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View Full Version : Need a New Amp Set-Up...Recs?



Punch
12-22-2009, 05:31 PM
Ok, I am know I am opening a can of worms and that everyone has their opinions, but my peers here know more about JBLs and amps that like JBLs than any other place in this solar system.

Sooooo. I am hoping this thread will be as popular as my 250 thread.

I am thinking of another amp and CD combo....real soon. I had a modded NAD 317 Integrated Amp which I used for a long time with the 166s. It has a great punch and bass response, but it is a bit harsh. Just this year, I upgraded and bought the McIntosh Integrated and a Mac CD.

Now that I have the 250Ti's, I would like to get a very full, clean amp with a good bass response....a PUNCH. My McIntosh MA6500 and MVP851 CD are just too thin sounding....I am not sure if it is just me, but I remember my L166's sounding better than they do since I switched to the Mac gear this year. It does not seem like there is a lot behind the speakers...not a lot on tap.

So, I need an amp for the 250s and 166s. I have been told to try Crown, BGW, Bryston, or Perreaux.

I am not looking for "the" amp right now since I know it will be a step-by-step evolutionary process, but getting close to it would be nice. You all have been doing this A LOT longer than I have, and I value your opinions. I would like to keep the budget close to my McIntosh, but I would not mind a good bang-for-the-buck if there is a magical set-up that is less.

Thanks...let the can of worms open up.

p.s. A modern, non-fussy amp that does not need to be overhauled would be nice :o:

Punch
12-22-2009, 06:44 PM
Positive note? What do you mean? ;) This thread will be nothing BUT positive and I am excited about it! :bouncy:

Mr. Widget
12-22-2009, 08:30 PM
So, I need an amp for the 250s and 166s. I have been told to try Crown, BGW, Bryston, or Perreaux.

I am not looking for "the" amp right now since I know it will be a step-by-step evolutionary process, but getting close to it would be nice. You all have been doing this A LOT longer than I have, and I value your opinions. I would like to keep the budget close to my McIntosh, but I would not mind a good bang-for-the-buck if there is a magical set-up that is less.

Thanks...let the can of worms open up.

p.s. A modern, non-fussy amp that does not need to be overhauled would be nice :o:The Mac pair you have retail for $7500... I like Macs... but there are many pieces of gear I'd buy before I'd buy those two.

First for the CD player... For me that's an easy recommendation. I'd get the Bryston BDA-1 DAC and use any decent CD player with a digital output. (I think of CD players as being fairly disposable so new or used doesn't matter.) This DAC will improve the sound of almost any CD player and it can be used with an iPod and Wadia dock or any digital music server system... definitely the way of the not too distant future.

As for the amp, I agree with your modern "no overhaul" approach. As one vintage amp after another blows up I appreciate my newer more reliable ones more and more.

Amp suggestions? That is so subjective and unlike my Bryston DAC recommendation, no amp is so clearly superior to all of the others to make it that easy. That said, here is my alphabetical short list:

Audio Research
Balanced Audio Technologies
Bryston
Electrocompaniet
Mark Levinson
Pass Labs
Parasound Halo (especially the JC-1)
Perreaux

Good luck in your search!


Widget

Punch
12-23-2009, 01:07 AM
thanks Widget...

I have about $4k invested into those 2 pieces. What would be your choice under $2500 and why?

Have you heard the Musical Fideltiy that S-Man recommended?

Separates....or are there any modern integrated you like?

Allanvh5150
12-23-2009, 01:32 AM
I would go down the Perreaux track myself. I have a bunch of them from the smallest to the biggest. There is not a very large part count and they are not overly expensive to do a total rebuild on. They are on Ebay quite often and for a very good price if you are Stateside. An old PMF 3150 or PMF5150 would suit your needs very well or maybe even the proffesional 6000B or 8000B.

Allan.

Punch
12-23-2009, 01:42 AM
Allan! I was wondering why you were replying...it is 3:41am in Chicago right now.

Thanks.

p.s. Gee...I wonder why you like the PMF-"5150" :)

Allanvh5150
12-23-2009, 01:44 AM
because it is only 10:44pm in NZ. :)

Allanvh5150
12-23-2009, 01:46 AM
p.s. Gee...I wonder why you like the PMF-"5150" :)

Good spotting. It is also the US police code for lunatic and it is an album by Van Halen, hence the VH. I think it was purely coincidental there was a perreaux of the same name.

