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Robert D

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Yes, I'm pretty sure they are sold as "Reconditioned". One of the amps I purchased happened to already have been a reconditioned offering. I paid for return shipping, about $50 each. Now shipping would probably be another 70% more.
How much do the companies tend to discount units that are reconditioned? Sounds like a good purchase as long as the factory warranty is the same as new. Never seen any listed online. Maybe mostly found at dealers?
 

ttocs

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How much do the companies tend to discount units that are reconditioned? Sounds like a good purchase as long as the factory warranty is the same as new. Never seen any listed online. Maybe mostly found at dealers?
I bought a couple Emotiva HC-1 amps. The new one was $799. The reconditioned one was 20% off and I'm pretty sure it had full warranty, but don't specifically remember. Reconditioned stuff on their site always move fast.
 

JLasher22443

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Sorry for the delay on responding back about my day of demoes. First I want to make sure everyone knows I am not a reviewer or associated with any brand that I demoed. LOL So don't expect a Stereophile Column of Joy and Wonder. LOL I'm just a guy with no kids who spends all his money on Audio Gear.

First thing I did was double check the setup to make sure the speakers were away from the wall and the toe-in was set to the flashlight standard. Also I used my db meter for all of the demoes to make sure one setup wasn't playing louder then another. We tried to keep the music at 75-85db range depending on spikes in the track. After moving the toe-in with the flashlight the owner Dave even stated it sounded much better and was shocked that such little toe-out could change those speakers so drastically. You can see in the photos below how we changed the toe-in outwards over the blue tape on the floor. Also this was his first time hearing the 15A's and he did enjoy them.

So we began with the setup I have with the only caveat being the SME 20 and Lyra Delos Cart and the Boulder 1108 phono which is still on its way into my system. So it was a bit of a teaser for me of where I will be and want to be with the SME upgrade possibly in the near future. The other difference was cables and the Weiss compared to the Holo May and Heimdal interconnects.

First Demo Setup: SME 20 -> ARC REF 6SE -> ARC REF 160S -> 15A's with cables being Nordost Valhalla except for Shunyata Sigma v2 speaker cables. These cables did not change throughout the entire demo. I listened for about an hour on this setup with a little streaming from the Weiss DAC501 and Roon. Power was Shunyata Denali 6000S w/ Sigma Power Cable. Same unit I had at home for demo before going with the Everest and Omega.

This setup sounded great and I was impressed with the SME but not so much on the Delos. And of course I liked this setup because it was almost like home. However my setup sounded a bit more detailed and the bass was punchier I think because of the Podiums, ARC Room Correction(which we ensured was turned off on the 15A's before starting the demo), and Room Treatments I've added over the years. But clarity and detail was amazing as always from the setup. Soundstage is wide and it always makes me feel as if the music is on the same level and right in front of me like being in a Jazz Club kind of experience. No stage for the musicians to stand up on.


Second Demo Setup: Weiss DAC501 -> ARC REF 6SE -> Boulder 1161 -> 15A's with cables and everything else staying the same.

This was definitely a cleaner sounding amp and made the soundstage sound huge and lifted it up a little more then the 160S but not much. We listened to "Tin Pan Alley" by Stevie Ray Vaughan and he just sounded huge right in front of us. Same as the 160S but brighter and cleaner if that makes sense. Something with the Boulder equipment just makes everything clean and only the music is being played back at you. Photo below shows the size difference of how much smaller it is physically, but boy does it pack a bunch for its size. Before I went with the 160S this was a tie for me but shooting for synergy I went with the 160S in the end over the 1161. And of course the look of those Ghost Meters and glowing tubes had something to do with it! LOL


IMG_6026.JPG


Third Demo Setup: Weiss DAC501 -> ARC REF 6SE -> Dan D'Agostino Momentum S250 MxV -> 15A's with cables and everything else staying the same.

As seen below this was a lot smaller but it definitely didn't perform like a smaller amp. Now I was expecting to be blown away when this one got connected. And yes it performed great but when I unmuted the REF 6SE for the first time and started to stream I was like "What is that very faint noise I hear"; almost like static? And the owner said that is the DanD signature sound. He stated DanD adds a bit of distortion to his amplifiers to give it a more Analog Sound. I was like really that sucks. LOL He kind of laughed and said about 80% of his customers like that and feel it gives the music a bit of analog/vinyl sound to the music when streaming. Definitely not my cup of tea and I can tell you the 15A's made that distortion apparent when listening. guess its the panels showing off how well they reproduce what it is given to them.

