My Final Amplifier Purchase - What Would You Buy?

I'm a lifelong audiophile/music lover and earlier this week, I had a life changing event. As a result, I am now in the position of purchasing what is almost certainly my last power amplifier.

To quickly explain, I was just notified that my entire department will be outsourced, effective September, following the completion of a transition. The buyout is not great, but they do extend my service time for an additional period, allowing me to begin receiving my full pension in September. So essentially I'll be okay financially, but certainly not enough to buy this level of audio gear down the road.

So, what this leads up to is that I was in the market to buy a quality used power amplifier (up to $4000.00 budget)to upgrade my system. I can still manage to do that, but clearly need to do it soon while the paychecks are still coming in. In the future, I simply won't have the financial means for a purchase like this.

Thankfully, the rest of my system is solid, and this should essentially complete things for the future. I'm very happy with the preamp, but I suppose that could "possibly" change one day, maybe to tubes,in a break even trade, but beyond that,if it even happens, the system should remain what it is.

Current system:

Meridian G02 Preamp
Meridian G08 cd player
Olive D4 Music Server
Silveline 17.5 speakers
Marantz SA8004 SACD player
Bryston BDA-1 DAC

and the power amplifier that I will be replacing:

Atma-Sphere S30 MK III.1

I truly love the S30, but a friend recently upset my satisfied audio world when he brought over his new Plinius SA-103 amp and that changed everything. Even more than the sound of that amplifier, which was superb, it became readily apparent that the Silverline 17.5's really only open up and fly when given that kind of power (100 wpc or more.) I also tested it further with a second amplifier and verified that the power is key to really getting the most out of the speakers.

I have long been an avowed tube lover, but there simply are not many options with the kind of power I am in need of, that fall within my budget. I've included a few as options below that put out 75wpc, because in my experience, thats roughly the equivalent of 100 wpc in solid state.

In a perfect world, I would just move up to the Atma-Sphere MA Series, but my budget is far insufficient. Also, a key factor is that I have a small room, even the M60's which (might) have enough power, would create a literally sweltering environment. Trust me on this, I've even talked to Ralph Karsten about it previously, and he agreed.

Based on that, some earlier suggestions here in the forum, and a massive amount of research, I have narrowed things down to a number of choices, which are, from my perspective, likely the best options. What I am truly in need of are any thoughts, expertise and experience you might have had, especially with multiple amplifiers on the list. I have not actually heard any of these. Also, if there are better options that I've missed, please mention them.

Lastly, remember that I would be buying used to maximize my options and value. Thanks in advance for any assistance in helping me choose my best path here. The help is greatly appreciated.

What I have identified as good possible options:

Parasound JC-1's

Pass X250.5

Pass XA 30.5

Jeff Rowland Model 6 Mono's -(I fear these only appear extremely rarely though, and given their age, may need servicing and new caps,etc. possibly putting them out of reach)


Modwright KWA 100SE

Primaluna Dialogue 7 Monoblocks

An old Threshold S series thats been refurbished? - These have always fascinated me, but would it last another 20 years?


The speaker Ralph mentioned was the High Emotion Audio Bella Twin speakers.
If 70 or so watts would do, compatible into any impedance then an OTL tube amp such as a used Berning ZH270 should be perfect. Plenty of power, headroom, long term reliability, stability into any impedance, the list goes on and know you already like the OTL sound. Given your options and sonic preferences thats the first amp I'd consider for a long term solution. A buddy of mine has one and its a totally amazing piece of gear, definitely one for the long haul. Just my 2 cents.... If you prefer or have got to have solid state I'd go for a Pass Labs or maybe current Rowland. Peace, J.
02-10-12: Dover

"The speaker Ralph mentioned was the High Emotion Audio Bella Twin speakers"

Thank you! That was it, I knew I wasn't dreaming it happened.
02-10-12: Dover

The speaker Ralph mentioned was the High Emotion Audio Bella Twin speakers.

Ralph, I believe you said that the S-30 would produce 45wpc with these?