Help Me Choose Better 5-Channel Amp

Our home theater has evolved from a home theater only into a hybrid HT/2-channel system. Both the HT and the 2-channel perform very well and overall I am very pleased with the outcome. But I would like to improve what I perceive to be the weak link when it comes to 2-channel listening. Right now I am using an Anthem Statement A5, a good match for the Anthem AVM50 and great for HT sound. But when I listen to 2-channel, I believe the sound could be improved with a better amp. I would prefer to upgrade the amp rather than buy a separate 2-channel amp and switch back and forth. When listening to 2-channel in this system, the other components are the Well Tempered Amadeus TT with a Dynavector XX2 LOMC cartridge, Levinson 390S CDP, Audio Research PH7 phono stage, Audio Research Ref 3 preamp, and Verity Fidelio Encore speakers. ICs are Aud23 and the speaker cable is Chord's Epic Twin.

Any suggestions for a better 5-channel amp that will improve the 2-channel listening experience?

Which areas of the audio do you wish to improve upon? Or what would you like to wind up with sonically with this newer amp?
Some 2 channel amps like the current Musical Fidelity A-1 have a home theater bypass.
Blindjim - Fair question, and one that I should have addressed in my post. I have a preference for tube amps, or amps that have as much of a tube signature as possible without compromising microdynamics and bass slam/weight. Better imaging and transparency would be welcome. I hooked up my Accuphase P-3000 from another system and there it was - the sound I was looking for. But even if Accuphase makes a 5-channel amp, I don't want to spend that kind of money. But the Accuphase was definitely superb.

Vernneal - An audio friend also suggested I consider the McIntosh MC206, adding "if you can find someone willing to part with it." I infer from his comment that they are hard to come by, but I will certainly consider it.
I suggest a Linn 5125-- these can be had used now for ~$1100, and are an easy re-sell if you end up not liking it.

I purchased a 5125 new about 7 years ago, and since then many other electronics and speakers have come and gone, and the 5125 is the only piece of gear I have kept. I actually used it as my reference amp in a 2-channel system for a while.

One of its best characteristics is its dead silence-- at low levels the amp seems to reveal details that I do not hear with other amps, and at high levels, the silence during quiet points is very noticeable. Overall it is a very "sweet" sounding amp-- if that makes any sense.

Of course Linn amps use switching power supplies, and are very small and light in comparison to convention amps having huge toroids. Thus the 5125 is very easy to slip into and out of your system. One drawback is that the stupid BFA speaker connector require adapters to use with most speaker cables.
Dg1968 - Thanks for letting me know about the Linn 5125. Another one that I was not previously aware of and sounds like a strong candidate.
Pass Labs or BAT?

What about about a 3 channel and a 2 channel and spending more on the 2 channel.
If you like your Accuphase P-3000, why not use that with a 3 channel amp or even with 3 of the 5 channels of the Anthem amp you now have? All you need do is distribute the main LR outputs from your processor to the Accuphase and the surrounds and center outputs to the Anthem. I'd check with Anthem to assure their amps are stable even without a load, but if necessary they can advise how to load the 2 unused channels. Of course, you could sell the Anthem and buy a 3 channel amp, or you could add rear speakers to use all 5 channels.

I really appreciate all of the feedback so far.

WRT the idea of separate 3-channel and 2-channel amps, I would prefer a one-box solution. But if I were to go with separate 3- and 2-channel amps, wouldn't it be more important to spend more on the 3-channel amp than the 2-channel amp? My thinking is that by doing so, I have not only the best possible 2-channel sound, but also uniform amplification for all three fronts of the HT speaker array. Or am I missing something?

I brought the Accuphase down from another system because it happens to be - for me - one of those elusive SS amps that has some tube-like qualities. But I need the Accuphase to remain in that other system, and again, I would sure like to find a one-box solution.

Classe is yet another amplifier brand that I had not thought of. Hey, up to a point, the more good options the better, right?

I obviously have some research and auditioning to do. Should be fun!
Keep your Anthem amp us it for center and rears then buy a better 2 channel amp. That is how I use my system I have a McIntosh MC205 and a MC402 and use an anthem D2v along with a Audio Research LS26 for 2 channel. As a side bonus you have back up incase the 2 channel amp ever has an issue.
Regarding using 2 different amps for home theater (i.e. separate amps for main L/R and center/surrounds), conventionally, most people recommend using identical amplification for all channels-- much like keeping all speakers as similar as possible.

However, with the modern EQ present in many newer processors (like the Anthem D2V), perhaps this is less of an issue now.

Like you, I have an Anthem A5 amp that I was using both for 2 channel music and for 5.1 movies. Like you, I was satisfied with the A5 for movies, but not for music. I elected to go the route suggested already by several posters, namely, I kept the A5 and used it to amplify the center channel and the rears, and I added a stereo amp for the FR and FL channels. Hence there are two channels on the A5 that go unused.

The stereo amp I added was the Pass XA30.5, and I am very happy with the results. Compared to the A5 in 2 channel listening conditions, the XA30.5 is more transparent, detailed, and harmonically correct.

