2017 amps - $10K to $15K who is on your short list?

I saw recently a short list by TAS on 2016 amps between $10 & $15K MSRP the TAS staff concluded were their choices of the best for last year.

Perhaps these were new entries from2016 only. I don’t know and thee article did not mention that aspect. The list also appears to be a global perspective.

The list contained:
Air Tight ATM-1S,
AVM Ovation PA8 preamp and SA8.2 Power amp,
Constellation Inspiration,
Dn D'Agostino Classic Stereo,
GamuT D200i,
Hegel Music Systems H30,
PS Audio BHK Signature 300,
Triode Corporation TRX-M300,
Zesto Audio Bia 120

Regretfully some more mainstream names were not included which came to mind such as, BAT, VAC, Pass, and perhaps a couple more.

My question here is which ‘current production’ amps in this MSRP financial ball park would be on your short list were you shopping for new amps, or are in your present system?

Valves Solid State, hybrids, integrated, or Class D which are not speaker specific, requiring high Eff speakers or horns to work well.

Let’s include current production amps which are near the upper and lower limits of the spread, so if in your opinion there is an amp at $8 or $9K which out performs those costing more, or is even on par, in your opinion, plese feel free to mention it or them.

All amps must be at least in production now stereo amps. If they can as well be run as monos, fine enough, but let the price range of more or less, 10 – 15K dictate your ascertions on two channel amps or twin monos which would land in or near the mentioned boundaries.

Here are some I feel should be among the TAS list but were not, in no particular order:

VAC Signature 200 iQ Stereo/Mono - $14,000
This one is here on rep and new technology in the bias circuit alone. Have seen no reviews, and I have not heard it. It does offer itself as a mono if an uncle or Aunt dies and leaves you an inheritance.

Balanced Audio Technology VK 76SE stereo or mono $13,995.00 2ch price
I previously owned BAT vk 60 and found it very acceptable. Also in mono, see ‘inheritance’ above if twin mono setup is desired.

Balanced Audio Technology VK-655SE $16,500
(well, it is within a grand or so of 15K and BAT has strong performance heritage and very good secondary market presence. Also, didn’t want folks to think I was biased to tubes only)
I’ve owned BAT VK500 BAT pack, and loved it. Purely musical with control and finesse. A tick or two on the warm side. The latest iteration scales up the power and refines the voice, if the reviewer isn’t deaf. Once more offered in mono config too.

no inheritance on your horizon? Perhaps you can get pics of BAT Execs with tempestuous farm animals to negotiate possible lower price for twin mono setup. lol

Who is on your list and briefly, why?


Thanks for the clarification. I thought I was right.
D' Agostino is a name I’m familiar with. I read it as “Agostino” instead, and that threw me some.
My first enjoyable amp was a Krell KAV 250. Thereafter its preamp mate.

Yeah, hard charging pitches concern me but they are amusing too. Well, to a point.

Its all about the final ‘fit’ in any case… how deep are the pockets and one’s own preffs.

IMHO, although an ultra end INT is a viable option, likely as not, I’m leangin to merely an amp dual mono amps, or possibly even pure monos.

Given this list, and watching input and output impedances, plenty of the items on this list will work in numerous applications/configurations. Only presentation andpower demands of the speakers in mind will dictate which way to go now, and or, eventually. This is despite many amps listed herein are the so called ‘destination’ amps… or could be. Really?
If but $5K is the available outlay for an amp, a $5K amp is indeed the ‘destination’ amp.
Thanks much, J

TA has more than enough press in this thread. It’s a list, remember? There are still others which ought to be here but are not quite yet.

As for diminishing returns, which is what aI alluded to putting TA at it’s threshold, I felt it was obvious price doesn’t always equate to performance or improvements on performance. Price isn’t even going to deliver exactitudes in presentation. Merely differences thereof. Subjectivity accounts for which is best or acceptable and remains a personal choice affected by a lot of other factors.