So the sound stage here was pushed back a little further then the ARC and Boulder but did sound great. Detail was just as good if not a little better but not enough to put up with that sound that just stuck out to me every time we switched tracks. One thing I noticed is that it seemed to be a bit quicker and punchier in the Mid's. Detail in the track Bubbles by Yosi Horikawa was amazing just like the others but I feel like I could image the type of ball Yosi dropped better with the ARC and Boulder. Like the detail was being smeared a bit by that distortion maybe? I think if I didn't have all 3 brands side by side for 4 hours I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference and would have loved the sound but not knowing I could have spent a lot less on the other amps.


IMG_6029.JPG


Fourth Demo Setup: Weiss DAC501 -> ARC REF 6SE -> Boulder 2160 -> 15A's with cables and everything else staying the same.

Now this amp does have its own power cord they produce and provide so that did change. This is not the unit with the 32A IEC connector but with a standard 20amp.

First thing is The Boulder 2160 Stereo Amp is just amazing. It took both of us lifting it into place out in from of the others. The size of this thing at 220 lbs and over two feet long and is just amazing. The metal work is amazing and the construction is just as spectacular. Yah its not as flashy as the DanD or maybe as cool as the Ghost Meters and glowing tubes but; with it just sitting there in all its huge glory; it demands respect regardless of looks.

Once hooked up I put it through my normal songs and boy was I blown away. This thing outperformed the DanD and ARC by a lot. It definitely transformed the 15A's and made them sound better.

The detail in Bubbles was astonishing. The image it painted for me of each ball being dropped was just spectacular. You could tell what ball type each one was when it was dropped and where in the soundstage it was dropped. This was much more than the DanD and ARC.

With the Acoustic Live version of "Keith Don't Go" and Fink's track "Trouble's What You're In' Live; the Soundstage came back down to the floor level and more up front like the ARC over the DanD. Again right in front like at a small Jazz Club but with huge soundstage and imaging. The soundstage was a complete 180 degrees or more surrounding me almost like surround sound.

In the track "Blown Away" by Sivert Hoyem the amp had the 15A's making the room sound like a concert hall or warehouse. Crazy! The Bass was now much deeper and punchier over the others. And Dave was even shocked at the improvement so much we had to look up the specs on the 15A's again because he thought the powered Class D amps of the 15A's would be doing most of that and not really improve as much as it did with a larger watt amp; but boy did it.

In the track "Tin Pan Alley" when Stevie starts singing about the woman he found screaming. The guitar was literally hitting me in my chest. And when he sings about hearing the pistol at around 5:10 and the pistol being a 44. Holy $hit did I feel that music deep in my chest when he strikes the strings and the drum hits. This amp by far was the best amp I had heard all day and I was very, very, impressed. Again we were both shocked at how the midrange tone was so pure and clean compared to the others. If I had the coin I would have put the order in that day for the 2160.


IMG_6031.JPG


After enjoying the 2160 and 15A's for about an hour just playing tracks from my Playlist Dave did ask if I wanted to now hear the Wilson Sasha DAW's he had sitting beside the 15A's. Now him and his brother both know my wife got me the 15A's and love that story and would never try and sell me Wislon's. But he did want me to compare them because he didn't know when I would ever have the chance to do it again with the 15A's being in the store.

So we moved the 15A's and hooked up the Sasha DAW's to the Boulder. Now at about $38k for a pair I was expecting the Sasha's to sound better with almost an extra $10k price point over the Logan's. Was I impressed; Yes very much so. Will I be getting rid of my 15A's; No, not anytime soon. Maybe in 5 years or so I may consider jumping into the Wilson line because they did have a more clean midrange and lower end compared to the 15A's. And the detail I get from the 15A's was there with the Wilson's as well. But for now I will stick with my Logan's and enjoy the music they produce. Also I have to upgrade my TT first and possibly get the 2160 into my setup. ;) Once I find my end game components I can consider upgrading my speakers.

