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Osborn Epitome Tower Reference Elite and NAD M33


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Hi, I will be purchasing a pair of Osborn Epitome Tower Reference Elite speakers shortly but i’m still a little undecided in regards the amplification. The Consonance 880i sounded fantastic at the Melbourne hi-fi show but living in North Queensland I am concerned that the climate may not be ideal for a valve amp, I’m also keen to keep the setup as simple as possible rather than have multiple units.  My budget is up to $10k and I listen to rock, metal, blues, reggae and a little jazz now and again (so pretty varied).  I’m considering the NAD M33 as an all in one streamer and amp but am keen to receive any feedback in regards to this combination and any other ideas you may have at a similar price point. I currently have a Bluesound node for streaming services and happy to keep this if it makes sense….. Thank you Lee

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Have you considered a Prima Luna EVO 400 Power amp paired up with a NAD C658 Pre-amp. The NAD unit includes BLUOS streamer & also DIRAC Live (DSP). This is the setup I use connected to a pair of Adelaide Speaker Design Ascension Summoner 1093PQTL 3 way speakers of similar sensitivity to the Osbornes you are purchasing...

 

The PL puts out 70W RMS in UL mode & 38W RMS in Triode mode, I find this more than loud enough (and I like loud) listening to similar music to which you elude.

 

The PL power output can be boosted by changing power valves, it will accomodate KT88, KT120 & KT150's the latter boosting the output to 89W RMS... these amps can also be switched to mono thus, a pair would give you double the wattage.

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There is a post somewhere on SNA where a member have bought a March amp ato replace his Consonance tube amp - and ended up going back to his tube amp.

Nothing wrong with the March amps - top of the range technology and reasonably priced.

 

It depends on what you like.

 

I have Osborn Eclipse Reference Towers and played around with several integrated (lower end) and power amps, e.g. Consonance A3, Icepower, Moon 250i, Stello 500, Redgum, Krell 400, Luxman and Yamaha.

 

For daily listening the winner is a Devialet 120 - I took a punt and I am telling you it is great!

 

For serious listening I am sticking with My Consonance 845s  mono power amps.

 

Greg uses valve amps to voice his speakers - that 880i is a no brainer!

 

Understand your issue re temperature and humidity - the amp will survive - it is just the room temperature! 

 

I have no experience with NAD, but @Hydrology rate Hegel and Devialet. Both are one box solutions like the NAD. He may be able to offer advice.

 

And if I may offer some advice - the Devialets, Hegels and March amps come up regularly used here on SNA as members are upgrading. Buying used means you can try it out and sell again if you do not like it. Also solves the pain of buying new and then selling used at a loss.

 

Enjoy the journey.

 

Edited by Jventer
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Hi Lee.  

Mate you have so many options it just isn't funny.

Gregs speakers are quite sensitive so they really don't need a great deal of current to sound very good indeed.  I had a pair of Osborn Eclipse floorstanders a while back and I've had several integrated amps through my system that sounded extremely good on them.

 

Have a think about some of these.

1.  Sonneteer.  This little English company make some very special amps and while they aren't that cheap to the layperson they are well within your budget.  The sonneteer Orton in particular is a very nice piece of gear.  Just so musical.

2.  Exposure 2510.  The original Exposure 2010S2 (and variants) was an unusual combination of power and soft/deep/relaxed/powerful presentation that really sounded very tube like in many respects.  Again, well within your budget.

3.  AKSA amps.  

https://www.aksaonline.com/products/products.html

Very rhythmic amps, with a presentation that just makes you want to listen to more and do it for longer.  And Australian made too.

4.  Perreaux Audiant 80i.  A bit more expensive than the first 3 above but it comes with a built in DAC that is rather good and a nice rich and full mid range that is so good it is bound to compete with most valve amps in this price range.  Kiwi made, and that's a quality claim in the world of audio.

5.  YBA Genesis IA3.  I only had this amp for a short time but it was both strong and warm in equal measure and I feel it would pair well with the Osborns.  French made, or at least the higher end models still are, I believe.

6.  Luxman 550 or 590 integrated.  These are excellent amps in every sense of the word.  Warm, rich and powerful.  They do run a little warm but they are very well vented so even in hot and humid NQ they should last well (as long as you give them a little breathing space).  The 590 might be just out of your budget but the 550 certainly isn't.  Jap made, and worth every high end capacitor and resistor. 

7.  Consonance.  If you already know you like the sound then why not buy one.  You can always get a quiet pedestal fan and use it to assist with keeping the amp cool if that turns out to be necessary.

 

Densen should also rate a mention although they are very expensive for what you get here in Oz.  Very smooth sounding gear though.

 

And that is just for starters.  

