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I'm mulling over my next and hopefully last amp, I want one with power, a neutral sound, and reliability (includes not stressing tubes). The RM-9 surfaces as fitting this bill, according to reading in the forums.
Are there any other amps that I should think about? Is there perhaps a VAC, VTL, Berning, or Manley that would fit this description? From my reading, Quicksilver, Cary and Jadis, for example, tend toward lush. I would not mind that if the highs and lows were excellent and clean.
Had a Berning 2100, great amp that used GE 6LF6s. Used it for many years till it became impossible to find the GEs anymore. Very Strong low end but a tad cold mid/hi presentation. Then went to a Melos 202G, warm everywhere, wooly low end response. Then to Classe CAM-350, nice compromise everything but after 10 hrs I found myself bored. Current is Quicksilver V4, seem to live nicely between the Melos and the CAM350s. Been running them on a daily bases for 2 yrs now without a hiccup, OEM tube bias has never varied. The V4 gets my vote.
It seems like there are a lot of VTL owners out there.
Are they as neutral as ARC? (though I've read ARC vacilates between neutraland warmer every few yeras...)
Is VAC also a neutral amp, or maybe more between the lush amps and ARC/VTL?
Wonder why more people don't have Bernings. People who know them really regard them highly. Canary too but few owners of those.
them, seldom seen on the used market.
My Quicksilver 88s through Grand Veenas are on the lush side of sound but not so much that I want to use my Marsh Sound Design A400 from time to time. The Marsh is the best ss amp I've heard in 40+ years of this "hobby". How much are the tubes stressed? I've owned them for about 6-8 months so I dont know. I do know that Roger Modjesky is famous for the longevity of his amps and Michael Fremer uses his RM 200 as a reference.
The latest Berning amps are a real invention, a new circuit, not a variation on old circuits. And they under stress tubes. Outputs are rated for 10,000 hours and David under rates them. It's more. His 1st amp the BA 150 was turned on in 1972 and turned off 5 years later with no measureable tube wear. And the 150 watt rating was actually for a brown out. It really put out well over 200 watts.
designed for Counterpoint. Both are neutral, clean, detailed 100 watt tube amps. The Counterpoint works best with electrostatic speakers. They show up from time to time on the used market priced between 1,500 to 2,000.
Also, the Radford TT100 hybrid amp has its adherents, has outstanding bass performance for a tube output stage; however, it is rare on the used market. Priced around 1,500 when they show up.
I heartily recommend the RM-9, I am coming up on 20 years with mine and the second set of tubes are still doing quite well.
I have had Maggies, ProAcs, Celestions and Shahinians and have not been disappointed.
I don't have a whole lot of experience with the RM9. I've heard it in a couple systems & know it to be a good sounding & very reliable amp.
You mention Jadis... I've only heard one of their amps (and it sounded quite fine), but I have NEVER heard them described as reliable. Perhaps they've changed over the years, but word of mouth kept me from ever purchasing their product.
I currently own VTL Deluxe 120 mono amps. They seem quite reliable, use cheap & easy to source 807 output tubes, and can be operated in a number of modes & varying levels of feedback - their performance certainly depends on how you set them up & what speakers you drive with them.
But... I'd call the RM9 a pretty safe bet in many many cases!
I think VTL amps are more neutral than the RM9. But the RM9 is certainly not in the Cary camp.
I have owned two RM9s and loved em. They do many things right. I currently have a VTL ST-150 and I think it does most of those things better than the RM9.
Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
- Winston Churchill
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