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Brendon Foster

Full, rich, forward presentation. Recommendations please....

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Hey all,

 

I'm hunting for a new amp to replace my rather ho-hum Peachtree Nova 150. I have a pair of open baffle Spatial Hologram M4s. Absolutely superb speakers, but need to start upgrading the rest of my system to get the best out of them. My first purchase is likely to be an integrated or pre/power solution but I'm really struggling to find something that fits the bill. New or second hand is fine, up to a max of $4k, but it needs to tick a fair few boxes in order to make it into the shortlist.

 

 

 

My criteria...

- front row presentation, but not shouty.

- Full bodied or rich sound.

- musical, not clinical

- if it's an integrated, it ideally (but not a deal breaker) would have a monitor/tape loop so I can insert a signal processor or tube buffer later on.

- high signal to noise ratio

- each box must be no bigger than 14.5cm tall and ideally run fairly cool

 

My speakers are open baffle, meaning they have no box, so thin sounding amplifiers have nowhere to hide. They are very efficient so don't need oodles of watts, but high current delivery and voltage will get the best of the 2x12inch drivers in each speaker.

 

I have tried...

Roksan Kandy k3 - enjoyable listen, lots of foot tappedness, but found the mid range too forward in the mix overall

 

Naim NACN272 and NAP250 - massive, full bodied musical sound, great PRaT, but poor signal to noise ratio, sacrificed a lot of resolution. always another expensive upgrade to buy on top of the already expensive initial purchase.

 

Prima Luna Dialogue Premium Integrated - did incredible things with the highs and mids, beautiful tone and sweetness, lots of air around the instruments and superb sound staging, but bass was poorly defined and wooly compared to solid state amps. Doesn't fit in my AV cabinet so has very poor WAF rating also.

 

Primare i32 - was only marginally better than my Peachtree at everything but not worth the $5k approx asking price. Slightly fuller, slightly sweeter, handled rythms marginally better, in built DAC was a little more resolving. A great amp but the Law of diminishing returns is the problem here.

 

I really want to try out the Parasound P5 and A23 combo. But due to the current buying climate and lack of stock in Perth, I have to pay for the freight costs if a dealer gets one in for me and I don't buy it, an expensive mistake if they don't do what I want them too. If anyone in Perth has this combo and would be happy to bring it round, I'd be very grateful (PM me!).

 

Once I've dealt with the amp situation, I hope to add a pair of subs

 

 

System

- Peachtree Nova 150 (2016)

- Musical Fidelity X10d tube buffer

- Spatial Hologram M4s Turbo S

- Sonos Connect pm.

 

- iFi SPDIF iPurifier

- Spotify premium

- Tidal Hi-fi

 

Looking forward for your USD z,vxy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Exposure 3010 might be worth trying. 

I came up with two other possibilities but those conditions of yours removed them from the running (one too hot and one too big).

What does Spacial recommend?

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See if you can find a used Audio Analogue Puccini. Or any other Italian amps. Have romance in spades.

Edited by mikey d

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A second hand Accuphase integrated would probably do the job nicely.

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Valves are highly suitable for open baffle according to Mr. Linkwitz!

I would love to hear my KT 88 through your speakers.

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Hi Brendan,

 

I’ve got a Sanders Magtech for sale on this site. It’s a particularly neutral sounding amp and it controls bass like nothing else. It will handle any load you put in front of it and sound superb doing so.

 

I use it with a tvc (passive) preamp and it sounds superb, there’s very little computation to the sound, so it’s one less thing to worry about.

 

My tastes in music have changed from very electronic driven to acoustic and classical, the amp manages all with ease.

 

Thanks,

 

Martin

 

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5 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

I think @Luc has the same speakers. Maybe he’ll chime in with some ideas. 

Yup, same speakers.

45w pure class A, Topaz120.

Does the job for me. I have no need for WAF factor gear and I'm not limited by space considerations ect as I have my own seperate room. 

Is a nice combo for me.

Had some big SS amps in the chain but Earle's block of wood is a really nice match.

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Valves are highly suitable for open baffle according to Mr. Linkwitz!
I would love to hear my KT 88 through your speakers.
If you're in Perth and don't mind lugging it up to Butler then send me a PM. I have little experience of valves other than the Dialogue Premium I took home on demo and keen to try anything that may inform my next purchase.

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Hi Brendan,
 
I’ve got a Sanders Magtech for sale on this site. It’s a particularly neutral sounding amp and it controls bass like nothing else. It will handle any load you put in front of it and sound superb doing so.
 
I use it with a tvc (passive) preamp and it sounds superb, there’s very little computation to the sound, so it’s one less thing to worry about.
 
My tastes in music have changed from very electronic driven to acoustic and classical, the amp manages all with ease.
 
Thanks,
 
Martin
 
Hi Martin, unfortunately neutral is not really what I'm looking for. Something with a bit of warmth, sweetness and a big, front row type presentation. Also I can't afford your asking price for a power amp alone as I would have to keep my existing amp as the pre-amp. Looks like a great amp though, thanks for the recommendation and good luck with the sale.

