Help me pick an Amp!

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  • 09-15-2008, 05:33 PM
    blackraven
    Help me pick an Amp!
    I'm considering getting a new power amp. I've found some good deals on the following amps. What would you pick and give a reason why?
    I like a warmer sound. Here's my list-

    Mac MC7270
    MC2300
    MC2205
    MC7150

    Krell KAV 400xi
    KAV 250A

    AR 100.2
    AR D300

    Musical Fidelity A308

    Conrad Johnson MV-100

    Parasound Halo A21-new
  • 09-15-2008, 06:15 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Well I vote for CJ for obvious reasons but my next rec would be the Mac's, then stop. Well maybe Musical Fidelity.

    Krell is very very good at what it does but I don't think anyone has ever called them "warm", not that they are fatiguing or brash, just not warm.

    After listening to several ARC amps while looking for my last amp I decided I am not much of a fan. Years ago I heard a VT-100 with an older preamp that sounded good but now they have a sound I can only describe as industrial, it gives me a feeling of gray. Though it was tube I didn't get a feel of warmth or musicality at all.

    I've heard a lot of Mac and whatever stage of hi fi taste I was in I always liked it. The only piece of Mac I'd walk away from is their preamp/processor, didn't impress me and way over priced.

    Not much experience with MF, mainly reputation.

    CJ is like putting on your old favorite shoes, they just feel right. You can sit and think, well Krell has more slam, control or energy in that lower octave but you just can't see yourself giving up the CJ. CJ gives a pleasurable and inviting presentation. I'm trying to say, certain amps may do things subjectively better but CJ is the deal for just sitting and enjoying the music.
  • 09-15-2008, 07:39 PM
    elapsed
    I've owned the Krell KAV-400xi, very nice integrated but just not warm enough for my liking and didn't have good synergy with my CD player or speakers, so I traded her towards a Naim integrated at the time. I don't think this will be the sound you are looking for, though I hear she's fantastic when mated with a Krell CD Player

    As for McIntosh, recently auditionned an MC-500 preamp with MC-1201 monoblocks, MCD-201 cd player, and XRT1K loudspeakers.. $85,000. Very neutral system, didn't particularly excel in any one area, I was surprised to find the system a bit boring, which was shocking to me as I'd always dreamed of one day owning a full McIntosh theater. Could very possibly have been the room acoustics though!

    Haven't auditionned CJ or MF, so I'll leave those to the experts ;)

    cheers,
    elapsed
  • 09-16-2008, 08:37 PM
    blackraven
    There's got to be some more opinion's out there!
  • 09-17-2008, 07:54 PM
    blackraven
    Do you guys think that a 15 year old SS Mac will sound better than the Parasound Halo or a Van Alstine Hybrid?
  • 09-17-2008, 08:15 PM
    Mr Peabody
    That's subjective, but my money would be on the Mac over the Parasound. Not familiar with Van Alstine enough to even guess. Parasound is good but not on par with Mac in my opinion. You being a Maggie guy I think would love the musicality and imaging of the Mac.
  • 09-18-2008, 05:36 PM
    cjpremierfour
    I would have to agree with Mr. Peabody. I have the CJ Premierfour and out of the amps you have listed, the CJ is the one that I would pick. The only negative thing about the CJ is the cost of tubes.
    That being said, the Parasound Halo A21 is a solid state monster that you should definitely hear before making a purchase. With your Maggies, it's higher current could be something that you would like. Not that the CJ lacks any power or bass, ( it doesn't ) but I have recently purchased a large solid state amp and when warmed up, it's really pretty good.

    So listen to the Parasound before buying the CJ
  • 09-18-2008, 05:41 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Which solid state did you go with and did it replace the Premier?
  • 09-19-2008, 06:11 AM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    Do you guys think that a 15 year old SS Mac will sound better than the Parasound Halo or a Van Alstine Hybrid?

    Very unlikely.

    rw
  • 09-19-2008, 07:40 AM
    blackraven
    I may go with the Van Alstine Hybrid amp, my only concerns are that it does not have XLR
    and my 840c does. It may be a moot point because I may also buy his DAC and use the 840c as an expensive transport or use my Music Hall as a transport and use the 840c in my bedroom system or sell it. I do however really like the parasound but I have not been able to find one here to audition.
  • 09-19-2008, 10:23 AM
    Feanor
    XLR important??
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    I may go with the Van Alstine Hybrid amp, my only concerns are that it does not have XLR
    and my 840c does. It may be a moot point because I may also buy his DAC and use the 840c as an expensive transport or use my Music Hall as a transport and use the 840c in my bedroom system or sell it. I do however really like the parasound but I have not been able to find one here to audition.

