Originally Posted by Rawdawg3234
I'm looking for a decent speaker amp to pair with my sr3/srd-5.
I'd like it to be relatively small for my desktop and under $200
So far the only good candidate is the emotiva mini x .
Also could use any advise about stax products as I plan I upgrading down the line.
A lot of people like the T- amp stuff- based on the Tripath chips. For the price ($90) , the Dayton Audio DTA-100 is a damned good 50 watt/ channel amp. Really you don't need that much power for an SRD-5 so you might try the Lepai LP-2020A+ 20 watt/ channel tripath amp from Parts Express for $24 (!!) These are switching amps, and I think they sound better than many of the solid state amps out there; not quite as nice as the better class-A amps but better than almost all mid-fi receivers, integrated amps etc. For $24 you can hardly go wrong. If you don't like it on your SRD-5, you can use it as a spare / troubleshooting / utility amp. (The Lepai is the amp I would use if I wanted to stick to a budget.) Many listeners have said that the Tripath amps have a "class A-like" sound. I have a DTA-100, and I agree. Sounds better than it has a right to at the price.
If you are capable of some light D-I-Y, another route would be to use a pair of the 10-watt class A solid state amp boards from eBay seller jims_audio, the amp boards sell for about $57 a pair and you'll need + and - 12-to-18 volt supplies at 5 amps or so per rail. These are VERY nice sounding amps, I have a bunch. For $150 all-in (amp boards, power supply, casework from Par-Metal etc) you could have a high-end 10 watt/ channel amp, along with the satisfaction of building something yourself. I use 5 of these for L/R/C/LR/RR speakers for my surround speaker setup in my "computer office." (They also help heat the room- class A amps always run hot.)
AS far as a dedicated electrostatic-only amp for a future upgrade, I can highly recommend the Stax SRM-T1. It's a VERY GOOD sounding amp, has both low- and high-bias output jacks, and there are many of them around so they come on the market fairly regularly. I think it sounds just about as good as ANY Stax brand amp, save the rare T2. The newer Stax tube based amps sound a LITTLE better, but not really THAT MUCH better, and given the price, the SRM-T1 is a clear winner in terms of sound per dollar.
Upgrading from the SRM-T1 is an expensive proposition. To get a MARKED increase in sound quality, you need to go to a KGSS or KGSSHV amp, Blue Hawaii, etc. $$$$$$$$