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So I'm sort-of in the market for a new speaker amp.


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I now have more speaker cabinets than I know what to do with.

4x Yamaha NS-1000s, some 15 years old and decidedly quirky. These served as the fronts and surrounds in my HT system for over 7 years.

2x Unisound AU265s, I'll get around to modding these at some point in a utopian future.

1x B&W CDN-CNT, center channel.

There's also a pair of Pinnacle <mumbles> upstairs that were my father's and were re-drivered at some point.

All of the above have been driven by my Rotel RMB-1075 since late 2003. It puts out 125W into five channels. It's a decent amp for flinging movie noises around the room, but it's not exactly what I'd call musical. Having just purchased an Outlaw RR2150, I have concluded that I am an idiot and spent entirely too much money on audio equipment I'd like a better amp for 2.0 listening in the living room. The outlaw hasn't even arrived yet, and when it does, it will go upstairs for the next year or so. After that, I'm installing it in the house mum is building on MV.

As it turns out, a lot of companies are putting their gear on sale right now. I've been looking at the Emotiva site a lot in the last few days. I have considered the XPA-2 at length. It puts out 300W x2 into 8 ohms and right now it's $719 with free shipping. I have never heard Emotiva gear, but what reviews I've read have been positive. The downside is that it is kinda ugly and not in a charming, homely fashion. Also it has wretched blue LED meters, which I'll bet are overly bright and hugely distraction when watching a film in a darkened room. Seriously, look at them, there eye-gougingly bad. If they can't be disabled or dimmed, those meters might be enough to make me skip Emotiva all together.

If I get a 2 channel amp, I'd still use the Rotel for the remaining 3 channels. At some point in the future, I'll get a new HT pre/processor which will doubtlessly be be 7.1. If and when that upgrade happens, I have the speakers for the extra surround channels.

There are quite a few solid state amps on the 'gon under $800. A few of the better ones:

Adcom 5800 for $600

Adcom GFA 5500 for $600

Adcom 585 for $535

Odyssey Stratos Plus for $800 obo. Wasn't there at least one H-Cer who quite liked Odyssey amps?

Odyssey Stratos for $750

Bryston 4B for $700. Really nice looking amp, the few Brystons I have heard I have really liked.

I could jump on the class D train with this Hypex Ucd400ad Amp for $700.

I wouldn't actually buy it, but this Yamaha MX-1000 would probably mate with my NS1Ks very well.

I have also considered getting a 3 channel amp. Certainly my B&W would benefit from better amplification, and the center channel is the most important one in HT. Emotiva has their XPA-3 on sale for $539 + free shipping right now. It puts out 200W x3 and appears to have fewer LED beacons on the front.

There is a really nice Adcom GFA 5503 3 channel for $550 obo.

I don't know buch about the maker, but this B&K 4430 for $525 also caught my eye.

If I can get past the blue LED strobe show, the Emotivas have the advantage of being new, having a full warranty, and free shipping. Of the used amps, the Odysseys are promising, but I have a soft spot for Adcom. I love my GCD-750 CDP. On the 'gon, I take my chances, and have to pay shipping and PP fees.

So.... Got any thoughts on this H-C? I know a couple users were conisdering Emotiva (Reks?) but I don't recall anyone actually buying from them (cue chorus of "Dew Eet!") Barring things like leaky caps, I'm quite comfortable with vintage Adcom. I really need to do more research on Oyssey. Likewise, I know nothing about Hypex and their class D work. Apparently they are a Dutch company?

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I say go with Odyssey Stratos plus. It's very similar to one of Symphonic Line amps and sounds very good. Symphonic Line uses different parts but the same schematic and sells that amp for 3K euros, arguably Stratos might even do somethings better as it has a huge power-supply.

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I highly recommend the B&K 4420 (if you want a stereo amp), which I own and love. It is a really musical amp, it creates a really wide soundstage, and can be found quite cheap ($450-$550). I bought mine from a friend, who demo'd about a dozen amps before settling on the B&K about 10 years ago. He sold it to me after he replaced it with a used VAC Phi 200 and said afterwords that he wasn't entirely sure the VAC sounded any better than the B&K. I have been on the merry-go-round for a while and can tell you that the 4420 trounces one of Marantz's flagship stereo amps, the SM11-S1. And it is better in some respects (bass, soundstage, electric bill) than the amp I am currently using, a McIntosh MC275. If I didn't live in a crammed New York apartment, I would buy another 4420 on Audiogon as a backup if mine ever needs repair. However, I would stay away from the newer B&Ks (the 200.2, etc.) as I have heard from a dealer friend that reliability on B&K's new amps has gone down hill.

Also, I would avoid Class D amps. I demo'd a Bel Canto Ref 1000 and bought and sold a Wyred 4 Sound ST250. Both sounded identically lousy.

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At this point I have ruled out any of the Adcoms, as well as the particular Bryston and B&K amps I linked to, as they are either sold or expired. I really don't want to invest in an amp that is 10 or more years old. The Stratos (Plus) is still on the table, and of course the Emotivas. I can now confirm that the sodding blue LED meters can be turned off, which is wise the part of the company.


Just to add to the confusion, Outlaw has crashed their site again put their entire line of multichannel amps on sale. Including the looney tunes 300Wx7 model 7900. Even at the $1050(!) discount, that beast is out of my price range. Also, I'd need to hire an electrician to wire two new circuits to the living room. Also also, I could barely move the damn thing. I'd be like the hassle of owning a Krell, without actually owning a Krell. I wish Outlaw made 2 or 3 channel amps with 200 or 300WPC. I probably shouldn't be biased against it, but their Model 2200 200W monoblock really doesn't appeal to me.

I'd like to audition a class D amp. I've never heard one properly, and I like the idea of their efficiency and lack of heat dispersion. When I went into Spearit Sound and asked about them last year, I was greeted with snobbery and derision. In 2010 an "audition" often means buying the unit in question and then selling it if it doesn't meet expectations. Other than Rotel, any H-Cers have any suggestions on manufactuers models of quality class D home amps?

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If you want to demo a Class D amp, Wyred 4 Sound offers a 30-day trial. They do charge a restocking fee, so don't demo an expensive amp. The ST250 is $995 new.

One is also available used on Audiogon for around $600 right now. You could make a low ball offer on that and probably resell it without too much trouble. That would probably cost less than the W4S restocking fee, if you are willing to endure the hassle.

You might also consider a used McCormack DNA1 or DNA0.5, which can be had for around $600-$750. McCormack makes very good solid state amps and these models aren't too enormous or heavy.

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