Budget Audiophile Looking For Amplifier Suggestions

Hi All,

I'm looking suggestions for a high quality ss 2-channel amplifier (120-150 WPC) made between 1998-2005 that may have sold for $2000-3000 but today would go for $800-$1100. What would you be looking for?

Best Regards,
You'll get a wide range of suggestions on this question but the suggestions can be more helpful if you share what other components, particularly speakers you will be driving with this amplifier.
Mike, check out Odyssey Audio Stratos. You could even get a brand new one for $1395, or if buying used, you could get a Plus or Extreme version.
I would be looking for an amp within my budget that could properly drive my speakers.  So what speakers do you have?

Also, are you looking for an integrated amp or power amp?
The Parasound A23's are really great, run around that.

Arcam also makes very nice receivers/integrateds I'm a huge fan of.

Either integrated or power amp would be acceptable.  I do have a couple of preamps, one is an AGI 511.

But I wouldn't let what I have as a preamp affect what I select as a power amp.  I could upgrade that later as well.
Here are the specs for Mike's Meadowlark Audio Osprey:

Bandwidth: 30Hz - 24KHz
Sensitivity: 88dB 2.83V 1M room.
Nominal Z: 8 ohms

It seems that his request for 120-150 wpc should be plenty of power, depending on room size and listening levels. Assuming he has a moderate to large size room, and listens at moderate to loud levels, he should be fine. 

He would only need more power if in a VERY large room, and/or listening levels are concert hall levels. IMHO.
For a used power amp, another vote for Sunfire.
Sunfire 300 Load Invariant... circa 1998, $700 to 1000.
Sunfire 300-Two amp ... 2004, upgraded design. $900 to $1100

Often found on Ebay. Will drive any speaker.

Good question!

I've had good experiences buying nearly top shelf items of that era paying between 1/10 and 1/4 of the MSRP (back then) and it's still recent enough not to need a complete overhaul.

For years I've used vintage components that I rehabbed myself but I'm looking to get more recent.

I'll be 60 next summer and getting into the home stretch till retirement so I'm trying to be frugal.  I don't mind taking a risk on older components if I can get them at a good price because I've already done a good deal of electrical repair.

I definitely want components made either in US, Canada, or Japan.  That leaves a lot of the newer items out.

However, I just checked and see Van Alstine is made in the US, so thanks for the tip.
Another vote for the Sunfire . It is musical , Powerful , Refined . It just sounds like music .
I can echo all the recommendations for the Sunfire as well. Just took possession of one yesterday and it is very musical indeed.

My personal favorite integrated is Vincent SV237 hybrid integrated. It gives you 150 wpc @ 8 ohm and 250 wpc @ 4 ohm. I have their SP331 hybrid amp and I think their products are underrated. A very overall neutral sound with nice punchy bass. Brand new $2500.

Though older than the '90's, an old Adcom GFA 555 would be my rec. Besides being cheap on the used market, they can be upgraded by Music Fidelity. I still have mine and it works as good as it did 25 years ago.
Mr. Pass made a heck of an amp.

The Vincent is gorgeous but I don't think it's been around long enough such that used models are in my budget range.  If I'm wrong on this please advise.  Also, where is it made? I did a quick search but didn't find an answer to that.
To all those recommending Sunfires, Bob Carver designs have been on my list for a while.  Thanks for the recommendation!
I only make reference to this ad because I own one, no affiliation with the seller. There is a Musical Fidelity A308 integrated for sale here on Audiogon. They don’t come up for sale too often and for good reason. I have had mine since new and still have no desire to replace it. At that time I was working in the A/V industry, and happen to meet and talk with US distributor for MF. I was surprised that he also used the A308. Thinking he would have the flagship model above costing twice as much, I asked why. He said it was more power but the A308 was a little sweeter sounding. The Soundstage review listed in the ad is spot on describing the sound. It will stretch your budget, but you would be happy for a long time.

It was made in England and the last of the products, other than flagship models to be made in England.

I like my Sunfire - the caps don't last forever, so you may need to replace after 20+ years.

BTW, Nominal Z: 8 ohms is fine, but be sure the entire impedance vs. freq. graph has no dips into low ohms (for most amps).  I expect a Sunfire will not care.

I've heard Vincent pre-amps and they sound nice, but I'd worry about the co. going belly up, as many small co.s do...

I'm pleased with all the responses and got a lot of good suggestions to keep an eye out for.

The one that's got me the most interested is the Odyssey Stratos.  It has the longevity to fit my time and (hopefully) discount parameters, but I do have a question about it.

