Which amps work well with VSA?

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magister

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #180 on: 19 Aug 2016, 11:06 pm »
I recently acquired a PS Audio BHK 250 amp (see http://www.psaudio.com/products/bhk-signature-amplifier/).  It has taken 300+ hours to fully come into its own, but now that it has I can say that this amp is refined and subtle, with plenty of detail and air, and provides excellent woofer control and bass.  It clarifies complex textures (symphony orchestra, e.g.) much better than my previous setup.  It sounds great with my IV jr's and has more than enough power to drive them.  There are two sets of binding posts so bi-wiring is easy.

For a long time I ran a bi-amped arrangement with a Golden Tube SE-40 on top and an NAD C275BEE on the bottom.  This was very musical and emotionally involving, which is why I kept it so long.  But the BHK is just better.  Rarely -- very rarely -- I think I miss the SE-40's midrange.  The BHK is certainly more neutral and accurate, but definitely not analytic or 'solid state' sounding, probably due to the tubed input stage.  A very good middle ground between tubes and solid state.

This amp was a significant investment for me, but I am very satisfied with the improvement -- it's a keeper :D

Delacroix

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #181 on: 15 Jan 2017, 03:28 pm »
Magister --

thanks for this - the first mention I've read here of those new BHK amps from PSAudio with a pair of Vons.  I am particularly interested in your observation that you consider a single power amp a step forward from the bi-amping set up you had before. I gather you can tweak those amps with tube rolling, so keep us posted on how you like this amp in the year ahead.



magister

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #182 on: 16 Jan 2017, 12:50 am »
Thanks for  your interest, Delacroix.  I've had the BHK 250 for six months now (my post is from August), so here are my thoughts to date.

Short update: after running the BHK 250 for a month or more, I replaced the stock tubes with a pair of Tungsram PCC88s.  These are, we are told, the tubes that Bascom King liked the most when developing the amp; of course PS Audio could not use them for production units since they are NOS.  They are awesome!  Smooth as butter, clean, detailed, you name it.  A pair of tube dampers from Herbie's Audio Lab topped things off.  If anyone is really interested in tube rolling with these amps, see http://www.psaudio.com/forum/bhk-power-and-pre-amp-forum/bhk-signature-250-or-300-tube-rolling/.  The BHK 250 also benefits from a good foundation.  I have mine on a PS Audio PowerBase; others have used Stillpoints, AmCan footers, etc. with good results.

Longer reply: as regards bi-amping vs a single amp, I think it is a question of the overall quality of the components; one way is not necessarily better than the other.  The BHK is a reference-quality amp, derived from everything Mr. King has learned in 50+ years of designing components.  The two amps I replaced were mid-audiophile-quality -- good sounding, definitely much better than mass market stuff, but not the last word by any means.  The Golden Tube SE-40 was introduced in 1990, and designers have certainly learned things since then.  But it does have that wonderful, harmonic midrange, no question.  The NAD C275BEE ($1000) avoids any serious sins (like all NAD equipment) but is not as subtle as the BHK.  It doesn't seem like on the surface as though I need the extra 100 W/channel I get from the BHK, but the IV jr's, like most VSA speakers, do like power even though they are efficient.  The BHK woofs more tightly and precisely.  If I had replaced two reference-quality components with the single BHK, I might not have been so impressed.

Would the BHK 250 work well with the larger VSA speakers?  I don't know; probably depends on the room, among other things.  There is also the monoblock version, the BHK 300 (x 2 of course); those might be a very good match for the IV jr's big brothers.  I continue to be very, very pleased with the sound I'm getting.  In fact, I liked the BHK 250 so much that in October I bought the matching BHK Preamp, which took my system to an even higher level -- a very significant upgrade over my conrad-johnson Premier 17LS.  I am amazed every night at the music I get now.  And those IV jr's let me hear every upstream change.  :D

gammajo

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #183 on: 16 Jan 2017, 01:26 am »
The Jr's when set up right with good equipment are wonderful. I heard them with all Classe equipment in a careful set up and it was when started me on VSA

walterslw

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #184 on: 19 Oct 2017, 12:55 pm »
Hi fellow VSA owners,


