My Four Favorite SS Amps

The best SS amplifier I've ever heard was a Vandersteen driven by a CAT preamp.  Amazing.  I almost never bring it up because it is so far out of my price range.

The next three are about the same IMHO for sound quality, though the Ayre stands out a little.

D'Agostino, Luxman and Ayre. 

Honestly the D'Agostion and Luxman sound very close.  Tremendous bass and treble extension without hardness or accentuation.  They just make speakers sound much more capable.  Very smooth, dead quiet.

Now Ayre... Ayre is also very good but also IMHO kind of different sounding.  It makes the room seem quieter and darker.  I do NOT mean dark as in it lacks treble, not at all.  I mean, it's as if you are listening into a pitch black room from which notes just magically come out of.   It is my favorite?  Should you get one?  I don't know.... I really like the sound.... but it's ... just different?


I now use McIntosh MC 611s for my LCR speaker array. At this point, I cannot envision replacing them. In essence, they are enormously powerful, encompassing, and always capable of exquisite amplification.

I believe he was referring to Vandersteen amps driven by a CAT preamp; I initially did ther same doubletake as you.

I only have a list of SS amps I don't like.  So I enjoyed opening this to see which 4 you picked (none were on my list).

thanks.   Jerry

To clarify:  I meant a Vandersteen SS amplifier driven by a CAT preamp.  Of course, this was a Vandersteen demo so it was driving Vandersteen speakers. 

Also, CAT preamps are my absolute favorite preamps, SS, tube or otherwise.  Wish I could afford one because I've only heard them a handful of times and each time I was mesmerized by the sound quality. 


@arafiq  Pass is my favorite for looks. 

I have two to report.

This was in the early days for me. Early career = little disposable dough. 

Proton D1200 and the Threshold 400A

Regret selling them both even though since the Threshold, it's pretty much been valves for me. 

I still fondly remember my KBA 75 (class A). Of the many amps I tried (both SS and tube) with Genesis Vs, it was the only one to grab hold of them and make them perform as advertised

FF3+ decades, I love my Ric Schultz EVS 1200 based on IcePower AS1200 modules and lot of his tweaks

LSA Voyager GaN 350. It took the design team a year to solve niggling issues. I plan to send it to Ric for his full compliment of tweaks

Agree with Vandy amps driving Vandy speakers. Just for fun I'd experiment with a Holo Serene KTE preamp in front. Now that would be an interesting comparison to the C.A.T. pre.

@tweak1  - I haven't listened to those, but My stock ICEpower 250s equaled or beat a lot of linear amps.  Not as good as my Luxman, but stock was really really good.  

@jc4659  - Yeah, I wish I had "just for fun" funds to let me swap these in and out. :)  I'll have to sit and wait for others to report.

@erik_squires +1

My "just for fun" funds dried up the day I retired!  I can't imagine anyone owning a CAT preamp rushing to do the comparison.

Did not know Vandersteen made any amps! 

Every system I've ever heard with the CAT SL-1 was amazing, and those mated to the CAT tube amps have been mind blowing.  


Vandersteen actually make ( for years now ) 2 different amplifiers and soon a preamp… 

The M5 monoblocks are all SS and have a host of very unique features you can learn about on the Vandy website. The  larger M7 which i’ve been blessed to live with in my reference system since inception are a hybrid w tube front end and liquid cooled SS drive. Both amp models incorporate HRS isolation. The control and protection circuits are all analog. Both incorporate hi-pass filters and 128 v DBS.

I use a tweaked REF 5se to drive the M7. @erik_squires stop by any time….

Anyone using the Genesis V's today should consider a crossover re-think.  Several Genesis speakers were taken to extremes by the unnecessarily difficult crossover loads.  There are some interesting articles online about how excellent crsossovers would turn into this before launch. 



Thanks Erik:

I simply remember your favorite SS Amps

And then I don't feel so bad



I like the new Mola Mola Kula and Perca amps! Dagastino’s new stuff is better for sure but not a great value.
I also like Audionet and Lamm.


I had connections back in the day and bought Harry Pearson's Gen Vs, that had 'upgrades'

So far I am really enjoying class a sound from my pass amp. No plan to upgrade for now. Totally happy with the sound

@dekay I never want anyone to feel bad, especially if you are spending your own money on your own choices. :)

I would love to hear all of the amps on your list, @erik_squires, particularly the Ayre products, just by reputation. My local audio shop (Ember Audio) has been very generous in allowing me to listen to their gear as long as I want. I quickly get out of the way when a real customer walks in the door. I have joked that they could market themselves as an adult daycare.  My favorites have been the big Gryphon integrated and the Vinnie Rossi Brama. My current favorite is the current setup: the new North separates by Simaudio. Those separates completely control the Wilson Sasha Vs. The sound is just effortless and totally relaxed, with great detail. I get the feeling that it could drive those Wilson’s to eat-bleeding levels and never distort. I have heard those Simaudio amps with Dalis and Audiovectors as well. I bought a used Simaudio 600i v2 from this dealer a couple of years ago and have no complaints. I have never been to an audio show, but now that I am newly retired, I hope to hear some of those amplifiers you mentioned, Erik. Thank you!

I wish I had been able to hear a lot more amplifiers than I have been, so everyone should please keep in mind that my list is short due to lack of opportunity.   I've heard much about the Gryphons but never actually heard them.

Reference Line Silver Signature, especially after Roger Modjeski updated it for me with a custom soft start. Still in rotation after 24 years, and still the best SS amp I’ve ever heard.