile perceive as brightness as well as source or the Yammy 1700. I would recommend going with the XPA-1 which according to owners is superb in a solid state amp. It should sound very defined and neutral. My Peabody makes a great point in also upgrading to a separate pre/pro. The XPA-1's are currently on sale for $899 each. The Emotiva 2-channel preamp, USP-1, $399 is getting excellent owner reviews as well as one pro review (it also has a HT pass-thru mode for use with a HT pre/pro). For $2197 you will have an excellent sounding combination.

    http://emotiva.com/usp1_feature.shtm

    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/pream...amplifier.html

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  6. #6
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    Glad you mentioned the "theater bypass" that is a great feature to look for if you are using the receiver for HT. That way you'd have your stereo preamp for music and receiver for HT. Many preamps include this feature, it may be called by something else though.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all your suggestions so far. I really appreciate the feedback. I think all suggestions have merit and the hard part now is to decide what route I want to take. I want to keep my current set-up for HT, as the improvement with the addition of the XPA-3 is amazing and my HT set-up is the best I have ever heard. The Emotiva route sounds great and I have already discussed getting the XPA-1's and their pre-amp and use the HT bypass. I am also open to getting a whole separate system for 2ch and use some type of speaker cable switching apparatus that switches the HT and 2ch systems going to my
    LS6s. Any suggestions on how I should do that or should I just switch the speaker cables when I want to listen to a particular system (i.e. have one set of speaker cables from the 2ch setup and one from the HT setup and physically switch when I want to use a particular system). I hope there is some apparatus that I could use where all of the speaker cables go to it and I can switch between systems by using the apparatus, as I don't want to keep physically changing the wires. Basically, the amp or amps that I would be interested in would be ones that are best for 2ch listening. Hope I didn't confuse anyone with the speaker wire discussion. Thanks again for your suggestions and if anyone else has any more I welcome your advice.

  8. #8
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devuonoste
    Thanks for all your suggestions so far. I really appreciate the feedback. I think all suggestions have merit and the hard part now is to decide what route I want to take. I want to keep my current set-up for HT, as the improvement with the addition of the XPA-3 is amazing and my HT set-up is the best I have ever heard. The Emotiva route sounds great and I have already discussed getting the XPA-1's and their pre-amp and use the HT bypass. I am also open to getting a whole separate system for 2ch and use some type of speaker cable switching apparatus that switches the HT and 2ch systems going to my
    LS6s. Any suggestions on how I should do that or should I just switch the speaker cables when I want to listen to a particular system (i.e. have one set of speaker cables from the 2ch setup and one from the HT setup and physically switch when I want to use a particular system). I hope there is some apparatus that I could use where all of the speaker cables go to it and I can switch between systems by using the apparatus, as I don't want to keep physically changing the wires. Basically, the amp or amps that I would be interested in would be ones that are best for 2ch listening. Hope I didn't confuse anyone with the speaker wire discussion. Thanks again for your suggestions and if anyone else has any more I welcome your advice.
    Do you live by youself in in a 1-room apartment? If not, consider two systems: one for HT and a second, stereo system for music listening.

    I have two systems. In the first place other family members can watch moves or TV while listen to music, Secondly, though neither system is particulary extravagant, but the music system has, by far, the superior components -- I could not afford a multi-channel system of comparable quality.

    But enough with the editorial. If I were looking for a new integrated stereo amp for under US$3k, I'd look closely at the new Krell S-300i ...



    There are a good many other options, however. See this thread for a recent discussion of stereo integrated amps .... http://forums.audioreview.com/showth...92651#poststop
    Last edited by Feanor; 10-05-2009 at 06:27 AM.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    But enough with the editorial. If I were looking for a new integrated stereo amp for under US$3k, I'd look closely at the new Krell S-300i ...



    There are a good many other options, however.


