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Best solid state amp for the dollar.


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You asked for excellent sound for the dollar,you have

Bryston(the best SS for the dollar,power,built and value none below can match,25 year warranty is solid proof these are built to last)

Rotel(most musical power amps for peanuts)

ATI(tank like built,great sound quality,solid warranty)

Outlaw(almost tank like built,great sound,inexpensive,GREAT DEAL)

Musical Fidelity(musical like no other SS inexpensive amps)

Creek(musical and inexpensive)

My choice is the Bryston 3B(120W/channel).You can pay less,you cant get better overall SS amp for the money.

TheEAR(s) Now theears

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Don't know what your price range is, but McCormack amps are considered by many to be the next best thing to tube-quality.

I can't claim to know how they stack up to tube amps, not having experience with tubes, but I can tell you that when I replaced my aging Carver amp with a McCormack DNA-1 (used for $1100, list price $2400), it was like angels had descended upon my house and sang the Hallelujah Chorus. And I'm an atheist.


Klipsch Fortes, Oiled Oak

McCormack DNA-1 Power Amp

McCormack TLC Pre-Amp

Adcom GCD-700 CD Player

NHT SA3 Subwoofer Amp

Hsu TN1220 Subwoofer

Old Akai cassette Deck

Akai AAR22 used as tuner

Nordost Solar Wind interconnects

Kimber 4TC Speaker Cable

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No budget indication leaves us all somewhat in the dark. Still, I love the fact that no 2 people have recommended the same product (surprise, surprise).

The best bang for the buck amp is the one you have listened to and like - everything else is someone else's opinion and not your own.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this - get on yer bike and go listen to as many as it takes for you to make a comfortable choice.

When you have selected an accuphase amp let me know (just kidding).

Good luck

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I appreciate the input here. I'm looking to spend less than 1 grand, preferably around $500 (or even less, if possible - can you say EBay?). It's not that I can't afford it, it's just hard to say to my wife with our new baby, Honey, there's this $2000 amplifier...

I'm willing to sacrifice on the power end to get better sound quality. For example, the Bryston 500W/ch retails for $5,500, while the Bryston 60W/ch retails for $1,100. I assume both amps use similar circuitry and would have very similar sound in the first watt. I'm also willing to search Ebay for a good deal.

It is VERY important to me to not only have a musical sound, but also a very taught, deep, CONTROLLED low end. I want the bass reflex Cornwalls to get as close to the tight bass of a folded horn as possible (I realize this is not completely possible due to design differences).



This message has been edited by Klipschguy on 10-23-2001 at 12:10 PM

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I am surprised that nobody has suggested any vintage McInosh amp yet. I got an MC 2105 which I certainly like more than the MC 162 I auditioned before (at home, not in a dealer's showroom). With the help of ebay it shouldn't be difficult to get hold of such a beautySmile.gif

Good luck.


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"It is VERY important to me to not only have a musical sound, but also a very taught, deep, CONTROLLED low end."

Klipschguy you made this even more clear!

No amp in the price you want to pay(on Ebay)can beat the Bryston.Even the small Bryston will give you the very taught,deep and controlled bass.

And the Brystons are among the very best for musicality,too.

The warranty,20 years who can even match this?Nobody can,Bryston is proven in the Pro and High-End use.

I would see a Bryston on Ebay,there are so many Me Too amps out there.For overall sound quality and the bass you are looking for there is one name BRYSTON.

I had two 3B and 4B and can only say good thing about them.

TheEAR(s) Now theears

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Buy used. That is the best advice I can give as there is almost no reason to buy a new solid state amp given the prices of quality used gear and the ease at which you can buy these days.

A few good recs already, but I'll give you a rundown of stuff I have heard that sounds damn good for SS:

Bryston 3B-ST: Actually, I have only heard the 3B-ST briefly but know it's a cant miss and the Bryston deliever AMAZING bass and have a nice midrange with excellent transparency. The 4B-ST is the better amp but those come in around 1500 used. But a cant miss if you want solid state. I also liked the B-60 Integrated. This little unit can be had around 900 or so. The "ST" series is an improvement over the standard and worth the extra money, IMO.

McCormick DNA .5: The little brother of the DNA 1.0 that I think actually betters the larger sibling. Very nice sound with good tone and can be found in the $800 range used. Very well made, just like the Bryston. Good bottom and top end.

B&K EX-442: This sleeper is a used classic and comes in around 200wpc. It is essentially the M200 Sonata in a stereo chassis with only one power supply. Great tone and good top and bottom with the emphasis on musical. I loved the little B&K ST-202(140wpc) as well. The B&K amps of that vintage were really great buys and you can find them used in the $350-500 range. They are bulletproof as well. Of course, the M200 Sonata Monoblocks is an EXCELLENT choice and very smooth with great control - no harshness to these amp or any of the B&K gear. The M200 used is around 850-900.

Forte 4: This Class A biased 50w amp sounds VERY dynamic and open. It is essentially a Threshold and a GREAT buy but rare to see on market. I have seen them go for less than $500 which is a good buy. Very good articulation in the bass with highs that do not sound transistor-like at all.