RE Reviews
My inference here was anyone who has a remarkable inventory available at their fingertips, IMO, ought to spend time illuminating or supporting others experiences by jotting down thoughts on the technical and practical side of matching components and developing suprising outcomes.

As stated, even a little information makes things more or less attractive. Sheer speculation, and no practical info does nothing at all.

Put some energy into imagination and provide some windows for others they might not usually see.

EX:.” At what level of expense in the amplifier can one obtain ‘pinch me’ its that real presentation, with say, Personna 5 or 7Fs which aren’t getting tons of press just yet. Or with Legacy’s? or with ??? speakers.

EX:, which tube amps and or which SS amps and at what WPC outputs? Do single ended triodes have enough juice to push ??? speakers to satisfying levels provided one is not insane? Etc.

EX: Is the proposed $8K diff from the Para 5F to the 7F entirely justifiable, or will using a ??? amp on the 5F in a ??? sized room do as well? ETC.

I don’t presume to know your inventory, or I’d offer better suggestions. Maybe simply elaborate on things people don’t expect which are affordable tweaks or upgrades one should put on their lists if they don’t already know.

In short, follow a some what more altruistic path. It always pays off.

thanks. a lot. Do you have any links to articles on these items?

thanks much. Links?

Simply forgot. The Jeff Rowland 625 S2 has to be considered. Legendary designer with build quality and sonics taking a back seat to no one. Rowland guys keep their gear a very long time and for good reason. Jeff is a genius and truly great guy. An American legend like Dan D'Agostino. No one will never regret purchasing from either. These aren't empty boxes like some I know. 

Rowland 625 S2 has to be considered.

Yep. Saw that post. Saw too many Rowland owners do love those Rowland amps. Nearly pulled the trigger on one of his preamps years back, a ‘‘capri’ I seem to recall. Could be wrong. It was a while ago. Before I got the Thor line stage.

Hegel H30 or Hegel H4SE The latter is 9.9/10ths of the former

appreciate it. I’ll see what I can glaen off the web.

Gryphon Diablo and Boulder 865.

thanks Ed.
I’m liking the press on your picks. Hearing any of them beforehand might be an issue however.

In the [past rigs Ive owned, I was able to acquire a strong degree of Illusionary Reality. Which is IMO, when you’re reaching for the virtual autograph pad to get an artists signature as they stand before you singing or playing. Much depended on the recording of course and it took a lot of matching devices, upgrading gear, and wires too. This inference occurred with lesser priced fare than I am researching presently for the next experiment in loosely controlled lunacy.

My preffs? Organic. Natural. Detailed. Extension, speed, engaging, and dynamic. The arrangement one simply finds very difficult to de-energize.
My aim is not to have an outfit which lessens my CD or Disc library so only very well done recordings are suitable for playback in it. Definitely, there are some dsics which are simply trashed and only suitable for the desktop speakers, some discs, I’d not play even there. Going back into the 50s and 60s pop or 70s rock veins eras only nostalgia keeps me clicking onto their tracks.

With such a listing of exceptionally well regarded power on tap in this thread alone, and a number of prime vintage options always about, the only major concern is what will the squeakers be? A short list of current candidates I think was already included in this thread. Few if any will require high degrees of WPC, and an upper limit of 200 or maybe even 300 should be plenty. Albeit, this too is in flux, so who knows what’s to come in as the squeaker du jour. They surely will not be panels, or dipoles. New ones, hopefully. Pre-owned units ain’t out of the question though.

ca couple spkr choices could do very well on 50 - 75wpc.

Hidden costs are sure gona suck as traveling is just about a certainty, unless some magical thing happens nearby. Still, there’s a road trip coming up I’m pretty sure. The question is ‘how long of one and or, how often’?

And right there sports fans, we can vividly see the perennial major ‘drag’ in this distraction.

Would have said ‘devotion’ but wanted to be cool and casually unattached..

another item which has begun to intrigue, is what I'm seeing on some of the very well done Integrated amps showing up in this list. having around a super nice secondary power supply is not a vrey bad idea at all.