how 'bout Wilson Sophias with Simaudio P-5/W-5 ??

In my quest for a 2 channel audio system, I am quickly becoming confused and overwhelmed. Problem is that I only have one high-end dealer in town, so a lot of my listening is limited to trips away from home, making "A/B" comparisons difficult.

Perhaps, I made the mistake of focusing first on electronics and I repeatedly listened to the Simaudio P-5/W-5/Eclipse CDP usually with JMlab Speakers (936's and Alto Be's). Although, I seemed to be very happy with the Simaudio, I felt that perhaps the Alto Be, although beautiful, was too polite and tame for the kind of rock, alternative rock that I listen to (Radiohead, U2, Strokes, White Stripes, REM, Ryan Adams, Beck, Coldplay, MUSE, etc. etc.) So, I have listened to many other speakers on recent trips (full line of Verity Audio, Meadowlark, Joseph Audio, Wilson Sophia and WP7). I really would prefer to stay at or below 12K for the speakers. (I am still hoping to listen to Dynaudio Confidence C2 and Contour S5.4.) Of all of the speakers I auditioned, I quickly realized how great the WIlson Sophias are for dynamic bass, reproducing drum kits. Moreover, their precise focus, imaging and soundstage were unbelievable. Putting on some dynamic rock pieces, I realized how more emotional the Sophia was compared to some of the other speakers. Yet, I am not sure how well they will mate with the Simaudio equipment. Now, I haven't purchased anything yet, and I am not married to Simaudio. Yet, I really wanted to avoid the maintenance of tubes etc. For reference, I listened to the Sophias with Theta electronics (Dreadnaught, Casablanca, and Compli). I was struck how forward the midrange was compared to JMlab Altos listened to before. Yet, I wondered whether the system could become fatiguing. On the other hand, I have no idea how the Simaudio W-5/P-5 would compare with the Theta. I hope to get to an audio store that carries both, so that I can do extended listening with the Sophia and Simaudio. (will require yet another trip)

In the meantime, can anyone comment on pairing the Sophias with Simaudio electronics ? Otherwise, given that I would like to avoid tubes (if possible) can anyone comment on other solid state electronics that would ideally mate with Sophia. For reference the room is 23 by 13 with 9 foot ceilings. I also like to listen to my music at loud volume.
OK no response yet.