Allan.

grumpy
12-23-2009, 08:35 AM
on the used marked, I would additionally suggest a clean Proceed HPA2
as being well within your budget.

jblnut
12-23-2009, 10:45 AM
You've hit all the highlights from what I can see. The only avenue you have left unexplored would be getting some custom crossovers made for your speakers so that you could bi-amp them. This would let you use a nice smooth tube amp for the top 3 drivers and a big transistor amp for the LE14H-1. It was one of the best upgrades I've done to my system, period.
My 250TI's are a in a totally different ballpark because I can tailor the different amps for different purposes. Not sure if Giskard/4313B is still in that business, but you might ask him via PM.

Either way, it's mostly trial and error to see what you like and what works best with your music, your room and your other components.

I've had a big old Yamaha pro amp doing the lows for years (and before that full range) with very good results. These old workhorses like the PC2002M, PC4002M and PC5002M can be had for far less than an "audiophile" amp, and may really surprise you. There's a couple of guys over at AK with the 5002M that really rave about them driving huge Infinity columns.


Good luck and be sure to share your progress with us !

jblnut

rusty jefferson
12-23-2009, 09:38 PM
Hey Punch,

Consider amps from this company: http://www.musicaldesign.com/mus_des.htm

Made in the states, in a small shop. Anything from a basic build to, pretty esoteric. He often has used/traded in amps from customers, or consignment. He can tailor the sound to fit your needs somewhat by choosing parts/upgrades that make sense for what your after. I bought two amps from him in the past year, one that has amazing authority on the bottom end, and the other much more natural and detailed. [eventually bi-amp some L-7s, if I can find them] Prices are pretty reasonable also.

If you can get to St Louis, you can demo at his shop. Good customer service. His amps come up on Agon from time to time, but not too often.

Good Luck

Punch
12-26-2009, 04:38 AM
Quick one.....I am in Long Island with my wife's family until tomorrow...I will check everything out here and chime back tomorrow.

Thanks guys. :thmbsup:

Punch
12-28-2009, 05:39 PM
Someone posted this reply to me on AK:

Why not just use the preamp out of the MA6500 and then get some sort of brute of a 'pro-sumer' type amp like one of the QSC/Crown types. I see them on CL here in the Bay Area on a regular basis. That will likely get you the ooomph you're looking for.

Frankly, though, you might want to investigate speaker placement and other things that can help. If I read this right, the speakers are new to you and the amp/CD player are too. I've had an MA-6500 myself and know it can perform quite well so I'm suspecting there are other things at play in your case.

Another idea: IIRC, your CD player has variable outputs so you could also eliminate the preamp by plugging it into the power amp inputs on the MA-6500 to see what it would sound like. Not sure what you'd do with the results, though, but just a thought.

Opinions?

Punch
12-29-2009, 08:18 AM
Well....Audio Classics did not agree with that guy's response from AK. I just received this from them:

It appears the writer is not knowledgeable of your 250Ti's otherwise he would not be recommending a "pro-sumer" type amp. These tend to be hard sounding as they are typically used for sound reinforcement, not necessarily for low distortion and lack of listening fatigue. Of the various makes, Crown would rank among the best but I know they will have a bright. edgy character with the JBL's. Yamaha would definitely be out of the question, in my opinion.
With regard to the MVP851, this does not have a variable output so running directly into the MA6500 amp Inputs will provide full blast volume!

Frankly, with these speakers your amp options are really limited and they require an well designed amp or else they will reveal the amp flaws. There aren't many speakers as demanding of amp quality as these are so the normal flexibility with other JBK designs are not easily accommodated. As an option to the MA6500 amp, you might try Conrad-Johnson or Audio Research in high power choices. However, for the money, I have reservations as to how much actual benefit you will realize.

This is probably not the answer you want to hear but I honestly feel that is the reality with these speakers. I still think the best result would be adding the McIntosh MC352 to the MA6500 preamp and really making those speakers perform as they should. This is 350 wpc @ 100 peak amps per channel and a Fully Balanced (Quad Differential) design offering the lowest distortion, hum or noise of any product on the market.

SEAWOLF97
12-29-2009, 08:58 AM
Nick
What you are getting from AK are "virtual answers" ..suppositions from those who dont have real world experience with this particular speaker.


Mebbe a better q w/b ..."Attn:250ti owners !! what amps have worked best for you ?"

