Good 2ch Amp for $2K

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rich X, Sep 17, 2002.

  1. Rich X

    Rich X Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking for recommendations on 2ch amps to add to my audition list. I'm putting together a system for a new HT/listenting room that I am going to build in my basement. I already have an Anthem MCA5 that I am going to use to drive the center and 4 rear/surround channels. I will need a 2ch amp for my front mains and would like to keep the price around $2k.

    I have not finished my decision on front speakers but I'm considering B&W N803 or N804, Aerial 7B, and Revel F50 or F30.

    I have an Anthem AVM20 as my pre/pro. The amps that I am already considering are:

    Anthem MCA 20
    B&K Reference 2220
    Pair of B&K Refernce 220 mono blocks
    Rotel RB 1090

    The places where I have listened to these speakers tend to put amps like Bryston and Classe them, but I don't think I'll have enough left over in my budget to go there.
     
  2. Brian Vaughan

    Brian Vaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    Check out the PS Audio HCA-2 2 channel amp. I was using a B&K Ref 7250 to power all of my B&W speakers, but I wanted a seperate 2 channel amp for the mains. I could not be happier with it. It sounds incredible! Also, it just picked up a Class A Recommended Component knod from Stereophile. There may be a local dealer near you, or you can order one directly from them and take advantage of their 30-day return policy if you don't like it. They also have the best customer service I have ever dealt with. All for only $1695
    Here's the link:
    http://www.psaudio.com/products/hca.asp
    Cheers, Brian
    BTW, My mains are the Nautilus 804s
     
  3. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    check out conrad johnson and proceed.

    -rob
     
  4. James D

    James D Second Unit

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    I second the suggestion for the PS Audio amp. Audio Research just came out with a fine sounding tube amp for $2500. Musical Fidelity makes nice amps in this price range. You might also want to check out http://www.audiogon.com for a used amp. BTW, if you can swing the extra dough, I would definitely recommend the 10t's over the 7B.
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Depending on how much power do you need, you can get used Bryston 3BST's for around $1000 or so with still a good ~15 year warentee left. Lightly used 4BSTs tend to go for $1800s. However, if you want to buy new, the MCA20 would certainly be a good match with your existing. I just got an MCA30 and I'm impressed with the features for the money and it has some nice power.

    Jay
     
  6. Rich X

    Rich X Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all of the recommendations. I have heard good things about the HCA-2, but for some reason I thought it was more expensive.

     
  7. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    The Bryston 3B-ST rates 120wpc while the 4B-ST rates 250wpc. Both are conservatively rated and will put out 20% more than their published specs. If you're patient and monitor audiogon, you can get them used for ~$200-300 less than those figures Jay quoted with the bulk of their warranty intact. Seems like a lot of people are upgrading to the new SST models.
     
  8. James D

    James D Second Unit

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    Rich X-the 10t's are still in the current product line. The 10t's retail for $7k in standard finish. The 20t's retail for $20k. There is no way that the 20t's are replacing the 10t's for that big of a price difference. I have owned the 10t's for five years and I thought that they blew away the Martin-Logans and Thiels that I auditioned them against. If you go for an used amp, the Jeff Rowland and Ayre amps are a great match with the Aerials. Here is a link to the 10t's:
    http://www.aerialacoustics.com/model10t.htm
     
  9. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    I have heard good things about the PS Audio amp as well; I'd like to hear it sometime.
    With $2K at your disposal, you may also want to consider an Odyssey Stratos Dual Mono, which is essentially 2 mono Stratos amps in one case (including 2 power cords, I believe). I own a stereo Stratos, which I enjoy very much with planar speakers. Many owners of the dual mono have said that it takes the Stratos to the next level. This amp is high current and high capacitance, and the caps can be upgraded further. This counts more than the wattage (of course, the sound counts the most [​IMG] ). 20 year transferable warranty.
    Do note that the Stratos does have a long break-in time. I didn't believe it until I heard it myself, and I still don't understand why.
    Here's a link to a user's review and follow-up comments on the Dual Mono. This site also has an Odyssey Audio forum. You'll see that the Stratos has an almost religious following, to put it mildly.
    Doug
     