Let's try this question. I really want to avoid tubes if possible. What solid state amp/preamp would you recommend for Sophia. I will be playing primarily alternative rock/rock on CD's. I want as musical, nonfatiguing system as possible.
Well you can't expect to buy this all at once and end up with the killer system to end all systems...I can tell you that right now! YOu'll have to have patience, and probably try different gear..maybe even speakers.
I'd suggest buying used if you are trying to budget out. You'll get better bang for the buck. If you are only after new, then you'll be confined a bit more. But such is life.
I'm sure you'd like to get it all right in one shot. But it definitely "don't" work that with anything in life.
You'll have to focus on one component at a time to find the magic pairing, of sorts.
That all said, you need to get the speakers always with audio. The Speakers are where it's at. Then you "fine tune" and "system match" the gear to the speakers.
With your room and music tastes, set up will be critical for best speaker performance overall. It's always important. But if your set up is done wrong in "that room" you'll be getting too much "room involvment and reflection" mixed in with your sound. This would be most problematic wit speakers designed like the Sofia's(i.e, Open architecture with tweeter over midrange). In short, if you sit closer to the speakers, or have good acoustic treatment working for you, coffered or vaulted ceilings, or have the speakers set up on the long wall (thus sitting proximaly closer) you will have good results with less challenge potentially with these speakers. If you sit back further, set up along he "short wall", or have no acoustic help on the ceiling and sidewalls, you'll do better with more controlled focus designs, like Dappolito's (JM Utopia's, Dunlavy's, Genesis, PBS Montana's, NHT's top, similar), Horns (Avantgardes especially good), planner speakers (ML's, etc).
That all said, rock speakers should be dynamic as hell, NOT BE TOO LAID BACK INTENTIONALLY, like most audiophile speakers tend to be, have great pressence, and be very high sensitivity and efficient preferably! This latter part is a huge advantage for rock!...just like good pro audio speakers and active designs.
The old addage of "a good speaker is a good speaker" is not specific enough, nor accurate! Infact, most audiophile desings are very very lackluster when you pop in some Metalica, rap, techno, or other heavy dynamic material! that's even the one's that have big woofers!
Having high efficiency is a big plus here. Also, speakers wiht active woofers help greatly. Multiple driver array's have some strong advantages in efficiency and adding sensitivity. Basically, some speakers DEFINTELY DO ROCK(AND MOVIES FOR THAT MATTER better than others!!!.
The deal with the Wilson's is that they're revealing sounding (which isn't necessarily the greatest priority IMO for most rock recordings...which often are in a scence "distortion", overblown, over-mixed, and ill-recorded often) and offer pretty high sensitivity compared to most audiophile offerings. In that respect, speakers like the WATT Puppies are more dynamic than most home audiophile desings because of dual bass drivers, ported desings, and highish sensitivity(like, what, 95db?). Infact, W7's sound strong with tubes even!..which doesn't apply to you, however.
Another consideration, in a traditional configured speaker are the ATC even PMC actives!(especially the higher end ATC)
These active speakers excell in dynamics and pressence, mostly due to their "active design"! Avlar's are another killer rock speaker, and I'm sure there's others.
Another superb rock speaker choice are the Avantgarde horns!
They are like 105db or better at one watt! The advantage here is huge for rock playback, like with better pro audio speakrs...which aren't necessarily so refined overall however.
Basically, I'd like to see you with speakers that are suited for the job! You wanna rock?...have high end refinement, tranparancy, dynamics, soundstage, purity, speed, involvment, etc? Then you should chose wisely.
Also keep in mind what I said about most rock recordings NOT BEING as well recorded as other genre's. That's the way it is. In that case, refinement shouldn't be your number one priority...even though there are high end desings mentioned that let you "have your cake, and eat it too".
IF you chose something like Avantgarde's(maybe a used pair of Duo's or new Uno's would suffice), consider that you MUST SIT DIRRECTLY INFRONT OF THEM for best they fall off tonal-wise from off axis listening, and are beamy.
On the bottom end, used NHT 3.3's are clear and dynamic, if not quite as resolved and detailed as the very best...but good speakers non-the-less.
With rock, SS electronics, I'm thinking it's a hard match for you Wilson's for your application. It will be difficult not to drift into a "fatiguing" sound...espeically with rock. But, you could do it. Maybe the Theta' and a good tube preamp would work for your. But, if you gotta keep everything one manufacture/make, then you might be more limited in chioces. But you defintely want something "forgiving in that system". I've sold Wilson's, they are very matter of fact, very revealing, critical of equipment, and not freindly to harsh recordings.
Anyway, that's the long of it. The short of it is that, if you like the Sofia's new for that price range(sounds like you can afford all the gear withough a sweat, and want it done all at once) with what you put through them recently, then I suggest you try them. Then, be prepared to "experiment" with gear selection, until you find the right match!
May I recommend considering "mix-n-matching" the gear for best results? Again, maybe tube preamp with SS amp might work for you. Good luck
Dear Thom-y:

I am afraid that I do not own Sofias, nor have more than thirty minutes of personal experience with them, nor do I have personal experience with any Sim Audio equipment, so I do not know how helpful, if at all, my comments will be. I also don't know if you have a preference for new or used equipment (I have ideas about "used").

First, solid-state electronics that are generally known to be musical and non-fatiguing ...

Used Amps: of the well-known and available brands, the ones that come to mind are Rowland, Classe and Naim. The Rowland 6 monos, 8 stereo, and 9 monos sound quite close to a top-shelf tube amp (if there is any line of high-end solid-state electronics that is known as "the brand that sounds like tubes", it is Rowland). The Classe CAM and Omega series amps are also known to be voiced toward the warm and musical. As for how the Rowland or Classe they would work with Sofias, I would guess great, but you just never know with this stuff until you try. The Naim stuff is a bit idiosyncratic, but one Stereophile reviewer said that the modest 30 watt/channel Naim integrated sounds great with the Sofias. The Sofias are easy to drive, so you have a lot of amp options.

Used Preamps: Rowland again. The Synergy IIi is a really fine preamp (still in production, too).

I do not believe that you should foreclose the option of tube gear, as good tube gear is quite reliable, and in my opinion, usually more musical sounding.

I am sure other Audiogon members will give you additional ideas.

Good luck.
I have not heard the combination but I have heard the Sim equipment with Dynaudio's, Spendors and Quad speakers. The electronics have a very sweet, airy quality. I would guess that they will be a fine match for Wilsons.
I can only commnet on the Moon W-5. A very nice solid state amp in it's own right. Fast, powerful enough, even a bit sweet when compared to some other solid state amps. A real eye opening experience when comparing the W-5 to some other amps.

