Agoners: Need Advice! Have 3K to spend on an Amp, what do I do with no way to audition?

Looking for a solid State Amp, something that will go for 30 years or more (My Last Amp), so I don't need high maintenance, with at least 200 WPC @ 8 ohm load.  SO many to choose from...I've narrowed my choices down to several brands, due to the consistency of great reviews; Krell, Pass Labs, Audio Research, McIntosh, Mark Levinson, Classe.  Now looking serious at a couple by Krell or Pass.  I love most types of music, classical, jazz, rock, punk, electronica, metal, but not Rap & Country.  I love great detail in my music, fast and bold but rich and  warm, played soft or loud with a big soundstage, love bass slam and crisp highs, too much midrange hurts my ears. Which amp does it all???  Wife has me limited to this, you know how that is :(...Please help me out here folks...I've been in this dilemma for a few years, it's time to make a decision and buy! 
Why can't you audition some of the amps available?  I know we had a detailed discussion not so long ago on Audiogon about buyers that wanted to audition equipment before making an offer.  Many here felt it is a great burden (physically and financially) on sellers to act like they are a brick and mortar store and simply let people into their homes to only audition.

My policy, is the buyer must make a serious offer first and that offer accepted by me.  If they are picking the unit up physically from my home, then I would gladly connect the unit and let them hear it.  Which I have done many times and have never experienced any problems.  I've actually enjoyed the conversations and music the buyer brought to demo the units for sale.  But the offer must be made and accepted first.  They can pay in cash when they get to my house. 

I know.  If they change their mind after hearing the unit, I really can't do anything about that except make a negative review about them on Audiogon.  In my case, not once have buyer changed their minds after hearing the units. 

I'm selling two Mark Levinson amps at the moment.  A 23.5 and an ML3.  They both have been serviced by authorized Mark Levinson service center and the ML3 upgraded also.  My point is that they are extremely heavy and it is best if the buyer can physically pick the units up from my home.  I can ship, but that is more costs to the buyer.

In this case, I absolutely have no problem allowing the buyer to hear the unit at pickup after they have made the offer and I have accepted it.

If, on the other hand, the buyer is too far away to do this, then that is a difficulty.  In this case, the buyer should have a pretty good idea of the equipment and how they believe it sounds before purchase.  

I can't think of any electronics that last for 30 years without service or repair.  Equipment breaks and fails.  But, most equipment, especially amps can be repaired and serviced by knowledgeable technicians.  It's only if the parts are no longer available that one experiences problems.  But even in the case of my ML3, I still found quality parts for that unit (and I bought more, just in case).  So, you can pretty much be assured that you can get your amps serviced and repaired.

Digital equipment is another issue altogether.  In my opinion, I'm only going with quality name companies with good reputations that stand behind their equipment.

Not throwing any company under the bus but, two companies really disappointed me.  McIntosh and Theta.  McIntosh's MS300/MS750 music servers were nice units. But, McIntosh stopped servicing the units and sold the rights to another company.  Panurgy OEM services the units now, but the company that has the license rights to Gracenotes for the units went out of business and you cannot get the album art or music information on line for the units anymore.  That sucks. You have to physically type in the information yourself.  Theta's older DACS are not serviced or supported by Theta.  Due to some internal dispute with prior employees (I believe).

It doesn't matter to me.  If I buy a unit, I want that company to stand by their stuff.

There are still several quality Mark Levinson service centers around and quality technicians that can service Mark Levinson products.  Audio Research stands behind each and every unit they have every produced.  That says something.  I can still buy panels for my Martin Logan Monolith III speakers from Martin Logan.  That's impressive.


Hope this helps.
In that price range I would recommend you consider Tom Maker's amps. Well built, very good sounding, ss amps, built in the USA so servicing is easy. You can get a stereo amp that puts out 225 watts per channel for about half your budget; if you want to spend the whole budget, there are mono blocks available. Here's one listing, but search on Maker for more.
I'd give Klaus at Odyssey Audio a call.  Talk to him about a Kismet Reference amplifier.  I can't imagine you'd be able to get a better sounding, better built amp for anywhere near the price.

Here's the link >


I have been interested in the Parasound gear as well, just failed to mention it as a contender, as well as the Conrad-Johnson class Ds.

All of them have great reviews....thanks.


I agree that auditioning them is a great idea, but in most cases those of us on A-gon are in another state, I'm in Ft Worth, Tx.  If I could find a deal in Texas, I would, most certainly, drive to audition and pick up. Most sellers are out of state.