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Good solid state amp for $500-700 - Page 3

post #31 of 56
Thread Starter 

Ok guys - so I got my LCD2s on Saturday.  I'll buy the HE-500s at some point, and for amplification, I have decided to go with a solid state/hybrid rig for now, and go for a SET option later.

 

Have narrowed it down to the Audio-GD SA-31 and the Schiit Lyr, both of which get really good reviews.   As far as I see it:

- SA-31:  really low noise floor (which i like), pure Class A design

- Lyr:  Supposed to be a blend of tube and SS sound per 6moons (it is a hybrid after all) - however, NOT Pure Class A beyond 100mA or something like that

 

Any thoughts on how these 2 compare?

post #32 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post
 

Ok guys - so I got my LCD2s on Saturday.  I'll buy the HE-500s at some point, and for amplification, I have decided to go with a solid state/hybrid rig for now, and go for a SET option later.

 

Have narrowed it down to the Audio-GD SA-31 and the Schiit Lyr, both of which get really good reviews.   As far as I see it:

- SA-31:  really low noise floor (which i like), pure Class A design

- Lyr:  Supposed to be a blend of tube and SS sound per 6moons (it is a hybrid after all) - however, NOT Pure Class A beyond 100mA or something like that

 

Any thoughts on how these 2 compare?

 

Just keep one thing in mind. Labor is cheaper in China, and that has a effect on the product. 

Example A: (Schiit)

Let's assume it costs $100 or so for the labor of the employee(s) who built the unit. Less money MAY go into the unit.

 

Example B: (Audio-GD)

Let's assume it costs $50> or less for the labor of employee(s) who built the unit. More money MIGHT go into the unit.

 

Furthermore Audio-GD is known for having Amps/DAC's that are worth 3 times as much as the price tag, and would probably cost more if made in USA. 

 

But at the same time Schiit is providing jobs to us fellow Americans, and I have owned several of there gear in the past. 

 

Honestly if money is no issue, go for Mjolnir, if value is the concern, then its hard to beat Audio-GD's price to performance ratio. 

 

The Bifrost was great, but NFB-10ES2 has more micro detail(s), a smoother tone, less "warm", has more "speed" for rock music (I listen to rock), and tighter and more rolled off bass. The Bifrost is a good DAC, but IMO should be priced at $200-$250 (and could if it was made in China lol). The Audio-GD gear is so great for the value. I cannot stress enough that I'd have a Mjolnir if it wasn't for the price, because IMO from what I heard it should be a $500> or less unit. 

 

Well if you want to chat more, PM me.


Edited by vampire5003 - 9/7/13 at 8:40pm
post #33 of 56
Thread Starter 

Heya Vampire - thanks for that.  Appreciate your taking the time to provide this info.

 

To be honest, being neither American or Chinese, country of origin of the amp isnt such a big deal for me (nor would I care if it was made in my home country either, to be honest).

 

The reason I am considering the Audio-GD is precisely b/c of the reason you suggested - better quality parts/lower cost of labor equating to more bang for the buck.    A part of me wonders if the Schiit guys might have better designs to achieve the "musicality" factor, given their industry experience:   one one hand, we are looking at pretty stable technology here, and there really arent a lot of revolutionary new amplifier designs coming up anyway;  on the other hand, low distortion isnt the same thing as musical (says the SET guy).

 

Money isnt really an issue per se.  That being said, I see my end-game rig as really being a tube-amp + the LCD2s, but before that, I want to set a baseline with a good class-A SS amp which I can later continue to use with the HE-500s for a different sound palate.   So I'm happy with a good-value product.   The Mjolnir and its balanced inputs/outputs sounds like more work that I'd like to  deal with.

 

Based on your input, the Audio-GD is on the top of the list, unless the Lyr can give me a more full-bodied sound combining the best of tubes and solid state.

 

Whatcha think?

post #34 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post
 

Heya Vampire - thanks for that.  Appreciate your taking the time to provide this info.

 

To be honest, being neither American or Chinese, country of origin of the amp isnt such a big deal for me (nor would I care if it was made in my home country either, to be honest).

 

The reason I am considering the Audio-GD is precisely b/c of the reason you suggested - better quality parts/lower cost of labor equating to more bang for the buck.    A part of me wonders if the Schiit guys might have better designs to achieve the "musicality" factor, given their industry experience:   one one hand, we are looking at pretty stable technology here, and there really arent a lot of revolutionary new amplifier designs coming up anyway;  on the other hand, low distortion isnt the same thing as musical (says the SET guy).

 

Money isnt really an issue per se.  That being said, I see my end-game rig as really being a tube-amp + the LCD2s, but before that, I want to set a baseline with a good class-A SS amp which I can later continue to use with the HE-500s for a different sound palate.   So I'm happy with a good-value product.   The Mjolnir and its balanced inputs/outputs sounds like more work that I'd like to  deal with.

 

Based on your input, the Audio-GD is on the top of the list, unless the Lyr can give me a more full-bodied sound combining the best of tubes and solid state.

 

Whatcha think?

