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.


@zlone Yes, I do like to crank it up a lot, especially when I'm listening to electronic music. I often hear people getting tube preamplifiers with their solid state amplifiers, but do you think that will work with the type of music I like to listen to?

Like several others have said, it’s going to take a fair amount of research to find separates that are as good or better than your Luxman. It is so sad there are so few hometown dealers anymore.  
On a personal note, I’ve been wanting to hear some Sonus Farber speakers.  There is no dealer, who has any of the four models I’m interested in within 250 miles of me.

All the best.

@jyaki Accuphase E-5000 or Gryphon Diablo 333? I would love to try the Gryphon Diablo 333, but it's a bit out on my price range, and being new I haven't seen it yet on the used market. "I think", and don't everyone jump all over me, that the Accuphase line in genal is a bit over priced and though the E-5000 is an awesome piece your staying with a Japanese build house sound philosophy. As a very general statement, my opinion is, that Accuphase, Luxman, Yamaha maybe Esoteric are competing against each other for a similar customer segment. Staying Class A and A/B, I don't see a lot of cross shopping between the Japanese brands and brands such as Hegel, Pass Labs and such.    

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.

I feel the same way with DACs. Companies charging 6k to add an optional DAC module into an already overpriced integrated. I look for DAC designers with some digital pedigree.

With respect to amps, I have owned the Benchmark AHB2 multiple times. I loved the amps for the most part, except with hard to drive speakers. The AHB2 uses a switch mode PS, and uses a forward correction process to achieve the great sound and incredible measurements. In terms of innovation it is up there.

The new GAN Class D amps are my favorite Class D amps. I had a very innovated amp from PeachTree, the GAN1, which is an all in one but only has a SPDIF input and no volume control. Now that takes some out of box thinking to make it work. Out of the box the GAN1 is very good and after some mods by it became great. I have my sitting in my office and need to getting it back up for my headphones but I need to get a SPDIF streamer first.

AGD seems to be the leader of the pack when it comes to GAN, with the designer having a long history with GAN tech.

My current amps are the CODA #16 which has a long history starting with Threshold and CODA and PASS Labs originating from that. My CODA #16 is the cumulation of a few decades of work and sounds incredible with tremendous power. I replaced my Benchmark AHB2 with the #16 because the CODA could drive my hard to drive speakers with ease.

The other amp I use is the Sanders Magtech which really sounds great for Class AB, specifically with Magnepan speakers. It has a unique power supply which I think must be its secret sauce. It was built for Sanders by CODA.

KRELL DUO XD and Westminster Labs are creating Class A using a biasing approach that had traditional Class A amp manufacturers twisting their panties into knots. There was a post on the Gryphon web site saying why this biasing Class A is not the TRUE macho heat producing Class A. I laughed at that since I owned a new KRELL DUO XD amp and it sounded great. I sold it to raise cash. KRELL is supposedly coming out with a trickle down amp in June 2024 from the flagship KSA i400. I want to hear that one.