Been there done that. Macintosh Bryson [4bst] and so many others have crossed paths with me since 1987. I have tried so many damn amps for many years, most don't last more than 6 months, for many reasons, pops during turn on, lack of bass, mids or highs not good enough, poor construction. I remember correctly as that 2002 was one of two macs I auditioned, and I didn't like them, there sound was to straight, or lacked the goosebumps I was given with other amps, I didn't care for the sound, the bryston is the same, it sounded to plain, sure it was accurate, but each lacked something, or didn't have something I liked.
I also have those emotiva xpa1 monos boxed in my Basement because they severely lack clear midrange and highs, so they sit boxed. I'm finicky' do I love the strato basic ones I purchased 6 months or so ago, hell yes, they sound goddamn amazing, better than those other high end amps I sent packing.
It has been a long long road for me, and I think I am making the absolute correct and smartest decision by going with either the kismet in stratos or the extreme kismet hybrid upgrades. Sure I love the crystal clear midrange and highs of these quite old stratos, but, if I can improve on this, why not do it.
Crown, acurus, Aragon, Klipsch, rotel, Macintosh, bryston, and a few others have graced themselves upon my ears, and each one has been returned, or just not able to work. Crown studio ref 1, brand new, but had a 30amp plug, and at the time my whole house was only a 100amp service, so that was not going to work, and I almost cried, I saved and sold so much to get it, and it was in front of me and I couldn't use it. I have spent many hours with these basic stratos, and goddamn I really like them, they sound very clear, and I do like the bass they reproduce, it's not fake sounding, not electronic sounding, it's just in the middle, enjoyable and believeable. So I'm sticking to what sticks the hair up on my arms and neck.
Much like my Energy rc-70's which gave me instant goosebumps, and I just knew.....I hate high pitched treble, the softer subtle sound of the rc-70's just was "IT" for me, and I couldn't be happier. The D-9's are different beast, but need some balls to be a little louder.
When I had the crossovers redone with mega high quality coils, capacitors, etc etc, they lost a couple DB of spl 1w. So I need a little more oomph to drive em more. They are not stock d-9's, they are amazing d-9's.