DomT

'Cake and eat it' amplifier please!

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Super Wammer

This is a half serious enquiry in that I might just buy a new amp if something exists as reasonable costs.  

I am wondering if I can have my cake and eat it or if the two amp worlds that I think exist are mutually exclusive. A limitation may well be my speakers Harbeth SHL5.  In comparison to my former Wilson Benesch Curves the Curves were substantially more revealing of amplifier differences but I am not prepared to change my speakers.  My question comes from my experiences at home with Luxman L505uX mk2 and Marantz PM11S2. They are both great amps but are quite different; equally good. I would like a combo of the two and would love to know if this is possible. Both amps do music and not just sound.  I know that is hifi bollocks wording but hopefully you know what I mean. I have no interest in soundstage, imaging and hifi stuff especially as I don't listen to a lot of classical music.

PM11S2 does better leading edges of notes and definition.  This means that instruments with percussive attack sound more real; classical piano sounds more like piano. The bass notes also go lower and have more punch.

The Luxman (and Quad 909) have a 'sweeter' sound.  It is a fuller, smoother sound.  The bass on the Luxman does not go as deep as the Marantz and on certain tracks the bass guitar on the Luxman has more 'bounce' probably because it is not reaching as deeply and this is great for funk.

Does an amp exist at reasonable money to get all of these virtues? It must be an integrated SS amp (might be open to an integrated w valve pre/SS power) I have done ARC mega tube amps in the past and don't want to go back there.  I might be prepared to spend up to £5k and happy to go secondhand as new might be asking too much.

Completely open to ideas as I have not visited this area for a long time. Just to say that I did hear the Marantz PM10 a few years ago at home (with SA10) as I was desperate to buy it and didn't think it any better than PM11S2. Also had the NuVista 600 or 800 (can't remember) at home but it didn't do the leading edges as well as PM11 S2 - it was just big and warm.  I don't need phono stage or DAC but I would need a tape loop. Not sure about Class D as I have not heard that many but didn't like any of them.

Many thanks

Dom

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Super Wammer

I have only heard this once and at a show so less than ideal but it was very musically impressive which is not what most brands want at shows so was ignored by many as it was not in your face impressive but rather quite natural and unforced which I think is what you are going for . I am told Elite Audio are a decent dealer and you may well be able to get a home demo .

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mark-Levinson-5805-Integrated-Amplifier-RRP-8000/254546011347?hash=item3b441fe4d3:g:tt4AAOSwDIFedKYa

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Super Wammer

Dom, as a Class-D amp owner I don't think this is what you're looking for. If I were to generalise I'd say they tend to be pretty neutral and revealing, certainly not "sweet" or "cuddly". Plenty of drive and control, and good for articulating the leading-edge stuff you were mentioning to give shape to the notes, but without additional warmth. As an ex-WB Curve owner myself I'm familiar with their revealing nature and I would imagine my Gato would have been a nightmare with them, too much of a good thing! That said, my amp isn't emotionally-retarded, it does the musical communication thing well, but without putting rose-tints on.

So something that has drive, control and agility (for the definition and "bounce" you're seeking) combined with an easy-going, communicative mid and (presumably) top end. I think your Harbies are a relatively benign load, although not overly sensitive? So I'm wondering if the right sort of all-valve amp might fit the bill, a big 845 or similar. How about something like a Unison Research S6 or (if the budget permits) an S8? 

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mmm wonder if a 507 or 509 might do it , the 509 in classifieds is sadly over budget though at 6k [hi fi for sale] 

interesting you liked the pm 10 which is class D if i am not mistaken 

i am always trying to get audio nirvana with speakers and amps , currently got a class d bel canto ref 500s which has the purest  sound , very captivating but man its fussy with old recordings. certainly my old lalo shifrin film cd`s are slightly forward with it , but rodrigo y gabriela is incredibly addictive ... the air and sense of presence is quite spellbinding . i am coming to the conclusion there is no perfect amp 

