What technology is your main amplifier? What brand and model is it and why did you choose it?

What technology is your main amplifier? What brand and model is it and why did you choose it?
70% (182 votes)
21% (55 votes)
5% (13 votes)
3% (8 votes)
1% (3 votes)
Total votes: 261

It's been several decades now since the tube <I>vs</I> solid-state debate began, with no end in site. Now we have some digital (PWM or class-D) contenders. What technology is your main amplifier? What brand and model is it and why did you choose it?

Douglas Bowker's picture

Krell KAVxi4000. Pure class-A. Runs a bit warm, but is powerful, warm-sounding, yet extremely detailed—and never breaks a sweat, no matter what it's playing. I love it for all of the above, and have yet to find anything to find fault with it. It's my first Krell, first class-A amp, too, and I don't think I'd ever go back

Dimitris Gogas's picture

A rather old amp (ie over two years old) from a brand you feature too often. I can't see the reason why I should mention which brand. More grey advertising, perhaps?

Mannie Smith's picture

Solid-state Pass Labs Aleph 3. Read the April '97 review by MK and JA, tried it at home, bought it, and still have it. My speakers have changed from the Avalon Monitors to the more-efficient (94dB) Legacy Audio Victoria LEs, so that now I am even happier with the amplifier.

WalkerTM's picture

I find this debate rather tiresome. Despite my preference for tube gear. I also like well executed solid-state designs. So I do not consider tube gear superior in any way, just different. Since they satisfied my audio tastes the best, I preferred the sonic flavor of tube gear over the solid-state. A pair of VTL-MB450s was what I decided on. Over all, they render instruments with amazing speed and clarity, plus put flesh to vocals. They often times startle me right of the couch, with how accurately they can convey a person's voice. In short, they are lots of fun. Isn't that what this hobby is about?

JC's picture

I have a SimAudio Celeste and I chose it after hearing Simaudio gear paired with Dynaudio speakers at an audio show. I have an old Dynaco tube integrated and I do prefer the sound of the SimAudio, although I am curious to hear the new low distortion electronics and speakers that have been mentioned in this magazine many times lately. I did buy one of those $250 "entry level" speakers that was recently favorably reviewed and the midrange and high frequency detail is beyond what I was expecting. Without a doubt, the differences are audible over speakers designed in the '90s. It's refreshing to know a lot of their resources go directly back into research and development, yet they still manage to offer affordable products. Looks like I now have no choice but to check out their higher end models.

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

AudioNet MAX Amp-2. Solid-state 400W monoblocks. More convinient than tubes and never seems to run out of power. Has a lifelike sound and a low stand-by power (5W). When will John Atkinson start to measure standby power?

Jared Gerlach's picture

I need a jack-of-all- trades amplifier because I'm a (gulp!) videophile as well. While I do use a tube amp sometimes when I'm listening to only music, most of the time an upper-end Yamaha receiver handles the switching and amplification.

Mullard EL34's picture

The vacuum-tube-based Audio Research D-76A (mildly tweaked) is the primary power-amplifier in my two-channel music system. The D-76A still holds "place-of-pride" in the music systems because it is still the best amplifier I've heard at delivering the complete gestalt of the music. Armed with the new Genalex "Gold Lion" KT88's, a reproduction of the classic tube (now produced in Russia), the D-76A is a phenomenally musical device.

PW's picture

QUAD 606. It just does everything right via its current dumping design—finesse and power. In it's (and my) price range, there is nothing to touch it.

TK Kearney's picture

Manley Stingray. I was looking for my first tube amp and wanted something I could afford (rationally). I listened to several at Deja Vu in Virginia. Nothing came close to the Stingray within twice the price.

Thomasthetankengine's picture

Dynamic Precision. (The company was recently bought by the owners of Electrocompaniet. Their amps will most likely be sold world wide in the future.) The slightly cheesy sounding name really says it all. It's very powerful, and almost cynical in its honesty. If you love your records, this is the one. If you're into the HIFI thing, you might find happiness elsewhere.

Joe Hartmann's picture

I have had the pleasure of listening to my Audio Research VT 100 MkII for the last 8 years. I still own and use a NYAL Futterman OTL 4( 25 years), so I am not the type to change on a whim.

