Help me understand the current amp market

I've been doing some research in regards to amplifiers in hopes of purchasing one some time in the near future. However, it's difficult to navigate all the different models and what makes them exactly special. For starters, which amplifier manufacturers are actually coming up with innovative technologies and which ones are more "assemblers" of slightly modified parts? Pilium, for example, is getting a lot of buzz, but the CEO is an ex gym owner that's an audio enthusiast and not an electrical engineer. So what makes them stand out? Also, I'm seeing companies like Solution and Jeff Rowland using switched mode power supplies. Are these truly better than the traditional toroidal transformers? I understand that you need to listen to them to truly understand each amplifier's significance. However, since it's almost impossible to listen to all of them in the same environment, I'd like to narrow my selection by which ones technological sound good first. Any help would be appreciated.


Benchmark AHB2 is the "benchmark" these days for SS amp performance.  Many other good quality amps at all price points, but, if in doubt and in-budget, safe to start there.  Just google search it and you will see.


I have a pair of the new Fosi V3 Monos in house for evaluation.

These things are pretty killer.  I have (2) of the 10A power supplies, one on each amp. 

I did replace the factory opamps with the dual discrete Sparko Labs SS3602.

I agree that these are going to compete against much higher priced amps.

Sweetness in spades so far...


I have a Luxman L-509X and find it to be an excellent integrated. For me the next serious upgrade would be to some thing like a T+A PA3100HV. I am consider the one listed here on Audiogon for $7k (a bargain considering it sells for ~$25k new), it's a 220/240V version - which shouldn't really be an issue to wire up with two hot 120V wires, the ground wire and a NEMA 6-20 receptacle. 

@josephp732 Have you thought about Accuphase E-5000 or Gryphon Diablo 333?

@soix I agree, this hobby is tough. It seems like you have to somewhat take a leap of faith and hope it sounds good in your system

@grislybutter I do have some high-end audio stores around me, but I feel a bit guilty if I take up a lot of their time and don't end up purchasing from them. So far, most of my contact with audio gear has been through visiting shows like AXPONA and other local events

@jyaki I think if you have audio stores near you that should be part of your decision making process. Being able to go in and listen will help so much with helping you decide on preferences. Don't feel bad about "wasting time". Salespeople in these stores know that part of the decision making process is listening and that its unlikely you're going to buy that day and that its likely you're looking at other products. Thats just part of the gig.