SL3 and SS Amp recommended?

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FlatCat

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Hi Guys,

I've been lurking awhile, and appreciate all of the knowledge you are willing to share. I'm hoping for a recommendation for an amp for my SL3's.

I'll admit that the SL3's were sloppy seconds, but the cats (now outdoors exclusively) destroyed my Magnepan 3.3's. TWICE. So while I like the SL3's, I miss the effortlessness of the Maggie's, and have never really got my SL3's to sing. After messing around different turntable/cartridges, DAC's, and pre-amps.

My other gear is as follows:
Analog Front end: Beogram TX2 with MMC2 cartridge. Surprisingly musical! Creek OBH-8 phono preamp

Digital Front end: Denon DVM-3700 DVD/CD changer ( I was using a Theta DS Pro Prime II, but it sounded worse than my Denon on my system, so I sold it to fund an amp upgrade.) I also have a Cal Audio Labs Gamma which sounds remarkably similar to the Denon.

Preamp: Audio Research LS-9 (I also have a pristine Acurus RL-11, awesome piece for the price, but I came into the LS-9, and so the Acurus has been boxed up for years now. I take it out from time to time to play with it, and it still sounds great, but not as refined as the LS-9.)

Amp: Acurus A-150

Interconnects/Cables are Transparent MusicLink Super ( I think) with a couple of Tara Labs for the TiVo, etc)

My house is all glass, exposed beams, and hard tile floors. ( I live in an Eichler home, for those of you interested in architecture, and mid-century modern design, check out htttp://www.eichlernetwork.com -- in fact there's a story in there on my house.) I've done a bit of room tuning, and it's certainly made a big difference, but it has to look as good as it sounds, and my listening room is my living room, so I can only do so much with room tuning.

My system sounds thin, or anemic, can get congested with complicated tracks, and lacks any mid-range richness. It's still better than 99% of the dreck out there, mind you, but well, this hobby is an addiction. :)

So I think the problem at this point is my amp.

Here are my parameters:
1) must have balanced inputs. ( the LS-9 really works much better that way, and all these years I've had it in single-ended mode)
2) Must sound better than my Acurus A-150.
3) I leave on my system all day, and have two small kids around, so I don't want tubes for an amp -- thought perhaps I'll upgrade to a tube pre-amp someday.
4) Must cost between $0.00 and $1500.00, and it needs to be really special if it's over $1000.00.
5) If I can resell it, I don't mind trying something new and then posting it for sale.
6) I'm a big believer in pre-owned for value.

So here are my thoughts so far:
1) Marsh a400s (roughly $950 used)
2) Innersound ESL 300 (hard to come by, and around $1300
3) Balanced VK-200 (around $1250)
4) What about Classe? Bryston? Bel Canto 200.2? Sunfire 300? McIntosh 2250? What about Audio Research D-240?

Any thoughts you, regarding the amps or otherwise, would be appreciated.
 

Munster

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Out of the amps you mentioned and what i've heard on my system, I like the bel canto 200.2. I don't know how they fit the sl3's though.
 

Jeff Zaret

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I have some questions too.
I understand your situation but I am not familiar with Acurus A-150 amp. How much power does it have? Having said that, I have Sequel II's, which were the model previous to the SL3's. They like power and so do the SL3's and this not to say that it should be an ennormous amount but I would hope at a minimum 100 watts or better leaning towards better.
You have some options here. :)

1)You could but another amp with similar characteristics as the one you currently have and bi-amp the speakers.
2) You could buy a more powerful amp and bi-wire the speakers.
3) You could but a tube amp and just power the panels and use your other amp for the woofers although you did mention they would be on all day and that could become costly. Although, if yout did that, you possible could cook a grilled cheese sandwich on the amp for the kids and maybe offset the cost. LOL :eek:
4) A combination also may prove fruitful. I recently replaced my SS preamp with a tube preamp and the difference was amazing. More warmth, depth, and openness to the sound. I still have my SS amp. ;)

These are just some suggestions that you should use as starting points. I know this vocal group will come through with more suggestions.

Your house being full of reflective surfaces which does not help but I am sure they will also be suggestions on how to tame some of that also. My recommendation would be plants, hanging, in pots and/or baskets which can be real or fake may help and are pleasing to the "spousal unit". :rolleyes:

BTW I still have a B&O 3404 turntable that I am not using currently.

Good Luck

Jeff
 

fallencr

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Aragon sounds like a good choice.

Mondial desings had two product lines, Acurus (I also have a RL-11) and up-scale Aragon. You could pick up a balanced Aragon 8008BB for little under $1200 shipping included in audiogon.com. It has power to spare, biased into class A and built like a tank.