I am currently doing some strategic planning on my next equipment upgrade, and am thinking (but not really sure) that it may be time to move on from my Bryston 7B SST monoblocks.   I have VSA VR 5 Anniversaries that were hand tuned by Albert, and I bi amp with a matched set of Brystons for the base and a Sonic Frontiers Power 1 (significantly modded by Parts Connection) to leverage the KT 120 tubes, but also to match input gain and sensitivity to that of the Brystons.   I want to keep the SF, because I absolutely LOVE how it sounds driving the M/T of the VR 5.   I am looking to get some "jump out of your seat" dynamics that I am not sure the Brystons are capable of delivering.    That said, I have read that adding a Torus Isolation Transformer to the Brystons may bring additional dynamics to the table.   My other option is to go the route of a good Class D amp.     I am looking for some recommendations on class D amps - I have read the thread, and I know Albert thinks highly of the CI Amps, but I haven't seen any recommendations in terms of bi-amping, and using the Class d for the base.    The other option (something I may consider ) is the PS Audio BHK 300 Monos.   I have the BHK pre and it is an amazing pre-amp - especially once swapping stock tubes for good NOS.  I've seen one thread with someone using a BHK 250 stereo amp, but not the 300 monos.    I still think I would like to keep the bi-amp set up, which means I am leaning towards a good class D - or other recommendations from those who are bi-amping with VSA speakers.


BTW - the Brystons are an excellent amp, VERY reliable and an amazing customer service from Bryston.   They were completely re-built to SST2 status (audio boards, not the transformers or Power supplies) 2 years ago (all under warantee).   Living only 1.5 hours away from where the Brystons are made is convenient.  I've owned them for about 9 years, and there has been a vast amount of improvements made on class D during that time. 


Looking for some advise from fellow VSA owners.

KLH007

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #185 on: 19 Oct 2017, 02:13 pm »
walterslw, I just heard 2 VSA speakers at RMAF driven by Audionet amps, their E-3 Mk IIs sounded better in Denver than in my home and it was an Audionet integrated, the Aktive 55s were awesome with big Audionet monos. The Acoustic Imagery Atsah 500 Monoblock Amplifiers at $2000/pr are something you should consider, as well as the NORD amps that let you opamp roll from England. Going old school, a Krell might also be a choice for dynamic bass slam.

KLH007

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #186 on: 19 Oct 2017, 05:47 pm »
Another to consider, Tommy O's Maraschino amps, great grip and bass drive.

gammajo

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #187 on: 19 Oct 2017, 06:04 pm »
I truly love my Nuforce/Nuprime  Reference 20 mono amps in a different type class D than the usual modules. I run them biwired now to VR55 Aktives, in past to VR 5 Anni MK2. Evn like the top end with them enough that I have not gone to a tubes top. I do have a tibed preamp with them

Escott1377

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #188 on: 19 Oct 2017, 06:15 pm »
In regards to you continuing to use your bi amp set up, Albert has always recommended that you put your money on the tube side and you have done so.

I personally do not feel that you will get much more of the dynamic performance that you desire by moving up the Class D food chain.

All Class D's are going to use pulse width modulation on the signal, so I would look almost at how much more power you want to put into your lower cabinets.

Wyred 4 Sound does Class D exceptionally well, I suggest their new mono blocs here: https://wyred4sound.com/products/power-amps/mono/sx-1000r

I use a pair of their mAmps on my VR4jr's that are bi amped and get plenty of punch.

walterslw

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #189 on: 20 Oct 2017, 12:53 am »
Thanks for the feedback, im going to do more digging on my end.   There are plenty of manufactures out there. 

kernelbob

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #190 on: 20 Oct 2017, 02:29 am »
I just received my new Lampizator 211 True Balanced Monoblock amplifiers this week.  If you were at RMAF, you may have seen my amps in the Lampizator room.  They were being fed by the new Pacific DAC and from reports, the room rocked.  I'm using the Lampizator Golden Gate DAC, with the amps driving the M/T inputs of my Von Schweikert VR100XS speakers with Spectron monoblocks handling the bass section.

Installing equipment always involves powering things down and moving all the cables & power cords around.  It takes a while for everything to settle in and the system to settle down.  Well, after a couple of hours, the system almost suddenly came into focus.  The change was startling.  Bottom line, these amps are amazing!

