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Yes, the SS 101 series was surpassed by the SS-103. Basically they're the same base circuit, no major changes there. However, it's the Class A bias that has been significantly been modified on the 103 series. It has far more power and control in the Output stages, thanks to having a higher Class A power stage. These can hold very high levels without flinching one bit! Thus, when driving high performance speakers, such as the CLX's, the presentation is awe-inspiring!

Similar case with Pass Labs "XA" series. The XA series is the only category in the Pass Labs line up that can hold pure Class A for difficult loads. Even at very high levels, with vast dynamic swings and blistering transients, the XA series delivers supremely well. Same goes with any of Gryphon's top line gear, such as the Mephisto and Antileon, high Class A bias, no issues handling serious impedence swings of full range stats.

However, like I said, you'd need to audition first to choose your personal preference. I nor anyone on this forum can tell you what YOU like. Only you can determine that. Have also heard the Vitus SS101 series, it is quite tops indeed but that 103 series takes that performance to another level, and it's not marginal.

If you do come across any of the Pass Labs XA series (XA30.8, 60.8, 100.8, 160.8 & 200.8) for a reasonable price, any of these would be your end game amplifiers. I have a good mate of mine who uses the XA30.8 to drive his CLX's. Rated at just 30w pure Class A, it is one of the best I've heard to date. It was actually after listening to his system comprising of CLX's, Leben (tube preamp), T+A Digital player and the Pass Labs XA30.8 that I realised you dont have to have high power. Rather, high current with highly stable voltage is the key. And many so called high powered amps with 100's and 100's of watts fall terribly short. They simply run out of puff! Although on specs, they look great. Specs are very misleading... a lot to do with marketing and not actual performance.
Our human hearing cannot listen to 100's or 1000's of watts, we'd go dumb & deaf! It only takes a handful of watts for playback at realistic levels, that's only around 45-50w the most. After all, this is domestic hifi and not rock concert levels. That's distortion!

Cheers and let us know how your quest goes.
Again, fabulous information. Thank you RJ
Àttn: Chris

Just a point to add, and worth noting since I've experienced the exact thing; when it comes to amplification and especially for CLX's, which are high performance speakers, getting the right match is essential if you want your CLX's to perform optimally.

Therefore, take your time and audition as much as possible before making your decision. Also draw up a short list of 5 and choose the top 3 from that list that suits your needs, budget and overall value. From 3 top favourites it's much easier to choose one because all three are equally good. It's much harder to choose one from ten...

At the end of the day, the CLX's are ML's top electrostats ever made, sadly now no more. They deserve the best money can buy and obviously what you can afford. You don't want to be in a situation where your system is "over-speakered and under-amped"... sadly I've come across this very phenomenon many times, and not just with stats but other types of designs as well. Over-amped and under-speakered is ok, since you can always upgrade to far better speakers. However, in terms of changing or upgrading amplifiers, is not easy and you can lose money on it.

I've even questioned many owners on this very topic, as to why on earth they went for high performance speakers and ran out of budget on amplification... their simple answer was that they were crazy over a certain type of speaker but later realised they couldn't fork out the extra dollars required for proper amplification. In which case no point of going for such types of speaker systems in the first place! Just settle for something on the middle or entry level and work your way upwards, not the other way round.

So, in your case there's no rush. Just take your time and you will come across that perfect amplifier to drive your CLX's to glorious levels. It may even take a few years... in my case it took me 15yrs to get this! I do realise how critical it is to acquire the right kind of amplifiers.
Cheers mate, and enjoy those finest tunes!
Woof! RJ
Thank you RJ, though at 67 I don’t knows I’ve got 15 years to choose 😂. Many amps and speakers have graced my music room and I know the sound I’m looking for, but getting it with new and challenging speakers, as you say, takes time and effort, but that’s part of the joy of this rewarding hobby, right?
Yes of course mate.
Definitely not necessary to keep searching for 15yrs... hell no. What I actually meant was, I already had a top notch system back in 2004 (Apogee Diva's, CJ's Premier 8A amplifiers and the original ART preamp). That was it, end game for me.
Then we decided to migrate to Aus because former home town (Colombo) didn't have much of a future. So I had to sell off the entire rig and start all over again. Bought piece by piece over the years, plus going through various Maggie's, Quads and Wilson's and finally arriving at CLX's, that took me 15yrs.

Funny thing though, I'm also on a quest for SS amplifiers as an alternative. Since having the whole rig entirely based on tubes, and tube maintenance is getting costly... I'm thinking of downsizing in a few years. Will probably just use a top end SS integrated or stereo power amp and retire. My current favourite is the Burmester 032 but it only offers XLR connections. I can't use my phono & TT rig, however my Esoteric digital player can accommodate XLR, so no issues there. I really do like vinyl, so Burmester might not do it. Will have to see.
Then there's Pass Labs, which I know quite well and the XA series is a superb match with CLX's. Also, Pass Labs accepts both SE and XLR connections.
So I might just settle there. Anyway, I've got time so no rush, looking to finalise in a few years.

Until such time, I'm enjoying those fine CJ tooobs. Just awesome on stats, gotta love it!
Cheers, RJ


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