Rich; organic true balanced amp w good detail $6k

Suggestions welcomed & appreciated- here are the Criteria:

- fully balanced architecture
- rich, organic sound, extended bass, silky highs, but not at the expense of obscuring detail
- No OTL (too many tubes/heat)
- SS (Class A bias) or tubes OK
- 20-200 wpc ok, the lower the better though all things being equal- well built power supply crucial
- stereo amp easier to put on my Sistrum rack, but mono-bock architecture also considered if better performance
- $6k or less used would be ideal, but would consider up to $8k used if there are no world-beating contenders at the $5k-$6k used price point

Preamp is a modded Sonic Frontiers Line 3- extremely neutral, hence the desire for a richer-sounding amp to balance. High efficiency speakers from Coincident- large open concept room (main floor of house). Re: tubes, have used ARC VT-100 MKIII- good- airy w big soundstage, but meatier mids would be better. Also had Wyetech Topaz 20-watt SET, superb, if slightly lean in the mids (and not fully balanced, but shows you how powerful 20 watts can sound with a well-built power supply) For SS, am considering Pass XA.5 series (they now can run balanced from what I understand?); Clayton Audio M-200 (but unfortunately over the price-range).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions- I have an open mind, so bring it on!
I have owned the Monarchy SE160's twice! I loved them and the mids are wonderful. I would say the mids are certainly more forward compared to Belles. However on my Dali Grand speakers and paired with a very good tubed preamp the Belles 350 Reference amps just ran circles around the Monarchy amps in terms of resolution, bass control, power, stage size, purity, highs were far more extended, far better speed and pace.

The Monarchy amps also caused a horrible thump in my speakers making a loud noise and pushing the drivers out when turned on. That is common and usual for the SE160. I got used to it, but it took some time.

I ran two Belles Ref 350 amps for a little while and the sound was effortless and beautiful. I just could not affort two 350's at that point in my life and settled on one for awhile.

I have always liked the sound of Hybrid amps owning several Blue Circle amps and the Monarchy's. When I found the Belles the Monarchy's were quickly sold.

I now own a Canary CA 309 modified to be very close to the newer CA339. It is a 45 watt per channel 300B push/pull monoblock amp. They would be glorious on your speakers, but are not balanced and you have to manage 8 - 300b tubes! Yikes.

The Belles 350 or 150 Ref's as monoblocks would be very good. The new Belles MB01's are much more expensive then used 150/350 reference amps, but I also hear they are as good as it gets at any price.

I don't want to manage all the tubes in my Canary amp, but they stay until I can find a hybrid or SS amp that is as musical. I am trying a Butler 2250 next. 250 watts in a unique hybrid design.

If Monarchy fixed the turn on thump problem with the SE250, then it may be worth trying. More power is also better as the SE160 drove my speakers more like a 75 watt SS amp.

For P/P, Class A, Triode, the CAT JL2/3 are in the first rank. CAT eschews balanced operation.
I guess I better chime back in here on the balanced thing. The preamp is definitely a true balanced design, as is the dac. So ideally, it would be nice to maintain this all the way through, hence the original criteria. However, if another contender appears that is truly more musical and synergistic, and is NOT a true balanced design, I will consider it.

Tvad- good comment on the rhetorical vs practical re: the balanced viewpoint. In fact, I spoke to my buddy tonight with the Lamm M1.1's. There is a balanced in, but he nor I are sure if it is a true balanced circuit, I suspect perhaps not, it is simply an XLR connector- someone please correct me if I am in error. From what I understand, the new Clayton M-200 monos are a true balanced design, but I will get this re-confirmed. In fact I spoke to David Belles today, who strongly recommended his new M200 monos, however they are a single-ended design...

Sc53- re: Ayre, I remember now hearing it once at a local dealer, and would agree with Jmcgrogan2- dynamic extended and fairly transparent, however there is no way I would compare them to certain tube amps I have had- a good recommendation though none the less, and thank you for joining the thread!

John- interesting- you're the first one to mention 'thin & edgy' re: the Belles- hmmm- that has me worried a bit... But no, I don't feel I am 'on my own'- all of the help here has been great! thanks again for continuing this thread with me.

Bill- there is just something about the Monarchy that doesn't put it over the top for me, and I can't explain what, but understand that they are limited in certain ways from a bandwidth perspective, and I don't feel they would be the 'end of the line' for me... The Canary recommendation is interesting though- in fact, Israel of Coincident was selling some of them for a while to his customers, especially the 339's- they did have a nice full-bodied quality to them, but of course single-ended, and the tueb replacement costs scare me!

Maybe I need to get out of town and go hear my buddy's Lamm M1.1's and that may convince me to save up and wait for a used pair. There is another dealer an hour or so away that has the VTL 450 Sigs- if they have a triode mode, as my buddy led me to believe, that could prove enticing. Well- thanks again everyone, fantastic recommendations all round!
Sutts, we need John to verify if the 350A he heard was the Reference or the older standard 350A. Goodness I have owned to many amps, but the standard 350A I did not like. It was thin to my ears. The Reference 350A has much more body and weight. It soars higher and smoooooother.

Funny you own the very speaker brand I am looking to mate with my Canary amps. I would love to hear my Canary amps on a high effeciency speaker. Mine are 4ohm and 90db effecient - not an easy load for a tube amp. I may try a Paul Speltz Zero autoformer so my amps see an 8 or 12 ohm Dali Grand.

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