M700 + PowerPlant 3 or M1200 + old P300

I’ve been asking some questions and gotten fantastic advice from this forum as well as James H., specialist with PSA. Now I’ve got a dilemma. I’m nearing completion of an audio room where I have pulled out a lot of stops in terms of size proportions, wall construction, soundproofing and AC power. I will also do what I can within my budget to treat the room once it’s done. Importantly, at this point in my life (nearing retirement), looking at my level of general interest, ability to hear nuances, and budget, I consider myself right at the mid-level of audiophiles. Sure I want to grow, but I’m taking a big leap up with this project.

My front-end gear is a Schiit Lyr DAC, a new Pro-Ject Debut Pro turntable with Grado mid-level cartridge and a hand-me-down Convergent Audio SL Reference tube pre-amp. My cables are all good mid-level, including power. My speakers are Vandersteen Iici, which are great for the kind of stuff I listen to most often - mostly acoustic, jazz, classical, folk/bluegrass, Americana, some progressive rock, and a smattering of everything else. I want a warm, natural sound that is defined as close as possible to what the engineers and producers intended.

With James’ help my plan was to power the Vandersteens from the Stellar M700 with a PowerPlant 3 to run everything, except maybe the M700s which I think I’d plug directly into the wall. But my brother, who is a definite 9.5 out of 10 on the audiophile scale, has decided for some strange reason to go headphones all the way and is selling his older stuff, including a 20 year-old PowerPlant 300. He says that if my power is pretty clean (it is), I would be better plugging the amp into the wall and using his PowerPlant to run front-end stuff. So now I’m thinking about jumping up to the M1200 mono-blocks, plugging them into the wall and doing as my brother suggested.

So if you’re bored enough to have read this far, I’m taking a vote:

A. The M700 mono-blocks with a new PowerPlant 3
B. The M1200s and my brother’s antique P300 for the time being.

At my level of interest, do you think I’d hear more of what I want from a better amp or a one-level-down amp with better power conditioning? Let the votes come in! And thanks.

@JLawry, hey there, having run M700s with a P3 and now running M1200s with the P3, i would say shift your train of thought to your speakers. The Vandersteen 2ci which is the model i assume you have as there is a typo in your post (Vandersteen lici)? If you indeed have the 2ci, it’s probably older and would benefit from either set of amps. My speakers were 25yr old B&W 801 Matrix and hungry for power, the M700s were a very good upgrade, adding the P3 was like adding a component upgrade in that it lowered the noise floor considerably and we were very happy with the M700/P3 combo as many here will confirm or attest to. After a year, the big B&Ws still felt like they could use more power, the M1200 audition confirmed it and we traded up. The speaker needs dictated the final outcome. The Vandersteen 2ci is a fine old speaker known for it’s looser base and smooth high end, but will be easily driven by the M700s, and that said, don’t underestimate the P3. I would highly recommend the M700/P3 combo for your Vandersteen’s. I think you may be surprised, as I was when my vintage speaker came alive with new power. The 2ci’s will thank you, enjoy the in home demo’s, Cheers mate.

And plug the Amps into the P3 HC high current outlet for clean power, not the wall. cheers

@ j1hampton Hey, thanks so much for the great “on the ground” advice. The only reason I’m thinking about plugging directly into the wall is because my brother said the setup of a good amp with a good power supply negates the possibility that “nasty” power will have any effect. Filtering in this case is adding unnecessary impedance where it’s not needed. I’ve read in several places where audiophiles with much better knowledge and ears than I have agree. But I also agree that IF I were to do filtering of the AC, the HC setting on the PowerPlant P3 would be the only one. The main thing where I’m intrigued with the M1200s is the tube input stage. I’ve got plenty of tubes for sure, but the reviews I’ve read are so up my alley. You’re right that the Vandersteens (yes, 2ci, oops), are oldies-but-goodies and I’ll probably upgrade down the road at some point. Right now I’m powering them with a Crown Xti 2000 amp, which although designed as a sound reinforcement device, is surprisingly clean and great for home use. It’s 375 watts into 8 ohms and the Vandies love the power. Interestingly, I don’t find the bass “loose” at all in this scenario, but exactly as I like it - natural - where I can hear, as well as feel every exact note from an acoustic bass in a jazz recording. So I’m sure the M700s will be a step up, but maybe the 1200s would be a bigger step? Thanks for the vote!

Ive tried the M700 and M1200
Get the 1200

I suspect you’ll hear a much greater difference between the M1200 and M700 than you would between the P3 and P300. And if you’re planning on plugging your amps into the wall instead of a regenerator, the only thing affected by the P3/P300 decision will be your source equipment anyway.

So unless I’m missing something about your intentions (which is always possible - I have a bad habit of skimming), my vote is for the M1200s. And that’s coming from someone with an M700/P3 setup that i absolutely love.

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Buy the best kit you can afford in a given category and immediately start saving for that next piece of key kit.

The M1200s are reported to be exceptional performers and markedly better than the M700s. Don’t worry about power conditioning now. Grab the better amps and then start working on your power conditioning priorities.

IF the “antique” P300 will accommodate the M1200s, all the better.

One man’s opinion.

Good luck and have fun.

@JLawry Agree with everyone above… The immediate noticeable difference when switching out the M700 for M1200 was the head room, and you’re Crown amp is already 375 per side, so, if $$ is not an issue, demo the M1200. They give you head room and light up the upper registers, tighten the bass a bit over the M700s. I will say that I put off adding a P3 for years, and when I finally added it and heard piano and cymbal details revealed from a lower noise floor, I understand now why so many start with clean power. Wish I could afford a P20. Let us know when you’re in demo mode and what you hear. Cheers

Hey, this is a GREAT forum, because everyone seems to understand that there are always limitations and compromises in equipment, budget, etc. I’m hearing from others here what I suspect - that I would find greater difference between the M700s and M1200s than I would between M700s with no power conditioning vs. with the PP3. Indeed I won’t even think about running the 1200s from the P300 - it will be for source components only - but down the road I might invest in a better power conditioner to see what happens. Thanks to everyone who chimed in!

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