My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!

So I have been in a long journey looking to find the best amplifiers for my martin logan montis. As you know, the match between an amplifier and speakers has to be a good "marriage" and needs to be blend exquisitely. Right now, I think I might have found the best sounding amplifier for martin logan. I have gone through approximately 34-36 amplifiers in the past 12 months. Some of these are:

Bryston ST, SST, SST2 series

With all that said, the amplifiers I mentioned above are the ones that in my opinion are worth mentioning. To make a long story short, there is NO 5 CHANNEL POWER AMP that sounds as good as a 3ch and 2ch amplifier combination. i have done both experiments and the truth is that YOU DO lose details and more channel separation,etc when you select a 5 channel power amplifier of any manufacturer.
My recollection of what each amp sounded like is as follows:

ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005 (great power and amazing soundstage. Very low noise floor, BUT this amplifiers NEEDS TO BE cranked up in order to fully enjoy it. If you like listening at low volume levels or somewhat moderate, you are wasting your time here. This amp won’t sound any different than many other brands out there at this volume. The bass is great, good highs although they are a bit bright for my taste)

NAD M25 (very smooth, powerful, but somewhat thin sounding as far as bass goes)
Bryston sst2(detailed, good soundstage, good power, but can be a little forward with certain speakers which could make them ear fatiguing at loud volumes)

Krell (fast sounding, nice bass attack, nice highs, but some detail does get lost with certain speakers)

rotel (good amp for the money, but too bright in my opinion)

cary audio (good sound overall, very musical, but it didn’t have enough oomph)

parasound halo (good detail, great bass, but it still holds back some background detail that i can hear in others)

lexicon (very laid back and smooth. huge power, but if you like more detail or crisper highs, this amp will disappoint you)

McIntosh mc205 (probably the worst multichannel amp given its price point. it was too thin sounding, had detail but lacked bass.

butler audio (good amplifier. very warm and smooth sweet sounding. i think for the money, this is a better amp than the parasound a51)

pass labs (very VERY musical with excellent bass control. You can listen to this for hours and hours without getting ear fatigue. however, it DOES NOT do well in home theater applications if all you have is a 2 channel set up for movies. The midrange gets somewhat "muddy" or very weak sounding that you find yourself trying to turn it up.

classe audio (best amplifier for multi channel applications. i simply COULDNT FIND a better multi channel amplifier PERIOD. IT has amazing smoothness, amazing power and good bass control although i would say krell has much better bass control)

Update: The reviews above were done in January 2015. Below is my newest update as of October 2016:

PS AUDIO BHK 300 MONOBLOCKS: Amazing amps. Tons of detail and really amazing midrange. the bass is amazing too, but the one thing i will say is that those of you with speakers efficiency of 87db and below you will not have all the "loudness" that you may want from time to time. These amps go into protection mode when using a speaker such as the Salon, but only at very loud levels. Maybe 97db and above. If you don’t listen to extreme crazy levels, these amps will please you in every way.

Plinius Odeon 7 channel amp: This is THE BEST multichannel amp i have ever owned. Far , but FAR SUPERIOR to any other multichannel amp i have owned. In my opinion it destroyed all of the multichannel amps i mentioned above and below. The Odeon is an amp that is in a different tier group and it is in a league of its own. Amazing bass, treble and it made my center channel sound more articulate than ever before. The voices where never scrambled with the action scenes. It just separated everything very nicely.

Theta Dreadnaught D: Good detailed amp. Looks very elegant, has a pleasant sound, but i found it a tad too bright for my taste. I thought it was also somewhat "thin" sounding lacking body to the music. could be that it is because it is class d?

Krell Duo 300: Good amp. Nice and detailed with enough power to handle most speakers out there. I found that it does have a very nice "3d" sound through my electrostatics. Nothing to fault here on this amp.
Mark Levinson 532H: Great 2 channel amp. Lots of detail, amazing midrange which is what Mark Levinson is known for. It sounds very holographic and will please those of you looking for more detail and a better midrange. As far as bass, it is there, but it is not going to give you the slam of a pass labs 350.5 or JC1s for example. It is great for those that appreciate classical music, instrumental, etc, but not those of you who love tons of deep bass.