Also for everyone wanting to know how the 15A's sounded with the ARC i50 and the McIntosh tubes; sorry but I got wrapped up in listening to the 15A's with the 2160 and completely forgot after I was lost in the music. I might make another trip back up this weekend to have a listen again and try out the i50 and a McIntosh. I'll let the thread know once I reach out and ask about their schedule this weekend and what they have in stock. Plus I'd like to compare the 15A's to the Alexia 2's they have there as well.
 

MisterB

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Sorry for the delay on responding back about my day of demoes. First I want to make sure everyone knows I am not a reviewer or associated with any brand that I demoed. LOL So don't expect a Stereophile Column of Joy and Wonder. LOL I'm just a guy with no kids who spends all his money on Audio Gear.

That was an incredible write-up. Thank you for sharing. Very interesting about the intentional distortion added into the D'Agostino. One thing that stuck out at me were your comments about how much the 2160 made the bass deeper and punchier. I have noticed the same thing in auditioning different amps with my Impressions. I've been told by a couple different people that the amp shouldn't make any difference in the bass because the woofers are already internally powered. But I know what I heard, just as you and your dealer heard it with the 2160.

So my question is this -- does your dealer (or do you) have any explanation as to why it does make a difference in the bass with these ML's? Is it just the amount of wattage factoring in somehow? Better quality watts? Damping factor?

Re: the McIntosh tubes, you don't have to bother with it on my account. I've decided to go the tube pre, SS amp route.
 

ttocs

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That was an incredible write-up. Thank you for sharing. Very interesting about the intentional distortion added into the D'Agostino. One thing that stuck out at me were your comments about how much the 2160 made the bass deeper and punchier. I have noticed the same thing in auditioning different amps with my Impressions. I've been told by a couple different people that the amp shouldn't make any difference in the bass because the woofers are already internally powered. But I know what I heard, just as you and your dealer heard it with the 2160.

So my question is this -- does your dealer (or do you) have any explanation as to why it does make a difference in the bass with these ML's? Is it just the amount of wattage factoring in somehow? Better quality watts? Damping factor?

Re: the McIntosh tubes, you don't have to bother with it on my account. I've decided to go the tube pre, SS amp route.
I asked ML about this a couple years ago and was told that the powered woofers will take on the "flavor" of the amp driving the panels.

When comparing my tube amps to my solid state, the tube amps exhibited about a 1dB boost in bass below the 300Hz crossover. Last fall I could swear that the bass is more affected all of a sudden. This was after a firmware update to the speakers and updated ARC. I only did a quick compare and didn't think much about it afterwards because I don't switch amps often and frankly didn't want to go through the process of testing this.

But yes, it's a real thing.
 

Ishaansuri

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Hey guys .. apologies in advance for the very boring question but I wanted your advice. I have a very limited short list of some options available for my Classic ESL 9

1. Emotiva xpa hc-1 pair
2. Emotiva xpa 2 Gen 3
3. Mcintosh Mc301 pair (demo set)
4. Rotel 1582-mark 2
5. Michi x3
6. ATI or Parasound not yet evaluated

Emotiva pt100 preamp is what I use.

If you had to pick from these could anyone help ?.
Thanks much! :)
 

ttocs

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A few months ago I tried out a pair of Emotiva HC-1 amps. While they performed very well, they just couldn't compete in the "could I listen to this for days without stopping?" test. My tube amps are more inviting. For HT the HC-1 would be fine, but for music it's not the amp I need when paired with my Expressions. The HC-1 would be a better choice than the XPA-2.

Having not heard the others, the McIntosh MC301 would be my choice to want to hear and expect good things.

A few years back I tried to like the MC275 in stereo mode powering a pair of ESL's with passive woofers, but it just didn't sound great in the high frequencies at stronger volume levels. But, a pair of MC275 amps in mono mode is supposed to be wonderful, so I would expect the 301 to be better.
 

JLasher22443

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Hey guys .. apologies in advance for the very boring question but I wanted your advice. I have a very limited short list of some options available for my Classic ESL 9

1. Emotiva xpa hc-1 pair
2. Emotiva xpa 2 Gen 3
3. Mcintosh Mc301 pair (demo set)
4. Rotel 1582-mark 2
5. Michi x3
6. ATI or Parasound not yet evaluated

Emotiva pt100 preamp is what I use.

