Unhappy with tubes so which transistor amp?

Hi guys,

About 6 months back I bought an ARC Ref110. For one reason or another I am still running on the demo unit which has failed 2 times during this time. The first time it was one of the output tubes which was blown. This time it simply won't power up. I have checked the fuse and it looks ok but the amp shows no sign of life.

Based on my experience so far I am thinking that I will sell my unit brand new when I get it next week. I don't want to deal with a piece which breaks down often as for me reliability is one of the key criteria as I am totally zero on the technical side of electronics (changing the fuse may be as technical as it gets for me). So even stuff like biasing, changing tubes after x amount of hours looks like a lot of work to me.

Now after this background I come to the million dollar question. Since replacing the amp with my old Aragons I have noticed that I have lost significantly in 3 areas.

1) Soundstage does not seem to be as big as with the Ref110 specially in regard to sound coming from outside the speaker thing, which btw is gives you an awesome feeling if you are listening with the lights switched off

2) I have lost the mid range magic. This is painfully apparent in vocals as they have lost their sense of realism.

3) Digital glare and harshness has also crept back in the system.

Now I am looking for an amp that is SS but can give me back what I have lost although I am not sure about number 2 as everyone says you can't do it with SS. Basically I am looking for an SS amp with huge soundstage, beautiful and natural (not "smooth" as in muffled) midrange and san any digital glare. Price should be ~10K new or used.

The related equipment is ARC CD3 MKII, ARC LS26 and Peak Consult Empress loud speakers.

Any help or ideas is welcome.


P.S. I posted the same on speaker forum by mistake. Mods please feel free to delete the other thread. Thanks
I have the Plinius SA-250 with Logan CLX's and would say it was very textual rather than laid back. Definitely the soundstage goes further back than leaping before the speakers, but for me that gives a more realistic dimensional presentation with better instrument presentation on the stage. I was a tube guy and the Plinius confirmed I made a good choice to switch.
The magic of tubes without the tears, well I may have one answer. Another hybrid integrated, the Pathos Inpol. You really do get that warmth, without any loss of detail, speed and dynamics, that I associate with tubes and only have to worry about 4 Pre tubes. It runs warm, not hot, producing 50 Class A watts. That may not be enough for some speakers, it certainly is for mine. If you need less power, the Pathos TT is said to have a similar quality with 35 watt output.
They run way under the radar here in the U.S., but you should definitely check out Coda. They make some of the best transistor amps available, IMO. They simply excel at everything. Neutral, smooth, dynamic as all get-out, and able to drive most any speaker out there. They’re also very reasonably priced, all things considered. I’ve had some big names in my two systems—DartZeel, Lamm, Boulder, Conrad-Johnson, BAT, ARC—and personally, I wouldn’t trade my Coda for any of them. Sure, each of them does something better than the Coda, but not by much, and when you consider the massive price differentials, IMHO the Coda suddenly becomes a pretty good option.
Accuphase, Plinius, Symphonic Line, Dartzeel, TRL (Transistor research labs), Exposure all these would give you the kind of sound you are looking for.
I too have had problems with my ARC gear....The sound is top notch from ARC, but is likewise top notch with Ayre gear. I've never had a problem with my stuff...it just functions without any problems at all.