My best speakers (and I don't even know how many great sets of speakers I have, but these are my best) are Acoustat Model 3 electrostatic panels. I've had these for a number of years. When I first got them, I tried every amp I had, starting with the biggest. All failed miserably, with solid state amps going into clipping without producing much volume (most popping like mad). I finally settled on a set of two Peavey Classic 120/120 rack mount amps (making 240/240!). These babies have 8 6L6 tubes in each amp. The 8 big tubes could not make an Acoustat get really loud, but they were loud enough to sound sweet and I have lots of other stuff to reinforce the sound.
Carver says the M-1.5t produces 600 watts in each channel when the max headroom light comes on (up to 750 watts into one channel). This max indicator was lit within the first 30 seconds of my test. My tests are incomplete, and all were done completely by ear, but this is what I heard:
- More volume than the two Peavey 120/120's - not a lot, but more
- Slightly less distortion than the Peavey's (that's not good - the Peaveys distort a lot when driven hard - the Carver seems to distort quite audibly as well)
- The Carver definitely sounded like a transistor amp compared to the Peavey (duh - 20 output transistors vs. 16 output tubes)
This last point will take some better testing to see if it is really true. It seemed like a very simple bright versus warm, classic tube argument, but I need to level the field and use more similar sources. I definitely like the idea of getting more volume out of my flagship speakers and I am so proud of how they took 1200 watts from the Carver and seemed to say, "Is that all you got?" This testing is tough work but somebody's got to do it.