If you had to pick from these could anyone help ?.
Thanks much! :)

I agree with ttocs and I'd also recommend the McIntosh MC301 out of that bunch. I had it for years running my Center channel and do miss it.
 

MisterB

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Hey guys .. apologies in advance for the very boring question but I wanted your advice. I have a very limited short list of some options available for my Classic ESL 9

1. Emotiva xpa hc-1 pair
2. Emotiva xpa 2 Gen 3
3. Mcintosh Mc301 pair (demo set)
4. Rotel 1582-mark 2
5. Michi x3
6. ATI or Parasound not yet evaluated

Emotiva pt100 preamp is what I use.

If you had to pick from these could anyone help ?.
Thanks much! :)

I would cross both the Emotiva off the list. All the current gen use the same modules and switch mode power supplies. I think I've mentioned my experience previously with the XPA 2 Gen 3 powering ESL X's. It was meh. Dull and lifeless. Honestly, my Emotiva BasX A-800 (used for surround duty) sounded more dynamic and engaging. I am guessing that's a product of the the XPA being class H and the BasX being AB. I'm just not a fan of the class H SMPS design.

Choosing from what's on your list, I would pick the MC301's. But I might also look around for a new or used MC302 or MC312 2-channel. Unless you're getting a stellar price on the pair of MC301 mono's, you could probably save yourself some cash and get a used 2-channel MC302 or a new/used MC312 that would be more than enough to power your Classics.
 

BDH55

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Fourth Demo Setup: Weiss DAC501 -> ARC REF 6SE -> Boulder 2160 -> 15A's with cables and everything else staying the same.

Now this amp does have its own power cord they produce and provide so that did change. This is not the unit with the 32A IEC connector but with a standard 20amp.
Jason,

Sounds like one heck of a good way to spend an afternoon! Heck, I was getting excited just looking at all that beautiful gear in your photos... :D

One thing you are really fortunate on is having a dealer that a) has all this stuff in stock; b) is willing to give you a four hour listening session while swapping gear in and out; c) has a liberal demo policy; and d) has an unbelievable upgrade policy for products you buy thru them. I would die to have a dealer like that local to me. No, seriously... I 'would' die because there would be so much gear constantly coming thru my house that my wife would likely kill me! Just kidding, but you know what I mean... :ROFLMAO:

I do have one question for you though... you mentioned that the 2160 had a 20A power cord on it as opposed to their normal 32A connector. I remember looking at some of the Boulder gear on their website and I thought with their bigger amps that the 32A was the default. In fact, all their dimensional drawings show the 32A connectors, and IIRC, they have an article about why it is a necessity to feed their amps with 32A. Do you know if 20A is just an optional feature, and if so, is it a single 20A connection, or is it two 20A connections per amp?
 

JLasher22443

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Jason,

Sounds like one heck of a good way to spend an afternoon! Heck, I was getting excited just looking at all that beautiful gear in your photos... :D

One thing you are really fortunate on is having a dealer that a) has all this stuff in stock; b) is willing to give you a four hour listening session while swapping gear in and out; c) has a liberal demo policy; and d) has an unbelievable upgrade policy for products you buy thru them. I would die to have a dealer like that local to me. No, seriously... I 'would' die because there would be so much gear constantly coming thru my house that my wife would likely kill me! Just kidding, but you know what I mean... :ROFLMAO:

I do have one question for you though... you mentioned that the 2160 had a 20A power cord on it as opposed to their normal 32A connector. I remember looking at some of the Boulder gear on their website and I thought with their bigger amps that the 32A was the default. In fact, all their dimensional drawings show the 32A connectors, and IIRC, they have an article about why it is a necessity to feed their amps with 32A. Do you know if 20A is just an optional feature, and if so, is it a single 20A connection, or is it two 20A connections per amp?

Yah the guys at JS Audio are great guys and I am very lucky to have found them. Like seriously good all around people. Also they have those 15A's up for sale on their site if anyone is interested. Its under their specials section with a whole lot of other items.