BMWCCA
12-29-2009, 09:22 AM
Crown would rank among the best but I know they will have a bright. edgy character with the JBL's.From our very limited experience with using one PS400 with Opi's 250s at one point during the second Mid-Atlantic get-together, I'd have to agree. I can't explain why the Crowns sound so good at my house with so many different JBLs over so many decades, but they sounded thin and, yeah, maybe "edgy" and "bright" when hooked up to Opi's system in which he uses three Perreaux amps. We didn't spend a lot of time checking pre-amp settings, etc, and as I recall our routing to integrate the amp may have run it through the Sony HT preamp in use but controlled it with one of my Soundcraftsmen Pro-Control pre-amps, too. Regardless, even if there were pre-existing EQ setting or pre-amp coloration involved, the Crown was not as pleasing on the 250s as the in-house system was, so we didn't listen for very long.

My family can attest to the bi-amp Crowns being anything but "edgy" or "bright" in our house with our 4345s. And I've have no such complaint with any of my seven Crown amps with any of my over-a-dozen JBLs, from 4345s to 030s, but the experience with Opi's system is why I suggested you investigate the Perreaux amps in the first place for your 250tis. :dont-know

SEAWOLF97
12-29-2009, 09:43 AM
I can't explain why the Crowns sound so good at my house with so many different JBLs over so many decades, but they sounded thin and, yeah, maybe "edgy" and "bright" when hooked up to Opi's system in which he uses three Perreaux amps.

I suggested you investigate the Perreaux amps in the first place for your 250tis. :dont-know

Wow..I suggested the Crown cause of your crowing...:o:

Seem to recall that the Perreaux amp is based on the BGW design ?

BMWCCA
12-29-2009, 10:04 AM
Wow..I suggested the Crown cause of your crowing...:o:

Seem to recall that the Perreaux amp is based on the BGW design ? Yeah, those Kiwis are just a bunch of copy cats! ;)

As I said, we didn't investigate very far but there was a difference in sound. I can't imagine a more-full sound with the full range covered evenly with no edginess of "clinical" sound than what the pair of Crowns do on my 4345 clones, but then this was in Opi's home, with his 250ti/L/LE upgrades using his system with my Crown plugged in. His amps sounded better. But then Audio Classic's comments seemed specific to the 250Ti and I have no experience with those. I'm sure others here do, so the suggestion to ask the 250ti owners what works for them makes sense.

If I had a pair right now they'd be powered with Crowns and maybe they'd sound different in my system in my home. In the end it really may be just what you're used to, but I run the 4345s bi-amped on "direct" on the SC pre-amp (except at extremely low volume where I may use a Fletcher-Munson EQ curve) and anyone who's heard them has expressed amazement at what they hear from the music, and especially in music they're familiar with.

Maybe it was the speaker cables? :duck:

Allanvh5150
12-29-2009, 10:13 AM
FYI, the eighties model Perreauxs were based on the schematic that Hitachi published in the data book for the Mosfets at the time. Super simple circuit with no current limit or clipping limiters. And ultra reliable.

Allan.

grumpy
12-29-2009, 10:21 AM
Based? yes. Copied? A design is more than parts.

I still have that Hitachi semiconductor data book somewhere...

Punch
12-29-2009, 10:39 AM
Nick
What you are getting from AK are "virtual answers" ..suppositions from those who dont have real world experience with this particular speaker.


Mebbe a better q w/b ..."Attn:250ti owners !! what amps have worked best for you ?"



Forget that....I am just going to stick with my LH amigos. I called you Tom....I will try you after 3:00.

Allanvh5150
12-29-2009, 10:53 AM
Based? yes. Copied? A design is more than parts.

I still have that Hitachi semiconductor data book somewhere...

The circuit is simplicity at its best. 5 drive transistors and a handful of other bits. Just add more mosfets and voltage for more power. There were a few othe companies here that made these amps using the same circuit but only one achieved the fame.

Allan.

Punch
12-29-2009, 05:31 PM
Very funny ;)

SEAWOLF97
12-30-2009, 05:33 PM
besides great sound .... I like having volume/gain control/attenuators on the amp

My Adcom doesnt..the 2 BGW's do..

clip indicators are nice too ..:D as is daisy chaining ability and not running HOT,
and reliability and repair ability and slew rate/dampening and price and...........

meters don't add value for me...

Titanium Dome
12-30-2009, 09:14 PM
With all this whoop-di-do I'm hesitant to chime in now, but I've found MOSFET amps to work well with these four-ways. I saw Soundcraftsmen mentioned, and it would be a good choice. I'm driving my L250s with a Pro Power Three.

Some Hafler JFET/MOSFET amps are worth considering, but my real advice is ATI. If you can find it.