    I don't think you have to worry about XLRs. If the AVA was a fully balanced design, (which it ain't), then it could be advantageous to connect the fully balanced 840C to with XLRs. Unless you're connecting two fully balanced components, balanced is only significant to handle very long IC runs.

    I don't know whether I'd go for the Van Alstine. I believe one of his FET/valve amps was reviewed in TAS a couple of year ago: it got a lukewarm review, though they had a lot of praise for the hybrid preamp reviewed at the same time.

    Since I like my Monarchy Audio SM-70 Pros so well, if I needed more power I would give very serious consideration to a pair of SE-100 Delux Class A's. The MSRP is $2360/pair but I have little doubt you could get them new under $2k.
  • 09-19-2008, 10:55 AM
    blackraven
    Actually the amp got a pretty good review and the DAC got a great review. The bottom line with VA equipment is that its bare bones without alot of fancy electronics and billeted aluminum face plates. His equipment is audiophile quality at entry level prices. His over head is low because everything is built to order.

    I found an older VA 550 hybrid amp for about $1k. It would cost me about $500 to swap out parts and bring it up to date. Thats one thing thats nice about his equipment. You can send it in for any upgrade when new models come out.

    With that being said, I just found a guy that sells out of his home and he is an authorized Parasound Halo dealer. I'm going to audition the amp in about 7-10 days.
  • 09-19-2008, 01:46 PM
    cjpremierfour
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Which solid state did you go with and did it replace the Premier?

    Mr Peabody,
    I got a good deal on a Mark Levinson 332 amp about 6 months ago. I would like to say it sounds like a big CJ with better bass control. It doesn't, but after hours of use, it has "almost" the same soundstage and depth information, something I thought was impossible for solid state amplifiers. Extension on the top and bottom end, is always better with the ML 332.

    I keep these two units side by side and change them out pretty often. The CJ seems to do one thing that the ML 332 doesn't. Kind of hard to explain but I like the way the CJ sounds. I always look forward to putting the Premier 4 back in my system and have no plans to replace it.
    ** If I didn't have the Cj, I would be perfectly happy with the Mark Levinson in everyway.
  • 09-19-2008, 02:01 PM
    cjpremierfour
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    Actually the amp got a pretty good review and the DAC got a great review. The bottom line with VA equipment is that its bare bones without alot of fancy electronics and billeted aluminum face plates. His equipment is audiophile quality at entry level prices. His over head is low because everything is built to order.

    I found an older VA 550 hybrid amp for about $1k. It would cost me about $500 to swap out parts and bring it up to date. Thats one thing thats nice about his equipment. You can send it in for any upgrade when new models come out.

    With that being said, I just found a guy that sells out of his home and he is an authorized Parasound Halo dealer. I'm going to audition the amp in about 7-10 days.

    I think that either choice would be OK. Both the VA and Parasound are great companies that produce quality products. I would definitly go demo the Halo amps before I pulled the trigger. I think that John Curl put his large HCA 2200 amps into a "Class B" in Stereophile ( If you read that kind of junk ) and his Halo's are supposed to be a step above that.
    Good Luck with your choice!
  • 09-19-2008, 05:20 PM
    Mr Peabody
    I know what you mean by the CJ just sounding good, you said almost the same thing as I do. I had Krell before CJ and I can find things the CJ falls short on but It's my preference, it does have something.

    RW, you feel Halo sounds as good or better than Mac? It's been several years since we've had a Parasound dealer here. I thought the Halo may have an edge in current and all that would benefit but Mac would be more "musical". If Halo has improved that much it would be a good value.
  • 09-19-2008, 05:29 PM
    blackraven
    The dealers that I have all talked to say that the Halo is very musical and transparent. I have not read a bad review.
  • 09-19-2008, 07:12 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    RW, you feel Halo sounds as good or better than Mac? It's been several years since we've had a Parasound dealer here. I thought the Halo may have an edge in current and all that would benefit but Mac would be more "musical". If Halo has improved that much it would be a good value.

    Let me be clear that I have not heard these amps compared directly. I am basing this on experience with other models from both companies with which I do have experience. Musical is fine when it is not veiled - which is what I think of most vintage Mac stuff. I have heard John Curl's Parasound JC-1s drive a very tough load indeed - Sound Lab Majestics where they fared very well.

    rw
  • 09-19-2008, 07:40 PM
    Mr Peabody
    That's sort of what I was thinking the Halo would have better drive, I relate Mac to a vintage sound but I don't know if I'd say valed. When listening to Mac though it wasn't side by side anything to contrast it. It could be why I have the impression their processor isn't so good because I did demo it along side an Anthem. I thought the Anthem was better for half the money.

