Good question. Apart from constantly tripping the circuit breaker, they weigh 30kg each and are a nightmare to move. If for any reason, I had to take them for repair, my back would not thank me lugging them down the stairs.
I never considered that it may be hard to find amplifiers as good or better than they are-probably because they are 15-20 years old and I just presumed that newer stuff would sound better.
I'm quite new to the world of hifi (2 years or so). So far, I have only brought second hand (and have never been to a fancy hifi shop to listen to new products).
When buying new speakers (for example), I try to read reviews on them and then I will decide to buy a pair if someone is selling them locally to me. I have a speaker A/B selector box so I can switch between my old speakers and the speakers I purchased until I have decided which pair I like best. I then sell the pair I like the least. It's incredible how short audio memory is and that direct comparisons are the best way to decide on your preferred gear.
Its a shame I couldn't borrow a class D amplifier to compare it directly with my Vincents.
You do need to beware with regards to A/B testing - as little as 0.3db volume difference can trick the ear into thinking the louder alternative is "better" .... Those tiny level differences can also throw you off with regards to space, depth, detail, etc....
So level matching becomes very very critical, and very difficult.
An alternative is the "long term test" - replace your baseline kit with the new kit - use for at least 2 or 3 weeks - then see how you feel about them - are you picking up the same audible cues from favourite tracks? are some things easier to hear, or less easy? - Do you find yourself running things louder or softer? running softer can be a sign of gear having better micro detail, but it can also be a sign that at louder levels it is distorting, and gets annoying so you turn it down - a negative sign.
I decided to try the Crown XLS series pro amps some years back, it was not my first step into "Class-D" - the first steps were interesting, showed great promise, but were no match for my Quad Current Dumping amps (Quad 606 & earlier, upgraded 405's) - which were in turn superior to "beefy" flagship AV Receivers (Onkyo TX-SR876).
The Crown XLS2500's I got as an experiment (used, ex-pro/ Band use, only cost me US$250 each for a pair)... proved to be my best available amps - another step up from the Quad 606's.
They can put out (according to specs) 440W @ 8 ohm, [email protected]
, [email protected]
- in stereo. And can also be bridged to run as monoblocks. (doubling power output).
I found the bridging them provided no benefit - using the pair to biamp my speakers may have some benefit (after much experimentation, I thought the bass went a bit deeper in bi amp mode, but it was sufficienty slight a difference to make it not worth the additional wiring complexity)
Things to keep in mind.... Within their optimal capability envelope, all halfway decent amps sound alike (!!!) - yes blasphemy to many...
It is when you drive them to the edge of their design envelope that they begin to misbehave and therefore "sound different" - my speakers drop down to 1.6ohm on the tweeter, and just below 3 ohm on the woofer - that means a lot of amps are pushed into a zone outside of where they are "comfortable". Loads of amps run out of current on these speakers, and then they get "flustered" in various ways.
The Quad 606's maintained their composure (they are very well behaved amps!) - but at 2ohm their power is well down at circa 90W .... where in theory if they were not constrained, they should be providing circa560W !! In theory the perfect amp would double power output in W from 8 ohm to 4 ohm and again from 4 ohm to 2 ohm.... in practice a bunch of design (and cost) constraints limit that doubling.... but as an indication... [email protected]
= [email protected]
= 22.5W @ 8ohm.... so roughly speaking the 606's, a [email protected]
amp design, were behaving as quite a nice 22.5W amp.
The point I am trying to make is that the amp and speakers form a speaker, you cannot take them in isolation, very few amps are over-engineered to the level that they can handle "any"/all speakers.
The Vincent's you have are an over-engineered design, by comparison to most amps - so they will do well with a much wider range of speakers than most. The Crown XLS series are also over-engineered, but from a different perspective - they are designed for a pro-audio or PA environment...
What I like about Class-D (and some traditional designs like the Quads) is that they run cool, and are quite efficient - That cool running characteristic is also typically an indicator of long service life - nothing kills solid state electronics faster than heat!
In your place, I would try to go out and find some Class-D amps to compare with... used. (which is what I did when I purchased the Crowns... I got them at a price where I knew I could flip them for at least what I paid for them, if not more)
And I would very much like the chance to listen to those Vincents.... I think they would probably do as good or better a job with my difficult speakers, as the Crowns do! - But would probably generate too much heat to take up long term residence with me.