  10. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Thanks GordonL! [​IMG] I am just quoting prices from my head, you can check out Audiogon and Audio Shopper, as well as the Hardware FS/FT section here and also at audioreview.com for prices..
    Powerwise, the bryston's come with an actual spec sheet from the factory and my 3BST which is about 4 years old is actual rated at 151 WPC into 8ohms from both the left and right channel. (2Khz signal) so yeah, the Brystons tend to be underrated powerwise. Not saying that other amps aren't, they probably are but then again my Snell E.5s aren't that hard to drive well and I have a fairly small room which is why I didn't try to find a 4BST.
    Jay
     
  11. rodneyH

    rodneyH Supporting Actor

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    I am running a marsh sound design a400s (2X200w) with my 804s, I love it, retail is $2300, but it use to be 2000$, I bet you could pic one up for 2k. It was The Absolute sound's (TAP) golden ear award winner.
    www.marshsounddesign.com
     
  12. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    If your budget is only $2000, used is your best bet. For B&W or Revel I'd go with Classe', and with Aerial I'd go with Bryston. You should be able to find a used Classe' CA-200 or a used Bryston 4B-ST for under $2000.
     
  13. Mark Leitch

    Mark Leitch Stunt Coordinator

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    You may even want to stick with Anthem and get an Amp2 SE. I had one of these for awhile, and think it is a very nice amp that permits you to do a bit of tube rolling for fun. I believe they are still selling for $1100USD as well.

    M.
     
  14. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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  15. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

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    I've had a PS Audio HCA-2 in my system for several months and I'm not surprised that Stereophile has rated it
    Class A.
    The HCA-2 has it all in my opinion:
    Great sound
    Ability to drive very difficult speakers, mine is driving my Revel Studios
    Excellent build quality, speaker binding post, etc...
    No heat
    Compact size

    For the money, I'm not sure if you can find a better amp, new or used,
    anywhere.

    Regards,

    geo
     
  16. Rich X

    Rich X Stunt Coordinator

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    Lots of great recommendations! I've done some digging on the Bryston 4BST--looks like that would be a great option if I can find a good one used. The Classe CA-200 is also a great amp--I have heard this one with Revel speakers, very nice. Any idea what a reasonable used price for this would be?

    I'm also very intrigued by the HCA-2. Would love to listen to one, but since they are only sold direct I guess you have to take a chance. It seems like PS Audio has a very lenient return policy on these though.

    So here is where I'm am leaning now:

    Bryston 4BST (used)
    Classe CA-200 (used)
    PS Audio HCA-2
    Anthem MCA20

    I'm not familiar with some of the other amps that you recommended so I will have to do some more research. I will also have to go back and listen to the Bryston and the Classe more seriously--I had written them off as being out of my price range before.
     
  17. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I have compared a Proceed (Mark Levinson's little brother) HPA2 to bryston and classe and it falls right in between them in tonal quality. The bryston leaning towards the forward and the classe leaning towards the laid back. The Proceed was Neutral. That is something you might want to consider if your preference is Neutral. My second choice would be a Classe. Anthem isnt even in the same class as Bryston, Classe and Proceed, IMHO ofcourse. Haven't heard the HCA-2 so cant comment on its sound.
     
  18. Brian Vaughan

    Brian Vaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Rich, Sorry for the delay but I was off my computer for a while. Anyway, yes, I am still using the B&K to power to the center and surround channels. It's been no problem using the 2 different amps. I barely had to recalibrate the levels. Of course, PS Audio is going to introduce a 3-channel version on the HCA-2 soon, so I'll be getting rid of the B&K and using all PS Audio power in my system.
    I know it is tough to spend nearly $2k on an amp you haven't heard, but you can check on the PS Audio website to find a dealer that may be near you. I did a quick look and the one I found near Philly was The Stereo Trading Outlet, 320 Old York Road, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania 19046. I don't know how far this is from you, but it may be worth a trip.
    Finally, I don't know if you are still leaning towards B&W speakers, but here is an extensive review from one of the beta testers of the HCA-2 who was using it to power N803's. He also compared it to his Classe CA-201 amp:
    http://www.psaudio.com/products/hca_...asp?reviewID=5
    Cheers, Brian
     
  19. Rich X

    Rich X Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    Don't forget the Rotel man. I have one running my B&W's and the sound is simply beautiful. 380wx2 is incredible (especially because my speakers are 4ohm so it is relly an insane 700wx2). Can be had for ~1600-1700 new and 1200-1500 used.
    Marc
     

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