 It is articulate sounding too
Krell 7200: Plenty of detail and enough power for most people. i found that my rear speakers contained more information after installed this amp. One thing that i hated is that you must use xlr cables with this amp or else you lose most of its sound performance when using RCA’s.

Krell 402e: Great amp. Very powerful and will handle any speaker you wish. Power is incredible and with great detail. That said, i didn’t get all the bass that most reviewers mentioned. I thought it was "ok" in regards to bass. It was there, but it didn’t slam me to my listening chair.

Bryston 4B3: Good amp with a complete sound. I think this amp is more laid back than the SST2 version. I think those of you who found the SST2 version of this amp a little too forward with your speakers will definitely benefit from this amp’s warmth. Bryston has gone towards the "warm" side in my opinion with their new SST3 series. As always, they are built like tanks. I wouldn’t call this amp tube-like, but rather closer to what the classe audio delta 2 series sound like which is on the warm side of things.

Parasound JC1s: Good powerful amps. Amazing low end punch (far superior bass than the 402e). This amp is the amp that i consider complete from top to bottom in regards to sound. Nothing is lacking other than perhaps a nicer chassis. Parasound needs to rework their external appearance when they introduce new amps. This amp would sell much more if it had a revised external appearance because the sound is a great bang for the money. It made my 800 Nautilus scream and slam. Again, amazing low end punch.

Simaudio W7: Good detailed amp. This amp reminds me a lot of the Mark Levinson 532h. Great detail and very articulate. I think this amp will go well with bookshelves that are ported in order to compensate for what it lacks when it comes to the bass. That doesn’t mean it has no bass, but when it is no Parasound JC1 either.
Pass labs 350.5: Wow, where do i begin? maybe my first time around with the xa30.8 wasn’t as special as it was with this monster 350.5. It is just SPECTACULAR sounding with my electrostatics. The bass was THE BEST BASS i have ever heard from ANY amp period. The only amp that comes close would be the jC1s. It made me check my settings to make sure the bass was not boosted and kept making my jaw drop each time i heard it. It totally destroyed the krell 402e in every regard. The krell sounded too "flat" when compared to this amp. This amp had amazing mirange with great detail up top. In my opinion, this amp is the best bang for the money. i loved this amp so much that i ended up buying the amp that follows below.

Pass labs 250.8: What can i say here. This is THE BEST STEREO AMP i have ever heard. This amp destroys all the amps i have listed above today to include the pass labs 350.5. It is a refined 350.5 amp. It has more 3d sound which is something the 350.5 lacked. It has a level of detail that i really have never experienced before and the bass was amazing as well. I really thought it was the most complete power amplifier i have ever heard HANDS DOWN. To me, this is a benchmark of an amplifier. This is the amp that others should be judged by. NOTHING is lacking and right now it is the #1 amplifier that i have ever owned.

My current amps are Mcintosh MC601s: i decided to give these 601s a try and they don’t disappoint. They have great detail, HUGE soundstage, MASSIVE power and great midrange/highs. The bass is great, but it is no pass labs 250.8 or 350.5. As far as looks, these are the best looking amps i have ever owned. No contest there. i gotta be honest with you all, i never bought mcintosh monos before because i wasn’t really "wowed" by the mc452, but it could have been also because at that time i was using a processor as a preamp which i no longer do. Today, i own the Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp which sounds unbelievable. All the amps i just described above have been amps that i auditioned with the C1100 as a preamp. The MC601s sound great without a doubt, but i will say that if you are looking for THE BEST sound for the money, these would not be it. However, Mcintosh remains UNMATCHED when it comes to looks and also resale value. Every other amp above depreciates much faster than Mcintosh.

That said, my future purchase (when i can find a steal of a deal) will be the Pass labs 350.8. I am tempted to make a preliminary statement which is that i feel this amp could be THE BEST stereo amp under 30k dollars. Again, i will be able to say more and confirm once i own it. I hope this update can help you all in your buying decisions!