Aragon 4004:This was a REAL powerhouse that got down and dirty. Personally, I dont think it was the most grain-free amp but really had a powerful presentation with extended highs and stygian bass. Then again, the Bryston actually surpasses the bass and is more neutral

Krell KSA-80: Another little sleeper amp that can sound damn good. No, it's not tube sweet but it locks everything in if you prefer that approach. Not seen too often but a good deal used.

Classe DR-9: Another used best buy but getting up around 1k if lucky. This is a great amp make by a solid company - the designer of this series of Classe amps moved on but he was excellent and I think Classe misses him in ways. This is a great all around performer and was considered World Class a decade ago. I always like the way it sounded.

Meitner Monoblocks: Another rare bird but very very nice sound. Very handsome little amps with wood trim. Sound was nearly seamless for solid state and was balanced up and down. I saw a pair go used for 600 the other day and it was a bargain. Really grain-free.

There are others to be sure. Amps that have always been famous for the bass, such as the Adcom 555 have always struck me as way too grainy in the treble. I cant really imagine an Adcom or equivalent on a Cornwall.

I won't try to talk you into a good tube amp. But let's just say the magic of the Cornwall better suited to tubes, in my opinion. This speaker REWARDS good amplication, despite what most say on here. So get the best you can afford and dont skimp on the preamp as it is equally important.




s y s t e m

Linn LP-12/Linn Basic Plus/Sumiko Blue Point

Rega Planet

Cary Audio SLP-70 w/Phono Modified

Creek OBH-12 Passive

Welborne Labs 2A3 Moondog Monoblocks

DIYCable Wire - Various

ProAc Mini Towers

1977 Klipsch Cornwall 1

Alternate System:



EICO HFT-90 Tube FM Tuner

Sumo Aurora Tuner

Nakamichi CR-7af>s>

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Great input guys, thanks. (By the way, I looked up Accuphase, holy smokes their equipment is expensive!)

I also looked up the McIntosh 2105, and I LOVE the blue power meters against the classic black glass background. I don't know what it is, but those analog power meters get my heart thumpin' - I wonder if anyone uses them anymore.

The Monarchy has VERY impressive specs with zero feedback, 100V/us slew rate, and a damping factor of 600. The McIntosh 2105 only has a damping factor of 10 and a slew rate of something like 13 V/us. Do specs matter? How would the McIntosh compare, soundwise, to the Bryston and the Monachy?

By the way, I looked up all the amps listed here, and I'm here to tell you, these are all some impressive pieces of equipment - still not sure which one I'm going to get. Thanks again for all the input.

Sure do love those power meters.



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Just read your post (we posted about the same time, so I didn't see yours before my last post).

Very impressive list and insight. I agree with you about the Adcom and Cornwalls. Funny, my ears told me the same thing.

I'm not against tubes (in fact, I rather like them), I just want crisp, clean, DYNAMIC sound with well CONTOLLED, deep bottom end. I think there are some tubes out there which can fill my demands, but certainly nothing affordable.

Thank you for your help,


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FWIW, I had a McIntosh 2105/McIntosh C-32 pre-amp hooked up to my Cornwalls. I thought they sounded very very good. I also had a couple other (relatively) high powered SS amps hooked up through the C-32 and a couple of integrated SS also.

Then I picked up the Monarchy because 1. I could never turn the high powered SS amps up more than a couple of notches on volume and I was suspicious of the of the sound produced while the amp was basically "idling" 2. because of reviews at various sites and publications, from talking to CC Poon (owner of Monarchy), and because I could return it for a full refund if I didn't like it. Mr. Poon is one of the nicest guys I have talked to (and he refused to sell me a bunch of other stuff until I had listened to the SM-70's first). I like the SM-70 the best of all the SS I have owned.

I readily admit I am not an "audiophile", and I don't have experience with most of the other amps recommended by the others. I haven't tried any "high dollar" SS amps except vintage ones that I didn't pay such a high price for.

Although I don't have the SM-70 hooked up at the present time I am judging all my other amps by it. I will not sell it. I am currently running a pair of VTL Tiny Triode Monoblocks (EL84 output tube at 25wpc triode) and I like them very much but they don't have the "bass control/slam" of the Monarchy. I am actually considering buying a 2nd Monarchy to bi-amp them and run them balanced. The Monarchy's are 70 wpc bi-amped, pure class A and zero negative feedback.

Of course, as always, your mileage may vary. It is what sounds best to you, in your system.


Ed W

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Thanks for your reply. The SM-70 Monarchy amp sounds just like what I'm looking for. Very dynamic, zero feedback, excellent controlled bass.

Monarchy and Bryston are strong contenders at this time (I'm kinda leaning towards that daisy of an amp, the Bryston 3B-ST). However, like you, I don't like an "idling amp", so I'm not sold yet.

$720 seems like a lot for a 25wpc amp, but if it really delivers in the first watt, I'm willing to pay it. You think it has enough power to crank my Cornwalls on occasion?


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