However, there is something not right with the bass region even though it provides the listener with a sense that it has more than enough power.

With my 10T's the W-5 just sounded like it was compressing and congesting at even lower listening levels. Increased levels even worse.

I sold the W-5 thinking it just didn't mate well with my speakers' power requirements.

It wasn't until some time later that I realized it was the W-5 that was causing the problem.

There is a review by Peter Moncrief of Intern'l Audio Review on the website. There, Peter Moncrief reviews both the P5 and W-5 and says very good things about both components.

But then he describes the same deficiencies in the bass that I experienced and he explains why he believes it is so.

Other then that flaw, I thinks it's an excellent amplifier and one could do far worse than a W-5.

Stehno - I have the W5 driven by a tube preamp and the bass rocks. It is tight, articulate, and absolutely slams. I don't know what was the cause of your problems with the W5's bass except that it isn't universal. In fact you and Peter Moncrief are the only two people I know of who have commented negatively on this aspect of the W5's performance. It does take the W5 a long time to stabilize after powering on. Several days in fact and until the amp settles in the bass is a little woolly and weak, esp so for the first half day after power on.
Jazz dude, yes, I am aware of what others have said about the W-5's bass and I am well aware of the typical 3-day warm-up time period required for the W-5.

But I am also aware of what the W-5 bass was like in my system at that time with my Aerial 10T's. The amp I owned prior to the W-5 was a BAT vk-500 with optional BATPAK. The BAT's bass was far superior, more pronounced, and better defined when compared to the W-5's. In fact, the VK-500's power reserves for bass seemed limitless in comparison. However, the W-5 was far superior in every other category to the BAT vk-500.

My next amp after the W-5, a McCormack DNA-2 LAE (Limited Anniversary Edition), was better than the best of what both the VK-500 and the W-5 had to offer. That DNA-2 LAE was rated by Peter Moncrief as the best solid state amp (especially in the bass) a few years ago, bar none.

But the bass of all those amps and others I've owned or listened to previously simply pail in significance to the bass that is reproduced in my current amplifier. A McCormack DNA-2 Revision A amplifier.

It wasn't unitl some time after I parted with the W-5 that I stumbled upon the Moncrief specific review of the W-5/P-5 on SimAudio's website and what he described about the W-5's bass was exactly what I experienced.

There are some that consider Peter Moncrief head and shoulders above most every reviewer out there. Since I had owned 3 of the many amps Moncrief reviewed and categorized for quality, and his review of each of those was right on, I'm apt to agree with much of what he said.

FWIW, in Moncrief's reviews and classifications of solid state and tube amps a few years ago, he placed the W-5 in category 1C tied with the Audio Refinement Complete integrated amp and there were only 3 other solid state amps he placed over the W-5.

Personally, I liked everything about the W-5 very much. In fact, compared to every other amp I owned up that point-in-time(about 5 amps), the W-5 was a real eye opener in a number of ways and I most likely would have kept it were it not for the bass reproduction.

Thom_y - I use thiel cs2.3's. My current preamp is the Supratek Sauvignon but I have a Supratek Cabernet on the way and it should be in my system in just a couple of weeks at most. The W5 sound is compareable in signature to the Linn Klimax and Theta Citadel except that the W5 is easily distinguished by its better bass control and overall dynamics. But givin the interactive nature of speaker and amp impedences I would recommend a serious audition prior to any purchase.
Jazzdude -

I am a supratek Syrah owner, and have listened to the W5 with a small handful of systems, and really like it. I am aware, however, that it is a "balanced" design, and apparently would rather run with a balanced input from the preamp. All of the suprateks, as far as I know, are Single Ended. Do you have any qualms about running this amp from a single ended pre? Have you compared to balanced in any way?

First off, the W5 is only balanced to the output stages but not including the output stages. So the W5 is not balanced or fully differential all the way through. Secondly the Syrah with XLR outputs is balanced on the output stages, but of course input stages are not balanced. When a single-ended preamp and and push-pull amp are connected via balanced connections it is called a SEPP configuration. I've connected my W5 using both single-ended and xlr connectors at various times. FWIW, the W5 also sounds good single-ended. The two biggest benefits of using the W5 balanced inputs is increased noise rejection for long cable runs if you need it and sometimes increased gain because a lot of preamps have an additional +6db of gain on their xlr outputs. Supratek preamps are not in this category.

My Supratek Sauvignon has only one set of rca inputs and one set of xlr outputs. My Supratek Cabernet has one set of rca inputs and a set of rca outputs and xlr outputs.