It's not so much about bass but rather the fullness in sound. There's nothing more that I hate than an amp that sounds thin and costs tons of money. I like fullness and huge soundstage with the right oomph when needed. A good analogy would be that I don't buy a mustang so that it sounds like a Honda Civic with a muffler when I put the pedal to the metal. I like muscular full sounding amps with enough enough sparkle up top so that I don't get ear fatigue. 
I thought your ml have powered bass ? Is it the mids and highs these amps are running . Or is my memory of reading about your speakers fogged ?
They have powered woofers and yes you can hear the change in bass tone as you change out amplifiers. I noticed this when I owned Montis. Contrary to popular belief, the Martin Logan electrostatics have powered woofers that let you hear more bass if the amplifier has better low end punch. Please refer to the stereophile review of the montis where they can validate what I am stating here. The bass improves and sounds as if you went to the back of the speaker and turned the dial up a few notches.
After I sold the montis, I tried salon 2s, goldenear triton 1s, B&W 800s, dynaudio c4s, and almost owned the klipsch palladium 39f but one day I decided to go and listen to the Renaissance. They were connected with a simaudio preamp and stereo amp and I used my iPhone with a crappy RCA cable and streamed Spotify which is a mediocre source. Well, my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe what I heard. I have ran these Renaissance in full range mode while watching movies and turned off both of my JL audio fathoms and the Renaissance destroy the JL audio subs. They just do everything right. 
538 posts
10-21-2016 1:27pm
I thought your ml have powered bass ? Is it the mids and highs these amps are running . Or is my memory of reading about your speakers fogged ?
Yes!! they (Martin Logan Renaissance) are powered in the bass and crossed over at 300hz.
ML esl panels can go down to a capacitive 1ohm, so an amp that can handle this is still in order that I posted last, but he doesn’t need all that wattage of the JC1’s now.
I would search for a 50-150watter @ 8ohms, that can "almost" keep doubling it wattage for every halving of that 8ohm impedance,
50w @ 8ohms
100w @ 4ohms
200w @ 2ohms

Cheers George
It would be interesting to read your take on the Merrill Veritas. They have a 30 day trial offer. I do not have the proper speakers to try with them myself so I need to go with online reviews.

I would love to hear the Merrill Veritas on my Magnepan 3.7i’s based on a thread I saw on here about how they destroyed the Sanders Magtech monos. It’s hard for me to imagine an even better amp that my Magtech. I’d love to hear the Aesthetix Atlas Signature/Eclipse and Pass Labs X350.8 on my Maggies as well.
Contrary to popular belief, the Martin Logan electrostatics have powered woofers that let you hear more bass if the amplifier has better low end punch. Please refer to the stereophile review of the montis where they can validate what I am stating here. The bass improves and sounds as if you went to the back of the speaker and turned the dial up a few notches.
Regarding the fact that the Martin-Logan Renaissance and Montis speakers incorporate powered woofers, yes, I would certainly expect that their bass performance would vary significantly depending on the amplifier that is used. Just as bass performance can be significantly affected by a preamp or a source component, even though those components provide no power to the speakers. However, since those speakers draw nearly negligible amounts of current and power from the amp at deep bass frequencies, and also given that the amp being used will not be exposed to any back-emf from the woofer, I would be cautious in extrapolating from these results expectations about what kind of bass performance can be expected with non-powered speakers.

Also, as George mentioned the impedance of these and many other electrostatics descends to very low values in the upper treble region, about 0.5 ohms at 20 kHz in the case of these particular speakers. With that impedance being highly capacitive (and therefore more demanding of the amp) in much of the treble region. While most non-electrostatic speakers have impedances that either rise or remain relatively constant in the treble region, and that usually become increasingly inductive, rather than capacitive, at high frequencies.

So while I extend my congratulations to the OP for a job well done, and for providing us with a great deal of valuable information, I would be cautious in extrapolating from results with these two speakers expectations as to how an amp would perform if it were to be used with non-powered and/or non-electrostatic speakers.

-- Al

Unfortunately, my reviews going forward will be with electrostatic speakers since i have no intention of selling my Renaissance speakers in the near future. For now, here is the review on the MC452:

Mcintosh MC452: TONS OF POWER. It doesn't run out of steam and has enough juice to satisfy any sort of demanding speaker. I also will say that it has very nice detail up top with nice separation. It has enough bass, but it won't match the pass labs or jc1s, but that does not mean it sounds thin either. It actually surprised me enough to say it is a good overall well rounded amp. If you have laid back speakers, THIS IS THE PERFECT AMP to bring them alive. As far as looks, well this is as good as it gets. Mcintosh just looks very pretty regardless of where you place it. I don't think i have been so complimented on how beautiful my looks after i brought Mcintosh gear a few weeks ago. 