BMWCCA
12-30-2009, 11:40 PM
I saw Soundcraftsmen mentioned, and it would be a good choice. I'm driving my L250s with a Pro Power Three. I find this interesting since I own a Pro-Power Four and have used it with my L7s and much preferred the Crown PS-400 over it. 'Round and 'round we go! :D

SEAWOLF97
12-31-2009, 07:58 AM
my real advice is ATI. If you can find it.

On October 20, 2003, the Wachners sold BGW Systems to Amplifier Technologies, Inc. of Montebello, California (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montebello,_California). Under ATI, BGW has introduced several new amplifier designs[10] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BGW_Systems#cite_note-9) but has reduced its industry profile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BGW_Systems



whoop-di-do

can you say those words in an open forum ?

BMWCCA
12-31-2009, 08:14 AM
We've traveled this road before: http://www.ati-amp.com/msrp.html

SEAWOLF97
12-31-2009, 10:10 AM
We've traveled this road before: http://www.ati-amp.com/msrp.html

that 3002 is nice - free shipping :bouncy:

http://www.palmbeachdigital.com/Details.asp?Source=Froogle&ProductID=3645

ATI AT 3002 $1,989.99 http://www.palmbeachdigital.com/images/at2000frontthumb.jpgATI\’s “Pure Balance” technology introduces a range of models that feature true differential design: balanced from input to output. This design allows the quietest and purest reproduction of the audio signal. Power output is 300WRMS\/ channel into 8 Ohms from 20Hz to 20kHz with no more than 0.03\% THD and I.M. distortion. The AT3000 is available in 2 to 7 channel configurations and is upgradeable by adding 300W power modules. Each model comes standard with 2 massive toroidal transformers with quick connect plugs. Remote Trigger: Activated from 3.3VDC to 24 VDC via a heavy-duty relay Protection Circuits: Optically –coupled with full automatic reset. Toroid Transformers: 40\% more efficient than EI type. Separate bi-filar windings for each channel guaranty lower noise and crosstalk. Circuit Boards: Double-sided, FR-4 glass-epoxy, computer-grade boards are assembled in-house. Soft Start Circuitry: Ultra soft turn on reduces in-rush current to a minimum. Multiple units can be turned on without tripping circuit breakers eliminating the need for sequencing. Power Transistors: High-current, bi-polar output transistors with active bias circuits result in effortless operation. Power Cord: Detachable, 3-wire cord. 7-Year Warranty Parts and labor against defects in parts or workmanship. Dimensions: 17\"w X 8.75\"h X 18\"d \(chassis\) weight - 56 to 106lbs \(model dependent\)

the closest Perreaux seems to be the 350 Stereo Power Amplifier
http://www.paulmoney.co.nz/shop/amplifiersreceiversprocessors/stereopower-amplifiers/perreaux350stereo-power-amplif

nobody seems to quote prices, but I did see a used one for 3,500 ...geeze for 1500+ less, I'd go for the NEW ATI

Punch
01-01-2010, 09:02 AM
Well....the 250's driver are back from getting refoamed. Van L speakerworks did an incredible job. I installed the 14's and the repaired 104h (dust cap). I would say that they do sound VERY good with the Mac 6500 integrated, BUT it seems if they need a bit more headroom....it does not seem like they are quite at their potential...not quite enough on-tap.

I messed with the bus bars a bit, and I think they are getting dialed in.

John Van L. gave me some gear to audition....Cary Pre-Amp, Perreaux 220P power amp, and some big power cords and interconnects. I kept them powered on overnight, and I played them this morning. They sound good at a low level, but as soon as I turned them up just a bit, they sounded muddy with some mild distortion....not sure what the problem was but I fixed it.


The Cary Audi Pre-Amp with the Perreaux 220P is a great tone.....lots of guts. This might be the combo.

Punch
01-01-2010, 06:18 PM
I had a bad connection.....so, I am sure I fixed it. And, I called the guy as well, and we dialed it in.

I was not sure if I had extra cables since most of my cables are still packed from the move. He said that they are not expensive, but he grabbed what was right in front of him. As we discussed yesterday, he is from the school of thought that you do not need to spend a lot on cables.

Punch
03-03-2010, 07:36 AM
UPDATE:

I was able to demo quite a bit of gear...I had it narrowed down to:
-Citation Power Amp
-Perreaux Power Amp
-Cary SLP-70 hybrid tube pre-amp, heavily modified
-Musical Design Ultra Platinum Pre-amp
-Musical Design Ultra Platinum Hafler 500

The Cary Pre-amp and the Perreaux won the challenge....BIG BIG full, warm sound...very musical and seems to bring out the best in a recording...even those mediocre ones.