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Yup, same speakers.
45w pure class A, Topaz120.
Does the job for me. I have no need for WAF factor gear and I'm not limited by space considerations ect as I have my own seperate room. 
Is a nice combo for me.
Had some big SS amps in the chain but Earle's block of wood is a really nice match.
Beautiful looking amp, haven't had much experience with valves other than my musical Fidelity X10d which I love, and the Dialogue Premium which I liked but found the bass presentation too squidgy for my liking. Have you heard the Dialogue? How does the Topaz compare?

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An Exposure 3010 might be worth trying. 
I came up with two other possibilities but those conditions of yours removed them from the running (one too hot and one too big).
What does Spacial recommend?
Good recommendation! Exposure certainly have the form factor and the kind of heritage/pedigree I'm looking for and I've always wanted to try them out, but unfortunately no dealers near me.

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If you really want what you say, look for Sugden Masterclass pre/power amps (I don't believe there's an A21 that runs cool enough).

 

Don't underestimate really good neutral amps though. The right neutral amp may not do what you think you want but will be more convincing in the long run if you ask me.

 

On that basis, add the Moon Neo Ace to your list. @blybo uses this with M3s and may have some advice for you on this front?

 

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@Brendon Foster ,  @blybo tried a lot of amps to find what he was looking for with his spatials, might be able to share his thoughts on what might fit what you are looking for.

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The Melody EL34 integrated listed in the classifieds would tick the midrange and musicality boxes but is residing in NSW. 

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Yup, same speakers.
45w pure class A, Topaz120.
Does the job for me. I have no need for WAF factor gear and I'm not limited by space considerations ect as I have my own seperate room. 
Is a nice combo for me.
Had some big SS amps in the chain but Earle's block of wood is a really nice match.
Did you already have your Topaz when you you bought the speakers, or did you select the amp after buying the speakers? I'd be interested to find out if we have similar ears, tastes or experiences with the spatials.

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12 hours ago, Eggcup The Daft said:

If you really want what you say, look for Sugden Masterclass pre/power amps (I don't believe there's an A21 that runs cool enough).

 

Don't underestimate really good neutral amps though. The right neutral amp may not do what you think you want but will be more convincing in the long run if you ask me.

 

On that basis, add the Moon Neo Ace to your list. @blybo uses this with M3s and may have some advice for you on this front?

 

 

12 hours ago, :) al said:

@Brendon Foster ,  @blybo tried a lot of amps to find what he was looking for with his spatials, might be able to share his thoughts on what might fit what you are looking for.

Very happy with the Moon Neo Ace powering my M3's. Also keeps the box count down as is also a streamer and phono MM input is pretty good too. Not as up front as many but up front sound can be a sound that you can tire of IMHO, and you don't usually get up front presentation AND a warm sound. I'd describe the Moon as a great allrounder, importantly it's just as good at lower volumes and leans on the warm side of neutral. To me it just sounds natural.


I tried many amps at home and had a 5k budget and wanted a 1 box solution.

Others I tried and really liked;

  • Run out Devialet 120 was fantastic sound wise but no sub out on the 1 I could get and no option to control with a universal remote.
  • Denon PMA-2500NE- again fantastic sound and beautiful classic looks. Well worth a look imo and does have built in DAC.
  • Naim Uniti Star but got sick of delays and it would be outside your budget anyway. The Naim is more upfront in it's presentation which may suit. It was the cheaper Atom model I demo'ed but wanted a bit more grunt of the Star.

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I'm tempted to suggest the Elekit integrated amp, but you have conflicting requirements of wanting a valve like sound, and having limited height and heat capacity. I'll link it anyway, because it has the sound you're looking for (I believe), but missing the tape loop. Auditioning it's going to be very hard though. By the time you option this up to be built with good specs and shipped to Australia, it's still under your budget. I'd recommend the KT150s and Lundahl transformer upgrades, but plenty of valve options will allow you to voice the sound as you see fit, from 6L6GCs right up to KT150s.

 

http://shop.grantfidelity.com/japanese-elekit-tu-8340vk-integrated-tube-amplifier-kit-or-assembled.html

 

Review:

http://wallofsound.ca/audioreviews/amplification/elekit-tu-8340vk-review-part-2-could-this-be-your-last-power-amplifier/

Edited by Ittaku

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15 hours ago, Brendon Foster said:
On 23/09/2018 at 11:01 AM, Luc said:
Yup, same speakers.
45w pure class A, Topaz120.
Does the job for me. I have no need for WAF factor gear and I'm not limited by space considerations ect as I have my own seperate room. 
Is a nice combo for me.
Had some big SS amps in the chain but Earle's block of wood is a really nice match.

Read more  

Did you already have your Topaz when you you bought the speakers, or did you select the amp after buying the speakers? I'd be interested to find out if we have similar ears, tastes or experiences with the spatials.