Jim Dandy's picture

My power amp is the Music Reference RM9 MKII. I was a "valve convert" back in the 1990s after an associate brought over a '70s vintage power amp to compare with my newly acquired solid-state amp. I liked what tubes did to the sound! Shortly afterwards I learned of the Music Reference RM 9 from reviews in Stereophile and from a demo at a regional dealer. I decided to buy the amp after an in store demo. HOWEVER, my current thinking is to continue with my tubed pre-amp...the Audiable Illusions Modulus 3A, and replace my trusty RM9 with a moderate output solid state power amp from Classe',Plinius or Ayre. The reason for this is my recent purchase of the Totem Acoustic Forrest speaker system and my new listening room. I think a quality solid state would better control and extend the lower bass and eliminate the need for a subwoofer... I'd prefer not having a subwoofer in my system. HOWEVEER, if my speaker system were cabable of strong, clean bass response down to about 25HZ in my room, I'd stick with the M9.

Neil D.'s picture

Audio Reasearch VS110. Purchased to replace an "old" tube amp. I chose it based on a demo and favourable reviews.

EP's picture

I went back in time for this one, Conrad-Johnson Premier 1. Chosen for the sheer authority and finesse, not to mention the rated output of 200W per channel. Beautiful amp, even after all these years.

Dennis's picture

Innersound 2000W amps & crossover/bass amp. One amp for electrostatic panels and a crossover/amp for the transmission line woofer. I chose them for their transparancy, dynamics, and slam, but, above all, integration and compatibility with Innersound's preamp and electrostatic panels. The combination, to me, is seamless, transparent, offers an incredible soundstage and brings the music into my dedicated room via FM, vinyl, and CD sources.

scott higgins's picture

ARC VT100 Mk3

macksman's picture

Ayre. V-3. I got it years ago at a reduced rate via demo sale by a dealer later proven to me to be unscrupulous. In no way does that lessen my satisfaction with the amp. It punches way above its weight class. I have thought the replacement would be high powered and tubed. The Audio Research hybrid has changed that and will be the replacement.

EG's picture

I have Halcro monoblocks that give me the relaxed presentation, incredible soundstage, and maintenance-free use I desire. They have cured me of upgrade frenzy.

David Greensburg, PA's picture

McIntosh MA 6900 SS Integrated—200 clean watts, minimal connects, I want it to be my last amp—but then?

JoeL's picture

Tandberg 2055 and Marantz SR48 MKII—because they sound good to me.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

If I'm going to all the trouble of playing vinyl, why wouldn't I do tubes? The best needs the best! Class-D is solid-state done cheap and sounds like it. Hybrid, SS outputs and tube inputs is the worst of both worlds. If you like the sound of tubes (who doesn't?), they need to be driving your speakers; otherwise you're hearing solid-state. You're fooling only yourself.

Jim G.'s picture

ARC VT100 MkIII, I had never spent more than $500 for an amplifier before. I really wanted the best sound and the longest life span I could get spending this much money. I chose ARC based on their reputation of build quality, sound quality , and support of their equipment. I couldn't be happier. Visitors comment on the sound,"I've never heard music sound this good!", and then say, " I thought all amplifiers are supposed to sound alike". Lots of people, it seems, think that speakers are the only thing that contribute to sound quality.

Mike Agee's picture

My current amp is a McIntosh MA6900 integrated; solid-state, yes, but with a definite nod to tubes. For the sake of simplicity I gave up 300B SET amps for bi-amping while we rehab our house (which includes a dedicated music room), but as good as the Mac sounds, my imagination goes back to tubes all the time. As soon as the room is complete and the money catches up, it's back to bi-amping with tubes on the mids and top. In my experience such levels of liquidity, involvement, and depth of stage are unique to tubes.

Nodaker's picture

I have a Bel Canto EV04 which is a tripath-based digital amplifier and I chose it because it sounds great, eats little electricity, has zero warm-up time (cause I can always leave it on) and has the power to move the woofers of my B&W 801s. The only thing that might get me to change would be a great deal on a pair of hearty tube mono blocks. I have had the solid-state and digital, but have not tried tubes on the amp end. I have had a tube-based preamp and have opted for solid-state, but that's not the question here. It's just fun to try it all.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

I use a McIntosh MC-6500 integrated amplifier, and I never even thought of purchasing tube equipment. To put it bluntly, solid-state sounds better, and within my budget, it's a lot more tolerant of of different speaker loads. Case closed.

Stephen's picture

McIntosh 6102 and five-channel. Tried and true for 40 years.

Perry Noblett's picture

Monarchy Audio SM 70pro.MOSFET used as monoblocks. Chosen because of the great things I read from users/reviewers. JA look at CC Poon's stuff!

sammy's picture

BAT VK250 with BAT pack. My CD player and preamp have tubes. I felt that the amp complemented these well and had the power to drive my speakers.

Brankin's picture

Audiolab 8000S. Because Sam said it was good! It met my power needs, doesn't get in the way of the music, is versatile as heck, was sold at a local audio dealer and is as reliable 10 years later as it was on day one!