Does one NEED multiple amps?

I saw this quote in a couple of different places, and each time it has got me thinking about its validity, so thought I'd see how many of you buy into it, either in theory, practice or both. Here it is, attributed to Terry Cain of Cain & Cain Audio:

"Start a collection of amps.

No one amp will keep a man happy long term. You need a young, firm perhaps not too articulate one you can swing from the ceiling with. And you always need a detailed and refined lower power one, the one you will never ever sell. This amp carves out the essence of tone and artistic intent, but cannot satisfy animal musical behavoir due to power limitation. With music, you cannot have too much fun. Don't let the amps get in the way. If amp -A- is complaining or not keeping up with your musical energy, just grab another and keep swinging."

Note my emphasis on the word "need" (vs 'want') as indicated in the quote. And who among you have 'just grabbed another'?
I only allow myself one wife which works really well(and no paramours) sooo I feel free to indulge myself with more than one amp (and more than one pair of speakers as well). I have a Korneff 45 SET with various 45 and 2A3 tubes, a Jadis OR with KT 90's, and vintage moded Hafler SS for more power when called for. Same with source material, sometimes analogue and other times an AA MK II CDP. This is a great hobby and even greater if you don't chase "absolutes".
I usually have around 3 amplifiers. Each one is suited to a particular type of music - it's an optimization solution.
I have multiple amps (5 currently). I thought it was something I had to do because I was indecisive, compulsive, or had some other mental defect.

I guess this means it's good. Hmm . . . feeling better about myself already :-)
I have tube and solid state amps...I think many audiophiles have at least two or more amps around most of the time. I'd be somewhat surprised if they did not.

Be surprised!

I know a lot of audiophiles and except for one guy that is a reviewer, no one has more than the number of amps required to run their system or systems.

I have two big Krell amps, but my speakers are actively biamped requiring a minimum of two amps.

Buy really good amps and you won't need spares.

True Audiophiles would NEED and own more than one amp..this is why they are Audiophiles. Music lovers would own the right amp and NEED none in fact. Truth is it is hard to stop being an Audiophile when one visits Agon everyday or so. Agon is about equipment, not the music. But there is nothing wrong with being in love with audio long as one knows why one is in this hobby for: gear or music.

I think it is fair to compare this to folks who truly love cars. They usually own a few: a sport coupe, a sedan, a convertible, a vintage but they seldom take their passion to the race track.....if audio gear were as expensive to own as cars, there would be fewer Audiophiles and more music lovers.

From someone currently in rehab'.
I'm with Drrdiamond.

I have just the number of amps I need and sell the rest off.

Of course I do have two extra, about to be returned upgraded and rebuilt Tenor 300 Hybrids, with the warranty, but I'm not counting them.

It's taken two years to get around to having them repaired and back to work. By the time I get them back I hear Tenor may be back in business. Wouldn't that be funny, keeping amps from an out or business manufacturer long enough to have them worth what they should be selling for.

Oh, yeah about the extra amps, I don't have any.
Just one amp for me, another amp would threaten the delicate balance of domestic harmony, if you know what I mean.
How about one amp for each day of the week? Sound intense, maybe put one in the bathroom and rig it to play music everytime you take a leak. In reality having a backup amp in case of an amp emergency can give you some peace of mind.
I posted that quote from Terry Cain (whose speakers I own). Oddly, at the time he posted that humorous blurb on AA, I owned only one amp thought he was joking (which he half was). Now, I own four or five depending on the week.

My experiences have been that amplification differences tend to be much more readily apparent in the low power/high-efficiency realm than higher powered setups.

Part of my buying spree was due to the fact that I had just made the jump to a low power/high-efficiency system. The odds of buying just one amp and knowing for a fact that it is absolutely the best sound for your own personal preferences in a new system is a long shot at best.

Who can which which design is right for their system without ever hearing a few of them? - Push-pull, SET, SEP, Parallel PP, cap-couple, transformer-coupled, cathode follower, Lofton-White, etc.

Who can say which output tube - 45, 300B, 2A3, 6C33C-B, EL34, EL84, 211, 845, KT-66, KT-88, KT-90, 6550, etc. is the right one without ever hearing them in their own system?

What about the influence of input and driver tubes?

Informed decisions require in-home experience with multiple designs and tube types before settling on something permanently. Now that I've done that, I'm downsizing to just two (or three amps) this month - Art Audio PX-25, Welborne DRD 300B monoblocks, and a DIY fully differential PP amp. Each has it's own special merits depending on the material being played.

