A great SS integrated with a good phono stage?
My speakers are Altec 620 (604-8G). They have an efficiency of 100 db. It is impossible to describe what high efficiency does to music. All I can say is that I am addicted to it. Altec have a 'in your face' quality. They also have a very clean and transparent mid. You get to hear everything, a bit like on electrostatic speakers but with much more dynamic. The good thing is that music comes alive. The downside is that the driver in the mid magnifies every harshness, as one may expect from a monitor.
Tubes are the best match for Altec. I had quite a few tube amp before (Citation II, Leak, Quad II) and noticed that tubes have some kind of 'intelligence' that makes them improve things. But even if they sounded pretty good, I got bored of tube's maintenance, heat and cost of replacement. I do NOT enjoy to spend hours trying to improve, fix or balance a system. I like to listen to music.
I am looking for something soft AND transparent. I have tried the Pathos Classic One and found it was too analytic for the Altec. I believe that I need to avoid analytic electronics like Sim, Classe, YBA, Krell... (I have not listen to all of these. It's the reputation that these brands have.)
In 1999 or 2000, I tried some integrated amp from Sugden, I believe it was a 70 watts per chanel (I don't remember the model). It sounded quite well. The Sugden acted a bit like a tube amp. It compensate for the Altec agressivity. I couldn't buy that amp back then cause I was flat broke. Now that I am not so broke anymore, I'm looking again...
I definitely like Sugden but I don't see them often. I read the Plinius had a warm sound. But are they tranparent? I am willing to spend a decent amount of money. I could go up to 2 k. 60 to 100 watts per chanel would be plenty. I would also like something with a GOOD phono stage. Is there something that match my requirements out there? Thanks in advance.