Punch
03-03-2010, 07:40 AM
A few pics...the L166's are not hooked up...the NAD is there for show (I might use it with the 166's, it works well with them)...the new B380. I took the picture of the B380 when I first brought it home and was moving things around a bit. It is not hooked up yet.

Pic of the demo:

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd37/nguisto22/NPG_2813.jpg


http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd37/nguisto22/NPG_3109.jpg


http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd37/nguisto22/IMG_4157.jpg

Mr. Widget
03-03-2010, 08:55 AM
The Cary Pre-amp and the Perreaux won the challenge....BIG BIG full, warm sound...very musical and seems to bring out the best in a recording...even those mediocre ones.Congratulations!!!

I am sure the trip was fun and it's good to hear that your destination was worth the effort.

I expect I would have ended up with the same pair given the choices including the Macs... but not everyone would. Audio diversity... it's a good thing. :)


OT: What turntable/cartridge are you using?


Widget

Punch
03-03-2010, 09:37 AM
Thanks Widget!!!! Thank you for all of your help in the decision and for the phone calls.. You were right about that combo all along.

Here is a link to a similar Cary: http://i-vol.com/cary_slp-70/

That about summed it up.

I REALLY do like the Mac CD player. I agree with you when you told me CD players are "disposable" and not to spend a lot. I got such a smoking deal on this one, I could not resist. I would have done a Lexicon or a Rotel if the price was too high.

The TT is weakest link in my chain. I have a AT 440MLa and a Denon DL160 for cartridges. I have always liked the classic Technics tables, but I think that is my next upgrade.

Oh yeah, I also need a Crossover/Amp for the B380.

jblnut
03-03-2010, 02:02 PM
Congrats on getting it all setup and tuned the way you like it ! I really like the looks of that Mac CD player. It would sure keep my C220 company - I may have to check into one....:D.

I can help with TT recommendations as can others I'm sure. What's your budget ?

jblnut

Punch
03-04-2010, 10:45 AM
Congrats on getting it all setup and tuned the way you like it ! I really like the looks of that Mac CD player. It would sure keep my C220 company - I may have to check into one....:D.

I can help with TT recommendations as can others I'm sure. What's your budget ?

jblnut


My budget? Best bang for the buck....that is what I am all about. :) I think the Technics sounds very very good because I am not comparing it to anything else...it is all that I know. I do not want to spend a lot, that's for sure. I love the old AR tables as well.

Whatever it is, I like the tables that require as little fuss as possible because if I have to fidget with something all the time, it frustrates me. I just want to set it and let it go.

jblnut
03-04-2010, 11:05 AM
Nothing wrong with a good Technics 1200 that's for sure. Maybe not the best arm out there, but they can be made to sound real nice. And they are durable as hell. Stepping up from there sonically, the AR XD of the early 80's is a real gem sonically but they are rare. I'm kind of partial to the Yamaha linears (PX-2,PX-3) as they perform way about their price range. But, they are 25-30 years old now and have some unobtanium sensors. I'm loving mine, but when it breaks, that's it. Another great performer that's a tad newer (and a whole lot simpler) is the Yamaha PF-800/1000.

I hate to tell you this, but there is no such thing as a "little fuss" turntable that's also real cheap and sounds good (measured by the yardstick of your other components). An old table will eventually need TLC, and a new table will cost some $$$.

I would set the bar around $500 for a good table and cartridge, given your other components. Go too cheap, and those 250's will be revealing every flaw. I know, cuz I been there - starting with a cheap Technics direct drive (SL-D2 I think) in the $100 range then moving up to a Luxman in the $250 range. I wasn't happy until I got the PX-2, and 4 years later I still am.

Feel free to call or PM me if you want to dive into this any deeper. I'm way into vinyl....

jblnut

Punch
03-04-2010, 11:15 AM
Thanks Craig....when I am ready, I will take you up on that offer to help. I really appreciate that.

Punch
03-04-2010, 11:18 AM
I like this one:

http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_forsale_arlvx.shtml

jblnut
03-04-2010, 11:24 AM
That's the one all right! My best friend had one for years that he eventually sold and upgraded to a Linn LP12. I loved that AR - it was really, really sweet.

Then again, so is that LP12 :D

jblnut