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.


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?

Tubes will give you a warmer sound and add some depth to the soundstage, but based on your listening preferences my gut says to stay with a solid state preamp. Tube preamp owners chime in if you have other opinions, I have only dabbled in that space.


@josephp732 I just acquired a T+A PA 3100 HV after plowing through 4 INT amps in 2 years (3 tube, last one was a BAT VK3500 hybrid).

I no longer yearn for anything sonically. It is warm like a tube amp but also very detailed with superb channel separation and seemingly unlimited headroom.

It is a beast though, you could hurt yourself installing it if you are not careful!

@macg19 T+A equipment is always built like a tank. I had a PA 3000 HV that I sold when I was down sizing to a condo (Threw my back out re-boxing that amp). That’s when I went with the Luxman L-509x. I do love the Luxman but miss the warmth and massive headroom. Now I am building a new listening room in a new home, hence me really looking hard at the PA 3100 HV. I also have T+A CRITERION TCD 110 S speakers, that I had put into storage, that I will be using in my new reference system. There was a review of the Luxman that briefly compares it to the T+A:  Luxman L-509X Integrated Amplifier (

Boy, that Luxman sounds like a keeper to me.  I would be inclined to try some speaker choices.  Fritz has bookshelf/stand mounted speakers that are reasonably priced and easy to drive.  I saw a used pair for about $2300. 

Atmosphere is selling a new Class D hybrid that gets good press. 

My opinion is tubes are a pain.  Hot, unpredictable and expensive.  But, I have a feeling they would sound good in my system. 

I am a Pass XA 25 owner and wont be changing amps.  Good luck.