To Doug Schneider,
First, I would like to say that I really enjoy your reviews. They are thorough and you do a great job of conveying what I feel is important about the components. I also appreciate that you have the equipment measured.
Your review of the Vivid Giya G2 was what turned me onto this brand and ultimately lead to my buying G1s. I am searching for an amplifier to use with them (currently use Spectral but feel it is not doing justice to the bass). Since you review tons of equipment and you reviewed the G2s, I thought you might be able to help. My question is: If you could pair any amplifier to the G2/G1, which one would you choose? I am expecting you will need a little information as well. For budget around $50k or preferably less (this budget range is what makes this difficult as there are soooo many options). I mostly listen to vocals, blues, acoustic stuff, with some classical and jazz. I want the sound to be dynamic, with excellent soundstaging and imaging (the Vivids do an excellent job of this). I get most of this (minus the bass) with the Spectral. What is missing is the “texture” to the sound. I don’t have that “I can smell the resin on the bow” sound that I am wanting.
Thank you for any advice you can offer. I am hoping that one amplifier just pops into your head and you think is a no-brainer choice.
For $50,000, you can get pretty much anything! There’s no question you have many options. However, even though you’re willing to spend that much, none of the amps I’m going to mention even come close to approaching that price, yet could all deliver the kind of performance you need. I can’t say they’re no-brainers, since you’ll really have to listen for yourself, but they’re definitely what I’d begin my search with, even if you have the money for something that costs more.
If you great want bass control, extraordinary resolution (high detail is what I believe allows someone to “smell the resin on the bow”), and more-than-enough power, look to the Devialet Expert 1000 Pro monos, which will cost you $34,990 -- well within your budget. Because each amplifier is in its own case, it’s a true dual-mono design, with each amplifier rated to deliver 1000W into 6 ohms or 750W into 8 ohms. Plus, if you go this route, you don’t need a preamplifier or a digital-to-analog converter -- it’s all built in.
If you want to stick with a pure power amp, I’ll give you these options: the Luxman M-900u and something from Bryston. The Luxman M-900u is, to date, the best-sounding power amp I’ve heard. It’s so smooth and sweet sounding that you’d swear it has tubes inside, though there’s not. The M-900u is a solid-state design that is conservatively rated to output up to 150Wpc into 8 ohms (our measurements show output greater than 200Wpc) and can ably drive pretty much any speaker to high volume levels. I didn’t get a chance to use the M-900u with the Giya G2s since they weren’t here at the same time, but I played the M-900u with many other speakers and its sound always impressed -- clean, dynamic, weighty in the bass, and awesome resolution. The M-900u’s price is $20,000, which, again, is well within your budget.
I mention Bryston because I powered the Giya G2s with their 4B SST2 (300Wpc into 8 ohms) and it worked incredibly well -- the amp provided more than enough power, tremendous bass control, and plenty of detail. At its price of about $5000, the 4B SST2 was an absolute steal prior to being discontinued. Bryston has replaced the SST2 series with the SST3 models and their performance is supposed to be even better. Frankly, the new 4B SST3 might be all you need -- and it’s only $5695. It, too, is rated at 300Wpc into 8 ohms. However, I sense you probably want something more, so you could look to their top-of-the-line model, the 28B SST3 mono amp, which is rated at 1000W into 8 ohms and is priced at $10,995 (you’ll need two of them, so double that). They also have many models in between.
Some audiophiles overlook Bryston, thinking their amps are too cheap to be considered among the best. Not true at all. Bryston’s amps offer performance that compares to and often betters amps priced much higher. Plus, their amps come with a 20-year warranty, which kicks the crap out of the two-, three-, or five-year warranties that most companies offer on their amps. They have been making amplifiers since the 1970s, so they really know what they’re doing and stand behind what they make -- there’s a lot to be said for that.
Insofar as amplifier recommendations go, that’s what comes to mind. I hope it helps. . . . Doug Schneider