Willie
 

FlatCat

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Acurus A-150

Jeff Zaret said:
I have some questions too.
I understand your situation but I am not familiar with Acurus A-150 amp. How much power does it have?

The Acurus A-150 has 150 watts into 8 ohms and something like 230 watts into 4 ohms. It is frequently called a "high-current" amp, though I'll admit, I don't know what that means, other than it drove my Magnepan 3.6's very well, and my SL3's only so-so.

The Aragon could be an interesting choice. I don't know how close the sound is to the Acurus, but I understand that the lower-end Aragon's were virtually identical inside to the Acurus.

By the way, the SL3's are the bi-wire model, and I do run them biwired (not bi-amped) off of the A-150.
 

DavidG

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Ideas. . .

Munster said:
Out of the amps you mentioned and what i've heard on my system, I like the bel canto 200.2. I don't know how they fit the sl3's though.
I'll second that. I've heard the Bel Canto eVo 2 driving Ascent i, and it really does sing. For me, it works better than Krell.

Another option that you could consider is a used Meridian 557 power - it's a very sweet and powerful SS amp that should work well with SL3s (a 559 would be even better, but beyond the $1500 point even on the used market). An alternative would be the Meridian G57, which is based around the amps used in the DSP8000 active speakers and is a truly amazing product. Not sure what this one costs in the states though!!

I use meridian amplification on my MLs, and the sound is fabulous.

Cheers,

David
 
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pbyrum

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Hello, I use the Aragon 8008BB to drive Ascent i's and have been very pleased with the performance. I also have an Acurus A200 for the rear surround channel (and use an 8008X3 BB for center and surround). If you are considering the Aragon, it is very important to get the 8008BB and NOT the 8008ST, since the BB besides having balanced inputs, more importantly has dual power supplies (it is a dual monaural amplifier) which provides a significant increase in performance. It is a Class A/B amp, running in 'A" mode for the first 30 watts, and runs hot, unlike the Acurus. The weight is approximately 71 lbs. It is a very capable and effective SS amplifier for driving electrostatics. I have truly enjoyed mine. You can find several reviews on the Web by doing a Google search on "Aragon 8008BB".

Good luck,
Paul
 

kach22i

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FlatCat said:
the SL3's are the bi-wire model
There you go, bi-amp...............I picked up a 100 watt tube amp for about $1,000. There's a slight dent in the top (not face plate) and the company went out of business five years ago...........a bargain though - sounds great.

See member system 42.

Many choices out there, buying used might allow you flip equipment to find the best match. However I found a local shop posting stuff on Audiogon and home auditioned it first with a credit card hold. I came back a few days later and paid cash - never looking back. Did the same with the tube preamp a week later - was the shop's loner for a while.
 
B

billimbriale

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I think you would more easily change your system's sound by changing the preamp. Even an inexpensive used tubed preamp would go a long ways to relieving the lean sound. I have been alternating a CJ PV-11 and a NYAL Minuet in A Preamp with nice results on a pair of ML Aerius.

You could partner a preamp such as the above AND if its necessary still have $800 or so for a power amp.

I just don't think based on your description that a change in power amp alone will bring the desired richness.
 

FlatCat

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Update!

It's been a couple of years since I posted the original request for a SS amp for my ML SL3's, and here's what's happened:

Another member sold my his B&K 2020 amp and it blew away my old Acurus. I got it for a song (around $300). Later, I found a Classe DR-25 (250 watts into 8 ohms) and it easily bested the B&K, so the B&K went to Audiogon heaven, and the Classe has had plenty of power and decent finesse for the speakers. A little dark in the mid-range for my liking, but doing most things very well with commanding power.

Unfortunately, it's now in the shop for no apparent reason, so I just bought a Quad 909 (only 140 watts, but it is designed to work well with electrostatic speakers, so I'm hoping it will mate well.) Of course, I'm still looking for another amp, and still considering the following:
Bel Canto s300
BAT VK-200
Innersound -- but they never come on the market
Classe 200 or 300 watt newer amp (have you noticed these are going up in price?)

Anyway, that's the latest....
 

Pcar928fan

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Bel Canto s300
BAT VK-200
Innersound -- but they never come on the market
Classe 200 or 300 watt newer amp (have you noticed these are going up in
I like the looks of the Bel Canto gear...like the look of the insides of the BAT in a different thread about "its whats on the inside that counts..."
 

Brad225

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FlatCat I ran my SL3s for 10 years with Aragon 24K pre and 2002 amp. It was OK but my recent change to ARC tube amps made an amazing difference. It was almost a night and day change. When I changed to an
ARC tube pre it was an improvement but nothing like power amps and also better quality CDP.

I also had done what some have suggested. Use your SS for low end and tubes for the panels. That truly made the panels sound better. I used my Aragon 24K to be able to blend the amount of signal of the SS amp to the woofers of the SL3s.
 