    Another reason I think I have a soft spot for Mac reminds me of how you don't forget your first love. I lived in a small town in my early adult years and worked at a stereo store, the best gear I heard at that time was Carver and upper end Kenwood. I was hanging out in the service department one day and one of the guys brought this beautiful Mac tube amp in, hooked it up and wow, my ears perked up, that had a lasting effect on me.
  • 09-20-2008, 06:05 AM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Another reason I think I have a soft spot for Mac reminds me of how you don't forget your first love. I lived in a small town in my early adult years and worked at a stereo store, the best gear I heard at that time was Carver and upper end Kenwood. I was hanging out in the service department one day and one of the guys brought this beautiful Mac tube amp in, hooked it up and wow, my ears perked up, that had a lasting effect on me.

    I had a similar, but diametrically opposite experience. My first experience was with a C-28 / 2105 driving Bozak Grands. Everything, including a MR-78 and MPI-4 were flush mounted in a wall installation. While the resulting light show from the illuminated wall looked pretty cool, the sound was insipid.

    rw
  • 09-20-2008, 09:55 AM
    Mr Peabody
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I had a similar, but diametrically opposite experience. My first experience was with a C-28 / 2105 driving Bozak Grands. Everything, including a MR-78 and MPI-4 were flush mounted in a wall installation. While the resulting light show from the illuminated wall looked pretty cool, the sound was insipid.

    rw

    And you haven't heard any since to change your mind?
  • 09-20-2008, 12:35 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    And you haven't heard any since to change your mind?

    I've heard some other models since then, but none to change my mind. My VTL / Dynavector / VPI dealer in Atlanta also sells Mac. From a business standpoint, it is a great product line. It has high visibility and appeals to the lights 'n gadgets crowd found especially in the HT market. Which is where they primarily position the offerings. A couple of years back, I spent some extended time there listening to one of their upper preamps with 402s driving one of their line source speakers.

    As I've said before, I find that McIntosh and Cadillac have experienced parallel histories. Both were at the top of the performance game at one time. Then for decades, they significantly lost their direction and went towards gadgets and glitz. That approach seemed to work for a while. Only now have they found their original glory and offer some top level, if not gaudy stuff today.

    The initial reaction of a friend of mine to the new 2300/2301 combo is quite good. Curiously, the preamp has output meters and sports special green backlighting of the tubes. Okie dokey. We understand the target audience.

    rw
  • 09-20-2008, 03:26 PM
    blackraven
    Here's a user review of some of Van Alstines equipment that some may find interesting! Keep in mind, this is based on his 2003 components.

    http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...14156#msg14156
  • 09-21-2008, 03:53 AM
    basite
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I've heard some other models since then, but none to change my mind. My VTL / Dynavector / VPI dealer in Atlanta also sells Mac. From a business standpoint, it is a great product line. It has high visibility and appeals to the lights 'n gadgets crowd found especially in the HT market. Which is where they primarily position the offerings. A couple of years back, I spent some extended time there listening to one of their upper preamps with 402s driving one of their line source speakers.


    While I like Mc products alot, I think they should have stayed away from HT products, SACD/CD players & speakers too. Not that they are bad, but nothing special.

    They should have sticked to amps & preamps only. maybe some multichannel thingies here and there, but mainly stereo.

    Give me an accuphase CD or SACD player everyday over a Mc one.

    but their amps just have something special about them, apart from the fancy blue lights and black glass fronts...

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
  • 09-21-2008, 06:09 PM
    blackraven
    Well I'm pretty sure that I'm going to buy the Van Alstine Fet Valve 550 Hybrid power amp.
    I found a 2004 model that is in excellent condition for $1100. A new one costs $2300.
    Frank Van Alstine said he would update the electronics to the current model and test the unit for $600. This will save me $700. I will also buy his Solid State DAC for about $750. The amp puts out 500wpc at 4 ohms and bridged it puts out 1.1kw's:crazy:

    I'm going back over to Franks house tuesday to bring my Adcom receiver over there to see how its preamp works with the the VA power amp and DAC before I make a final decision. If it doesnt mix well then I will forgo the DAC and purchase the VA preamp.
  • 09-21-2008, 06:13 PM
    Feanor
    Ah!
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    Well I'm pretty sure that I'm going to buy the Van Alstine Fet Valve 550 Hybrid power amp.
    I found a 2004 model that is inexcellent condition for $1100. A new one costs $2300.
    Frank Van Alstine said he would update the electronics to the current model and test the unit for $600. This will save me $700. I will also buy his Solid State DAC for about $750.

    I'm going back over to Franks house tuesday to bring my Adcom receiver over there to see how its preamp works with the the VA power amp and DAC before I make a final decision. If it doesnt mix well then I will forgo the DAC and purchase the VA preamp.

    Methinks you'll want the preamp. (Just a guess.)