    Yes I must agree with the suggestion of the Krell S-300i. Compared to my earlier integrated amps it has shown me the colorations they have had. I find the amp very neutral in my system with excellent control of the bass. The amp is detailed and will not sugar coat a recording. On the other hand you can still enjoy the lesser recordings but you will know they are not as good as could be. I can not imagine needing more amp then the Krell is and I can not imagine having the big money to better it.
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  10. #10
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    No need for extra speakers wires etc. Let me explain the "theater bypass", Krell just calls it "Theater Through", what this feature allows you to do is use the two channel amp system as a slave to the home theater when using home theater. You come out of the receiver's preamp output for the main L/R and plug into the preamps input for "theater bypass", then when this is selected the signal coming in bypasses all volume and tone controls and solely controlled by the receiver. The only draw back might be if the 1700 doesn't have preamp outputs but I'd bet it does, Yamaha is pretty good about featuring them. This bypass is what RR6 was saying is on the Emo stereo pre. I agree Krell are nice integrated amps but $399.00 for the Emo is a much less expensive solution. On the other hand if you are for certain getting rid of your current Emo amp then the Krell would be about as much as the two monoblocks and preamp. That would be an interesting show down. Typically, it takes some mighty good separates to match the krell integrateds.
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  11. #11
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Or you could use an amp switcher like the niles audio SAS-1 or SPK-1 I use these to switch between 2 amps and 1 set of speakers. http://www.nilesaudio.com/product_de...ems&catcdID=10

    you can usually find them on ebay for a big discount. The SAS-1 is probably the better way to go because the SPK-1 is triggered by a 100ma trigger from an amp. If one of your amps does not have a 12v trigger then the spk-1 wont work
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  12. #12
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    Thanks again for your input. Mr. P., I did have an idea on how the HT bypass works and I discussed that with an Emotiva tech. The reason why I was discussing the speaker cable scenario is if I go to a 2ch system without the HT bypass or equivalent system. As an example I was told that a nice match for the LS6s would be the BAT VK-60 tube amp or the BAT VK-55 or 75. Not sure if anyone has any experience with these. Also, not sure what pre-amp would work well for the BAT amps. I guess what I'm looking for is a number of suggestions and then I will do as much research on the suggestions as possible. As all of you know, there are many options and unfortunately, I have no experience with tubes and I don't have extensive experience with any hi-end amps. I looked into the Van Alstine and the Krell suggestions above but I'm not sure which would work best, as I saw one Van Alstine FET valve ultra 550 review and it was not really that great but on the other hand I have seen many great reviews of Van Alstine. Also, all of the reviews of the Krell s300i have been great, but I am a bit hesitant to purchase, as most explain this amp as being neutral, which is great and many call it analytical though and I think I may want a touch of warmth that will ensure smoothness. Again, I may be wrong here, as I'm not an audiophile and I may be getting info mixed up here. Can anyone shed some light as to whether they think the Krell would give me the detailed yet smooth sound I am looking for. Not sure I mentioned this before, but the forwardness or brightness I whitness with my setup usually only occurs with voices. One of the worst cases I can give an example of is the number two song, 'Sogno', on The Best of Andrea Bocelli Vivere CD. Andrea's voice at times sounds like it's coming from metal dome tweeter speakers (i.e. a metalic sounding voice). Also, another factor that I forgot to mention is that I'm using a Toshiba upconverting DVD player to play my CD's for now, Sorry Audiophiles!! I know that a dedicated CD player will improve things here as well. Any suggestions for a good CD player, possibly the Emotiva ERC-1? My goal in the near future is to purchase a number of acoustical treatments from GIK acoustics and get a dedicated CD player. Anyone have any experience with Argent Room Lenses? Also, I'd like to finalize my choice for amp or amps for my 2ch setup. I know the best way to decide what works best is to listen to equipment, but I'd like as much info from other people as possible and I will do as much research as possible on the acoustical characteristics of each choice first so I can try to create a concise shortlist and then go from there. Sorry for all the questions and my lack of audiophile knowledge but everyone has to start somewhere, and I value all your opinions. Thanks.
    Last edited by devuonoste; 10-05-2009 at 09:58 PM.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the amp switcher info blackraven. I guess you posted while I was still writing my post so I didn't see your post until after I submitted my quick reply.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would strongly consider a Marantz CDP. It may give you the sound your are looking for. The Marantz SA8001/8003 are SACDP's that have a very nice warm sound and good bass. Another option is to buy a tube DAC, but I think the Marantz CDP's may be a good solution to your problem with out having to buy a new power amp. The Rega Apollo CDP is another good player. While I haven't hear one in a few years it has never been called a bright player.
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  15. #15
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    to answer your question in regards to Krell amps or integrated amps I have heard several systems with krell amps and I have always thought they sounded very good and can drive a number of different speakers really good. I have heard some people call them over analytical but to me they were just plain ol revealing to the source and brought more out of the speaker itself than with lesser amps. Their integrated amps have modest power ratings but from what I have experienced myself the krell's usually sound like they are more powerful than they say in the specs. I have heard them driving some very difficult to drive speakers with good results. Although I havent read the specs on your speakers I have seen them on their website and read some of their literature and they say that they are built to be a easy amp load. But I am one that is more quality than quantity anyway, I would rather have 75 watts of wonderful than 250 of ok. The only advise I can give is find some dealers in your area that might handle krell and some of the other brands you are speaking of and hear them for yourself, They might even let you bring your emotiva in and hook it up for comparison. I know when I managed a higher end shop we used to invite customers to bring in their amps and speakers for comparison listening all the time. I am in the same delima as you are when it comes to improving my 2 channel experience while keeping my theater there as well, I am more concerned with my music listening than theater and have even given thought to seperate systems for that very reason. But the theater bypass option Mr. Peabody has mentioned sounds like it could be a very viable option so you would not have to seperate your systems, Its one I am considering myself.