FlatCat

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SL3 and ARC tubes

Thanks for the post. I certainly auditioned the ARC tube amps at GNP AudioVideo in Pasadena, where I bought the SL3's. They are magical, no doubt. However, I'll need to save my lunch money for quite a while to make the jump to those prices from where I am now.

Of course, if you're ever looking to part with yours cheap, let me know... :D

My Quad 909 comes tomorrow, I'll post an update on the combo later.
 

Brad225

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FlatCat
Keep an eye on Audiogon and EBay. There are ARCs in your price range. You can always resell. Buying used means you have less price depreciation when you upgrade.

Good Luck
 

raanan

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Hi Guys,

I've been lurking awhile, and appreciate all of the knowledge you are willing to share. I'm hoping for a recommendation for an amp for my SL3's.

I'll admit that the SL3's were sloppy seconds, but the cats (now outdoors exclusively) destroyed my Magnepan 3.3's. TWICE. So while I like the SL3's, I miss the effortlessness of the Maggie's, and have never really got my SL3's to sing. After messing around different turntable/cartridges, DAC's, and pre-amps.

My other gear is as follows:
Analog Front end: Beogram TX2 with MMC2 cartridge. Surprisingly musical! Creek OBH-8 phono preamp

Digital Front end: Denon DVM-3700 DVD/CD changer ( I was using a Theta DS Pro Prime II, but it sounded worse than my Denon on my system, so I sold it to fund an amp upgrade.) I also have a Cal Audio Labs Gamma which sounds remarkably similar to the Denon.

Preamp: Audio Research LS-9 (I also have a pristine Acurus RL-11, awesome piece for the price, but I came into the LS-9, and so the Acurus has been boxed up for years now. I take it out from time to time to play with it, and it still sounds great, but not as refined as the LS-9.)

Amp: Acurus A-150

Interconnects/Cables are Transparent MusicLink Super ( I think) with a couple of Tara Labs for the TiVo, etc)

My house is all glass, exposed beams, and hard tile floors. ( I live in an Eichler home, for those of you interested in architecture, and mid-century modern design, check out htttp://www.eichlernetwork.com -- in fact there's a story in there on my house.) I've done a bit of room tuning, and it's certainly made a big difference, but it has to look as good as it sounds, and my listening room is my living room, so I can only do so much with room tuning.

My system sounds thin, or anemic, can get congested with complicated tracks, and lacks any mid-range richness. It's still better than 99% of the dreck out there, mind you, but well, this hobby is an addiction. :)

So I think the problem at this point is my amp.

Here are my parameters:
1) must have balanced inputs. ( the LS-9 really works much better that way, and all these years I've had it in single-ended mode)
2) Must sound better than my Acurus A-150.
3) I leave on my system all day, and have two small kids around, so I don't want tubes for an amp -- thought perhaps I'll upgrade to a tube pre-amp someday.
4) Must cost between $0.00 and $1500.00, and it needs to be really special if it's over $1000.00.
5) If I can resell it, I don't mind trying something new and then posting it for sale.
6) I'm a big believer in pre-owned for value.

So here are my thoughts so far:
1) Marsh a400s (roughly $950 used)
2) Innersound ESL 300 (hard to come by, and around $1300
3) Balanced VK-200 (around $1250)
4) What about Classe? Bryston? Bel Canto 200.2? Sunfire 300? McIntosh 2250? What about Audio Research D-240?

Any thoughts you, regarding the amps or otherwise, would be appreciated.









Based on my experience,I would like to recommend a Behringer EP1500.
I used one with my SL3s,and it was a fantastic match.It'll set you back all of 250$.BTW,you will be able to dispense with a preamp.Raanan
 

FlatCat

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SL3 and Quad 909

Hi Guys,

I had the Quad 909 for a week or so, and the Quad is a capable little amp with an excellent mid-range. The highest frequencies were also good, although a tad sibilant. After my Classe DR-25 though, the big difference was the lack of control in the bass. Bass did not extend as low or have as much control. That being said, the Quad would likely be a very good match for the Aerius, as it's not as power hungry as the SL3's and has better panel/woofer integration.

In the meantime, I found a BAT VK-200 that was being sold locally, and what a magical amp that is. I do think it's missing a bit of pure grunt and it loses a bit of coherence at louder volumes. It's only a 100 watt amp, yet is quite powerful. I can imagine that the big brother VK-500 would be the perfect amp for the SL3's, and that the VK-200 would be an ideal match for the Aerius.



Flatcat
 

JonFo

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Given your budget, no question for me: Sunfire Stereo (or a used CG, and use 4ch to bi-amp.
 

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