A Parasound 1500A or Rotel 1080 would be good choices. Used prices are about 500 and 750 respectively. Get the Parasound and sell your source and with the extra money get a Marantz SA 8260 or Jolida 100 or whatever you can afford. Do a little research. You'll end up with a better sounding system.
look for a used Coda amp. I feel they are as good as anything out there for 2-3 times the price and with build quality better than anything currently offered by anybody.
Get a conrad johnson mf 2200. 200 watts per channel, nothing sounds better for under $1000, you can get them for about $700-$800, good luck!!!!
I've always liked the Maccormack DNA designs. They also have the benefit of a solid upgrade path through SMC Audio upgrades (Steve Maccormack's new company). Happy listening!
I don't know your speakers, or how much power they like, but I 2nd the advice as to C-J SS amps, or McCormack. Lots of used C-J SS amps, MF2300, 2250, etc. should be under $1K--just do some research on the various models. And McCormack--DNA .5, or 1.0 depending on how much power you need.
McCormack DNA amps for my choice under $1k.
I have a slight problem with this concept. A used 8/9 $$ amp only shines with a good front end and good speakers. I just don't think "this" 8/9 $$ amp, is going to elevate lesser quality items. I do think there are several 8/9 amps that will sing;along with good stuff, elsewhere in the chain.
Look for a Forte 1A or 4, about as good as a solid state gets under $3k. I have owned almost all of them including Pass X350 and McCormack DNA-2 Deluxe, Forte is as good or better.
You have lots of options, for sure. I tend to agree with Warnerwh in that your best bet may be to get a used Rotel power amp like an RB-990, RB-1070, or RB-1080 for $400 to $600 and spend the rest on a better CDP. Original Rega Planets go for around $350. Add those two pieces to your system and I think that you would be very pleased.
Avguygeorge - His speakers are quite respectable, as is his preamp. Also, didnt you notice that he has a VPI turntable? (I wish I had one) You and I might spend the money a little differently, however IMHO a $1K amp would not be significantly out of place with his other stuff.
Eldarado - You might want to consider a less expensive amp (maybe $600) in order to invest the rest elsewhere. You did not mention what you have for cables, and I think that your system is deserving of decent ICs and speaker cables. As previously mentioned, your CD player is another opportunity for improvement.
Just my $.02
Sorry, I should have listed the cables. Here they are:
-AQ Diamondback IC's from the TT to Pre
-Tara Labs Air IC's from CDP to Pre
-And I need a pair to go from pre to amp but, will not need to use any of the money from the amp fund.
-PS Audio Extreme speaker cables
Okay, Burton, I believe that you have some good cabling (although I am not familiar with your speaker cables). So, the question is whether or not you are willing to live with your CD player for a while longer. If it were me, I would split the money between amp and CD player. Maybe for you, that would not be the right decision. Maybe you dont use your CD player that much, or maybe its only for background music, or maybe you have money coming for that upgrade. If any or all are applicable to your situation, then stretch to buy the best amp you can get and upgrade the other stuff over time.
If you are intent on spending $1K on an amp, you have already received several good recommendations - a newer (but still used) Rotel, a CJ, or a McCormack would be a good bet. I think that your speakers are a little power-hungry, so I would go with a minimum of 150W of SS amplification.
Again, just my $.02
Thanks Ekistler. If you were going to spilt the money between an amp and a CDP what would recommend?
Off of the top of my head, I would probably go 60% amp and 40% CD player. Naturally, others would disagree. In that price range brands such as Rotel and Parasound are bargains on the used market. I am partial to Rotel (having owned several Rotel pieces), and one could easily find a good Rotel power amp for $600 and a nice Rotel CD player for $400. I am assuming that a $400 CD player would be a step up for you, as you describe your current player as an El Cheapo, but that may not turn out to be the case - depending on what you have and what you replace it with.
There are many other possibilities, of course. For that same $600 you could probably find an older Bryston or McCormack amplifier, for example. Turning back to the CD player, an older Arcam or Cal Audio or Cairn unit could be had for around $400. A lot of people believe in putting most of their money up front - as in spending more on source/preamp components vs. spending more on amps and speakers. Again, if I were spending that $1K in your shoes, I would split it 60% amp and 40% CD player.
All of this advice is, of course, worth everything youve paid for it!
Thanks Ekistler. I will look into your advise but, with this damn audiophilia that we all have, who knows what I'll do.
p.s. I emailed Avguygeorge directly to ask him what he would do after he posted but, no response as of yet.
Hafler 9290, 9300 or 9500
A Coda 11 will be bit more than 1k, but a Bedini 100/110 mkII should produce a pretty satisfying result w/ the gear you have.
I agree with Semi. Go with a used Forte Model 4. It's built like a tank and is definitely one of the sweetest-sounding, highly detailed amps you'll ever hear. The detail is "real detail", not brightness masquerading as detail. But don't let it's sweetness fool you, it's dynamics are uncompromising. Yes, there are amps, which outperform it..... for several thousand bucks.
p.s. As with any used gear, just make sure it's guaranteed.
Quad 909. Seems the obvious choice given the speakers and preamp.
Thanks for all of the responses. I ended up going with the 909. I am very happy with the sound. Next up is a new CDP.
I once went to buy some speakers from an audiophile who had just sold the pair. While talking to him about my speakers he suggested I try a different amp. He had a mint Audio Research modified and retubed which I offered him $1000 cash and he took it. This was and incredibly musical powerful amp and I never wanted for more until I lost it in a divorce. Nowadays tube gear is very expensive and the return for your dollar is quite varied. So shop around and you never know what might turn up. Many audiophiles take extremly good care of their equipment so usually performance is not an issue.