2 weeks ago i had the silbatone hybrid valve which would have sounded unbelievable with the shl5plus [ having had these speakers ] but its 5k over budget 

deggie on here loves the unison hybrid and i have heard with the shl5plus annes and it was excellent , well within budget 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Unison-Research-Unico-90-Hybrid-Valve-Amplifier-in-Silver/383344072070?hash=item5941165586:g:PTIAAOSw3vpeCIEN  

of course alan uses hegel at the shows and the 360 or the 390  may be worth a demo , within your budget and gets great reviews although never heard one myself at home 

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I would remind you of the Norma amp I recommended to you a while ago. The Norma is exceptional, IMO. You might bag a new one with a bit of haggling, certainly an ex dem or used.

http://www.normaudio.com/normaudio/en/prodotti/revo-ipa-140/

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)

Audio innovations series 500, plus money left over to upgrade Signal Valves and buy more beautiful music...

(I might be a bit biased) 🔌💡😍

Edited by Monitor Gold Ten

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heard good things about Gato 150 .... was thinking about this but went for Luxman 550AX2 instead ... but if you dont like the Luxman sound (although mine is A class)

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21 minutes ago, simon g said:

I would remind you of the Norma amp I recommended to you a while ago. The Norma is exceptional, IMO. You might bag a new one with a bit of haggling, certainly an ex dem or used.

http://www.normaudio.com/normaudio/en/prodotti/revo-ipa-140/

yes , look good , must look into them 

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21 minutes ago, Monitor Gold Ten said:

Audio innovations series 500, plus money left over to upgrade Signal Valves and buy more beautiful music...

(I might be a bit biased) 🔌💡😍

I too am biased so would say AI500 and then some maintenance/upgrades.

Monitor Gold Ten I have been recommended old Tannoys for my AI500 instead of my Impulse H6ish.  Any recommendations.

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, Jules_S said:

Dom, as a Class-D amp owner I don't think this is what you're looking for. If I were to generalise I'd say they tend to be pretty neutral and revealing, certainly not "sweet" or "cuddly". Plenty of drive and control, and good for articulating the leading-edge stuff you were mentioning to give shape to the notes, but without additional warmth. As an ex-WB Curve owner myself I'm familiar with their revealing nature and I would imagine my Gato would have been a nightmare with them, too much of a good thing! That said, my amp isn't emotionally-retarded, it does the musical communication thing well, but without putting rose-tints on.

So something that has drive, control and agility (for the definition and "bounce" you're seeking) combined with an easy-going, communicative mid and (presumably) top end. I think your Harbies are a relatively benign load, although not overly sensitive? So I'm wondering if the right sort of all-valve amp might fit the bill, a big 845 or similar. How about something like a Unison Research S6 or (if the budget permits) an S8? 

Jules I think that you understand what I am looking for but absolutely will not consider valve power amp as mentioned in  my opening post. Been there done that, too hot, and I don’t want output valve hassle and ongoing cost. 

Unison Research amps do sound great though but haven’t heard one in five years. 

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, hifinutt said:

mmm wonder if a 507 or 509 might do it , the 509 in classifieds is sadly over budget though at 6k [hi fi for sale] 

interesting you liked the pm 10 which is class D if i am not mistaken 

i am always trying to get audio nirvana with speakers and amps , currently got a class d bel canto ref 500s which has the purest  sound , very captivating but man its fussy with old recordings. certainly my old lalo shifrin film cd`s are slightly forward with it , but rodrigo y gabriela is incredibly addictive ... the air and sense of presence is quite spellbinding . i am coming to the conclusion there is no perfect amp 

2 weeks ago i had the silbatone hybrid valve which would have sounded unbelievable with the shl5plus [ having had these speakers ] but its 5k over budget 

deggie on here loves the unison hybrid and i have heard with the shl5plus annes and it was excellent , well within budget 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Unison-Research-Unico-90-Hybrid-Valve-Amplifier-in-Silver/383344072070?hash=item5941165586:g:PTIAAOSw3vpeCIEN  

of course alan uses hegel at the shows and the 360 or the 390  may be worth a demo , within your budget and gets great reviews although never heard one myself at home 

I didn’t think that the Marantz PM10 was any better than PM11S2 which for me is a terrible appraisal of an expensive amp; but I think that I could have been clearer. I was not really impressed with it the PM10. I missed out on the 9s and was really looking forward to the 10s but something wasn’t ‘right’. I had huge expectations but it was not better on any measure. 

