ProAC 2.5 users please share experience on amp

Sorry I have to start a new thread again about right amplifer for the proAC response 2.5. I am searching a good match for it. Please share your experience on this. I am using Cary SLI-80 sig currently. Sound is beautiful but think there maybe lots of space for further improvment. Based on my researh here:

SS: Plinius 9200

Audio Research (VT100+ LS7)or VT50+ LS7
C-J premier 11a or 12

Pretube/SS Power:
Blue circle BC21/BC22(or BAT 200)

anymore input? I listen to classic and some jazz.
the budget is below ~$2500. room size: 16x13x9 . I prefer to tube sound~

Thanks in advance~`
I prefer kora tube amps ,cosmos series are the best.check out with JCAUDIO.COM.
I found the Proac 2.5 benefits from serious power. I think the sonic signature and overall level of quality of the Cary SLI-80 would be a great match, and the power adequate but not optimal. That is, I think that more power would be likely to provide a substantial improvement. When I switched from 11a to Premier 12's on my Proac 2.5's there was a substantial improvement, and I suspect that even more power would have helped.

BTW I could have lived with the 11a on the Proac 2.5 no problem. It's just that adding power is an opportunity to improve the quality of sound, and this is not always true for all speakers.


Please listen to me. It might be a bit over your budget ($3500-4000 used) but the Cary 805C amp is magical with the Proac 2.5! You won't regret it!

Good luck!
Hi Derick, I got your e-mail.

Actually, I've only tried one amp with the 2.5s. The BAT VK200. A year and a half ago when I was running ProAc 1SCs I did a shoot out with some amps that included the VK200, Blue Circle BC22, an older Bryston 4B and a Pass Aleph 3. The preamp used with all amps was the Blue Circle BC21.

My prior experience with ProAcs [Tab 50 Sigs and 1SCs] showed that careful amp matching was necessary. The ProAc tweeter can be bright and I didn't like the results when using all solid state amplification.

Around three and half years ago, after doing a lot of forum reading I decided on the Blue Circle BC21 tube preamp and BC22 solid state amp combo. My reasoning was that a combo like this would provide three things I was looking for. Warmth, power and minimal tube hassle.

I've owned the 2.5s for abour nine months still enjoy using a tube preamp with a solid state amp. I have thought of trying other preamps such as the First Sound Presence and other solid state amps like the Plinius SA-102 and McCormack DNA-1.

I'm sure the First Sound would introduce a level transparency my room has never experienced. However, there's something about the older BC21 with its 6SN7 tubes Ive grown to love. They produce a rounder, warmer sound than the 6922 tubes the Presence and other preamps I've tried like the BAT VK3i use. It really depends on what you're hoping to gain.

While I enjoy the the power and ease of use solid state amps can provide, I have become curious about lower powered SETs, possibly as a second amp. While ProAcs don't have the best measured sensitivity, I've heard they have a fairly gentle impedance curve that makes it easy for some low powered SETs to drive. One amp in particular I'm eyeing is the Wright Sound Mono 10.

Good luck!
Both the 1SC and Tabs are rather hard and glarey sounding and I could not spend 10 minutes with them. Not so the 2.5s which are musical and don't even sound like from the same family or even city. Another great ProAc that made music and not etch is the Resonse 2S but maybe they are just a bit too beautiful sounding.
It is my understanding that the various ProAc Response speakers were originally voiced using an Audio Research VT100 Amplifier. At least that is what has been written in various audio forums. When I owned the ProAc 3.8's I had very good luck with Musical Fidelity M3 Super Integrated Amplifier, but the 3.8's were a much more difficult load than what the 2.5's present. I would contact the US distributor, I spoke with him years ago and he was a decent guy, who I believe is in Baltimore. He may have some great suggestions about what amplifiers others are using.
Drew, I've heard the same thing about the association between ProAc and ARC. They even shared the same room at the 2003 CES Show in Alexis Park when ProAc was showing the then new D80 speaker.
Thanks all for the inputs. Hi, Dean, do you think SS + Tube Pre is a good match for proAC 2.5 ?? this option could mostly likly be done within my budget. But now, it seemd that everyone agree with that ARC is good match~~ ...

Any more comments, discussion~

Hi Derick, so far my personal preference for driving the three ProAc speakers I own has been with a tube preamp/solid state amp combo. But I should say that I have never tried an all tube set up, and I am very curious about this idea.

There are so many great tube amps out there, but some of the ones I've considered are all over the spectrum such as the Wright Sound Mono 10s or WPA3.5s, Bruce Moore Dual 70, VAC Standard 105/105 or Avatar Super, etc...

I have heard ARC amps paired with ProAc speakers once. It was at the 2003 CES show at Alexis Park. A pair of ARC VTM200s were driving ProAc D80s. The sound was organic, and the speakers disappeared, but I thought some spark was missing from the music. It lacked some life. It really isn't fair to make concrete judges of equipment at shows like this, but it's my only experience with this combo.

Which combo were you thinking of getting?