Also, I'm not sure any single amp can do it all best - the PX-25 comes damn closests out of the 15 or so amps I've tried the last few years, but even then, a really good PP design is better on large orchestral, hard rock, or percussion heavy music. And the 300B's do ambient/spatial information in a way that is hard to match. Take choral or classical music performed in a large cathedral - nothin like the 300B for that spooky ambient hall sound.
Your question was need another amp. The only answer that even came close to answering that question was for biamping. The truth is you are asking audiophiles who have an obsession with sound. No one else in the world needs an amp period. What a person needs is food, water, shelter etc. Of course no one needs another amp but this is my hobby and was my Father's hobby. So I keep his old amp, and my first piece of audio which is an integrated from the 70's. I have two modern systems one with tubes and another with solid state, tubed pre though, various experiments I just can't seem to throw away half broken not sure if I should sell for nothing or get fixed. If one is as obsessed as I am with this hobby, I quote NEED to have at least 2 amps one for my wifes tastes and preferences and one for mine, even though the sentimental pieces are uneeded per se, I couldn't sell them unless we ran out of what we truly need!
In the one amp crowd here too. Get a quality amp that does it all "right" and find the synergistic components in the rest of the system, ie preamp mating, cabling, etc.
No thanks - as far as I'm concerned one one good amp is far more satisfying than a collection of mediocre ones.
All I need is one good amplifier. One good tubed line-stage can give me all the colours I need..just by changing tubes.
One amp, 3 cd sources of varying flavor, 2 armwands with different flavored cartridges mounted. I suffer from Terry's affliction, but am happier varying the source than the amp to solve it.
Seems like a split or close to it so far... would be interesting to get a number of responses.

Mechans, definitely agree with you re the philophical point of need. Of course, I was referring to whether one amp can do it all, or does one need (as Cain stated) more than one amp to cover the spectrum of music/mood/performance.

My position is with the single camp. Very happy with my Manley Stingray, which to me does it all. Is it the best? of course not, but within the confines of my home, system, budget, taste, it is all I could NEED (in that broader, audiophile sense) right now.

Personally, I cannot really conceive having two amps in one system. Two systems in two rooms, that's a different animal and not my topic. For a short while, while I was auditioning amps, I had two at the same time (I mean they came into audition about the same time, it wasn't one incoming/one outgoing type of thing). I was not too thrilled with switching cables and all and couldn't see doing that frequently or even occasionally. Seems if I spent the money for two amps with different strengths I could pool that money and get one amp that might combine all strengths using that combined budget. And actually I did end up doing that, come to think about it.

I have to admit also that my question was more hypothetical. That is, one may have different amps just for the fun of it, because one can afford to, because one's S.O. tolerates it, etc. But in the end, is there a true NEED?
This could be fun to post in the Critic's Asylum but not sure they would agree it belongs there. Most of those guys DO have multiple amps I believe.
I would say there is no such amp is perfect. You choose which set of imperfections you can live with.
And trust me when I tell you that Terry owns "quality" amps. He has more quality amps than I have fingers and toes! That's one of the reasons it's always fun to go to his place!
I agree with darkmoebius that amp flavors are most distinguishable in the low power/high efficiency realm. Have tried 2A3, EL34, 6550, KT88 and 845 tube amps. The EL 34 and 845 amps are keepers, my 34 amp does subtlety and the 845 does excitement, spaciousness. I am now looking at 300B amps for another flavor. I do not forsee myself getting rid of either the 34 or 845 amp anytime soon even if I get a 300B amp. I actually regret selling my 2A3 and another EL34 based amp as each did some things my present amps don't, still, we have to be somewhat sane here. If I had the money I would have 5 or 6 different systems, one for every mood. Now to the question of whether we need all of this, no way Jose. On the other hand, making an analogy to food, why should we settle for a one course meal when we can have a feast of many.

Try some of the new low(ish) power PP designs like Audiotropic's Musical Machine. Poindexter also provides for schematics and parts list for a DIY version of it.

This PP amp is so unique in it's presentation that it defies classification. Power, speed, and extemely transparent. My 7391A version does about 10 wpc, but also has a low level detail and agility that reminds me of the best SETs.


I envy your ability to drop in on the "Walla Walla Wizard's" shop, they have some great listeing sessions up there. I need to make the road trip sometime this spring. How many chances will anyone get to see and hear one of Josh Stippich's creations?