• 01-25-2004, 05:25 PM
    es345athotmail
    Seeking advice on power amps
    Hello,

    I am looking for advice on stereo power amps. I am searching for a solid-state power amp with the following characteristics:

    1. Accuracy, precision, definition, detail
    2. Geared toward the mid- and high-end of the frequency range (weak bass OK)
    3. Cold, clinical sound; I do not want an amp which tries to be “musical” or emulate the sound of a tube amp.
    4. 70-300 watts
    5. Price range: under $2000.00

    Example: I want to be able to hear each distinct and shimmering note of a chord strummed on an acoustic guitar in a busy rock song crowded with other instruments and be able to tell what gauge pick is being used. I cannot do this with my McIntosh MC-240 (tube) or MC-2205 (solid state) amps, but, surprisingly, my old 30 watt Harman-Kardon receiver (solid state) gets me pretty close.
  • 01-25-2004, 06:06 PM
    Geoffcin
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by es345athotmail
    Hello,

    I am looking for advice on stereo power amps. I am searching for a solid-state power amp with the following characteristics:

    1. Accuracy, precision, definition, detail
    2. Geared toward the mid- and high-end of the frequency range (weak bass OK)
    3. Cold, clinical sound; I do not want an amp which tries to be “musical” or emulate the sound of a tube amp.
    4. 70-300 watts
    5. Price range: under $2000.00

    Example: I want to be able to hear each distinct and shimmering note of a chord strummed on an acoustic guitar in a busy rock song crowded with other instruments and be able to tell what gauge pick is being used. I cannot do this with my McIntosh MC-240 (tube) or MC-2205 (solid state) amps, but, surprisingly, my old 30 watt Harman-Kardon receiver (solid state) gets me pretty close.

    I think you should stick with old low wattage receivers.
  • 01-25-2004, 10:03 PM
    RGA
    1. Accuracy, precision, definition, detail

    You can get all of that with the right tube amp and the right speakers.

    Without knowing your speakers I can't help. I can guess that Bryston would be a good bet with most speakers.
  • 01-26-2004, 03:07 AM
    manek
    NAD C272 Stereo Power Amplifier
    NAD S300 Stereo Integrated Amplifier

    will give you all you want and more.....make sure your speakers are upto it.

    manek.
  • 01-26-2004, 05:05 AM
    skeptic
    The reason you cannot do this with your McIntosh amplifiers IMO is that both have output transformers. Even your solid state unit has one. It is this element which in large part gives tube amplifiers their characteristic sound which some call warm and I call unclear, indistinct, and a little boomy. This would certainly mask transients which give percussive musical sounds their clarity. Transistor amplifiers which do NOT have a transformer usually don't sound this way although some manufacturers go to great lengths to slightly skew the frequency response to make them sound a little more like they do. One inexpensive unit to consider is an old Crown DC300 or DC300A. These should be available used for no more than a couple of hundred bucks, are extremely reliable, and put out a clear powerful signal, about 175 wpc.
  • 01-26-2004, 07:37 AM
    bturk667
    Give these a listen.
    Musical Fidelity A3.2 cr: $1795 150 wpc
    McCormack DNA-125: $1695 125 wpc
    Marsh Sound Design A200S: $1495 120 wpc

    I think you'll find all to your liking, at least by what you specified.
  • 01-26-2004, 09:09 AM
    jbangelfish
    I'll agree with all the advice except
    I don't like receivers, period. Good boat anchors and not much else from what I've heard. I'm sure there are some good ones out there but I think it was RGA who said to take their power rating and reduce it to 1/5 and then compare it thusly to separates. Maybe your old HK is a cut above most of them, I have no idea. Skep has mentioned some that were better than others and I'm sure he would know. Still, I'll pick good separates every time and have done so for nearly 30 years. The fact that you hear better detail with your 30wpc HK might indicate that you don't need very much power and would not need to spend alot to get some quality power. I'd still check into what your speakers are rated for.
    We don't know what speakers you are trying to drive and this would certainly make a difference in what you are looking for. I'm a big believer in matching the right amplification with the right speakers and in giving them what they can take. Many like to disagree with this but in my opinion, it's the only way to get the most out of your speaker system. Someone said matching components went out with super low distortion, well, I like super low distortion and good speakers should give a very realistic power handling figure which is determined by the manufacturer of the drivers in the system. After that, it's simple math.
    Bturk gave some new suggestions which I'm sure would all be good choices and someone else mentioned NAD which should also be fine. You could save alot of money by looking at used Adcom, Rotel, Parasound, Crown (DC300A or studio reference), Bryston, Threshold and probably many others. There are alot of very powerful used amps available for under $1,000.
    Bill
  • 01-26-2004, 05:45 PM
    bturk667
    Have you heard the new SST Bryston's. They are on the warm side now, not the cool side like the old ST's.
  • 01-27-2004, 01:12 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by es345athotmail
    I am looking for advice on stereo power amps. I am searching for a solid-state power amp with the following characteristics:.

