Looking for 845 Amplifier advice / ideas

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
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Hi all,

I'm a long time silent member, first time poster. Having quietly gleaned lots of useful opinion and info over the years, the time has come when it would be hugely helpful to have some sage advice on what will be a big, hopefully final, amplifier investment (famous last words, I know).

I’ve been running Icon Audio 845 monoblocks into Living Voice OBX-RW3s and having thoroughly enjoyed them, I know there’s more. The speakers will remain due to domestic acceptability and as I’m generally happy – I may upgrade to RW4s or maybe even something else, but not imminently.

So the plan is a major move on the amps to maximise what I can get from the LVs – I know Kevin Scott often demoed them with top end Kondos, so I expect I can wring a lot more out of them.

I’m fairly keen on staying with 845 amps, though not wedded to the idea. Musically, the issue is I have literally zero genre preference – jazz, rock, classical, electronica, hip hop, folk, anything – so the amps need to deal with everything well rather than be exceptional in a specific area but weak in others. I do like the beautiful timbre and soundstaging of a tube and I’m keen to keep/improve what I think of as bite or attack, really being able to feel a drum beat hit me in the chest. Decent low frequency control is appreciated, though as long as it’s good, it doesn’t need to be at solid state levels. Also being able to handle complex layered music without it becoming too much of a mush.

I’ve been looking at Absolare 845, probably PP and maybe Signature if I can justify it to myself. Other options that seem to come up here are the Aries Cerat Concero 65, Mastersound PF100, Viva Aurora.

I’d be really grateful for any thoughts or advice from anybody with experience of these amps. If I can narrow it down, I’ll probably have to travel from the UK to hear them (assuming I’m allowed in anywhere..!).

Thanks

GC
 

Ovenmitt

Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2017
231
297
135
For me in my system and room -always a caveat - I very much enjoy my Nagra VPA’s. I do however think that a lot of their magic comes from pairing them with a Nagra pre-amp ( I listened with both Classic and HD). I had tried these amps long ago in conjunction with my Aesthetix Callisto and wasn’t as smitten.

I haven’t had that much experience with 845 amps in my system before this, but have had experience with a whole bunch of other tube amps, both PP and SET. This is BY FAR the most enjoyable sound I have had so far....

My musical tastes seem to run similar to yours.
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
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For me in my system and room -always a caveat - I very much enjoy my Nagra VPA’s. I do however think that a lot of their magic comes from pairing them with a Nagra pre-amp ( I listened with both Classic and HD). I had tried these amps long ago in conjunction with my Aesthetix Callisto and wasn’t as smitten.

I haven’t had that much experience with 845 amps in my system before this, but have had experience with a whole bunch of other tube amps, both PP and SET. This is BY FAR the most enjoyable sound I have had so far....

My musical tastes seem to run similar to yours.
Thanks for the reply. I had a look at the Nagra but I wasn’t sure if the wife would live with the aesthetics. I don’t have a dedicated listening room, it’s all in the living room so, sadly, visual integration is a factor. I think I can get away with the amps I listed but anything shiny, silver or chrome might meet resistance. And to be fair, I’d understand that. Maybe I need a new house.
 

dwhistance

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2019
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I suggest you have a chat with Simon Shilton at SJS Electroacoustics. I think Kevin has a set of his phono, pre and 300B power amps on dem and knows him very well. I have one of his PSE 2A3 amps which I really like but have been speaking to him about higher power SET's, in my case 211's. As well as being a really nice, honest guy he is also very knowledgeable about all things SET. Even if you don't end up buying an amplifier from him I am sure you would gain quite a lot from the conversation which would help you in your subsequent search.

David Whistance
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
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0
1
51
I suggest you have a chat with Simon Shilton at SJS Electroacoustics. I think Kevin has a set of his phono, pre and 300B power amps on dem and knows him very well. I have one of his PSE 2A3 amps which I really like but have been speaking to him about higher power SET's, in my case 211's. As well as being a really nice, honest guy he is also very knowledgeable about all things SET. Even if you don't end up buying an amplifier from him I am sure you would gain quite a lot from the conversation which would help you in your subsequent search.

