Pass Labs XA30.8 to Gryphon Essence stereo (caveat- a lot more money was spent)- definitely bigger and deeper soundstage, low basslines are quite a bit more improved, violins (from zigeunerweisen’s op 20 (Gypsy Airs) have more clarity (i.e. notes don’t seem to run into the next one). Gryphon have a green mode to enable listening amplifier to be used as background listening session (without generating massive heat).
Pass Labs, the XA series tend to be a bit “lighter” in its sound, adding just a touch of warmth. The bass is quick and textured, but not the deepest and more impactful. You’ll get plenty of air.
The X series will lose some of the “inner glow” of class A, but adds more impact. To me, details feels slightly overexposed.
Not enough experience with Accuphase to comments meaningfully.
Gryphon tend to retain some class A warmth, but adds lots of impact. If you want your speakers to grab your attention, Gryphon is an excellent choice. In some systems, it can almost feel “too much of a good thing”. Just a matter of taste
MBL… this one is difficult. It can either be absolutely glorious (as in the best you have ever heard) or boring and sterile… you definitely need to audition this one in your own system
The only other brand I think you are missing is Luxman. Tend to deliver lots of air and details, but never pushing it on you. More akin sitting a few rows back rather than right up front.
May want to separate the Class A offerings from a “house sound” discussion
I own (love, recommend) Accuphase (class AB) amplifiers, there are significant differences in tonal and delivery characteristics between same brands class A vs AB (damping factor, current delivery, etc)
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the choices mentioned
You run Parasound JC-1’s currently, correct?
I had Threshold, Hovland, Pass, Brinkmann, Gryphon, Vitus, Lamm, Octave and Einstein amps.
The ones you are referring to are Pass and Gryphon. My Pass was the Aleph 0 monos, which (although also Class A) sound very different from most other Class A amps (including the Pass XA series), so I don’t comment on this one.
Which of your questions I can comment on, is my opinion of the Gryphon Class A house sound. Compared to others it’s especially mighty, impactful, refined, relaxed, harmonically rich, extended, with pronounced deep bass and big soundstage. Gryphon immediately convinces after less sophisticated Class AB setups and if one has a preference for the aforementioned characteristics, also against several less tweaked out Class A setups using other amps.
If one puts them into a setup which is very tweaked out and based on other types of amps, the weaknesses get to the surface. Gryphon imo in comparison to the best doesn’t sound fast, transparent, airy/holographic, lively and isn’t strong in prat, which is quite limiting if one’s used to all of this and reaches Gryphon‘s harmonic impact with perfect sub integration.
To me my little Gryphon amp has all of those characteristics you mention as well as something more. Heart and soul. It’s just so enjoyable to listen to no matter what. Right now it’s singing so sweetly. Mmmmm. I’m not likely going to miss it when the new amp arrives. But I’ll always cherish it for it’s special personality.
The MBL Reference amps are close, the 9008 is just fabulous at getting out of the way. Seemingly endless power and effortless function. The 9011 adds quite a bit. After listening to the 9011 you wonder why you ever enjoyed the 9008. It’s a travesty I tell ya. The 9008 sounds perfect, until.
I wouldn’t trade my Gryphon Antileon Evo for two mono 9008s. Two 9011s? Okay. But I would only do that because the 9011s are something I cannot ignore. But I have it good authority that the new Gryphon Apex will be the best amplifier ever created. Or not LOL
Other amplifiers I have experienced are not in this league so I won’t say more.
Except I agree, Pure Class A Amps do it for me like no other letters can compete with. And mine is warming the room I am sitting in. Bonus!
Since Al broke the barrier, I’ll go ahead and do what I’ve always felt a little silly about, which is to apply human traits to inanimate objects like stereo components.
My Pass class A amps and preamps lack nothing technically imo. But they also give a sense of personality, heart and soul that seems to match the happy heart and soul of their designer.
When I wake them from their standby slumber in the morning, they wake up slowly and then produce very happy sounds.
Kinda goofy, huh?
Hey jazznut…thanks for sharing …there are several brands you
mention having owned…some of the names I had not heard of,
others simply forgot to mention as they don’t often surface here
on the forum.
When you have the time please comment on the sq traits of the ones
you have mentioned in comparison to one another…
Hey Al thanks for chiming in…your description speaks volumes
and is exactly what I’m looking for!
Way to go RonP thanks …You have touched on a very valid point…
When Avery Fisher designed audio gear it had to have a quality
of being able to produce music as he heard it. In that Avery was
a violinist with the New York Symphony he knew how music sounds
he would endeavor to create qear that would match what he knew.
So from my perspective indeed amps will have their designers
human traits influence their sq qualities.
Similarily Frank McIntosh, McIntosh gear…
Before I forget, our friend Paul McGowan and his
very personal touch in creating PS Audio gear and the
new Aspen line of speakers.
Not at all goofy…not one whit…
Your responses are so wonderful in describing your amps…
To me this is what the hobby is all about…How it moves our
hearts and soul.
As brick and mortar dealers are so far away…going to visit
and audition gear is nearly nill.
In the 90s though I did get to visit a shop that had just set up
a pair of Martin Logan CLS powered by Threshold amps with
the Threshold preamp…the tech invited me in to the listening
room. He also mentioned that the equipment had not broken in
or burned in yet…he let me play my cds that I had brought with
me…A stunning jaw dropping wow time ensued…I had the place
to myself for large chunk of time…
So now you my PS Audio hifi family are my listening rooms so to
speak vicariously through your ears and feelings…
Cannot thank you guys enough for gracious replies…
This is what its all about…
I heard the JC5 at my dealers driving Maggie’s 20.7 if I remember correctly. I remember being quite impressed with the combination
To your original questions with regards to Accuphase at least and what drew me to them
Fantastic build quality from a company that puts quality and the customer experience at the very top of the priority list (as do all the others that you mentioned) Reliability, aesthetics (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) Adjustable gain (28db max, -3, -6, -12) the best binding posts of any amp I have personally owned
Sonically, in general Accuphase sits at neutral, even though they have a reputation as leaning to the warm side, I do not find this to be the case. They are sweet, romantic, smooth and detailed. Maybe not the last word in dynamics, they provide plenty of “slam” in my system an do nothing to deter from the holographic soundstage presented by my preamp/speakers/cables
I may look to them again in the future for a Class A integrated, along with Lux, Vitus, Esoteric…