I'll be back there this Saturday and I'll be doing some more demoing of the TT's with the 15A's and the Boulder amp. Also plan to take my May KTE with me to let them mess around with it. They were talking about buying one to compare after all the reviews they read and I was like I'll just bring in mine. LOL

As for the power I'm pretty sure its a 20amp single for sure. I'll take some photos and get the details for you. Boulder makes a customer cable so you can't swap out cables I believe. But to be sure I'll take photos of both ends and post them here.
 

BDH55

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Hey guys .. apologies in advance for the very boring question but I wanted your advice. I have a very limited short list of some options available for my Classic ESL 9

1. Emotiva xpa hc-1 pair
2. Emotiva xpa 2 Gen 3
3. Mcintosh Mc301 pair (demo set)
4. Rotel 1582-mark 2
5. Michi x3
6. ATI or Parasound not yet evaluated

Emotiva pt100 preamp is what I use.

If you had to pick from these could anyone help ?.
Thanks much! :)
I'll throw my two cents in as I've had experience with some of this gear...

I had a good experience with Emotiva (initially). I owned one of their XPR-5 'Reference' five channel amps. It was just a beast and did one heck of a job in my home theater. It was also very attractively priced. Unfortunately, shortly after it went out of warranty it developed an intermittent issue that caused it to shut down (and of course, always at the most inopportune time in a movie). I contacted them to arrange for repair, but was told they would not repair it, and I let them know that was their choice, and my choice was never to buy from them again...

I'm not familiar with the Michi x3, but I was considering their M8's as an upgrade to my current mono blocks. One thing that came up when I was reading thru the M8 reviews, etc. was that the M8 really didn't want to see a speaker load that dropped below 4 ohms. Also, when they put the M8's thru their stress test, the M8 blew a breaker. Again, I don't know the x3 (nor do I really know your ESL 9's), but you might want to make sure that the x3 will deliver what your ESL 9 is going to be calling for...

Of the amps on your list (although, keep in mind I have no direct experience with the Mac, Rotel or ATI), I'd just say, don't underestimate the Parasound gear! I've been using Para (JC-1 monos, JC-2 BP pre; A31; A23+) gear for years with my ML speakers (Summits; ESL 15's). It's pretty tough to find gear that is as well built, and delivers like they deliver at anywhere near their price point.

Good luck in your search!
 

ttocs

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Sorry for the delay on responding back about my day of demoes. First I want to make sure everyone knows I am not a reviewer or associated with any brand that I demoed. LOL So don't expect a Stereophile Column of Joy and Wonder. LOL I'm just a guy with no kids who spends all his money on Audio Gear.
Well, I for one am impressed by your "just a guy" review! Thanks so much for sharing!

It can be overwhelming when trying to be attentive to differences, nuances, etc, and be able to recall the pluses and minuses later. You had a busy agenda and gave us plenty to vicariously experience!
 

Ishaansuri

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Thanks guys MisterB, ttocs, bdh55. Yes well my bassX a300 is actually sounding pretty darn amazing as if now. I think the bassX line is their most dynamic and musical. That's what has been driving the esl 9. AB is what these need.

I have the same view on my shortlist here I think, subconsciously I am also in the view that the hc1 would be very HT biased and that is not all I'm seeking. The a300 paired with my 13 year old pioneer elite does a swell job with a JBL LS center and surround and a 15" JBL subwoofer.

I guess mc301 would be the go-to if I were to upgrade. I will do a bit of digging on the parasound and learn more about their lineup. This or another mcintosh 2 channel. Dealer also has a MA9000 available at a lower price as it was a trade in but that is just a tank.

Rotel and michi both share no details on 4ohm loads or below. That's their way.

I am trying for a good deal on the mc301 pair. Let's see what I manage.
Cheers
 

ttocs

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Rotel and michi both share no details on 4ohm loads or below. That's their way.

I am trying for a good deal on the mc301 pair. Let's see what I manage.
Cheers
I quizzed Rotel about 12 years ago and asked which of their amps would be a good match for ML electrostatic speakers. They replied that it was not a good idea with speakers dipping to 1Ω. The problem would show up at higher volume levels. I was bummed because I really wanted to buy their amps.