We are living vicariously through you . The takeaway should be these findings are with your system . Other’s purchasing decisions should not necessarily be finalized on your findings . Keep it going .
Please forgive my total ignorance here, I have not read this many posts on A'gon, so little time :(  

I saw all the writing and just got a bit overwhelmed, I'll re-read this when I have more patience, but I just wanted to say that this is an extraordinary amount of amp auditioning.  I don't have that kind of patience for it anymore.

 Having said that, I have always found in this hobby that everything always seem to sound a little different and whenever I've made a change in my system, I need to live with it for a while until my ear becomes accustomed to the new sound.   I believe we all have an aural memory, so when making a system change, our aural memory is used to the sound of the previous system and a change in the system takes time for our aural memory to develop new memories and forget about the way the old system sounded.
Once I can forget about the way it used to sound, it becomes easier to start liking the new way it sounds.  Sometimes, it hits you right off the bat that the new upgrade is way better than before, other times maybe the upgrade, which you thought would be better, isn't better.  However, over time, when your aural memory disappears, you begin to like the new component.

I'm just wondering with all of this auditioning, are you really giving yourself the time needed to enjoy the ride?  Also, could it be the speakers that need to be changed and not the amp?  Again, sorry for not having read the thread before commenting, hope I am not out of line.  I also hope you take my comments in the spirit that they are meant to be given.  Thanks,

I haven't read your individual reviews, but saw no mention of music used, or source components.

This need to change amps, even even you find ones that you like, seems like some weird compulsion. And dismissing amps, because of resale value, what about the many amps that give you 30 days to try their amps?

It's nice you took the time to do the write ups, but using speakers with powered bass, and electrostatics, I guess we just take it all for what's worth.
Thank you whitecamaross, very helpful info. I have the JC-1s and love them. Pass labs was on my list to try next. Do you think the 250 would be enough power coming from the 400 w monos? I have the SF Stradivaris, or the 350? Thanks
Thanks a lot.
You just cost me $3500.
I know that's not much relative to the price of most of the amps you are discussing. But I already have 5 high end systems running that include Classe, Krell, Martin Logan, Revel, etc.
You think I need more gear?
Then you start squeeking Pass Labs. How come I ain't got no Pass Labs you ask. So OK. I got a used INT-150 (that I don't need.) Is that gonna be good enough for you? Probably not, but you gotta start somewhere.
"Pass labs is the top of my list at this time. Overbuilt, amazing in every way but they do run warm and don’t fit in racks so there’s a compromise there"

I don’t find my 250.8 runs terribly hot but I also think it has a lot to do with what speakers they are driving. On the other hand, it is big and quite heavy.

One thing to mention about the .8 amplifiers- they have absolutely excellent binding posts. Can’t over tighten, no tools needed, and very solid connection. Made by Furutech, as I recall. 
if you are coming from jc1s and need that type of juice, go for the 350.5 or .8. 
As far as the comment about my selection of amps due to resale value or marketability, yes that's what I choose. This is a hobby and I'm not in it to lose money when I can avoid it. I post my experience here for you all to use it as additional feedback and nothing else. Just because I haven't auditioned an amp that you think is better doesn't mean I wouldn't. Just feel free to send it my way and I'll pay return shipping back to you. As I stated above, I won't try an amp that I can't sell without sitting on it for many months. I like to be able to bring an amp in my home, use it, audition it and then sell it and use that same money to finance my next purchase. So far, I have pass labs as king of the hill. If one day I want to go back to it, it's only a phone call away. As simple as that. That said, right now I'm playing with my mc601s and already making calls to bring in a 350.8 or Bryston 28bsst2. 
I will continue to use my electrostatics for another year or so. One thing you all need to remember is that I don't get paid for this like reviewers do in order to hype a product. Don't believe everything magazines write because I was guilty of that and learned the hard way. For example, the krell 402e got praised as having massive bass which I never heard at all. The most bass I've ever heard was from the 350.5 followed by the jc1s and 250.8. Every other amp was on a separate tier groups in regards to bass. 
Very informative, and objective I must say whitecamaross... Especially for those of us wanting to get the most from systems that perform double duty.  Looking forward to your assessments of the 350.8 and Bryston 28bsst2.
Curious if you’ve come across any of the Halcro DM line to audition, and if so what’s your take?
It's a nice review list you got there Whitecamaross.  Can't believe there's no Anthem p5 or a5 review in your  list. Did you had the chance to experiment with Anthem amp in the pass?  I'm looking for a good 5 channel amp and im juggling between the ati, Anthem and classe model.  Which one would you recommend?
not to be difficult but I wonder how these amps would rate in a blind test..I find that "very" good amps have small differences when all other variables are removed. also after the new wears off you wonder what was wrong with the prior great amp.
IMHO the big differences heard in any new high end component has more to do with the initial hyper focus on the sound which diminishes over time bringing you right back to 'why did I sell uber good amp x for uber good amp y' ?
I've been fortunate enough to have had Dartzeel, JRDG and Agostino over the last 5 years or so and know that I should have kept the Dartzeel (first in line) bc all three are great amps that produce darn near flawless sound with differences I couldn't possibly describe today. It's the quest for new that makes the hobby fun and expensive..Just my observation after many years. Just take a look at all the great amps for sale in audiogon. absolutely no reason to sell except to try something new.