The Odyssey is supposed to operate in class a for the first 10 watts and switch to class b above that.  How is that transition handled without inducing the dreaded GM doubling issue?
Don't know about year of manufacture but a good solid 2-channel amp in your price range would be a Cambridge Audio 840W.
I don't know the years on any of these, but they are all old and great sounding... Most are probably older than your list, but most will still compete today at their full retail price. I do agree with a couple of recommendations above, but wanted to offer more suggestions.

Audio Research D100.2
Muse One Hundred Sixty
Sumo Andromeda II or III
Hafler 9505
Parasound HCA2200II
Adcom GFA 5802
There is a Bryston 3B-ST listed here for under a grand. The dealer has a 30 day return policy!
Lots of amps do this. They sound great.

Focusing too much on the alleged negatives of each technology leaves you buying nothing but massive Class A amps. Listen instead.


As a 10+ year dealer for Meadowlark and a 20 + year owner of Heron i speakers, Ospreys, and Kestrel Hotrods I feel somwhat qualified to chime in.  your speakers are exceptional.  Amplification is a personal choice almosy as much as speakers.  An Ayre v3 is a killer match.  A power.modules aria amp might be even better.  A Rogue Audio stereo 100 will make you smile every note you play.
There are a lot of great choices mentioned, but I would add a McCormack DNA-1 to the list.

Simaudio Moon W-3; a great Canadian amp. Remember the Canadian dollar is only worth about $.75, so this should be within your budget:
Well... all of those are great... but... why not get a "giant killer" that's new, which will rival any of these, which won't require cap maintenance any time soon, and which will drive most anything...

I've got the ClassDAudio (brand) SDS-470C, which has incredible, "world-class" sound, and which costs less than your budget - but, very hard to better at any price.  You might want to check them out - very little risk.  
Had one of those as well as an odyssey stratos plus, both are solid recomendations.


Glad to hear very positive comments from another ML fan.

I believe they are some of the best bargains on the used market today.

I currently have 5 pairs(!), Swifts, Ospreys, Kestrel HRs, Kestrel IIs, and Swallows. 

I'm not a fan of class a amps,  that's why I question the extended class a of the Stratos.  I'm sure it sounds great but I'd like to know how it's implemented.

In the case of each amp suggested above I've scanned google images and articles to get a handle the structure and construction along with the reviews and attributes.

One of the downsides (for me) of a lot of these amps is the lack of available schematics and service manuals.  I like to see how the basic electronic foundation is laid out and know I could repair it myself if necessary.

Along the same lines, the upside is that most of the discrete components they contain are still available.
Whatever you do get the very best you can possibly afford stretch if you have to.  Great old gear is great stuff. Mediocre becomes. ....,This is a golden rule of buying used and older things.  Think in terms of the best gear you can, go from there.
 I cannot make a direct recommendation because I use tube amps,  with less juice than you need want etc. I once, owned a big MF integrated and didn't like all that much.
If one shows up, a McCormack DNA 0.5 with A Revisions would be a great choice in addition to the many others listed here.  Best of luck. 

I have the Parasound A23 and A21.  If you can find a good used A21, I would strongly consider it.  It would be the last class A/AB amp you will need to buy unless going to a full pure class A.  
Get a new (or used) Jolida tube amp…plenty of power (depending on which model, but everybody knows tube amps don't have to be powerful since they have "tube glow mojo") and a tube amp makes you more interesting than you might actually be.
Plinius 8200P MkII....the power amp section found in the popular 8200 integrated

Budget = Krell??

John Curl and Bob Carver are designers of note.  So are some others.

Class D often use the well-regarded N-core modules and gets around the need for pulling lots of amperes thru the wall.

Take a look at reviews of the Benchmark AHD2 -  an new technology is used by a pro equip. co.

Never forget that Class A really refers to 2 different operation modes - and only one has the design feature you want (or think you want) and that will suck so much power that Trump will send the BPA secret police to your door.

Bryston is not a budget amp either - unless the amp breaks 18 years later...
And the MOST IMPORTANT consideration:

The role of the amp is to drive your speaker.  You need to know the sensitivity AND the impedance lows all the way from 20 Hz to 20 kHz
A 12 year old Krell is now at that price point.   My philosophy in buying used is to buy the best you can, not buy budget gear used.  If buying bang for your buck stuff,  buy new.

If you're looking for made in USA and want quality and longevity with the bonus of resale value look into McIntosh. There are some available in your preferred description and price range and they will drive any load without strain. Made in Binghamton, NY. I've been through the factory tour and owned several of their components and they will compete on any level and you will never experience listener fatigue due to the fact they have mastered the dark art of transformer winding and they incorporate output autoformers.

I bought in the mid 90's a new forte model 3. This year finally had Jon soderburg rebuild it. At $1300 then it performed well above its price in my auditions and today it is still remarkable.