The distinctive signature of the balanced 211 amps is how they integrate the components of instruments and voices into palpable, harmonically complex, objects.  Yet, the sound is airy, open, and very relaxed.  The soundstage is even more holographic than I'm used to and that's saying a lot when that was already a defining quality of the VR100's.  Time and time again with these amps in the system, I'm struck with how much more of a live performance the music has become.

I wanted to get a sense of how these amps would perform running full range, so I've spent some time using them full range, biwring to the VR100's.  The results are uniformly good, very good.  The bass is full, deep, and articulated with the complexity that you'd expect from tubes, but still well controlled.  Going back to biamping allowes me to run the 211's using the 4 ohm taps, matching the nominal M/T impedance (the bass section of the VR100 is specified as 8 ohms).  Aligning the impedance to the M/T section adds a shade more delicacy and openness to the top end.  Also, the combination of four monoblock amps provides some huge orchestra fortissimos.

Some key design points-- the two 211 tubes per amp are not push-pull.  They're used as mirrored single ended power tubes with each handling one phase of the XLR balanced input with their output only combined at the output transformer.  There's no phase splitter tube and no feedback, local or global, which I believe is one reason for the strong coherence of the sound.  The VSA speakers and these amps are a great sounding combo, the best I've heard.

Best,
Robert

Escott1377

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #191 on: 20 Oct 2017, 01:10 pm »
I just received my new Lampizator 211 True Balanced Monoblock amplifiers this week.  If you were at RMAF, you may have seen my amps in the Lampizator room.  They were being fed by the new Pacific DAC and from reports, the room rocked.  I'm using the Lampizator Golden Gate DAC, with the amps driving the M/T inputs of my Von Schweikert VR100XS speakers with Spectron monoblocks handling the bass section.

Installing equipment always involves powering things down and moving all the cables & power cords around.  It takes a while for everything to settle in and the system to settle down.  Well, after a couple of hours, the system almost suddenly came into focus.  The change was startling.  Bottom line, these amps are amazing!

The distinctive signature of the balanced 211 amps is how they integrate the components of instruments and voices into palpable, harmonically complex, objects.  Yet, the sound is airy, open, and very relaxed.  The soundstage is even more holographic than I'm used to and that's saying a lot when that was already a defining quality of the VR100's.  Time and time again with these amps in the system, I'm struck with how much more of a live performance the music has become.

I wanted to get a sense of how these amps would perform running full range, so I've spent some time using them full range, biwring to the VR100's.  The results are uniformly good, very good.  The bass is full, deep, and articulated with the complexity that you'd expect from tubes, but still well controlled.  Going back to biamping allowes me to run the 211's using the 4 ohm taps, matching the nominal M/T impedance (the bass section of the VR100 is specified as 8 ohms).  Aligning the impedance to the M/T section adds a shade more delicacy and openness to the top end.  Also, the combination of four monoblock amps provides some huge orchestra fortissimos.

Some key design points-- the two 211 tubes per amp are not push-pull.  They're used as mirrored single ended power tubes with each handling one phase of the XLR balanced input with their output only combined at the output transformer.  There's no phase splitter tube and no feedback, local or global, which I believe is one reason for the strong coherence of the sound.  The VSA speakers and these amps are a great sounding combo, the best I've heard.

Best,
Robert

Now that is SERIOUS set up my friend!  Great job!

walterslw

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  • Posts: 61
Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #192 on: 20 Oct 2017, 02:07 pm »
I just received my new Lampizator 211 True Balanced Monoblock amplifiers this week.  If you were at RMAF, you may have seen my amps in the Lampizator room.  They were being fed by the new Pacific DAC and from reports, the room rocked.  I'm using the Lampizator Golden Gate DAC, with the amps driving the M/T inputs of my Von Schweikert VR100XS speakers with Spectron monoblocks handling the bass section.

Installing equipment always involves powering things down and moving all the cables & power cords around.  It takes a while for everything to settle in and the system to settle down.  Well, after a couple of hours, the system almost suddenly came into focus.  The change was startling.  Bottom line, these amps are amazing!

The distinctive signature of the balanced 211 amps is how they integrate the components of instruments and voices into palpable, harmonically complex, objects.  Yet, the sound is airy, open, and very relaxed.  The soundstage is even more holographic than I'm used to and that's saying a lot when that was already a defining quality of the VR100's.  Time and time again with these amps in the system, I'm struck with how much more of a live performance the music has become.