Yes I did have it before the OB's but don't ask me why I've stuck with it and the OB's, apart from the fact they just seem to be a 'nice' match for  my combo(LP12/Earle's engine/tube output cdp/OB's in a tasty matching white for my decor...). I'm fairly shallow when it comes to audiophile things and I don't have ears like yours or Blybo's. So I'm not much help there.

 

 

*(I did speak to the designer/owner/builder of the OB's and told him I'd be driving them with Earle's amp and he said your in for some pleasure then using tube driven pure class A with them. So I imported them before McLean's stocked them...I should of waited, would of been heaps cheaper.)

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Full, rich, forward presentation. Recommendations please....

On 23/09/2018 at 4:51 AM, Brendon Foster said:

I'm hunting for a new amp to replace my rather ho-hum Peachtree Nova 150.

On 23/09/2018 at 4:51 AM, Brendon Foster said:

New or second hand is fine, up to a max of $4k, but it needs to tick a fair few boxes in order to make it into the shortlist.

In don't think you could go past a good used ME850 or even 1400 with that description and price.

They are full bodied rich in texture, smooth and sweet when needed. And yet they are no shrinking violet when it comes to giving it to you in the face and chest with their dynamic impact in the bass mids or highs when asked for.

And if you can stretch that limit up a little, get the ME1500, at 100w Class-A setting the sound just effortlessly washes over you and the speakers seem not to be there at all.

 

Cheers George  

untitled 2.jpg

Edited by georgehifi

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Used $500-1500 tube preamp and $1500-3000 solid state power combo would do. Many of the stuff you tried and some what others recommending are sub par average. There have been and still are several used combos around like Plinius SA103, Musical Fidelity, Krell, Passlabs, Accuphase etc. For integrated there is a Yamaha AS2100 for $1900 gumtree.

 

I had some nice 80w Consonance Cyber 800 tube power amps that would have been good.

Edited by Al.M

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18 hours ago, Luc said:

Yes I did have it before the OB's but don't ask me why I've stuck with it and the OB's, apart from the fact they just seem to be a 'nice' match for  my combo(LP12/Earle's engine/tube output cdp/OB's in a tasty matching white for my decor...). I'm fairly shallow when it comes to audiophile things and I don't have ears like yours or Blybo's. So I'm not much help there.

 

 

*(I did speak to the designer/owner/builder of the OB's and told him I'd be driving them with Earle's amp and he said your in for some pleasure then using tube driven pure class A with them. So I imported them before McLean's stocked them...I should of waited, would of been heaps cheaper.)

Apart from being a bit younger, I don't know my ears are any better than average, or yours. I did plenty of damage in my 20's standing too close to speaker stacks at live gigs. I sometimes struggle to hear differences in high end amplification when at GTG's or shows... maybe I'm not as effected as much by reputation bias😜. My system has been simplified for the sake of family usability and aesthetics, hardly an audiophile mind set.

 

Having said that I find the Moon Neo Ace to be fantastic and have no desire to change. @Brendon Foster The Moon is a low profile box which may help fit in the av cabinet, it's in the realms of the small form factor Marantz amps and runs relatively cool although I have mine on top of my AV cabinet. The DAC in the Neo Ace is very well thought of and  I believe newer ones will have the MiND II streaming/DAC upgrade which makes the Moon a Roon end point and allowing MQA file playback from Tidal. My Neo Ace will play Tidal natively and would be a big step up on your Sonos Connect, unless it's a modded one.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/moon-ace-all-in-one-music-player/

https://www.whathifi.com/moon/neo-ace/review

 

I had a Elektra Pre/Power combo when I originally got the Spatials and that combo also sounded superb but the tube pre had too much gain for the speakers which made volume control difficult, and both were getting on in age. The newer Elektra PNYX pre has less gain but the combo new would be outside your budget, it also has HT bypass which gives it a little more future proofing.

 

If you want to put this amp in an av cabinet, I think you need to rule out tube gear, or change your ideas on how to display/store it.

Edited by blybo

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6 hours ago, georgehifi said:

Full, rich, forward presentation. Recommendations please....

In don't think you could go past a good used ME850 or even 1400 with that description and price.

They are full bodied rich in texture, smooth and sweet when needed. And yet they are no shrinking violet when it comes to giving it to you in the face and chest with their dynamic impact in the bass mids or highs when asked for.

And if you can stretch that limit up a little, get the ME1500, at 100w Class-A setting the sound just effortlessly washes over you and the speakers seem not to be there at all.

 

Cheers George  

untitled 2.jpg

Totally agree with George. When I saw title of this thread, I was going to recommend ME amps.

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I thought ME were ruthlessly transparent. Didn’t realise they were full and rich as well. Is there anything they can’t do ?

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On 23/09/2018 at 10:12 AM, mikey d said:

See if you can find a used Audio Analogue Puccini. Or any other Italian amps. Have romance in spades.

Yep. A Unison Research Hybrid would certainly be worth an audition. Has the sweetness and rich, full bodied sound the OP is after.

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