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As general rule with this wacky hobby of ours, until it’s heard, it can’t be imagined or quantified. Some attempt to do this with the various forums and their debates about solid state vs tubes, a pre-amp vs a CDP direct, this measurement vs that measurement etc. Most of us are here trying to obtain information and make comparisons vicariously by using other people’s experiences and opinions. That’s all well and good. In fact, I have received superb insight and recommendations over the decades from forums; finding kindred spirits in the process.
However, much time must be spent wading through the chaff of forums to find the wheat that makes sense and is acceptable to our personal audio sensibilities. But until I heard how CAT amps drove my original M1’s with the original torodial transformers, I too couldn’t have believed it. As I mentioned in a post previously in this thread, I was gobsmacked! I couldn’t believe how the CAT’s were controlling the SoundLabs.
I thought my Levinson 336 stereo amp was pretty darn good and it was. But the 190lb./ea CAT JL1 monoblocks (@100W ea.), were – pardon the metaphor — in another zip code! The audition pair of Parasound JC1 Halo’s went back to the audio store where I obtained the used CAT’s and my Levinson was promptly traded for the CAT’s.
I’ve heard Soundlabs with Ayre, Pass, Parasound, Levinson, CAT and Atma-sphere MA1’s and MA2’s. I presently own MA1 Mk3.3’s (With Optional Power Supply Boost [uses custom built filter caps for MA-2] & Caddock® resistor package). VTL’s would be amps I would like to hear, but haven’t. The amps from these manufactures will all drive SoundLabs and in isolation, they all sound great, because SoundLabs sound great!
I’m sure all of us who have amplifiers that will drive our SoundLab’s are enjoying excellent reproduction. However, there could well be other amplifiers that are not only better, but significantly so. This obviously is specific to each of us and our audio preferences, upstream components and rooms. But never say never and always go into an audition with eyes wide open, minus preconceived thoughts and conclusions. And don’t let the comments of others drive your direction or cloud your decision to try something or not. I’ve been surprised far too many times with far too many components to believe otherwise.