Transients hurting my ears on hifi solid state amps

I've looked at many discussions on listening fatigue and similar topics, but haven't really found the answer to the specific problem I've been having.

To me, modern higher end solid state amplifiers tend have too much slam or too sharp transients and that ends up hurting my ears even at 60db levels. Even listening to mellow jazz, the piano notes are just uncomfortable to listen to because of the attack.

I currently have Buchardt S300 Mk II speakers, which are not high sensitivity by any stretch, and are rather smooth sounding, but I don't know if they could contribute to the issue somehow?

The worst case regarding amplifiers I tried was the Rogue Sphinx V2, which is 100W hybrid Class D with tube preamp. Another I had at home for an extended period and had an issue with was the Arcam SA20, which should be a relatively smooth sounding amplifier, and it did get a little closer to what I was looking for.

I currently have a Primaluna Dialogue Premium integrated and I'm very happy with it. The amp I tried to replace was a Marantz PM6005, which is also very smooth. Both are under the recommended power rating of the speakers (even though that's relative for a tube amp), so I'm wondering whether that could be part of it.

I listen mostly to vinyl (Graham Slee Reflex M preamp) with some digital too (Denafrips Pontus II). Both are relatively smooth and vinyl, while usually being softer, doesn't solve the issue. 

I'm looking to switch back to solid state (class AB) for various reasons and I was wondering if anybody had had similar experiences and recommendations for amps? Most amps, especially higher end, tend to emphasize the dynamics, punch, agility, etc. and I struggle to find anything that would seem to fit the bill. Tubes seem to do the trick for me, especially with some tube rolling, but not sure where to go with solid state. The budget would be around 2000$.


I had a Rogue Sphinx and completely agree it was one of the brightest amps I have ever heard. Sold it off after a few months.

As others have mentioned, moving to a good SS class A amp was the solution that worked for me. I now have both a Pass 30.8 and a Modwright KWA 150 amps. Both are outstanding, possessing great detail without harshness/brightness.

Modwright, especially, comes up on the used market at very reasonable prices and Dan Wright is the best, by far, audio manufacturer I have ever dealt with.


Sounds like clipping and straining except for the Sphinx which I find fatiguing. Tube amps tend to soft clip so that could be a solution- find a deal on a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II or III and you will have plenty of power and dynamics with zero fatigue.  I love the sound of that amp. 

Parasound HINT will also work- used and demos should come close to your budget.  

Consider a used Luxman L-550AXII. I had one for a bit, but unfortunately it was damaged in shipping. It’s sound quality is what led me to go with their L-509X. The L-550AXII idle power consumption is “only” 170 watts, which might be less than a tube amp.  

Might want to consider a Naim Super Nait 3, or Ayon Sprit V.. I have a Aesthetix Mimas..None of these are bright or edgy I’ve owned them all. Look at power cords. Shunyata’s Venom line is amazing for the price. Consider a good Power conditioner like a Shunyata Hydra Delta D6. If the Naim is too much $$ look for a used Naim Super Nait 2... In fact with your budget I'd stick with buying pre owned.. $2K is a bit low for buying new.