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Amp Recommendations for ESL 15

MartinLogan Owners (MLO)

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BDH55

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Stick with your JC1's.. Outstanding pairing with any ML's. They do take up space and get VERY hot tho, as you know..
Tom, thx for another vote for the JC 1's! I've got plenty of breathing room around them, and only know how hot they get if I decide to put my hands on them! :rolleyes:
 

Dan F.

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I have the Nelson Pass 250.8 amplifier, it is a phenomenal piece of gear for ML electrostatics........I doubt you'll be disappointed....
Milesdavis9 what are you using for preamp and dac? And which electrostatics are you using? I’m considering this amp as an upgrade from my ML 585.
 

spkrdctr

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If your current amps get hot, AC Infinity makes some nice looking component cooling systems. I would get one if my receiver got hot. They look very good for the price which is from $79 to I think $129.
 

BigDDesign

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If you are looking for a little sweeter Sound, I would recommend the Krell XD amps or the Dan D'agastino entry level amps used. Your JC1 should warm up in 30 minutes for good sound. So there really is no reason to not shut them off. JC1's are good amps, don't get me wrong, with strong powerful bass. My recommendations go along the same line of having the bass strong and true when raising the volume. Krell is known for the Class A output being just right with any of the Martin Logans. I have 3 vintage Krells myself, which have all new caps. I went thru a few amps before finally breaking down and getting a rebuilt Krell with Class A operation. Nelson Pass is good, but a little too comfy compared to the Krell. Currently I'm running my Krell KSA-200S with automatic "on the fly bias" control to only create heat when needed. Freakin' amazing. The new Krell XD amps and their new Integrated Amp are so much better when they went to Krell XD series. I've seen so many good prices for them used for a year now. My biggest disappointment was a Mark Levinson amp (recapped) that was so powerful and the best looking amp I have ever seen. It just couldn't produce proper sound. I kept sticking in other amps and they didn't have the veil that the Mark Levinson had. Mark Levinson just is a dud for Martin Logan speakers. Hope this helps.
 

Spike

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Currently I'm running my Krell KSA-200S with automatic "on the fly bias" control to only create heat when needed. Freakin' amazing.
Mark Levinson just is a dud for Martin Logan speakers.
Classic Krell vs Levinson, I had similar experience, but with opposite result when I went amp-hunting a few years back. I was considering the between the Krell KSA-100 vs the Levinson 331. The Krell was too harsh in the midrange when directly compared to the Levinson on my system. For my ears and my system, I prefer the midrange (especially lower-mids) of the Levinson. I guess my experience matches with BigD's description of Levinson being "veiled". The Krell is described to be more "transparent", but it came across as "harsh" for my ears. For my experiment, I was comparing the 2 amps, driving my ReQuest speakers full-range. I think we both agree that these classic Krell & Levinson are fantastic with bass. Once integrated into my bi-amped system, the Levinson is pulling bass-duty while my tubed SixPacs are driving the panels.
It goes to show that it really comes down to how the amps perform in your system and how it matches with your preference.
 

jtucker

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I would be inclined to stick with your JC-1s. I have owned Parasound gear in the past and liked the sound. Currently i am using a Pass INT-150 integrated with my Montis. Very happy with that pairing, Pass and ML seem a really good match to my ears. I'm sure those JC-1s would sound every bit as good. If memory serves, my previous amp was a Wyred4sound. I possibly would not have changed to the Pass except the W4S was a 4 channel for bi-amping. No need for that capability with the Montis. While I am generally a fan of tube gear, I would think twice about using a tube amp with electrostatics. The relatively high output impedance of the amplifier along with the capacitive load of the panel will almost always result in rolled off HF response. My only first hand experience with tubes and ML was (quite a few times) at magnolia show rooms. They always pair the higher end ML with McIntosh, just because that is what they sell. I was never impressed, but certainly not even decent listening conditions.
 

BDH55

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I would be inclined to stick with your JC-1s. I have owned Parasound gear in the past and liked the sound. Currently i am using a Pass INT-150 integrated with my Montis. Very happy with that pairing, Pass and ML seem a really good match to my ears. I'm sure those JC-1s would sound every bit as good. If memory serves, my previous amp was a Wyred4sound. I possibly would not have changed to the Pass except the W4S was a 4 channel for bi-amping. No need for that capability with the Montis. While I am generally a fan of tube gear, I would think twice about using a tube amp with electrostatics. The relatively high output impedance of the amplifier along with the capacitive load of the panel will almost always result in rolled off HF response. My only first hand experience with tubes and ML was (quite a few times) at magnolia show rooms. They always pair the higher end ML with McIntosh, just because that is what they sell. I was never impressed, but certainly not even decent listening conditions.
Pass is one brand I am considering. The challenge with them is since I am in a mono block config, I really only have two choices in their current line (open to suggestions for used models though)... either the X260.8 or the X600.8. Since I am used to having pretty big power with my JC 1's (and, I regularly... use it), it seems that I may be stepping down with the X260.8, while the X600.8 seems like more than I need (both in power, and definitely, in budget 😲 ).

