1rsw and I have been chatting recently offline about the 260 and 360 S2 amps, and we thought we'd spur some discussion from everyone else given our seemingly converging opinions on their sound... The following is an edited version of our discussion:
Originally Posted by 1rswAs you know, I finally bought a 260. Now, I am wondering if you may be wiser than most! I'll explain....
I have had it now for a few days and feel like I understand it pretty well, not totally though. I do think the detail is amazing, as is the general presence, tonal balance, "you are there'ness" and top to bottom coherence. I also think it is a tad lean. Being used to the 360S1, the intensity, scale, low end ability and overall impact is just a slight bit missing for me. Don't get me wrong, it's one of the best amps I have ever heard! I just wonder if the 360S2 may not be a better solution for me.
My system consists of Wilson Sasha's, Berkeley Alpha Series 2, MIT Oracle MA-X ic and Matrix 90 speaker cables. The Sasha's are a rough load and I think that is part of why the intensity is not the same as the mono's.
You are the only person who's comments mirror what I am experiencing. A dealer suggested the 260 over the 360S2 to at least 2 guys I know personally. A tech at that place that I know also bought the 260 over the mono's and steered me that way. Near everything I have read online says the same.....but I am not so sure that you are not the one who speaks closer to the truth. I remember your comments that talked about why you prefer the mono's for your application and it had to do with this very thing, the bottom end, intensity, scale, authority etc.
Yes, the 260 is newer and has the latest boards....but...the 360S2 was released in 2009, the 260 in 2010. That is not a big difference at all. The 360S2 is still very fresh technology, especially by Spectral's standard. We are not talking about dated stuff here at all, even with the upcoming 400's. They are Spectral's flagship amps and double the cost of the 260...they have to be better!
I have the opportunity to buy a set of 360S2 at a very fair price today. I need to choose and don't want to take a step back ...and pay an extra 5k for move backward. My gut says the mono's are better, especially given my speakers and listening habits.
Should I take the leap and dump the stereo amp??!!Originally Posted by ackFirst of all, welcome to the new - ACCURATE - Spectral sound. To cut to the chase, if I were you, I would go with the S2 monos for sure, exactly because of the authority, scale and intensity that I mentioned... The 260 is slightly more refined in the midrange, but doesn't really beat the monos overall.
Now let me go back to the new sound... Unlike the 250, 360S1 and others before the current generation, I find the new Spectral sound un-hifi, and extremely accurate. What you are experiencing with the 260 you will also experience with the new monos, over your older monos. The new Spectrals are not thin in the bass, rather they are not bloated in the bass. Therefore, I consider their older sound as more hifi than real music - I have posted this on WBF.
I know you like your MIT cables as per the recent thread we had on WBF, so I will say don't look to the 360 S2 monos to give you back all that bloated bass. You just need to get used to the new generation's accurate, music-like sound, where when the program calls for bass it will be there. You won't get oomph, just like you don't get bass oomph in Symphony Hall, but will get, for example, gigantic, life-size bass drum slams, a heavy organ pipe et al - but not more.
The previous generation had slam and excitement - even with studio recordings like Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. With the new ones, these recordings sound like they should - crap, and in need for equalization, as you would in your car. But when you play good recordings, you are taken aback rather by the realism not the bloated slam. This is why I find the new generation so accurate. If you get a chance, order the Sheffield Kodo drums CD, track 2 will blow you away and demonstrate what I mean by accuracy, control and scale in the bass. Your reaction will be: get that freaking thing out of my room.
I think you will eventually get to realize this is real sound. As for the dealer, there are always economics involved, and frankly, I trust my own ears more than theirs. I think you should buy the 360 S2 monos today and see for yourself. But be absolutely prepared with respect to the difference in the bottom end between them and your original monos. Two completely different sound-reproduction philosophies.And a final comment from me on vocals. I think 1rsw got it so right (and wait till you get the 30SS S2) - I had a friend over last weekend, and he could not believe how realistic a tenor and a soprano sounded...Originally Posted by 1rswNot sure where to start, it's been a little overwhelming. I do feel like I made the right decision [he bought the S2 monos]. It's funny, I was talking with another guy who is very knowledgeable about Spectral, inside and out. His remarks were damn near word for word what you said. He commented on the significant change occurring with the series 2 360 and than an incremental move with the 260. He described the 260 as "slightly more liquid" but as you said, it has the same basic character as the 360 2.
I totally understand what you are talking about as far as the bass goes. Even with this stereo amp there were several moments when I was shocked at the bass output. It clearly is capable when called upon but does not care to add anything when not. To my ears, this is the speed that sets these amps apart from 99% of what is out there. They are capable of reacting to demand for any current so damn fast and stop equally as fast. Real special and real fun to listen to. I was also taken back by the vocal reproduction, especially with harmony. Some of the most real sounding vocal reproduction I have heard and beyond what I imagined it being able to do. Exciting!
It baffles me that there is not more discussion about these amps. They are beyond special. There is so much chatter on forums and in audio press about so many mediocre amplifiers and these go virtually unnoticed. I know the game with dollars, advertising etc but there is some reputable parts of the community and it shocks me that those folks miss Spectral completely.
And as far as being wiser than most... I am not sure; I appreciate the compliment, but the only certain thing is that I am not afraid to go out on a limb and express opinions that are often far from anyone else's I do that at work as well