Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    111

    Who are dark horses in power amps-minus the hype.

    Hey guys,
    Are there any no-nonsense high-current power amps out there in the 1100$ range which will sound similar to the amps from plinius, mc cormack, MF etc.? I have been looking at amps in this range from rotel and nad. I do not like them much. Rotel is bright and loses composure at high volumes. Nad is decent but not refined enough for me to get connected emotionally to the music. There is something unruly about their sound and it loses out on inner details. I liked the plinuis SA 102. Man it is just heavenly listening to this one especially in class A mode. Very analogue, Fast, punchy, natural and powerful. Now I guess you know what I am looking for. I know there is no free meal in audio. But I have seen very good products in loudspeakers made by smaller players which competes very well or even betters some high-end speakers from very big brands. I am hunting for something similar in power amps. Who are the dark horses ? who makes real good stuff minus the hype? I dont mind small players. It should be SS and should be around a 100 watts/high current per channel. I may change my dynaudio to proac studio 130 speakers in the near future.
    I was thinking of exposure power amps. Any thoughts ? I am based in Asia right now.

  2. #2
    RGA
    RGA is offline
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    5,539
    Class A sounding better is not a surprise -- now go to tubes class A of the Single ended or SET variety and that same improvement you heard from class A/B to class A will be there way more going to SE and then to SET. Unfortunately doing so results in a lot less power. Thatl's fine though -- get a speaker that can make the 10 watter sound as if you're putting in 300watts.

    Good solid state amplifiers that are in League with MF -- To me that;s an oxymoron because MF isn't even listenable to me.

  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    London, Ontario
    Posts
    8,127

    I hear you!!

    I don't think you'll find what you're looking for among the likes of NAD, Rotel, Cambridge or Adcom. Maybe Parasound Halo or Outlaw would be a step up, but I'm really not sure. Here are links, though ...
    Unfortunately I think you budget is a bit skimpy for getting any real improvement over what these guys have to offer.

    Tubes are increasingly the weird option; anything in your price/power range is going to be well over your budget anyway. But less and less weird are the "digital" amplifiers. I personally would love to check out these ICEpower-driven amps:
    I'm pretty sure the former is in your range, maybe the latter too. In the somewhat more expensive range are integrated or power "digitals" from PS Audio and Bel Canto; these are would be a very significant step up from the NAD, Rotel, etcs.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    111
    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Class A sounding better is not a surprise -- now go to tubes class A of the Single ended or SET variety and that same improvement you heard from class A/B to class A will be there way more going to SE and then to SET. Unfortunately doing so results in a lot less power. Thatl's fine though -- get a speaker that can make the 10 watter sound as if you're putting in 300watts.

    Good solid state amplifiers that are in League with MF -- To me that;s an oxymoron because MF isn't even listenable to me.
    Hey RGA,
    I liked the MF AC3R power amp. But it was fed by an Audio research SP16 Tube preamplifier. The sound with the stock pre was grainy and etchy to say the least. I am going the tube pre route anyway. Can you describe your experience with MF ?
    Thanks Feanor,
    I’ll try and listen to parasound halo. Digital amps sounds scary to me. I have not heard any, so I reserve my comments. My intention is to travel far away from the digital glare and harshness usually associated with cds by having a tube pre and a very analogue and natural sounding power amp. Will a digital amp help here ?

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    London, Ontario
    Posts
    8,127

    Worth a try for sure

    Quote Originally Posted by hertz
    ...
    Thanks Feanor,
    I’ll try and listen to parasound halo. Digital amps sounds scary to me. I have not heard any, so I reserve my comments. My intention is to travel far away from the digital glare and harshness usually associated with cds by having a tube pre and a very analogue and natural sounding power amp. Will a digital amp help here ?
    By their nature "digital" (a.k.a. switching) amps don't have notch distortion and typically their designs don't employ global feedback -- these things are the oft-quoted technical reasons for bad solid state sound. Models from PS Audio and Bel Canto have received Stereophile "Class A" ratings -- for what that might be worth.

    There's no reason why you couldn't combine a tube pre and a digital power amp. You get the filtering action of tubes, (to get rid of CD nasties), and the power, range, and clarity of the digital -- could be a heck of a combo.

    I'd try to stretch my budget to include a PS Audio power amp ...

