As some of you may already know, funkmonkey and myself have been on a search for the perfect speaker to our ears (Speakerquest So Far
and My Journey To Find The "Perfect" Speaker
). Fortunately for both of us (or maybe unfortunately
) that journey has come to an end. Funkmonkey ordered a pair of Salk Sound HT3's
and I ordered a pair of Salk Sound Song Tower's
The journey was both fun and grueling, but I think I speak for all of us when I say it was totally worth it and we'd do it all over again if we had to (heck, we'll probably continue to audition and review speakers just for fun).
Now that the speaker quest has come to a close, we embark on a new journey to find the "perfect" amplifier and preamp to really dig the inner beast out of our speakers and let them truly shine; something that many people embark on at some point when they really get into audio. We all have a budget of about $2000 for the amp and preamp (not separately, so we'd like to acquire both for $2000. Or in hifi's and many other's case, the full budget will go for the amp if I am not mistaken). Of course, we have no reservations about buying used (correct me if I am wrong guys), so recommendations above our price range is no problemo, so long as it's not too high. And, more than likely, we may even "up" the budget, but we'd prefer to stay away from that if possible.
Our requirements for the amp and preamp are as follows:
- Adds as little color and distortion to the signal as possible.
- Has great bass response; deep, tight, controlled, punchy, extended and thick bass.
- Has great detail capturing abilities, especially in the midrange and high frequencies. The midrange on ours speakers is incredible, so we need to maintain that full, lush, velvety and detailed sound.
- Achieves that "sparkle" and "airy" high frequency sound. We crave high end extension with clarity, sparkle, and air without any grain.
- Passes WAF with a "sexy" and/or "pretty" looking chassis.
- Is "future proof", mostly applying to the preamp (HDMI 1.3 compatable, 7.1, newest audio codecs, etc).
- Provides plenty of power; at least 200WPC (250 or more would be better. This applies to the amp only, of course).
- Dead black when it should be, no hummers in the quiet moments please. Uncolored, neutral, clean and clear power.
- Capable of reproducing the most intricate and dense musical passages with no loss of dynamics, without coming across as analytical or "plastic" sounding. Something that is "musical," and would excel for 2 channel use, but would be equally at home in a HT application.
In other words, as transparent as possible without adding or taking away anything from the signal.
Our speaker quest was honestly quite frustrating and tiring at times, but it was mostly fun and we couldn't have gotten through it without the help of folks like you. And now that we start our new quest, we'd very much appreciate your help again; anything you can add would be very helpful!
So we now turn to you experts. What would you guys recommend that we audition? We will be taking very good notes and will do a lot of research, compiling a list of audition candidates.
I want this thread to be a useful tool to anyone searching for an amp and/or preamp with a similar budget. Zissou's thread is a very good one for more higher priced budgets, but I'd like this thread to follow in the footsteps of that one but with a more attainable budget.
Thanks and let the recommendations begin!