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Three Channel Amp Purchase Decision

1135 Views 11 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  dsmith901
My Bohlender-Graebener 520i planar speakers arrive next week, which need lots of power at 4 ohms. I'm looking for a good 3 channel amp with balanced inputs, since my interconnect runs 60 feet, and I intend to place the amp near the center and front speakers. I understand that I should look for specs where the 4 ohm power rating is approximately double the 8 ohm power rating.

Monoblocks would likely be too expensive, so looking at one of the year-end magazine buyer's guides, I see that I have the following option in high-end 3-channel amps:

Bryston 6B SST 300W(8 ohms) 500W(4ohms) $5,000(MSRP)

Classe CA-3200 200W(8 ohms) 390W(4ohms) $6,000(MSRP)

Krell KAV-3250 250W(8 ohms) 500W(4ohms) $5,000(MSRP)

Nova Cinenova Grande 3 300W(8 ohms) 600W(4ohms) $3,500(MSRP)

I presume that these brands would beat these other 3-channel amps of at least 150W(8 ohms):

Adcom GFA-5503 200W(8 ohms) 350W(4ohms) $1,500(MSRP)

Anthem MCA30 225W(8 ohms) 375W(4ohms) $1,300(MSRP)

ATI AT3003 300W(8 ohms) 450W(4ohms) $2,400(MSRP)

Cary Cinema 3 200W(8 ohms) 350W(4ohms) $3,300(MSRP)

Pass Labs X350 150W(8 ohms) 300W(4ohms) $4,250(MSRP)

Simaudio Moon Titan-3 200W(8 ohms) 400W(4ohms) $5,000(MSRP)

What would you suggest? I'll likely check Audiogon.com to purchase the amp on the used market.
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In the under $1500 range, you can get a brand new Cinenova Grande 3 for under 1200 bucks (see dealer on ebay).

In the $1500-3000 range, you can get three used Aragon Palladium II monoblocks, or $9k retail and 210 lbs worth of amps :)
Check out Theta Dreadnaught II, 225 wpc. It might fit what you are looking for and in your price range.
If you are really looking into the 3 channel amplifier area real seriously, and your rack can handle the chassis size, the Aragon 8008x3 is a great amplifier. It runs a little warm and you have to be aware of this though :)

I've had a Simaudio Titan driving my BG520 DX and 220DX (earlier models than yours) for a couple of weeks now and my oh my, do they sound good together!
Are you looking for balanced? The new Monster amps (designed by Richard Marsh) are also very nice...

Just say no to monster... :) couldn't resist

Bel Canto has a 3 channel amp as well that is exceptionally good. The eVo 6. Here's the link - http://www.belcantodesign.com/prod_evo6.html

Also Halcro's theater line Halcro Logic is releasing a 3 Channel amp as well. Here's the link for it - http://www.halcro.com/logic/productsMCA30.asp

Brent Huskins

Media Design
The Grande 3, while being an awesome amp, does NOT have balanced inputs.
The Grande 3, while being an awesome amp, does NOT have balanced inputs.
The older style Cinenova Grande's on ebay dont have balanced inputs..BUT the new ones do have balanced inputs ! ..Thats the only difference I can tell between the old and new style .
Since when? Only the 5-channel was upgraded with the XLR's...not the Grande 3.
I had the pass 3 channel, once it warmed up, it was the best sounding amp I ever owned. the problem is that they throw off a lot of heat and are pretty big. when I have a bigger place, I am going back to the Pass amps.
In general 5 channel amps are better values than 3 channel - the 2 added channels don't cost that much more (usually) and can be used when you go from 5.1 to 7.1, or beyond. Plus, many 5 channel versions will have have a larger transformer that will provide a little extra juice, unless the amp is fully modular/mono channel type that does not share transformers. For someone with high current demanding speakers, if the manufacturer did not rate the amp stable into at least 2 ohms I would pass on it. I believe the McCormack DNA-HT5 is rated to 2 ohms. The Red Planet Labs 5 channel is rated stable to 1 ohm.
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