 

I agree, and for your end game tube setup, if it must be a tube end game setup, put the Bottlehead Crack Mainline or SEX on your list. You'd probably want to find a builder for those Bottlehead amps, but they are good. A little on the bright side, but still drive the LCD-2 rather well. 

 

Ok now back to the current SS amps. If you have a lets say $1000 budget, get a used Beta22. If your budget (like mine) was a amp/DAC combo under $700, IMO Audio-GD either 10ES2 (if you want the Sabre ES9018 neutral chip) or 10.33 (if you want 2X Wolfson WM8741 Warm and fun chips). If you don't need the DAC, and you want a warm amplifier from Audio-GD, the SA31SE is a fantastic choice, it runs around $500.

post #35 of 56

I love the LCD-2/ Burson combo. I haven't heard other amps with the LCD-2, and I don't feel the need to. I can't imagine it can get that much better at the price point. I consider it an end game amp for me personally. Although I might try tubes one day.

post #36 of 56

Just FYI, all the companies being discussed are run by people with decades of experience. I don't really think there is a bad choice amongst any of them. :smile:

post #37 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by In Over My Head View Post

I love the LCD-2/ Burson combo. I haven't heard other amps with the LCD-2, and I don't feel the need to. I can't imagine it can get that much better at the price point. I consider it an end game amp for me personally. Although I might try tubes one day.

I hated my HA-160D. It sounded too warm (and I like warm), the bass was muddy, felt super colored, and overall I didn't find the Burson to be worth it's price tag. I sold it without regret. I'm glad to see someone satisfied with Burson, perhaps the conductor is better.
But I still wouldn't recommend Burson.
post #38 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vampire5003 View Post


I hated my HA-160D. It sounded too warm (and I like warm), the bass was muddy, felt super colored, and overall I didn't find the Burson to be worth it's price tag. I sold it without regret. I'm glad to see someone satisfied with Burson, perhaps the conductor is better.
But I still wouldn't recommend Burson.

I love its warmth. It's warm, yet detailed and controlled. I may not be the most neutral, but the combo just sounds amazing with anything I throw at it. YMMV. 

post #39 of 56
+1 on the SA-31.
post #40 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJG888 View Post

+1 on the SA-31.

Agreed biggrin.gif
post #41 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by In Over My Head View Post

I love its warmth. It's warm, yet detailed and controlled. I may not be the most neutral, but the combo just sounds amazing with anything I throw at it. YMMV. 

You'd probably really enjoy vinyl, as its warm.
post #42 of 56
Thread Starter 

I actually like warm for the most part - I hate shrill, bright music when i am listening to symphonies.    But for rock, etc., I think neutral would be nice.

 

And ironically, I am obsessing over 2 contradictory things:

- On one hand, I dont really believe in a huge difference between different solid state amps of the same design, provided they have enough power to drive the output

- On the other hand, I am trying to split hairs about the sonic differences between Audio-GD and Lyr and what-have-you.

 

Go figure :)

 

How does the sonic signature of the 10.33s compared to the SA-31SE, anyone know?   If they are similar, I'd like to get the 10.33s for the integrated DAC.   

post #43 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vampire5003 View Post


You'd probably really enjoy vinyl, as its warm.

I'm sure it is, but its too much hassle:). I like to select tracks with a click of the mouse.

post #44 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

I actually like warm for the most part - I hate shrill, bright music when i am listening to symphonies.    But for rock, etc., I think neutral would be nice.

And ironically, I am obsessing over 2 contradictory things:
- On one hand, I dont really believe in a huge difference between different solid state amps of the same design, provided they have enough power to drive the output
- On the other hand, I am trying to split hairs about the sonic differences between Audio-GD and Lyr and what-have-you.

Go figure smily_headphones1.gif

How does the sonic signature of the 10.33s compared to the SA-31SE, anyone know?   If they are similar, I'd like to get the 10.33s for the integrated DAC.   

I've heard the SA31 (older version) and 10.33. Both are warm, and are musical (if that makes sense), and honestly I listened to each for about 20 minutes, and thought they sounded 95% the same. SA31 had perhaps a little wider soundstage, and perhaps a tad more speed, but other than that the two amps sounded the same. If you like warm go with 10.33, and single ended on it works good, since its a true balanced design wink.gif
post #45 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

I actually like warm for the most part - I hate shrill, bright music when i am listening to symphonies.    But for rock, etc., I think neutral would be nice.

And ironically, I am obsessing over 2 contradictory things:
- On one hand, I dont really believe in a huge difference between different solid state amps of the same design, provided they have enough power to drive the output
- On the other hand, I am trying to split hairs about the sonic differences between Audio-GD and Lyr and what-have-you.

Go figure smily_headphones1.gif

How does the sonic signature of the 10.33s compared to the SA-31SE, anyone know?   If they are similar, I'd like to get the 10.33s for the integrated DAC.   

Oh I forgot to mention, both Schiit and Audio-GD have a return/exchange policy. Kingwa of Audio-GD told me that I could exchange my NFB-10ES2 for a 10.33 if I wanted since they cost the same, or if I just wanted to hear the differences. I thought it was neat. Schiit is polite, but your limited to 1 return per 12 months. I thought it was per calendar year and learned the hard way mad.gif
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