BTW using a Krell Chorus multichannel amp and look forward to every time I turn it on. It's just another great high end amp.

Like you, I have the Martin Logan Expression ESL 13a speakers. The quality of these speakers has caused me to plan on upgrading all my electronics and replace my center speaker (with a new Martin Logan that is designed to match the ESLs and will be coming out in January 2017) . I plan on getting the Pass Labs X250.8 to run the ML 13as. I will be getting the Emotiva XMC-1 7.2 channel AV Pre/Processor when it is available with Dolby Atmos, sometimes after January 2017 as well.

I get from your reviews that you also listen to movies. I am assuming you have a 5.1 or 7.1 system to do so. What Pre/Processor have you found that gives you what you want, quality wise? What amps do you use for the other speakers to match the Pass Labs?

Thank you
Bass is important because it is also one of the key elements, along with a full midrange and extended highs to deliver the emotional aspect of the music. Unfortunately some of the new expensive speaker designs fall short in the bass department which is ridiculas. I'm not going to pay forty thousand for speakers that can't deliver a tight and tuneful bass.
One other thing, the op noted that he ended up using Mcintosh amps. Mcintosh amps vary in sound quality from one model to the next, more so then other brands. You can't possibly judge an entire line of products based on trying one of their amps and will require further trial and error to get the best sound.
Thank You whitecamaross!!!

So much insightful information. I would love to have the Pass Labs 250.8 or the 250 Int… but they are out of my price range.

Do you have any experience with Coda Products… especially the CSiB integrated or the CSX Amp? My main question is do they have any warmth to them like the Pass Labs?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. 
I've been doing this along time and have gone through more amps than I can remember so this is a very interesting thread to me. I mean cramming all those amps in such a short time frame is quite a task for your ears.
Even though my searching topped out at around the $5k price, I feel I heard some pretty good amps. After using class A, class D, class A/B, tubes and hybrids, I found an unimposing little amp that meets my sonic desires perfectly. A lowly Hafler P230 which I completely recapped and upgraded connectors. After you stop laughing, send me a pm and I'll send the amp to you on my dime for your review. 
Very USEFUL.   I curious as to how and why of you hearing so many amps.  PS  Another satisfied Pass user here (X150.8). 
Hi whitecamaross,

Thanks for all of your very helpful information on amplifiers you've had in your system!   In my past, I've had some Pass Labs in my home (X350, X5, X1), and I absolutely enjoyed that equipment and I can understand why you think Pass Labs is top notch. 

On the budget side of things, you had really nice things to say about the Emotiva SA250.   Based upon performance (ignoring price :-), where would the Emotiva rank among your amp list?  Is it anywhere near the neighborhood of the Pass Labs or Parasound or even the Plinius Odeon?

Emotiva now has their new Class H XPA Gen 3 amps, and after talking on the phone with the Emotiva folks, they claim that these new amps are actually being preferred over the SA250.   So, if the SA250 was really good and the Gen 3 XPA's are better, then it might be a great amp to get into for a lower price.