The Unico 90 is an interesting idea and heard the smaller Único about 8 years ago.  Didn’t realise that they did bigger versions. 

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Super Wammer

I don’t think that our popular caricatures of different classes of amplifier are particularly helpful here.  You’ve two AB amps with different presentations.  And you are confident how they differ.  If you asked Alan Shaw he’d say they all sound the same within their rated power.  

Pace @Jules_S I do think a Gato would be worth auditioning, and Elite will send you one on a returnable basis.  The fact you are wedded to your SHL5 is the key factor here.  Yes, Mark Levinson, Krell and Hegel all make very superior integrated sound in the £5000 to £8000 range new.  When Andrew Everard compared them all it was obvious he liked the Hegel h390 the most.  As Harbeth use the same make for demonstrations it’s an obvious place to look. I’m suspicious of Hegel’s own ridiculous claim for the 390s superiority over the 360, but I can put that down to marketing BS. Note that tape loops are sadly nowadays a rarity and may be absent on some models, like my own Primare (I love them, but the Gato range is probably better value).

For a left field and often overlooked alternative, the ATC SIA2-150 is essentially neutral. But with a touch of warmth, the valuable six year warranty, and no boutique inflated prices.  Retail is about £3500.  The weedy remote works fine, and the headphone socket is on the back.  But it has a tape loop as far as I can see.  Obviously, you’d need to hear one at home!  It worked brilliantly when I was demoing speakers three years ago.  In my experience, both ATC dealers and the factory are very accommodating. 

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, Monitor Gold Ten said:

Audio innovations series 500, plus money left over to upgrade Signal Valves and buy more beautiful music...

(I might be a bit biased) 🔌💡😍

Really don’t want an all valve amp. Been there done that and just sold my Leben. 

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, simon g said:

I would remind you of the Norma amp I recommended to you a while ago. The Norma is exceptional, IMO. You might bag a new one with a bit of haggling, certainly an ex dem or used.

http://www.normaudio.com/normaudio/en/prodotti/revo-ipa-140/

Thanks Simon for this. Will find out where I might be able to listen to one. 

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Super Wammer
8 minutes ago, Nopiano said:

I don’t think that our popular caricatures of different classes of amplifier are particularly helpful here.  You’ve two AB amps with different presentations.  And you are confident how they differ.  If you asked Alan Shaw he’d say they all sound the same within their rated power.  

Pace @Jules_S I do think a Gato would be worth auditioning, and Elite will send you one on a returnable basis.  The fact you are wedded to your SHL5 is the key factor here.  Yes, Mark Levinson, Krell and Hegel all make very superior integrated sound in the £5000 to £8000 range new.  When Andrew Everard compared them all it was obvious he liked the Hegel h390 the most.  As Harbeth use the same make for demonstrations it’s an obvious place to look. I’m suspicious of Hegel’s own ridiculous claim for the 390s superiority over the 360, but I can put that down to marketing BS. Note that tape loops are sadly nowadays a rarity and may be absent on some models, like my own Primare (I love them, but the Gato range is probably better value).

For a left field and often overlooked alternative, the ATC SIA2-150 is essentially neutral. But with a touch of warmth, the valuable six year warranty, and no boutique inflated prices.  Retail is about £3500.  The weedy remote works fine, and the headphone socket is on the back.  But it has a tape loop as far as I can see.  Obviously, you’d need to hear one at home!  It worked brilliantly when I was demoing speakers three years ago.  In my experience, both ATC dealers and the factory are very accommodating. 

I just can’t take Alan Shaw seriously on amps. He is a marketeer and just wants to sell speakers. Just because he likes the Hegel doesn’t mean that I would.

Remembering now a recent conversation with a Hegel dealer I really think that it will not give me the warmth I want. 

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