After wandering aimlessly for a while, I finally settled on Krell. Still have it, and it sounds much better after disconnecting all but two channels. (Don't need the other three channels anymore.)

Good luck on the MC301! Hope it works out.
 

Ishaansuri

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Haha I wrote to rotel with the same question last week as well! They sent a very vague response again not identifying the fact that esl would swing down to 2ohm. Maybe didn't really go beying what ML lists on their pages which is also incomplete info technically on speaker their speakers requirements. Attaching rotels recommendation which made me feel same. Their amps aren't for esl's, great as they are for b&w or so sonus Faber.
 

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shellnut48

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I have 3 PS Audio BHK 300 monoblock amplifiers for 2 15A’s and an Illusion Center. I wish I could tell you how they sound, but my system is still being put together. Everything that I’ve read or watched suggests that I’ll be pleased. I’ll let you know.
My system is now good to go. It sounds absolutely amazing for both 2 channel music and home theater driven with the addition of two Anthem amplifiers. The first record I played was Tom Petty’s Wildflowers on my Rega Planar 10 turntable. I didn’t know what to expect, but the sound stage was impressive and anything bad wasn’t discernible. I can now recommend the BHK monoblocks and the BHK preamplifier. Both are hybrids with tubes. Watch for a sale at PS Audio or ask for the trade in price even if you have nothing to trade. I have found them to be very flexible on their pricing.
 

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Whilst I appreciate you guys tend to go predominantly for American muscle amps, with MLs, there is a British built amp that is absolutely stonking with MLs, Nord.
I'm currently using a pair of Nord One UP SE NC500Ms (400wpc into 8 Ohms 700/4, 550/2) with my Summits. Yes they're class D but with the Bass controls set flat at 0, they don't sound like class D at all, the sound is rich and detailed and more akin to class AB. There pricing is also ridiculously sensible ($2.5k - $3k) depending on spec (case quality etc) and are happy to export worldwide.
Nord Hypex NC500 NC1200 ICE Power Purifi 1ET400A Amps for Sale UK USA
Now I've always been a class A/AB man (Icon Audio MB845SEs & Tag Maclaren 125Ms), and had not enjoyed other class D amps I'd heard, thinking them too clean and clinical, but these Nords really are a different animal altogether, richness, detail, soundstage, the works. Case in point, I've owned and listened to The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions for over 30 years, and yet it wasn't until I put the Nords into my current rig that I actually heard/got a real impression of the size of the church, or been able to discern the position of Margo Timmins Brother singing over her left shoulder.
 

ttocs

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Whilst I appreciate you guys tend to go predominantly for American muscle amps, with MLs, there is a British built amp that is absolutely stonking with MLs, Nord.
I'm currently using a pair of Nord One UP SE NC500Ms (400wpc into 8 Ohms 700/4, 550/2) with my Summits. Yes they're class D but with the Bass controls set flat at 0, they don't sound like class D at all, the sound is rich and detailed and more akin to class AB. There pricing is also ridiculously sensible ($2.5k - $3k) depending on spec (case quality etc) and are happy to export worldwide.
Nord Hypex NC500 NC1200 ICE Power Purifi 1ET400A Amps for Sale UK USA
Now I've always been a class A/AB man (Icon Audio MB845SEs & Tag Maclaren 125Ms), and had not enjoyed other class D amps I'd heard, thinking them too clean and clinical, but these Nords really are a different animal altogether, richness, detail, soundstage, the works. Case in point, I've owned and listened to The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions for over 30 years, and yet it wasn't until I put the Nords into my current rig that I actually heard/got a real impression of the size of the church, or been able to discern the position of Margo Timmins Brother singing over her left shoulder.
Class D is very good these days, but, there's just something missing each time I get a chance to audition one. There are now a few I've read good things about, this being one of them since you are saying good things, so I'd love to get some audition time with them. Maybe AXPONA?, if it actually happens this year.
 

Robert D

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Class D is very good these days, but, there's just something missing each time I get a chance to audition one. There are now a few I've read good things about, this being one of them since you are saying good things, so I'd love to get some audition time with them. Maybe AXPONA?, if it actually happens this year.
Is that expo great? I've never been to an audio expo.

 
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