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Hello, I have owned many pairs of Apogees, including the Stage. I have always found that the best sounding amp for Apogees is the older Coda amplifiers. The Coda "System 100" was one of the best sounding amps. Then there is the Coda 11, 10 etc.. The folks at Brooklyn Audio (up in Canada) had a System 100 recently for less than 2K. These amps were designed to sound good while driving down to a half ohm load. On the cheap side the Coda 10 and 10.5 were very good sounding with a pair of Scintilla's that I had back in the day. Another amp that sounded good was the OCM 500, which David Belles helped Magnum Dynalab design about 10 years ago. IMHO I found the Krell amps to be worthy of driving the speakers, but not very musical. You may want to e-mail Graz in Australia. He is the guy that now builds new ribbons for the Apogees. He is a nice fella and might know of the ultimate amp for Stages. Good luck.
I have owned Stage speakers (later upgraded to Mini Grands) for 15 years. The low power statements for the Stage speakers was a marketing point that was accurate but not 100% accurate. I find they like a little more power. They will sound good with a musical 100 watt (into 8 0hms)amp but sound a lot better with a 200 watt version of the same amp. Yes, I know the Stages are 3-4 ohms. I was just stating a reference point for the power rating.
Be sure to get an amp that can be stable into the low impedance load of the Stages. The wrong amp will clip badly and make the MRT dance like a ribbon in the wind. With the right amp the MRT will be steady as a rock even at loud volumes.
Classe and Plinius amps have been paired well with the Stages. Good luck
I have been using the Stages now for about 7 years. They do seem to like power. The Aragon 4004 mk2 is a good match for not much $$, I tried a Krell KSA-150, and it did not do it for me, also a audio research 100 watt tube amp was not not a great match for me. I am now using (for 3 years) a set of VTL 300 mono blocs, a very good match to my ears, these can be bought used for around 2k. When properly fed and setup, the Stages make wonderful music. A true bargin.
Apogee Stages were a stereophile recommended component. I owned a pair for a short while. Stereophile recommended Classe amplifiers for use with the Stages. I was using them with a pair of VAC PA 90 monoblocks. They were very sweet sounding with the Vac amps, which I listened to in triode mode. With the tubes, I thought they lacked dynamics and bass punch.
I sold them to a friend of mine, she took Stereophle's advice and bought a Classe amp. She kept them for about ten years.
Also consider McCormack and hybrid amps (SS/tubes). Tubes on Stages are very musical if you provide adequate power.
Stages can sound good with low power amps but they will be somewhat congested compared to a more powerful amp. I am not talking monster powerful amps here. Just try for something 200/400 or 250/500 watts(8/4 ohms).
I can second Bobspeak in his recommendation of the Aragon 4004 MKII.
It's a great amp for these speakers. I used one in London for 8 years, never turned it off, and with the Stage's it was one of the best combinations I have ever had.
I would guess you would really need to spend some serious $$$ to do much better.
I still use Stage speakers as my main speakers, although they have been rebuilt with Graz ribbons and I use active crossovers now. The best amp I tried with them when I had the passive crossover was the VTL Sig 450 monos, although I would imagine any of the VTL or Manley with at least 300w/channel would do just as well, tetrode mode is better. Less than 200 tube watts is iffy. I never liked them that much with any solid state amp including the Classe amps, although a Sunfire amp used in Current Source output mode should work very well. I like the Sunfire on my bass panels (325w/channel).
I agree the Aragon 4004MkII is a great amp for these. However I accidentally discovered that a 35 year old Yamaha CA-1010 gives the Stages the timbre and texture acoustic instruments deserve! At only 90W (8Ohm), 120W (4Ohm) can drive the Stages pretty loud (if the recording is compressed enough) and to a nice level in a lively room if it's a really good recording. The stereo imaging and detail is the best I've heard out of the Stages, and I've had my pair 20 years. I would say that you must be careful not to have too much power or you will end up rebuilding your ribbons. Keep it under 150W 4ohm with a high current amp.
The only other amp I've tried was my ARC D125 (115W). Sadly, this very transparent amp I'd didn't do anything for the potential these speakers possess.
as funny as it may seem but we tried a a/b test with a crown xls 2000 versus a pair of monoblocs classe cam-400 ,and the crown just blew the doors off the classe!!
i never heard a stage sound so lively, everything was absolutly controled,everything became transparent,no bomminess just the recording being reproduced at it's best. a 500$ amp matched better then a pair of 11000$ amps!
i bought the apogee stage ,outstanding speaker with this amp.oh and before you say:yeah but the crown has a fan,well yes but we didn't know it was running until i put my hand in the back and felt the air moving, it's completly silent.