I'm also looking into a Plinius, since you mentioned it's the best multichannel amp you've tried.  Basically, for a 7 channel amp, I'm looking at the Plinius Odeon vs the new Emotiva XPA Gen 3. 

Finally, if I do decide to go separate amps, I think I would do a 2 channel Pass Labs amp, plus a 5 channel amp.  Just wondering which 5 channel amp would match up well with the Pass Labs?

Thanks in advance,
Hi all, 
happy holidays to everyone. i have once again abandoned this thread due to family time and work. i read what was asked after my last post on this thread and here are a few things i can say:

No i have not heard any Coda amps. I did get some feedback from someone i know who claims they are very good amps for the money and they sound very musical ( i trust his ears). 
As far as the anthem p5, i did own it and it is a tank. That said, i find ALL ANTHEM amps to sound sterile, cold and very lifeless. They seem to have plenty of power, but they are not amps that can be really enjoyed in terms of 2 channel. They are more targeted to be part of a home theater set up. Again, that is my personal opinion based on my prior experience with the anthem P5. 
Some of you have asked that i should mention what i own in terms of components so you can get a clear understanding and here is what i own right now:
Martin Logan Renaissance (sold 2 weeks ago)
Monitor Audio Pl 300 Platinums
Revel Salon 2s
JL audio Gothams
Jl audio F113s

Classe Audio CP800
Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp
Mcintosh C2500
Mcintosh C52

Mcintosh mx161
Mcintosh mx122
Krell foundation 4k

Cambridge audio 851 network player
Ps audio Direct stream dac with Bridge 2
NAS DRIVE with DSD files

Mcintosh MC601s
Emotiva SA250s
Krell Chorus 7200
Classe Audio CA5200

i also ordered a pair of Mcintosh mc275 MK6 tube amps which i will use as monos. My intention here is to hear these puppies in a 2 channel configuration and choose from the different preamps that i currently own to see what sounds best with them. 
I made the mistake of selling my electrostatics and the buyer does not seem to like them. He had never owned electrostatics so he is really not feeling them. I can honestly say i love the electrostatic sound and the reason why i bought these mcintosh mc275s (which will be here next  tuesday) is because i want to try them with electrostatics. i am going to probably either buy another pair of renaissance or just a pair of 13a which are smaller and probably easier to live with. 

Someone above asked if the emotiva is in the same conversation as a pass labs 250.8 or 350.5 and my answer is no it is not. It is a hell of an amp for the money and i have verified this by using my different preamps with those amps and i am always impressed at how much bang for the buck they truly are. That said, pass labs is pass labs and in my opinion they are really the best for electrostatics aside from tube amps. 
As far as my Mcintosh mc601s, they are good amps (beautiful looking too), but they are no pass labs in terms of OOMPH. 
One thing to remember is that i have previous experience using a tube integrated to drive my renaissance speakers and they seemed to simply get lost when watching movies. What i can say so far (without listening to my mc275s in mono mode yet until they arrive) is that tube amps for some reason tend to pull back the sparkle and detail that exists in movies which tends to make the front speakers not "jump" as much as the rest of the speakers. It is a weird effect to say the least, but i will be able to test this out once again but now with 150 watts per channel rather than 75 and see if the extra power makes a difference.
I want to say to everyone that i always have a lot of audio equipment that i go through and that i end up selling not because i hate it or i don't like it, but rather because i am simply looking to try something else that caught my eye. i have vast experience with many pieces of equipment and everything i say here is because I ACTUALLY have owned it and not something that i just read about on the magazines which i don't trust to begin with. i have read sooo many glowing reviews on different things and i ended up buying them and was truly disappointed. The point i am trying to make for you all is that you should not believe everything you read about audio. Let your ears be the judge. 
If anyone is interested in anything i currently own just message me. i can give you my honest advice and opinion and i won't sell you anything that i don't think will take you in the right direction. i have received a lot of messages from people who were misguided by their dealer or magazines and are looking for true hands on advice. i am glad to take you in the direction you want as long as you have the budget of course. i won't transform your stereo to sound like a $100k sound system with only a 3,000 dollar investment so let's be a realist first. however, i  can guide you each step of the way so that you don't have to keep buying more and more equipment and yet you are still not where you want to be in terms of sound. Some of you who are reading this and who have messaged me and i have helped to elevate their listening experience can chime in here and vouch for me.
Happy holidays for you all !! 