  6. #6
    Audio Hobbyist Since 1969 Glen B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    517
    Audio by Van Alstine (AVA) is an often overlooked manufacturer of good, affordable products.

    http://www.avahifi.com/root/equipmen...rison_grid.htm

  7. #7
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    111

    Thanks guys

    I guess the PS audio HCA and even the odyssey stratos looks promising. What do you guys think about the orginal sunfire ? Guys at the AA say they could be had for around 1k$ in used market.

  8. #8
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717
    Quote Originally Posted by hertz
    Digital amps sounds scary to me. I have not heard any, so I reserve my comments. My intention is to travel far away from the digital glare and harshness usually associated with cds by having a tube pre and a very analogue and natural sounding power amp. Will a digital amp help here ?
    Very much so. Don't let the word "digital" conjure any preconceived notions of what it should sound like. Consider that ICEpower topologies are employed by Jeff Rowland, PSA, and this little tube firm that you may have heard of; ARC. Do you think the guys at ARC would utilize this technology if it was wildly different from their famous house sound?

    I guess the PS audio HCA and even the odyssey stratos looks promising. What do you guys think about the orginal sunfire ? Guys at the AA say they could be had for around 1k$ in used market.
    Read my review on the HCA2 and you'll find that I did a blind, level matched comparo between the Stratos and the HCA2. After an afternoon of comparing the two, the differences were readily apparent to both myself and the owner of the Stratos, although neither of us new which amp was which. Our findings were that the Stratos is the epitome of SS sound; deep, controlled bass, extended, somewhat sibilant highs, and precise microdynamics. The HCA2 is much more like tubes; sweet and airy treble, liquid smooth mids with better body and space to vocals. The area where the HCA2 departs from tubes is the bass, which has to be heard to be believed. Think lightening speed and control combined with the depth and weight of the big Krells. It's astonishing.
    Here are some reviews:
    http://www.stereophile.com//amplific...729/index.html
    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue9/hca2.htm
    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...er-6-2002.html

    As for the Sunfire, I've never been a huge fan of Bob Carver's sound. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o' tea.

    Hope this helps.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    111

    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Very much so. Don't let the word "digital" conjure any preconceived notions of what it should sound like. Consider that ICEpower topologies are employed by Jeff Rowland, PSA, and this little tube firm that you may have heard of; ARC. Do you think the guys at ARC would utilize this technology if it was wildly different from their famous house sound?

    Read my review on the HCA2 and you'll find that I did a blind, level matched comparo between the Stratos and the HCA2. After an afternoon of comparing the two, the differences were readily apparent to both myself and the owner of the Stratos, although neither of us new which amp was which. Our findings were that the Stratos is the epitome of SS sound; deep, controlled bass, extended, somewhat sibilant highs, and precise microdynamics. The HCA2 is much more like tubes; sweet and airy treble, liquid smooth mids with better body and space to vocals. The area where the HCA2 departs from tubes is the bass, which has to be heard to be believed. Think lightening speed and control combined with the depth and weight of the big Krells. It's astonishing.
    Here are some reviews:
    http://www.stereophile.com//amplific...729/index.html
    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue9/hca2.htm
    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...er-6-2002.html

    As for the Sunfire, I've never been a huge fan of Bob Carver's sound. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o' tea.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks topspeed.
    Looks like I need to check out the HCA2…….:-))

  10. #10
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    53
    Odyssey Audio built around the world class Symphony amps from Germany simply the best amps you can get for the money and as added bonous theyll dust off ,most popular ultra affordable amps check it out www.odysseyaudio.com

  11. #11
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    3,326
    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    .
    Here are some reviews:
    http://www.stereophile.com//amplific...729/index.html
    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue9/hca2.htm
    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...er-6-2002.html

    As for the Sunfire, I've never been a huge fan of Bob Carver's sound. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o' tea.

    Hope this helps.
    I've been through 4 amps to get to nirvana, and the HCA-2 is staying right where it is!
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  12. #12
    The Collector
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Springfield, MA
    Posts
    331
    outlaw all the way if you want to stay in the home amp category, or the crown k2 if you dont mind the fact that it is slightly ugly

  13. #13
    nightflier
    Guest

    Hca-2

    I'll second what everyone here has said about the HCA-2. I have compared it to everything in the under $1500 range from Adcom, Outlaw, Parasound, and whatever I could get my hands on (albeit not Odyssey). For a mere $750 straight from PS Audio (purchased B-Stock), there simply was nothing else out there that could compare.