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  16. #16
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    Is the Toshiba hooked up via digital, optical or coax, or using analog L/R. I assume digital since you watch movies through it but you might try both to see if either gives an improvement for music.

    I recently bought the Emo ERC-1 and it is an incredible CD player. I wouldn't say it was warm.

    As you stated there are a lot of options and as suggested you should try to do some listening to get a feel for some things. But without a doubt the DVD for music playback is your weakest link. You should maybe try the ERC and use the analog outputs to the Yamaha's bypass mode.
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  17. #17
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    Thanks again everyone for your input. I'd like to maybe clarify that I am not looking for a warm sounding 2ch system, but I am looking for a system that has good detail and dynamics, great balance and a system that is also smooth sounding and musical. I like a system with great clarity and accurate music reproduction. Basically I'd like a system that is neutral or slightly on the warm side of neutral, as I don't want a warm sounding sytem that may lack detail and/or sound veiled. Once again I hope this makes sense. I just would like to have a system that is a bit smoother and I want to eliminate the occassional hard edged highs I get with some vocals. I know getting a dedicated CD player and my room treatments will help things considerably. Any thoughts on which CD player may better suit my needs better, the Emo ERC-1 or the Marantz SA8001/8003? If anyone has any more amp suggestions they would be greatly appreciated. Also, if I were to go with the Emotiva XPA-1's is there any additional suggestions of possible tube pre-amps or would an emotiva pre-amp work better? Any other integrated amp suggestions or tube, SS, or hybrid power amp suggestions? Thanks.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would strongly consider the Marantz SA8003. When I said it was warm, I meant its on the warm side of neutral. It has smooth bass, good detail and it also plays 2ch SACD for $1,000. If your want more detail you are going to have to have to consider the CAmbridge Audio 740c $1k or its more expensive brother the 840c.However, they lean on the brighter side of neutral but have more air and transparency with a wider sound stage. I think the Marantz will give you the sound you are looking for. There is no hard edge to its sound. It's very smooth with no digital glare that I could hear. I owned all three of these players but decided to go with a hybrid Tube DAC from Van Alstine, although on certain music I miss the detail of cymbals that the 740/840c provided. This is were these players excelled, sounding more like CDP's costing thousands more. If your interested in going the DAC route, consider any of the VA DAC's. Even his solid state DAC has a very neutral and tube like sound. All VA equipment is tuned to give that tube like sound.
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  19. #19
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    Hearing how well the ERC-1 did against my DAC's and an excellent reference player that would be my choice to recommend for CD playback. I would bet the ERC would out class the 8003 or 840. I'm telling you guys this unit is a great player regardless of price.

    For the money and value you should try the ERC and USP, you are looking at slightly above $800.00 with shipping and if they don't do the trick you can always send one or both back. The ERC has amazing detail as good as higher end Arcam players I've heard. I haven't heard the USP preamp but if it performs to the extent the CD player does you'd be getting sound quality equal to several times your expenditure.
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  20. #20
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    Thanks again for all your input. I think I may purchase the Emotiva ERC-1 CD player in the near future, but I am having a tough time deciding on an amp or amps. The options I'm looking at so far are:

    1. Emotiva XPA-1's with possibly the USP pre-amp or Van Alstine Pre or Marsh Pre.
    2. Parasound Halo a21
    3. Jeff Rowland Model 5
    4. Krell S300i
    5. Xindak XA-6950
    6. Kenwood Supreme 600
    7. Prima Luna Dialogue II
    8. Phase Linear 700B (one concern is that I have heard they could possibly damage speakers)
    9. Balanced Audio BAT VK55 or VK60 or VK 75 (used)
    10. Van Alstine FET Valve Ultra 550 (one not so good review of this amp has me questioning this though).
    11. NAD Master Series M3
    12. Musical Fidelity Supercharger 550k or A1 or A300 or A5.