    What kind of speakers do you use? I would suggest choosing an amp that is a good match for the particular load it will be asked to drive.

    rw
  • 01-29-2004, 03:02 PM
    Express
    Brystons should be auditioned for what you're after..
    Grab a Bryston 3BSST. I don't know what you're using for speakers but the Bryston will pump out plenty of bass too.
  • 01-29-2004, 04:48 PM
    Geoffcin
    You guys don't get it. The post was a troll. Nobody who owns two rare classic Macs would prefer the sound of his crappy old receiver.
  • 01-29-2004, 06:14 PM
    RGA
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    You guys don't get it. The post was a troll. Nobody who owns two rare classic Macs would prefer the sound of his crappy old receiver.

    If the McIntosh is Solid State then lots of people consider them to be total rubbish. UHF Magazine considers McIntosh SS amps poorly designed.

    HK like many companies used to build good amplifiers...unlike SOME of the dreck they sell today. Tube amplifiers can have output transformers that sound quite nice as well but require a bit of effort when matching with speakers. Generally though I would prefer SS as a power amp, tubes for preamps or integrateds. Exceptions abound.

    The proof is in the sound. Not everyone agrees on subjective issues.
  • 01-29-2004, 08:24 PM
    grampi
    This question may be slightly off topic, but I see many people making statements claiming amps built years ago are better than amps built today. Is this true, and if so, why? One would think today's technology would make new amps better.
  • 01-29-2004, 09:17 PM
    bturk667
    The SST sound warmer than the old ST's.
  • 01-29-2004, 10:58 PM
    RGA
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by grampi
    This question may be slightly off topic, but I see many people making statements claiming amps built years ago are better than amps built today. Is this true, and if so, why? One would think today's technology would make new amps better.

    It can. Krell, Roksan etc. However, there really isn't anything new. Take Sugden. The A21a came out in 1968. It was a 10 watt Solid state amp that could drive most all speakers very well and loudly. Then when technological advancements were made to capacitors resistors and the materials Sugden in 1989 was able to increase the watts BECAUSE the new materials could take more heat. Class A amps run VERY hot. The amp has remained unchanged since 1989 and now sports 25Watts pure class A and can run pretty much any 87db or higher speaker with aplomb. Great design sells well and is basically very similar to the 1968 version from a design standpoint. Hi-fi Choice, What Hi-Fi, Stereophile have all stated that it's the best SOUNDING amplifier available in it's $1500-$2000.00US price range. You will have to have sensitive speakers and preferably nothing that is too ineficient(Ie; above 3ohms).

    Trouble is new amps are a LOT more expensive to keep the same build quality. So they cheap out on the parts whether it is for shipping costs(weight) or because of market pressure...lot more competition today. Even YBA makes a cheaper version of their amps in the Far East instead of France called Audio Refinement. Bbasically the same amp as their $2500.00YBA is made in the Far East using all YBA parts and case but called Audio Refinement and the amp is called the "Complete" and sells for $995US.

    This applies to anything Audio equipment wise. Lots of people think the B&W Matrix series in the 1980s was and is superior to the new Nautilus line. Look at all the yube amp manufacturers sprouting up - it's not JUST some retro hype because some of this stuff is selling very very well and is practically becoming mainstream...Jolida and Antique Sound Labs are each at several high end dealers in Vancouver. Neither are exactly re-inventing the world of tubes but they are using modern technology to make them more beefy than they had been say in the 70s. In fact a lot of them exhibit NO characteristics of mush and thanks will do just find with Aerosmith or a full scale symphony. However that is going to be speaker dependant.

    For instance here is a review in blind auditions of the brand spanking new Bryston B60R integrated VS the Sugden A21a (designed in 1989 and really designed in 1968) and both selling right now.

    Bryston B60R http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=2745
    Sugden http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=1933
  • 01-29-2004, 11:31 PM
    topspeed
    Cold and clinical? Whatever, they're your ears...
    Check out the Odyssey Stratos. Terrific in the microdynamics imo, and presents a sound that seems to match your preferences.
  • 01-30-2004, 07:26 AM
    Bill L
    What you describe is my exact impression of the Audio Research D-200. You can find a used one here. http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/srch_fs.pl
    Just search for Audio Research.
  • 01-30-2004, 08:40 AM
    jbangelfish
    I agree completely with RGA
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by grampi
    This question may be slightly off topic, but I see many people making statements claiming amps built years ago are better than amps built today. Is this true, and if so, why? One would think today's technology would make new amps better.