I wanted to get a sense of how these amps would perform running full range, so I've spent some time using them full range, biwring to the VR100's.  The results are uniformly good, very good.  The bass is full, deep, and articulated with the complexity that you'd expect from tubes, but still well controlled.  Going back to biamping allowes me to run the 211's using the 4 ohm taps, matching the nominal M/T impedance (the bass section of the VR100 is specified as 8 ohms).  Aligning the impedance to the M/T section adds a shade more delicacy and openness to the top end.  Also, the combination of four monoblock amps provides some huge orchestra fortissimos.

Some key design points-- the two 211 tubes per amp are not push-pull.  They're used as mirrored single ended power tubes with each handling one phase of the XLR balanced input with their output only combined at the output transformer.  There's no phase splitter tube and no feedback, local or global, which I believe is one reason for the strong coherence of the sound.  The VSA speakers and these amps are a great sounding combo, the best I've heard.

Best,
Robert


WOW - congrats on an awesome system.  Had a chance to look up those 211 amps - they look amazing, must also sound incredible.   The more research I do, I am not so certain I should remove the Brystons.   I may look into upgrading cables, and inserting a balanced passive attenuator for the base for better control as a starting point.   Goldpoint makes a nice balanced switched passive that would be perfect.   I know some here use a Tortuga passive pre - but any feedback on users of the Goldpoint for attenuating just the base?

Escott1377

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #193 on: 20 Oct 2017, 02:18 pm »
This will allow you to match sensitivity as well.

https://ciaudio.com/product/vpc%E2%80%A23-passive-controller/

walterslw

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #194 on: 20 Oct 2017, 02:34 pm »
This will allow you to match sensitivity as well.

https://ciaudio.com/product/vpc%E2%80%A23-passive-controller/


Thanks - I like the price, but want to keep everything balanced if possible.  I wonder if they can make me a balanced version, their price is much better than GP.

kernelbob

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #195 on: 20 Oct 2017, 04:05 pm »
Regarding passive controllers and attenuators.  In my system described above, I'm using two Tortuga attenuators, both of which use balanced inputs and outputs as well as all the internals.  I use the LDRxB for the main controller.  It has three sets of balanced inputs and one single ended set.  It has two sets of balanced outputs and one single ended set.  The SE inputs and outputs go through transformers, so all the internals are fully balanced.

I send one set of outputs to the Lampizator 211 True Balanced monoblocks.  The second set from the LDRxB goes to a Tortuga LDR1B.  This has a single set of balanced inputs and two sets of balanced outputs.  The output of the LDR1B goes to a pair of Spectron Musician III amps running as monoblocks (one channel of each handling one phase of the signal from the XLR input).

Don't get me started on the Tortugas.  These controllers are the best sounding of any active or passive controller/preamps that I've had in my system (they killed my previous preamp, the ARC REF3).  They've also (easily) outperformed other preamps priced in 5 figures.

Check out the Tortuga website at www.tortugaaudio.com to see their capabilities.  All their control functions can be controlled using an included Apple remote.  These functions include user defined input impedance settings ranging from (for the balanced units) 2k to 198k in 2k steps.  You can save up to 10 input impedance settings (#1 is fixed at 40k for balanced units).  After living with this, I would not now own a controller that didn't offer this feature.  You can tailor the input impedance settings of both the LDRxB and the LDR1B to optimize the sound in your system.  I also select between impedances to fine tune the sound for different recordings.

Another feature is the ability to switch absolute phase of your system, again from your listening position.  This is another feature that, once you get used to it, you won't want to be without it.

Did I mention that the Tortugas sound great?  They're the first and only passive controller that has the deep bass with power, punch, PRAT, and extends to the subterranean regions.  The sound stage is excellent both in width and depth and the highs are airy, open, and extended.

The Tortugas all use a software attenuation controller that (again from the remote) lets you have the unit recalibrate the LDRs attenuation curves to avoid any issue with long term drift which can affect other LDR-based controllers.

All I can say is that the Tortugas are an essential part of my system.  They're not going anywhere.  That's my two cents' worth.

Robert


john925

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #196 on: 26 Apr 2018, 03:47 pm »
Anybody has experience on Luxman amp, like the M-900u, on VSA?  Mine is VR-5.