 

I can't say I know that much about streamers, but I'm sure you have quite a choice there too.  A Bluesound node is good for what it is but you can certainly do better.

Edited by Cafad
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For big floorstanders like that and warmer climate use you should get a cool temperature operating powerful Class AB power amp like a Parasound A21 or similar or the Class D amps you are considering. Class D amps can be great but I find swapping back to solid state or powerful tube nearly always sounds more complete, less thin sounding. Match with a suitable preamp solid state or low heat tube preamp for the musicality. Here’s an option list to consider:

 

https://www.stereonet.com/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/page/4/#comment-5944815

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I went and tested the Osborn's with a NAD M32 and it couldn't run those towers. It ran the regular Epitome's just fine but once we hooked up the Reference Towers it just immediately went into protection mode. I did forget to change the speaker impedence from 8 to 4 ohm on the amp though so that could have been the problem, it just wasn't something I usually did at home so it didn't even cross my mind when demoing them.

 

I'm also up in Cairns just around the corner from FNQ Outcast. I've got a Holton One-Zero-Zero Supreme (the previous model, not the one on the website at the moment) which on the Holton site has a couple of reviews, one saying it worked great with the Epitome's and another saying they preferred it to some Rogue and Consonance power amps. I'm looking at selling it and possibly my Supratek Pre-amp as I just took delivery of some new active speakers yesterday. Still fiddling around a little with the pre, but the power amp needs to go to fund the reshuffling around of my other systems.

Edited by Third Time Lucky
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Thank you for all the responses, it’s  been great to read up on some of your suggestions and learn about some companies I have never come across before.

 

A couple of points really made sense to me, firstly buying used from this site which means I could on-sell with a minimal loss if I was unhappy with my choice.  Secondly keeping the amp seperate to a music streamer due to future changes in tech.

 

Obviously there is also the question of going with the pre/power amp option but that’s likely to be something I visit down the track.
 

I am really impressed with everything I have read about the Luxman range of amps (and I love the look) but I’m still getting my head around all of the different models in their range.
 

So where did I land? It will really be a waiting game over the next couple of months to see what gets advertised second hand here as I have a couple of months before I get the speakers. If nothing pops up I will likely go with the Consonance 880i which can then act as my reference source when i trial other options.

 

Thanks again for all the comments, I think I am about to embark on a fairly rewarding journey :)

 

 

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A friend of mine has Osborn Epitomes speakers. He initially ran them with consonance monos. We had a session where we compared the consonance with hypex nc400s and they did sound a bit more lively with the powerful class D, especially more punchy bass.. He later switched to a PS Audio  stellar s300 and I think that was better still.

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I do think the type of music you listen to should be considered. Valves for me is so good on vocals, jazz and classical. The class d, icepower and integrateds for me added something to disco, pop and rock.  At the end of the day it is all about what you like, isnt it?

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7 minutes ago, Jventer said:

I do think the type of music you listen to should be considered. Valves for me is so good on vocals, jazz and classical. The class d, icepower and integrateds for me added something to disco, pop and rock.  At the end of the day it is all about what you like, isnt it?


 Its part of what love about the hobby side of audio, The technical stuff is all harder type science but ultimately your brain does the final EQ. 

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On 03/08/2022 at 10:22 PM, Al.M said:

For big floorstanders like that and warmer climate use you should get a cool temperature operating powerful Class AB power amp like a Parasound A21 or similar or the Class D amps you are considering. Class D amps can be great but I find swapping back to solid state or powerful tube nearly always sounds more complete, less thin sounding. Match with a suitable preamp solid state or low heat tube preamp for the musicality. Here’s an option list to consider:

 

https://www.stereonet.com/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/page/4/#comment-5944815

 

An Emotiva XPA2 Gen2 is another option in this vein and very well priced.

 

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  • Volunteer

Thread cleaned and highly specific and more advanced discussion (arguably not relevant in this thread) has been moved to:

 

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I have the Epitome Reference Elite towers.  I have had numerous amps through the system.  Class D, Class A, Class A/B.  In the end I settled on the Consonance Linear 1 pre and a pair of the Cyber 800's.  Easily the best combo I came across.  I'd be surprised you had any issues running tubes in Qld., it's not like it hasn't been done for decades before.

Edited by Kaynin
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I used to own a pair of Epitome Towers and they sounded great with valve amps. I also tried a Modwright KWA 100 SE but while bass was tighter overall the valves were better (Consonance Linear 1 & AM 805M). I also ended up with a Pass Labs XA30.8 which also sounded fantastic.

 

If you have air-conditioning then there is no issue with valves, for many years I had no a/c and it was no big deal, however I am in Sydney so nowhere near as bad as FNQ.

 

Not sure if my rambling was of any help 😄

 

 

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