While I love looking at all the options, I'm not sure I'll even make a move to new amps. I've got a great setup currently, and trying to bump up to the next level is appearing to be a really expensive next step. Plus, I'm still learning and moving my new 15's. The real challenge however is a) getting out with Covid; and b) not being located in a major metro area with several good dealer/showrooms. I guess I am fortunate to be in a mid sized city with two pretty good dealer/showrooms (both are big McIntosh dealers, with one also offering the Simaudio Moon line, which again gets me in trouble as the 400M seems slightly underpowered for my needs, while the 888 is WAY out of my budget)...
 

edmiston

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Okay. I'm going to go against the grain here. Long time stat guy. I've had tubes, OTLs, big monoblocks from Pass and Bryston. And you know what I am using on my 15a's? The tiny Benchmark. Sounds fabulous. I bought two, for all that extra power in mono, cause we all need that, right? Well no, actually. Could never make a single run out of steam. Sent one back. No heat, no hernia, just beautiful music. Nothing against you guys that want a ton of Mac in your livingroom. I'm a Mac fan. But Benchmark, they are really on to something.
 

Robert D

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I like my Aragon dual monoblock amp. Sounds great with my Prodigies.

Ive got the 8008, but they also make monoblocks too, for just one channel.

 

geeji

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You should look at digital amplifiers, like for instance Hypex NC1200. They have a very low output impedance (2x1200W(2Ω)) which is essential to proper driving of ML's.
And they do not cost as much as "exotic high end class A/B amplifiers".
Multiple studies have shown that amplifiers of the same power, with the caveat of being stable on complex low impedance loads, all sound the same.
 

twich54

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Pass is one brand I am considering. The challenge with them is since I am in a mono block config, I really only have two choices in their current line (open to suggestions for used models though)... either the X260.8 or the X600.8. Since I am used to having pretty big power with my JC 1's (and, I regularly... use it), it seems that I may be stepping down with the X260.8, while the X600.8 seems like more than I need (both in power, and definitely, in budget 😲 ).

While I love looking at all the options, I'm not sure I'll even make a move to new amps. I've got a great setup currently, and trying to bump up to the next level is appearing to be a really expensive next step. Plus, I'm still learning and moving my new 15's. The real challenge however is a) getting out with Covid; and b) not being located in a major metro area with several good dealer/showrooms. I guess I am fortunate to be in a mid sized city with two pretty good dealer/showrooms (both are big McIntosh dealers, with one also offering the Simaudio Moon line, which again gets me in trouble as the 400M seems slightly underpowered for my needs, while the 888 is WAY out of my budget)...
having x260.8's in my set up there is no 'stepping down', you will be hard pressed to find another A/B amp(s) that have more initial Class A bias than the x260.8's. This is not a mark against the JC-1's rather a clarification as to the ability of the PASS .........
 

Dan F.

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Dan, I owned the AR LS28 before buying the NP....funnily enough, I’m about to purchase the NP XP32 preamp.....
I’m considering the XP22 with a 250.8 amp. Have you heard the XP32 vs. the XP22?
 

Spike

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Multiple studies have shown that amplifiers of the same power, with the caveat of being stable on complex low impedance loads, all sound the same.
I would not make such a generalized blanket statement like this. From the hardware, electronic perspective, the goal is to keep the number of components in series with the signal path down to the minimum in order to preserve as close to the original signal as possible. We know that amplifying devices like opamp, transistors, tubes, etc... work by making a larger copy of the original signal. The resulting signal always has some degradation and is not exactly the same as the original signal. As an example, let's say the 1st stage uses the original signal as source to amplify voltage for the next stage. The resulting voltage is a (larger) copy serving as source for the next stage and so on. An analogy one can think of is making a copy from a copy of the original image. BAT & Pass amps (for example) sound so good because they have only 2 gain stages as opposed to other amplifiers having up to 5 gain stages.
With regards to your blanket statement that "amplifiers all sound the same" (paraphrasing from your post), I will disagree. Consider 2 amps of the same power and stable into complex low impedance loads, 1 amp has 2 gain stage vs another having 5 gain stages. By definition of the components differences in the signal chain, these amps will sound DIFFERENT from each other. Case in point when I compared Krell KSA100 vs Levison 331 amplifiers. Both are 100wpc, stable into 2 ohm loads, but they sound markedly different. Enough said.
 