Maybe something like an ARC LS7 mated to a McCormack DNA.5 could be a great place to start. Both pieces for about $1300-1400 total. With your budget maybe you could go to the DNA1 or try something else.

I think the key question is, what kind of sonic presentation are you currently getting with the Cary and what were you hoping to improve?
Contrary to what some have tried to say here, the Proac tweeters are not "glarey" (sic). They only sound harsh with crappy equipment upstream. (CD, pre, amp or cables) I have heard them sound great with the proper electronics, including transistors.

However, as others have said, Proacs are power hungry, so if you want to use a tube amp, it should have some good power, especially if you want to listen to them loud.
I did not comment on the tweeters, just two particular models which I had in my house for audition - Tablette Sig. and 1SC. Both had an inner hardness, glare, that I could not ameliorate with positioning, different amp, etc. The Tablettes drove my wife (who is no audiophile but has superb ears for good music making) from the room. She said the 1SCs were least bad with nice transparency but many instruments sounded hard. I auditioned the 1SCs long after buying the 2.5s which never ever once sounded hard or "glarey".

I don't think the tweeters are the problem, I think it's something in the crossover btw woofer and tweeter, or the woofer itself, or something in the cabinet. But I first, way back in 1996, auditioned the Response 2S at home which was anything but hard or lean. One night my wife and I came home from the ballet and I told her I had to listen to the speakers because they were going back in a couple days. She sat down with me and we listened to two full ballets. Next thing we knew it was 2:00am. The 2Ss seemed to put a golden glow in music that was addictive but I couldn't get them to rock so back they went.

I ended up with the 2.5s after hearing them with everything from 300Bs and 20wt SS (Accuphase) to 150wt tubes. They were superb and played all types of music, at least to my ears, wonderfully. My wife also loved them and they never, not once, glared or honked at me. I didn't find them power hungry at all but then I use a small room.

Not surprised about detecting a lack of life with ARC gear as that has been my experience with their stuff for 20 years. Back then I was a C-J person as most of us were one or the other, sort of like 40 years ago being either a Beatles or Stones fan.
That's really interesting Tomryan.

Your system must be much more revealing than mine because I perceive smaller differences between the three speakers.

In my rig, the Tab 50 Sigs were definitely the "wild" guys of the three. The 1SCs more mature. And the 2.5s add the bottom end both monitors lack. When I first hooked up the 2.5s I felt they were like the 1SCs, but with more bottom end. I didn't perceive any of them to be offensive, but it could be because my system is biased towards the darker side of neutral. And strangely, I felt the floorstanders disappeared better than the 1SCs.

It must be all the loose clothes lying around. The Acoustic Slop Factor.

Currently, SLI-80 is doing well with small scale music: like solo cello, violine, string quartet. The sound is charm and muscial~~ (which is much better than my old CAV50
at this point)

however, for the large scale music, symphonie, opera, the thing is totally changed. The sound is no any layer and
the soundstage is a bit flat. even the sound of violins now become very bad~, seems totally messed up. Overall , i can not keep listening to these type of music for 5 minutes and want to leave~~.

By the way, when I hook the Cary SLP80 to spendor, the sound is warmer, darker than what my CAV50 did.

Tom and Golden ear, there is no glare at all when I listened to solo violin and string quarte. however, the sound of violins in the symphonie is not so pleasure and i am not sure if it is what "glare" you are talking would not hurt your ear anyway

Thanks for the inputs and welcome for more discussions

Derick, it sounds like you're experiencing the bad sounding violins when the music becomes louder and more complex. Solo instruments or chamber music settings are more forgiving, but when you get 10 or more violins going full bore, things can get strident.

This is something I exprienced a few years ago when I first started the hobby. I don't have a real explanation for how I was able to overcome much of this. Better equipment? Adding tubes to the system? But I know I've seen this mentioned in the forums before, so maybe a more experienced person can comment on this.
I currently own both the ProAc 2.5s and the 1SC. The ProAc 1SCs tweeters are anything but hard and glary. I like a warm sounding speaker and after much auditioning settled on these. I also had a pair of Totem 1s which were very good and much brighter than the1SC (at lease in my room), in a head to head match up the 1SC sounded better so the Totems after holding the spot in my system were sold. Matching a tube preamp with a SS power amp seems to work best in my system and with many others using the 2.5s or 1SCs. I use an Pass Aleph 3 with a VTL 2.5 preamp with the 2.5s with excellent results in a modest size room. In any event both a great speakers, I find the 2.5 similar to the 1SCs but with much better bass and a fuller sound. Just a note good stand are essential with the 1SCs.

Pass Lab alph 3 has only 30W/channel, you think it will drive 2.5 well? What type of music you mostly listen to?

As Gunbei said, the problem I experienced now is the difficluty to let proAC/cary present the complex music (like symphonie). I don't need kick bass, but just need a well balanced, positioned,layered sound which is some kind
of missing in my current combination.

Any suggestion?


The Aleph 3 is great sounding amp. I borrowed one from Viggen a couple summers ago and really loved the way it did guitars. Better than any amp I've had in my system. The Aleph 3's soundstage was deeper than the other amps I tried, but I felt the width was constrained to the speakers. The BAT VK200 on the other hand threw a soundstage that easily extended outside the speakers.