Thank you so much for being so generous with your advice and time. Well done! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone,

Finally whitecamaross has showed up on this forum again!!! As the previous owner of both: Emotiva XPA 5 and Anthem Statement P5 I totally agree with the feedback whitecamaross provided. Emotiva = Best Bang for $$. Anthem P5= powerful and cold.

I was on vacation Key West, Florida and on the way back had an opportunity to stop by whitecamaross and check out his set up as well I was interested in the Martin Logan Renaissance he had at that time. First I must say what a Great guy he is and with all the knowledge and experience that he has in this audio hobby makes for one hell of a connection to have!!! I have never heard Martin Logan before but when I got to experience them first hand I was sold. Unfortunately Martin Logan Renaissance were too big for my place and instead I went with the smaller version Martin Logan Summit X that Whitecamaross got me a great deal on. I must admit as the proud owner of Pass Labs 250.8 when I saw McIntosh MC601s in whitecamaross set up visually I fell in love with the looks they have and I totally agree that McIntosh design wins- best looking amp!!(IMHO). But I bought my amp for the sound it produces which I still can’t find to beat. I also got to experience JL audio Gothams and
Jl audio F113s and now I am saving for those bad boys!!! I thought I got my last sub (less than a year ago) that I am happy with - Hsu Research VTF-15H MK2 well that is not the case ANYMORE. Don’t want to hijack this thread but the meeting was a very positive one and I got to experience all the FINE equipment that whitecamaross has firsthand!!! From now on anytime I have an upgrade bug I reach out to whitecamaross for a perspective and possible availability of an item through his vast connections. I can say for sure, that all the items I got through whitecamaross in my audio quest pursuit for perfection in sound has gotten me much closer to my goal with the minimal waste of my hard earned $$$ and no time wasted on unnecessary experiments with equipment ( I let whitecamaross do that for me ;) ). Happy Holidays to all of you and special thanks to Whitecamaross for such great reviews, keep them coming!!!

Thanks to both posts from ottablue and whitecamaross!  I agree that the best way to evaluate anything is in your own system.  However, it's also really helpful to hear other's experiences, and so I find this thread very helpful.

For whitecamaross, I'm wondering about the Plinius Odeon 7. Is it anywhere near the ballpark of performing like the Pass Labs or the Parasound JC1?  Also, does it run hotter than the Pass Labs amps?   I have a chance to get the Plinius.  The dealer suggested converting and running it at 220V, but says I can probably get away with 110V, which is how I would run it.

Thanks in advance!
The Odeon is the best multi-channel amp there is. The other amp that comes second is the Classe CA5200. The Odeon does run very warm when driven hard just like a pass labs. I used the Odeon with 110v without any issues. 

Just wanted to add here on the topic of Emotiva. As I’ve said before, I have extensive experience with a multitude of Emotiva products. My opinion on the preamp/dac side is that they are decent for the money (especially if you only want to spend a few hundred), but they can sound somewhat closed-in. The amps are actually quite excellent for the money you spend. They can be elevated to a very excellent amp by a fuse upgrade and a very good power cord. That being said, there are definitely amplifiers that are much better, but they do cost 3-5 times as much. I have not put my Emotiva amps side-by-side with something like a Parasound JC-1 or Pass Labs, but I am very happy with them that I don’t feel the need to spend 6 to 10 thousand dollars on a set of monoblocks to replace the Emotivas.

That being said, I have noticed a change in direction from Emotiva in the last few years. I believe they may be slowly transitioning away from China manufacturing. They are also transitioning more towards switching power supplies. That coupled with USA manufacturing means they have to do more with less to stay in their targeted price bracket. The lighter weight of the switching power supply on the new Gen 3 amps mean they spend less on shipping. I have not heard Gen 3, so I cannot comment on that. However, I have owned the XMC processor - and it also has a switching power supply. I would say the XMC is very good for the amount of money you spend on it, but I found the sound somewhat lackluster (I got the feeling that it was muffled/closed-in). It would not compete with the likes of Krell.