geeji

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I would not make such a generalized blanket statement like this.
...
Case in point when I compared Krell KSA100 vs Levison 331 amplifiers. Both are 100wpc, stable into 2 ohm loads, but they sound markedly different. Enough said.
Until your post, I was a bit disappointed not to generate more feedback from my "blanket statement" about "Multiple studies have shown that amplifiers of the same power, with the caveat of being stable on complex low impedance loads, all sound the same." ;)

All what you say is true about successive signal degradation, but we must not forget the "measurement tool" at the end of the chain, which is far from infinite resolution : our ears.
I have always found with those same ears large differences between various loudspeakers, all the more so when they use different technologies : moving coils, electrostatics, Heil, magnepan, ...
My point is that if you have $10 000 more to invest into your system, very likely you will get a much better return on your investment by investing that money into loudspeakers (or, waf permitting, into room acoustic treatment) than into "exotic high end amplifiers". Once you have settled with the loudspeakers of your choice, the amplifier you choose should be "good enough" and it is surprising how relatively low cost digital amplifiers can be 99% as good, or better, as the best in class A/B.
See for instance Audio Science Review Measurements of Purifi 1ET400A Amplifier.

Of course, if money is no object, you can please yourself as much as you want :giggle:.

Note also that direct comparison of 2 amplifiers with the same loudspeakers can very easily be skewed by little differences of output levels if the switch does not also include a precise level adjustment : a 0.5db level difference will not be perceived as a different level, but could easily be confused with a difference of quality. Everybody knows that, but too many resellers do not care about such precise level adjustments in their demo rooms, or do not have the proper tools to make them (not so trivial to perform due to stationary waves in the listening room).
 
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Mirolab

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You should look at digital amplifiers, like for instance Hypex NC1200. They have a very low output impedance (2x1200W(2Ω)) which is essential to proper driving of ML's.
And they do not cost as much as "exotic high end class A/B amplifiers".
Multiple studies have shown that amplifiers of the same power, with the caveat of being stable on complex low impedance loads, all sound the same.
Hmmm..... I going to have to very much disagree with your statement.
I currently own FOUR stereo amps, all class AB solid-states in the range of 150 to 300wpc, and priced from $1000 to $4000. I have owned these amps for 10-20 years. When used at normal volumes, well within their power capability, they each have their own personality that i have become familiar with.
I also own 4 pairs of full range speakers. The sound differences between the speakers is FAR greater than the differences in amplifies. But that does not negate the importance of finding the right amp for your speakers. (and your own personal preference).

A few yeas ago I purchased a new NAD M22 switching amp ($3000). I own two NAD integrateds and like them very much. I DID NOT like this M22 amplifier. After 2 weeks of running it in... I still didn't like it. Luckily I bought it from a retailer that allowed me to return it for a full refund. I really wanted to like the amp, and I had no reason to be biased against it in any way.

So Geeji, are you going to tell me it's all just my imagination?
 

spkrdctr

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geeji, I agree with that. One of the main issues with audio is that the ear/brain connection is the easiest to fool. Testing has shown that many perceived difference in gear is related to a/b comparisons. This is the huge failure point in audio. I have been involved in many tests where a room was set up with two different systems. One was a great entry level high end set up of seperates. The other was a very inexpensive (dirt cheap) receiver with cheap 14 gauge speaker wire with one 20 feet long and the other about 5 feet long. The 20 foot long wire was coiled up like an eight inch diameter inductor. The speakers remained the same. We did everything we could to make every piece as crappy as we could for the low buck set up. The higher end was high dollar interconnects and high dollar speaker wire to matched lengths. We leveled the systems to the same db level on speaker output. So the test was run with the listeners having no knowledge of what they were listening to. They were asked to tell us which sounded better. These were guys with high end systems who said they could EASILY tell a lower dollar crappy system from any decent high end system every time.

Well, the result was they performed no be better than random guesses. They could not tell the difference between the two systems, roughly half the time they guessed right and around half the time they guessed wrong. Needless to say they were shocked and stunned. The people doing the test had no dog in the fight. They wanted to know hat would happen too. Then we decided to change out to various speakers. Eureka! Now the listeners could tell the difference much better than randomly. This test backed up the available data from thousands of tests that have had the same result over the last 40 years. Now, I do have to say the high end system was not a top of the high end system costing $30,000 or more. But, It was a very nice system, of seperates.

The conclusion that was made and easily provable was that SPEAKERS make the biggest difference in a system. In fact speakers dwarf every other part of your set up. Interconnects? Not much. Speaker wire? Not much. Fancy amplifier or preamp? not much. But speakers DWARF THEM ALL. I can go into more detail on why speakers dwarf everything in the sound system if anyone wants me to go into it. But, it just interesting info to know when you make decisions. The next issue that dwarfs everything is the room effects. The guys that do work on treating the room and its negative effects on the sound are way ahead of the game. You room treaters already know this......
I posted this as information NOT to start any flame wars. It's just something to think about. :)
 
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