    Lots of choices and I know some are more than $3000, but I would purchase used (e.g. BAT VK75).

    These are in no particular order in terms of which I think I would like to purchase. Any suggestions on which one or which ones should be on top of my list? I know I have had some suggestions from others already but I was wondering if anyone could tell me what amps they think would work best and possibly some sound characteristics descriptions on some of the amps I have listed from those who have experience with one or more of these amps. Thanks
    Last edited by devuonoste; 10-14-2009 at 07:18 PM.

  21. #21
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    I'd stay away from Phase Linear. Not familiar with that Kenwood piece.

    The Krell and NAD are integrated amps. The Krell is probably overall better but I think you may more happy with the M3's sound quality based on what you've said.

    I also think the Musical Fidelity is a good choice for you and they can be had new for around the same price as the Emo monoblocks. www.amusicdirect.com

    Some of those amps I've heard but I know many of that group vary in their sound signature. Except for a couple I'd scratch not a bad list.
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    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

  22. #22
    Forum Regular
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    Oct 2009
    Location
    Colville, WA
    Posts
    145
    After doing some more research I'd like to add:

    - Sim Audio Moon i.5 or i.5.3
    - Ayre Acoustics Ax7e
    - Luxman L-505u
    - Creek Audio Destiny
    - T+A Power Plant
    - Audio Research VSi 55

    Man, it is really hard to try to pick one that I think I'd be the most happy with. Just when you think you've found one that might work best you find others that possibly fit the bill even better. Any input would be appreciated between these amps and the 12 I listed on the 14th. Thanks.

    P.S. Any amps that are above the $3000 mark I would consider purchasing used.
    Last edited by devuonoste; 10-16-2009 at 10:26 PM.

  23. #23
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Location
    St. Paul, Minnesota
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    4,773
    I've got the Parasound A21 and its a great amp. Lots of clean power, low noise level, great dynamics and neutral sounding. It has very good detail.It has true balanced XLR inputs.

    Don't discount the Van Alstine amps. The FET Valve 550 is well worth the money. It leans on the warmer side and is a very quiet amp. excellent bass, transparency and air. It has good detail and will reveal weaknesses in your system. I've read that review and disagree with it. System matching plays and important role. His solid state amps are the real deal as well and the 440H SS amp is rated to drive 1ohm loads. There are not many amps that can do that.

    But all those amps on your list are excellent choices.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus 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

  24. #24
    Forum Regular
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    Oct 2009
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    Forgot to add another couple of amps that caught my eye

    -Xindak A600E ($3495 at the high end palace & +/- $2500 used)
    -LFD integrated Zero MKIII (+phono stage) - approx. $4000 new and would purchase used

    Also, I will definitely scratch the Phase Linear 700B.

    If anyone can give me their experience with one or more of the amps I've listed I would appreciate the info. Thanks.

  25. #25
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    Mar 2002
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    St. Louis, MO, USA
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    9,589
    How did you hear about the Power Plant? It's an incredibly good integrated amp. It will not have the brute force of Krell to handle overly difficult loads. They use a switching power supply. The amp is still hefty. It's difficult to describe the T+A because it doesn't have any feature that dominates and on the other hand there aren't any weaknesses. The bass is full, detailed, and fast; the mids are nice, highs are extended. It's not "warm" and it's not "analytical", T+A has a very seductive sound without being "warm". T+A is my favorite solid state amp. With that being said I have not heard nearly all of what you listed. Some of those amps are not in the same league as others. You need to try narrowing your field.

    I had the pleasure of hearing Krell separates to T+A separates played through the same Dynaudio speakers. The T+A set up was about 1/3 the price of the Krell. I didn't think I'd ever hear better bass than Krell until hearing the T+A. It wasn't more ample it was faster and able to reveal more detail. The Krell does have a more refined higher frequency range. I'm sure there were also stars in the Krell column for power. Not that the T+A lacked, I just think the Krell can be pushed further and produce a lot more current.
    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

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