One thing to keep in mind with Emotiva is that they are skilled marketing folks. Watching their videos, talking with them, and reading their pages -- it is clear that it’s all about the "Emotiva hype". The emotive forum also has this attitude (Emotiva is the best!!). Not to say this is a bad thing -- it’s the job of any business to try to sell. However, I would just take all this information with the right perspective. In the $500-1500 range of items, I would say that it is very difficult (maybe even impossible) to compete with this and find something better.

I've ordered a 7 channel Gen 3  amp from Emotiva, so I 'm going to try it out while I wait for the availability of the Plinius Odeon (available for me in about a month).  Fun stuff!

Quick question for whitecamaross (and everyone else too):

Do you plug your amplifiers straight into the wall or into a power conditioner.  If the latter, what conditioner do you use?

I have tried both and can't hear a difference. I now just plug them into my furman piece 
Very informative posting, actually surprised by the huge discontinuity in price and platform comparisons (in a good way).  It is nice to see someone give an open mind at all levels from Emotiva to Mac mono blocks.

I find the comments by others just as entertaining and sometimes informative, especially those who feel snuffed because their amp of choice didn't get mentioned.  I couldn't help myself and had to add my own snide comment to Carver/Sunfire/BK owners...seriously, those are not the end all be all amps, if you have ears, you are not clearly comparing them unbiased toward other builds, types.  I've owned one of each and a basic Peachtree 220 outperformed them all in my room with my speakers.  They are okay for cheap used prices, but please, the grainy/hard nature of those amps are clearly audible. 

Pass Labs certainly are special, including the low power First Watt amps, my personal favorites for speakers that spec correctly. 

Thank you for taking the time to post on so many combinations and brands, many times its far better information than a magazine looking for its next big advertising deposit. Kudos and cheers!
i just received a pair of mc275s tube amps which I will run in mono mode with my renaissance. I recently bought a second pair of renaissance because after I sold my first pair, I really regretted it. The guy who bought them from me doesn't like them in his room with his set up. Anyhow, I got lucky and bought a used pair locally for a great deal and I'll be using now an all out tube amp and preamp and keep the mc601s in my garage for the time being. I want to focus on a 2 channel set up in the beginning of the next year and just put multichannel on hold. 
Several of you have messaged me asking for advice and purchased a few of my pieces based on what you told me you needed out of your set up. 
i plan to keep venturing and trying more gear next year and share more with you all. I realized that my first passion is 2 channel. That said, I began my journey with movies and have vast experience with many top processors. So far, I feel atmos is great but it's very minimal in terms of improvement unless you have a true dedicated room for it. A solid 7.1 set up is still hard to beat. 
Happy holidays !
One cannot but notice that Ebm has whitecamaross holy grail of amps.

Time to kick ass and take names!

Wish I did
quick update:
i just unpacked the mc275s and connected them to the Renaissance and wow.... i think i can go ahead and say that the mc275s are something special.. After 1 hour of use, they sound so beautiful and full with nice midrange and highs. 
I've got the Parasound Halo A21 with a P7, both in storage right now.  I had noticed a bit of air/presence lacking on some tracks when compared with the car system I installed, and it seemed strange to me.  I thought maybe if I tried different cables from the Morrow MA3 and Wireworld speaker cables.

I'll go back to that Halo system over the weekend, there is one track in particular that stands out in my memory, and now I'm curious.  I've read that Parasound doesn't make preamps that are the equal of their Halo amps.
Nad c356BEE with non stock jumpers, wireworld speaker cables and Silver Stager IC's to a Nad C565 player.
How can you not take into account any Ayre component....components of excellent performance at any of their price points.  ...a glaring omission.
Nad c356BEE with non stock jumpers, wireworld speaker cables and Silver Stager IC's to a Nad C565 player.
You have an A21/P7 combo and you are using a NAD integrated instead? I'm confused. 
I just wanted to change it up for a while, I've got 4 decent pairs of speakers and I've been A/B'ing them with the Nad's 2 sets of speaker outputs.  I was going bring out the Halo gear but things got busy!

The Nad is actually not bad with good cabling.  I don't mean to hijack this thread, just wanted to compare my results with the OP's.