As for the concern, raised by some posters, that you want matching amplification across the front three channels, I am of the opinion that, while that is ideal, it is by no means necessary for a satisfying 5.1 experience. The reason, I believe, has a lot to do with how most movies are mixed, in that dialogue is nearly always placed in the center channel only, while music and effects are placed disproportionately in the FL and FR channels. So most 5.1 mixes are already "unmatched," as it were. When you add to that the fact that, when watching movies, your attention is split between listening to the audio and watching the images, any differences in amplification matching are likely to be below the threshold of awareness, IME.

Of course, YMMV. Good luck.
In retrospect of what dg1968 said I would say that is a very good point on the matching across the 5 channels. But also as he mentioned the room correction plays a positive part. I had a MX135 prior to the D2v and it never sounded as good as it does now after the room correction. But I am using one brand of amp for both. You might condsider a Anthem Statemnent 2 Channel amp.
I definitely agree with what Byron said above, that it is certainly not necessary to have identical amplification channels for good HT. I was just stating the obvious "conventional wisdom" on the subject.

Perhaps some of the concern was that using amps with vastly different gains would make all channels harder to EQ, or if somebody ended up using one high-current amp paired with a less powerful amp, they may run into some clipping problems.

But with all the high-quality equipment considered here, this probably wont be much of an issue. The OP's system is going to sound great no matter what option he takes.
The Theta Dreadnaught or Dreadnaught II would be worth considering. I moved from different brand center channel(Outlaw M200) and main amplifiers(Classe'25) to a single Dreadnaught II and the coherence of the multichannel presentation was much improved. The Dread II was definitely in the same league as the Classe'25 for 2 channel work in my system. Original Dreadnaught was designed by Charles Hansen of Ayre fame. It was designed as a fully balanced bridged amplifier with zero overall feedback which gave it a measured distortion characteristics similar to tube amplifiers. My Dread II which is the same basic design with some refinements by David Reich of Classe' and McCormack fame has some of the desirable big soundstage and high resolution characteristics of tube amplifiers. Not as powerful in the bottom end as the Classe' but still has very good dynamic drive. I should add that the Dreadnaughts are supposed to strut their best stuff in balanced systems.
Why not try a Parasound HCA 2205AT. Very solid amp, 220 x 5. Only downfault is no XLR's. But for $1000 ish it is a steal.....Or go with the Parasound Halo A51 series. A little jump with XLR's and 250 x 5......pricier.....

Regards Bacardi
Have you considered the Pathos Cinema-X? You can check it out at Pathos Acoustics dot com. It's a hybrid design; tube preamplifier and solid state amp, for the best of both worlds. Also, it's a 5-ch amp (110w/ch) that can instantly switch to 2-ch (450w/ch). It only has one set of balanced inputs, which will give you the best 2-ch results. I heard it's little brother (TT) driving a set of Focal-JMlabs Electra 1028BE at Axpona and it was amazing. I've got my eye on that piece and my processor is not as resolving and nice as yours. If you don't happen to be in the Jacksonville Florida area, send me an email with your zip code and I can find out who your local dealer is for a demo...

Butler TDB 5150. SE only though. Affordable, suprising sonics and control talents, and there's no mistaking the infulence of tubes it uses in it's hybrid design.

you'll sell the Anthem pretty quickly thereafter. the Accupase will continue on in it's environment and you won't be out much $$$.

50 lbs or so, stable, and doesn't run hot. Transferable 5 yr PL warranty from orig buyer too.

I often use it for 2ch along with my tubed preamp instead of my Dodd tube mono blocks as it's a plug and play affair with no need for bias checking or adjusting.

For a single one box remedy I can think of no other in it's price point (preowned or new) that competes so well.

When in 2ch the power revs up to over 200wpc @ 8.

Given your tastes, it's a good fit for you to peruse huybrid designs... be it Butler or some other brand.

Good luck.
if you go with the one box solution, I strongly recommend listening to the BAT 6200. IMO BAT ss gear does not get the credit it deserves. this amp is incredibly musical, but quite a bit of $$.
Another vote for keeping your current amp, and adding a good 2 channel amp to drive you L & R fronts. My experience is that doing this will greatly improve your music, and it will also improve on you HT sounds.
Good luck on you search.
Well, you have all given me a lot of good ideas to think about and research. I believe I will keep my A5 and use it for the center and rears, then add a high quality 2-channel amp for the FR and FL. After researching all of the ideas offered, I lugged my Accuphase back down and tied it into the system as above. The 2-channel sound was again superb, and the audio for movies was just as good as with the A5 alone if not better.

So I guess I am in the market for a 2-channel amp!

Many thanks to all who helped me to get this far. More suggestions for 2-channel amps are most welcome.

A newer Accuphase ??

Butler makes a 250wpc 2 ch amp too.

ATI makes a lot of amps for a lot of electronics makers. Often affordable, hefty, robust power supplies, and very well designed. Their newer line up has some truly balanced models.

The other thought here is, as it seems cost is an issue the above still work, but why not simply look for a replacement amp for the rig the Accuphase was/is in and leve it in the HT rig from now on instead of trying to replace it?

And/or just get another Accuphase for the other rig now missing it's Accuphase?

of course that'll work... but if something different and subjectively better is desired and can be acquired, I'd urge you to check out some hybrids or maybe even a pair of Halo mono blocks. I spoke with a guy yesterday that said they were warm-ish amps once fully run in... around 500-600 hrs. otherwise, I've found amps at & over $6K are where the better amps begin.... usually.

Good luck.