David Whistance
Thanks David. I had thought about whether to go down the SET route but wondered if I'd get a wider frequency response with push pull. I've not had experience with SET so I'm not sure what the trade-off would be either way. I did wonder on the Absolare amps what differences you'd expect to hear between the SET and PP - hopefully someone has heard them both and might give me a pointer.
 

dwhistance

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2019
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My experience is that push pull lacks some of the midrange "magic" of SET's but you do gain at the frequency extremes. However well designed SET's are certainly not lacking in either bass or treble, even though that is many peoples perception of them. I suspect that in many cases the output transformers are specified for maximum power rather than for frequency response. Having said all that Thomas Mayer's push pull 46 mono blocks may be the best amps I've ever heard and certainly had their own "magic".

I know Simon is currently designing an amp for a client that is inspired by Audio Tekne (which are all push pull as far as I know) so he should be able to give you his view on SET v push pull. If I remember right he likes dance and electronic music (he certainly has very different musical tastes to me!) so designs his amps accordingly. I can confirm that they also work well with jazz, classical and baroque which are my usual fare.

The OBX's are fairly easy to drive so I doubt you really need the extra power push pull 845's would give you providing the amp is well designed, indeed I believe a "sister" amp to my 6w PSE 2A3 amp has driven them very well in the past. I'd therefore make sure you at least demo some SET's with your speakers before making a final choice. If you are anywhere near the Isle of Wight I might be able to lend you my amp or at least demo it for you, obviously depending on the social distancing rules at the time!

David Whistance
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
7
0
1
51
My experience is that push pull lacks some of the midrange "magic" of SET's but you do gain at the frequency extremes. However well designed SET's are certainly not lacking in either bass or treble, even though that is many peoples perception of them. I suspect that in many cases the output transformers are specified for maximum power rather than for frequency response. Having said all that Thomas Mayer's push pull 46 mono blocks may be the best amps I've ever heard and certainly had their own "magic".

I know Simon is currently designing an amp for a client that is inspired by Audio Tekne (which are all push pull as far as I know) so he should be able to give you his view on SET v push pull. If I remember right he likes dance and electronic music (he certainly has very different musical tastes to me!) so designs his amps accordingly. I can confirm that they also work well with jazz, classical and baroque which are my usual fare.

The OBX's are fairly easy to drive so I doubt you really need the extra power push pull 845's would give you providing the amp is well designed, indeed I believe a "sister" amp to my 6w PSE 2A3 amp has driven them very well in the past. I'd therefore make sure you at least demo some SET's with your speakers before making a final choice. If you are anywhere near the Isle of Wight I might be able to lend you my amp or at least demo it for you, obviously depending on the social distancing rules at the time!

David Whistance
Thanks for that offer - I live in Brighton so not so far. Maybe I'll take you up on the demo when things loosen up. Though I thought the Isle of Wight might have closed it's borders and got back to normal, perhaps declared independence....
 

olivier

VIP/Donor
Nov 27, 2016
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Munich
www.olivier-schmidt.com
i suggest New Audio Frontiers 845 SE with ACME 845, Valvo 7044 Green Label and Psvane 12AX7-T-MII/2
very musical, transparent and magic sound with a great soundstage if paired with the right speaker
with these tubes the 845 are almost as fast as atma-spheres
 
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Hyperion

Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2011
323
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Stockholm/Sweden
We've got Absolare, Viva and Mastersound 845 based amplifiers here in Stockholm with extended experience with all three.

What can you tell us about the rest of your system - source(s), preamp and cables? It's always important to consider the system as a whole.

What's the size and characteristics of your listening room?

All the best and Happy Holidays!

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se
 

Hear Here

Well-Known Member
Feb 14, 2020
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Portsmouth, UK
I’d be really grateful for any thoughts or advice from anybody with experience of these amps. If I can narrow it down, I’ll probably have to travel from the UK to hear them (assuming I’m allowed in anywhere..!).
I'm not familiar with the amps you mention but I can recommend Art Audio Carissa as an excellent 845-based SET - and you won't have to travel from the UK. Give Tom Willis a call at Art Audio and I'm sure he will arrange a demo at Nottingham or even a home trial. I used to demo his amps in London many years ago as he had no dealer there, but I moved from London many years ago. Peter
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
7
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1
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We've got Absolare, Viva and Mastersound 845 based amplifiers here in Stockholm with extended experience with all three.

What can you tell us about the rest of your system - source(s), preamp and cables? It's always important to consider the system as a whole.

What's the size and characteristics of your listening room?

All the best and Happy Holidays!

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se
Hi Marcus,

Yes, I saw your website while researching this. Currently using a Linn KDS3 as source and Living Voice OBX-RW3 with Atlas Mavros cables throughout. I’m planning to hold on upgrading anything else for now - I usually aim for one component at a time and have to consider how things work domestically in the room. The room is very roughly 20ft wide x 18ft deep and perhaps 11ft high.

Really interested hear what characteristics I’d find with the Absolare SET versus PP. Hopefully I‘ll be able to leave the UK sometime, and perhaps get get over to you.
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
7
0
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51
I'm not familiar with the amps you mention but I can recommend Art Audio Carissa as an excellent 845-based SET - and you won't have to travel from the UK. Give Tom Willis a call at Art Audio and I'm sure he will arrange a demo at Nottingham or even a home trial. I used to demo his amps in London many years ago as he had no dealer there, but I moved from London many years ago. Peter
Thanks Peter, I did see Art Audio come up so I’ll take a look.
 

GC18

New Member
Nov 11, 2019
7
0
1
51
i suggest New Audio Frontiers 845 SE with ACME 845, Valvo 7044 Green Label and Psvane 12AX7-T-MII/2
very musical, transparent and magic sound with a great soundstage if paired with the right speaker
with these tubes the 845 are almost as fast as atma-spheres
My list grows ever longer....!
 

VerdantAudio

VIP/Donor
Jul 2, 2020
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When you talk to Tom at Art Audio, you should also ask him about the Quartet mono blocks. They are a push-pull design and are one of my favorite amps I have ever heard. I am the US Importer for Art Audio so I am a bit biased but I ran those amps at AXPONA in 2019 and people were very pleased with the result. Enjoy the Music did a review on them after that show.

Tom also has an 845 parallel SET called the Legato in mono-block form that could also be interesting. Obviously it will be in the middle in terms of power between the Carissa and the Quartets.
 

Dreamaudio

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2014
5
1
108
We've got Absolare, Viva and Mastersound 845 based amplifiers here in Stockholm with extended experience with all three.

What can you tell us about the rest of your system - source(s), preamp and cables? It's always important to consider the system as a whole.

What's the size and characteristics of your listening room?

All the best and Happy Holidays!

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se
Hello Hyperion. I am interested to know your extended experiences with your above mentioned amps. I appreciate very much if u could share your impressions on the differences of those wonderful amps.
 
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Hyperion

Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2011
323
34
335
Stockholm/Sweden
Hello Hyperion. I am interested to know your extended experiences with your above mentioned amps. I appreciate very much if u could share your impressions on the differences of those wonderful amps.

It's hard to compare these brands and options in isolation, where you need a specific context to judge the actual performance and synergy with the source, speakers, room acoustics etc. One amp might work wonderfully in one setting, and less so in another basically.

All three brands also offers different models on different levels. The integrated Mastersound Compact 845 does not have an equal from Viva or Absolare where the Viva Solistino is almost twice the price. You might be able to compare the 845 based mono amps from all three brands where Mastersound and Viva have similar offerings within the same price bracket where Absolare (again) are much more costly. Unfortunately, I do not have access to all of them here.

I have to leave it at that :)

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se
 

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
108
71
158
It's hard to compare these brands and options in isolation, where you need a specific context to judge the actual performance and synergy with the source, speakers, room acoustics etc. One amp might work wonderfully in one setting, and less so in another basically.

All three brands also offers different models on different levels. The integrated Mastersound Compact 845 does not have an equal from Viva or Absolare where the Viva Solistino is almost twice the price. You might be able to compare the 845 based mono amps from all three brands where Mastersound and Viva have similar offerings within the same price bracket where Absolare (again) are much more costly. Unfortunately, I do not have access to all of them here.

I have to leave it at that :)

/ Marcus, www.perfect-sense.se
Marcus,

Does MasterSound have a good reputation for reliability with relatively little need for repairs? Which tubes do you like for the PF100’s? Will they drive electrostatic speakers like Quad well? How important is preamp matching with them? Does one need a Spettro to bring out their best or could I get by with a Pass XP20 or Linear Tube Audio micro zotl, which I already have?
 

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
108
71
158
Picked up (my back is paying for it) a pair of MasterSound PF100’s. So far they are all of the good things I’ve heard about them. After getting over the hiccups of a shorted tube, they are playing beautifully. Plenty of headroom for most speakers with the SET midrange magic. F3159658-4356-41F4-B1AF-B537A78FE585.jpeg
9412EFE2-941E-415D-B22D-B7A38399C306.jpeg
 

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