Ok, some know my story, some do not. Because of Nuance and a few others, I bought SongTower RTs, a SongCenter, and SongSurrounds. I have been running them with a Anthem Statement D2V and an Outlaw 770. The sound was good, but I thought there was something missing. I was using an Arcam CD player and Airtunes with an airport express (optical out to the Anthem) for Apple Lossless. I know the Anthem is a good preamp, so I guess I assumed that the Outlaw was the issue. It turns our I was right I think. Anyway, I was going to buy a 2 channel Insight 240 from AVA to try and see what happened. Well, I found an Ultra 550 on sale that was the price of the new Insight 240. The rest of this message is pasted from the AVA audio circle, but I have found sonic bliss. Now I need to get an Insight. And, well, when I move to a bigger place I imagine I will be making another call to Jim. HT2-TLs or HT-3s (but my wife hates the cabinets of the HT-3 and the "HT-4". Oh well.)
So the AVA Ultra 550 is in the rack and playing. I left work early on Friday to wire it up. Wow is all I can say. I thought the SongTower RT sounded great before. Now I know what I was missing. The AVA Amp v. the ATI made Outlaw is night and day. I started the evaluation with Damien Rice live at FingerPrints Warts and All. It is a very well recorded live set he did at a record store in LA. It is not the most complex music, but it is something I adore. The immediate difference I heard was the depth in his voice. There was more power to it than with the Outlaw. I guess my way of describing it is that I didn't hear it as a point in a field, but a wave that emanated throughout. That doesn't sound right, but maybe someone will get it beyond me. Eventually, Lisa Hannigan, the woman that used to sing with him and is amazing in her own right, comes in on a song. I suddenly noticed how much more separation was missing in the Outlaw that was coming through from the AVA amp. I think that the AVA is much more musical, while the Outlaw was much more an in your face Amp. It had all the power you could want, but it was missing the refinement that one wants/needs to enjoy the music.
The next song I put on was Acadian Driftwood by the Band. I have a soft spot in my heart for this song, even with its inaccuracies, because my Mother's family is Acadian. Anyway, the AVA once again opened up the music so that there was separation where the Outlaw had compressed. I noticed things I had never heard before in the song.
I could go on for hours about how I put the amp through the paces and really could not find much in the way of a weakness in the sound.
OK, to sum up what I would say verses the Outlaw:
The Outlaw was more in your face. I don't really know how to describe that in a way other than to say that there was less separation and more compression, so it hit you harder in one place. Again, as an analogy, the Outlaw was more like being poked. Where the Outlaw poked you, the AVA envelopes the space around you. I would call it a bit more laid back than the Outlaw. This is not bad, just an observation.
The AVA is hands down more musical than the outlaw. I could hear every instrument, every pluck of a string, etc. It made me remember why I got into better audio in the first place. In essence, this amp makes it a pleasure to listen to music on my HT/music system. If I can only have one place to listen, and it has to double for my HT setup, this amp makes it worth it. Now for an insight 240/3... No reason to have a 7 x 200 Amp running 3 speakers...