It was really difficult for me to choose between the BAT and the Aleph, but what tipped the contest in favor of the VK200 was Aleph 3's low input impedance of 23Kohms. My Blue Circle BC21 had a hard time driving it, and when I wanted to crank it there wasn't enough juice.

Careful preamp matching is a must with this amp. It seems Gjrad's VTL works well with it. I've also read that many people like the solid state Aleph L or Aleph P with it. I know I've read other threads about tube preamps that matched well with it, but I can't remember them.
I just read speaker review at Speaker Asylum, (link:
The reviewer get almost same experience on the symphonie. "...but when things get cooking the violins get a little massed and lose some of the sweetness that makes them so beautiful in live performances. Also very difficult/impossible to get them to layer the orchestra properly..."~~

of course, I also got the same outstanding result with solo cell, which one of best i ever heard~~~.

Well, is this becasue of the "weakness" of equipment(JRDG Concentra Int Amp(SS) ) he used or it is ProAC 2.5's own weakness..?

I am wondering......... ANY comment~~??
Be careful with that Proac distributor in Baltimore. I was developing a great relationship with a local dealer in Northern California who happened to be a Proac dealer. I was NOT shopping for Proacs at this dealer, but, I did spend $7000 that year on audio gear and vinyl at this dealer. I thought maybe $7000 buys you a little good will, no? When I contacted the Proac distributor for a part for my 2.5's, he complained to my local dealer, who then got pissed that I had not purchased the Proacs from him. This did no one any good; that is, I no longer spend ANY money at this dealer and I certainly would not consider any more Proacs, because I don't want to risk having to deal with this distributor. The distributor damaged a good dealer-customer relationship and shot himself in the foot.
You might check out the Canary amps that are for sale, some new in box for, I think, $1,795.00 and one used for $1,350.00 but for some reason the ad says "300B tubes excluded"?!? Maybe not enough power, though.
Art, those kind of stories make me feel better about buying and selling with fellow enthusiasts instead. I don't know why so many dealers feel the need to exhibit such pomposity on the rare occassions I drop into a store. Maybe it's the way I look. Your dealer and distributor have shown a short sightedness that is mystifying.

Canary, eh Tom?
Hi Gang. Interesting thread here. Smileshopper... Given the proportions of you room, there are many amplifiers that will work well for you.I am sure you are aware that the response series of the proacs love tube amplification. The better the amplifier the bigger the reward. They will respond well with both high powered amps as well as some of the lower powered amps. Solid state?.... can be done, but far more difficult to optimize than tubes and the solid scrape amps that do make music are very expensive [ read accuphase, FM acoustics, pass etc]. For that kind of money you can buy some fabulous vacuum tubes amps. As KW6 posted earlier... the Cary 805's with the proacs are in a whole higher leaugue than most anything I can think of at that price point. The el-34 based CJ amps can make for a very engaging musical experience for a whole lot less though. I suppose it will all come down to your budget. The good thing here is you have many more options available due to the proacs rather begign load it presents to the amplifier. I used a pair of response 4's paired with an older pair of el-34 based VAC pa90c's with outstanding results,and in a room more than double the size of yours. Furthermore... I used the vacs in pure triode mode at a mere 45 watts/channel as opposed to using the 90 watts in ultralinear mode. Yeah... the power thing does have some merit with lesser quality amplification but is "WAY" overrated here in many cases when tube amps are employed ,especially considering the size of your room. The proac 2.5's are a "top shelf" speaker by anyones standards and deserve the best amplification you can muster up for them. Best of luck on your journey.
Ecclectique, VACs are something I've really thought about placing in front of my 2.5s. Your post is very encouraging.
Smileshopper, I bought my Proac 2.5's in England and was informed by the manufacturers that they actual voice/fine tune them using Audio Research valve amps. I have been running mine with the Audio Research VT-100 poweramp and LS25 MKII preamp. These benefit from Siltech cabling with which they are also tuned.

All in all, this is the bery best set up you can get for the Proacs. The whole truly exceeding the amazing parts. Have you seen Michael Fremer's review in Stereophile?
hey Gunbei. Being from Canada myself, I have met Gilbert on numerous occasions and we always inevitably chewed the fat about tubes and circuit design.He is without doubt the consummate gentleman, a brilliant designer,very approachable and a class act in every regard. I must say that I admire his preamp designs over his work with amplifiers. Saw your post in the supratek thread? Thinking on changing preamps or the amp?
Hi, Ecclectique. Thanks for youe respone. I do love
C-J CAV50.(EL34) and the very nice price. But it doesnt' work well with ProAc2.5. Actually, i prefer CJ sound to cary sound. I don't know why. I got more bass from Cary SLI80, but feel missing some thing deliveried by C-J. maybe this is differnce between
tube 6550 and EL-34??

When I get enough fund,I will give 805 a try...~~

Dgob: I heard the same thing. But the combination
VT100 + LS25MKII is beyond my budget.~~ will give a try some day..~