    It's not that they don't make good ones today, it's just that they cost quite a bit. And some excellent amps were made quite a long time ago and many of them can be bought at very reasonable prices. If you buy a new inexpensive amp, I really doubt that you will get the performance from it that you would if you bought an old one for the same price. The used pieces that I have purchased have cost me less than 50% of their new cost and some as low as 15%. They all work just fine and I'll probably always buy used amps or preamps if I need one. The last brand new amp and preamp that I bought was in 1975 and both are still working, my son uses them every day. I'm sure that it would cost several thousand dollars to buy a new amp that is built as well as the old DC300A and this is why myself and some others would consider them a tremendous bargain for $300 or less. Yes, they are old and nobody can tell you how long they will last. My son hopes forever and who knows?
    Bill
  • 01-30-2004, 08:36 PM
    grampi
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jbangelfish
    It's not that they don't make good ones today, it's just that they cost quite a bit. And some excellent amps were made quite a long time ago and many of them can be bought at very reasonable prices. If you buy a new inexpensive amp, I really doubt that you will get the performance from it that you would if you bought an old one for the same price. The used pieces that I have purchased have cost me less than 50% of their new cost and some as low as 15%. They all work just fine and I'll probably always buy used amps or preamps if I need one. The last brand new amp and preamp that I bought was in 1975 and both are still working, my son uses them every day. I'm sure that it would cost several thousand dollars to buy a new amp that is built as well as the old DC300A and this is why myself and some others would consider them a tremendous bargain for $300 or less. Yes, they are old and nobody can tell you how long they will last. My son hopes forever and who knows?
    Bill

    Can these old amps be repaired if needed without it being prohibitively expensive?
  • 02-01-2004, 05:27 PM
    Mr Peabody
    You said power amp but I didn't see you mention which preamp you were going to use. Your description of what you are looking for is exactly what people say when they try to dis Krell. Except no one can deny the powerful and accurate bass response of a Krell. You could possibly find one used for under $2k. They have a new integrated at $2,500. that is supposed to be killer for the money. If your budget can't go Krell, then I would suggest Arcam. Not nearly as powerful as Krell or Bryston but Arcam is extremely detailed and fast. Any of these 3 will rock. Although Audio Research or Odyssey may be good sounding amps, I don't think they are quite what you are looking for. You might find a good deal at www.spearitsound.com. Look under the "used/demo" link. They carry several high end lines and are knowledable. I saw a Bryston 3b on there not so long ago. They usually have some Krell. I've seen some Creek on there as well, not in the league with Krell or Bryston but would certainly not be a bad choice.
  • 02-01-2004, 05:52 PM
    jbangelfish
    Yes, can be repaired
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by grampi
    Can these old amps be repaired if needed without it being prohibitively expensive?

    My old Crown was in the shop for the first time last year at a cost of $125 (and this included a $35 bench test), needed a couple of transistors and a solder to reconnect something that had gotten loose. Certainly well worth the money. I can't say enough good things about this old amp to do it justice. I'm sure it would compare with any amp of it's power rating to a cost of 2 or 3k that you would buy new today. I'm not kidding when I say this and your questions elsewhere about PA amps, my take is that although they have the power, they often will have much higher and audible distortion ratings. The DC300A is one of the cleanest true workhorses that has ever been built to date and at $200 or $300 is truly a steal.
    Bill
  • 02-01-2004, 07:14 PM
    E-Stat
    1 Attachment(s)
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Except no one can deny the powerful and accurate bass response of a Krell. You could possibly find one used for under $2k.

    You may find it interesting that HP recently replaced the Krell monoblocks he was using to drive the Alon woofer towers with Innersound ESL amps. Although I have yet to hear the new configuration, he tells me that the bass is improved. The Krells were originally recommended by Carl Marchisotto for use with his Grand Exoticas. There may be a new king of the bass hill in town.


    rw
  • 02-01-2004, 07:26 PM
    mtrycraft
    I didn't think I would ever agree with E-stat on anything but I do on this.

    Your request is all controlle dby the speakers, and to some extent your room. And, I think your expectations may be a bit too high, to tell what ga of string is used.
  • 02-01-2004, 07:52 PM
    Beckman
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by es345athotmail
    Hello,

    I am looking for advice on stereo power amps. I am searching for a solid-state power amp with the following characteristics:

    1. Accuracy, precision, definition, detail
    2. Geared toward the mid- and high-end of the frequency range (weak bass OK)
    3. Cold, clinical sound; I do not want an amp which tries to be “musical” or emulate the sound of a tube amp.
    4. 70-300 watts
    5. Price range: under $2000.00

    Example: I want to be able to hear each distinct and shimmering note of a chord strummed on an acoustic guitar in a busy rock song crowded with other instruments and be able to tell what gauge pick is being used. I cannot do this with my McIntosh MC-240 (tube) or MC-2205 (solid state) amps, but, surprisingly, my old 30 watt Harman-Kardon receiver (solid state) gets me pretty close.

    What kind of speakers do you have? Spending $2000 on a new pair of speakers might give you better results than buying a new amp.
  • 02-02-2004, 06:10 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    I didn't think I would ever agree with E-stat on anything but I do on this.

    There may be hope for me yet ! :)

    rw