    I did prefer my B&K 4420 amp better, but that was not the case with everyone else that auditioned the amps with me. Most of my friends prefer the HCA-2. I tend to like a warm sounding amp, so the B&K was more to my liking. If you're like me, you might want to add B&K to your list. Their higher end amps are a very good value. Second hand, they do fall into your price range.

    But I certainly still have the HCA-2. I use it for a pair of hard-to-drive speakers and it does very well in that capacity. I would say that Outlaw's 200W monoblocks are an incredible value. At $300 new, $250 B-stock, they are a bargain. Not as capable as the HCA-2 overall, but I think I just lucked out with that one. The HCA-2 sells for around $800 used, but that's if you can find it. I think there is one on Audiogon (http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1131841523) for $790 obo. That sounds like a good deal. PS Audio's newer amps, the GCC/GCA line are also excellent amps, but they are quite pricey.

  14. #14
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    RE: Outlaw -
    Ya know...I'm maybe in the minority here, I've only heard the M-blocks and some 5-channel HT amplifier by Outlaw, but they certainly didn't sound any better than the likes of NAD, Rotel, Adcom, Parasound, etc to me...And they wouldn't have been my first choice. Didn't sound bad at all, but nothing revolutionary. These guys get a lot of internet hype though. Lots of power and good performance for not bad money, I guess. Supposedly great to deal with. Word of mouth really is the most powerful advertising tool.

    FWIW I think PS Audio is a small standout among these names so far...a bit better sound, and not nearly as expensive as the next step up. But, then again, I'm a guy who really likes Rotel and Adcom stuff, so what do I know?

  15. #15
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    2

    Try the "Beast"

    I highly recommend to check this tiny company out:

    Søren Bertram - Bertram Audio
    Lundevej 33 - 4800 Nykøbing F.
    tel: (0045) 54 82 24 45
    Mail: bertrams@mail.dk
    www.audiokabel.dk

    I have just purchased one of his amps based on the IcePower ASP 1000.
    Simply amazing and for a price that is 50% of all other IcePower products and at least 5-10 times less than Jeff Rowland (same guts)

    I spoke to other 3 customers before buying and all of them are extremely happy and they are all high end kind of guys...

    Mik

  16. #16
    nightflier
    Guest

    Ghost or Beast?

    Mik63,

    I can't figure out the Danish. Did you get the Ghost or the Beast amp? Or did he build you a custom unit. Anyhow, what do these amps compare? Watts/THD/Price? Can you fill us in?

  17. #17
    RIT
    RIT is offline
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    5
    In the used market you can still pickup a Sherbourn 5/1500 for around $1000.00.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Western Australia
    Posts
    63
    To RGA-aka Dalek Breath

    These guys will never get it but keep up the effort.They will probably never get to hear the magic of valves in combination with simple efficient speakers and as I have said in another posting are power and power amp obsessed.If they own planar type speakers this is probably justifiable however.
    Some of the digital type amps are actually pretty good however.They have exposed just how wrong transistor amps are.They still don't have the timbral and vibrancy appeal of valves but in combination with a really good valve preamp that has speed and snap[most don't],they have a lot to offer.

    JT
    Last edited by jtgofish; 02-04-2006 at 05:42 PM.

  19. #19
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    6
    I am currently considering the Outlaw mono's, along with the 970 pre.
    The site quotes 5xM200 amps at 1220usd.
    Thats 242 bucks apiece, and THAT is looking like a pretty good deal.
    I partially like the power, partially the look and especially the pride of ownership angle.
    Interconnects can be pricey, but I make my own from manufacturers roll stock, mislabelled, so cheap, and solder on jacks with silver solder.

    Not sold yet, as coming across the border bumps up the price considerably, but a nice tax refund might seal the deal.

    Any thoughts on the 970 or 990 preamps?

    Thanks

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Confused about dB's, Sensitivity....
    By joel2762 in forum Home Theater/Video
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 11-25-2009, 06:41 AM
  2. First experience with power conditioning
    By Mr Peabody in forum Cables
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 06-20-2006, 08:09 AM
  3. Question about using external power amps in 5.1
    By kexodusc in forum General Audio
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-22-2004, 08:25 AM
  4. Seeking advice on power amps
    By es345athotmail in forum Amps/Preamps
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 02-02-2004, 06:10 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •