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To Jeff Fritz,

I hope you and your family have been well during these difficult times. I’m writing because I have an amplifier-matching question.

I did buy the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova IIIs and absolutely love them. Now, though, it’s time to upgrade amplification, but with all the choices out there I’m having a really hard time deciding. At-home auditions here in Canada (at least in Ottawa) are not often something that dealers do, which makes it more difficult. So I’m writing in the hopes that you might be able to provide some input into my short list:

  • Devialet Expert Pro 220
  • Bryston 14B3
  • Simaudio Moon 760A
  • McIntosh Labs MC312

Or some kind of used Vitus (not many of those around in Canada, though).

As always, I’m open to any other suggestions you might have. My price range is somewhat flexible but not unlimited.

Thank you kindly in advance. I truly appreciate it.

Best regards,
Martin
Canada

You’ve got some interesting choices there, Martin! The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Devialet. As I’m sure you know, it is the only one listed that is an integrated amplifier with DAC and other functionality built in. As such, it will not only replace whatever amplifier you are currently using, but also your preamplifier and DAC if you have a separates-based system. That is a huge consideration in terms of system configurability.

Leaving that out for a moment, you’re left with three powerful solid-state power amplifiers that will most likely be driven by either a preamplifier or a DAC with volume control built in. Each of those models you list is easily powerful enough to drive the Nova IIIs. So, in practice, I do not think the wide range of power outputs mean much (the MC312 at 300Wpc, 14B3 at 600Wpc, or 760A on the low end at 130Wpc, all into 8 ohms). In terms of sound quality, I can’t really give you a blow-by-blow comparison because I have not heard these models in my system. Describing a “house sound” based on past experiences with the brands is also not really that helpful, and would be a mere guess in terms of how it would apply to the specific models you list. Really, I’m only left with two suggestions. If you bought your SFs from a dealer that you trust, ask him or her what they think. Hopefully they know the Sonus Faber brand well and maybe will have a suggestion as to partnering amplifier. The second thing is that you can’t really go wrong with any of the three power amplifiers -- they are all made by solid brands I know and trust. Furthermore, they are all made by companies whose factories are within four hours (by car) of where you live, so I cannot imagine service would ever be an issue. I think you’d end up with a solid match with any of the three.

Back to Devialet. The company’s products do sound super, but choosing one does lock you into a system model that is not easily changed. Do consider that before jumping on that option. . . . Jeff Fritz