Advice on New Integrated Amplifier

I need some advice on cleaning up my current system, which is:

Integrated Amplifier: Creek 5350 SE (with phono card)
Turntable: Roksan Radius 5
Loudspeakers: Totem Arro
Digital: iTunes/Spotify via wifi only

I am having a problem with the Creek. One channel drops out (scratchy for a bit then gone) intermittently. I emailed Mike Creek about it, posted on these forums before, and conducted research. It seems the ribbon connectors need to be cleaned frequently. Mike Creek said to open the unit and blow out the female receptacles. That didn't work too well so I used compressed air and deoxit. I've done this 3 times in 18 months. So, every six months I need to crack open this integrated to keep it working. Ugh.

I took the unit to a local repair shop in Chicago. They could find nothing wrong with it. Go figure. They were not interested in hardwiring each of the 16 pin connectors involved. Neither am I and I'm not too bad with a soldering iron.

So, I'm likely in need an integrated amplifier. I'm thinking that I need the following:

- < $2k in cost (new or used)
- Decent ability to drive 4-6 ohm loads
- A & B speaker outs because I drive a main set (Totem Arros) and another in my office (Monitor Audio in ceiling units)

I may also think about upgrading my Totem Arros to Tannoy Revolution XT 6Fs (!products_1547)

I listen to a broad spectrum of music including:


I would really appreciate the advice of forum users! PS: I bought the Creek used from Audiogon and have had issues since I got it so there's no warranty for me. I love the sound of it and its simplicity.
Wow, if you hadn't mentioned the brand, I would have sworn you were talking about my music hall. It's been shipped all over the country to have the same issue worked on. It's now a $1000 doorstop.
It's frustrating. And, strangely, I'm still open to buying another Creek. But it's unacceptable. I have an old Denon integrated (early 90s) that still works. I really love the Creek but am a little shy in buying another.

I know Creek and Music Hall are somewhat affiliated (yet I don't understand the relationship exactly).

My 5350 sounds a dream; I'm just tired of cracking it open every 6 months to clean it. Obnoxious!
Elevick doesn't Music Hall import Creek? It's possible even likely that both your amp and the OP's were built by Creek.
"09-14-15: Jond
Elevick doesn't Music Hall import Creek? It's possible even likely that both your amp and the OP's were built by Creek.
Jond (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"

They're completely different. The Creek is made in the UK and the Music Hall is made somewhere in Asia.


Fix your 5350. I put mine next to a bunch of integrated's in the same price range and they all fell short. Having to clean it every 6 months is a better option than settling for something that doesn't sound as good.
McIntosh MA6500 would be perfect for you. Two sets of speaker outputs. can definitely drive 4-6 ohm loads and sounds absolutely spectacular.
There's a bryston b100 on here now just over your limit, but you should be able to talk him down he's way high. That amp will be an improvement over the creek IMO and comes with a transferable warranty for like a decade (which you won't likely ever need).
If you are thinking of changing your speakers, I would make that decision first. Only then would I start looking for an integrated that pairs well with the speakers.

There are a lot of very good integrated amps in the $1500-2000 range (new - I won't speculate on used prices). Just off the top of my head I can think of the following that I have heard or owned: Exposure 2010S2D, Naim XS2, Musical Fidelity M3si, Yamaha AS2000, Rogue Sphinx, Croft Phono Integrated, NAD 377BEE. They all have strong points to recommend them - it's really a matter of matching them with the speakers you have and finding a sound that you like.

I'd read up on the various reviews for an amp in the power range you are looking for to narrow down the choices. Then demo if you can. If you can't demo, look for a good price on a used unit here on Audiogon and give it a go.

Have fun! Scott
System synergy is everything..... You know when you find it .
There are a buzzilion choices out there but narrowing down to those select few requires some patience and personal auditions.

I've owned both the Totem Arros and Forests simultaneously in prior systems. I've auditioned many contenders and pretenders with them.
For my select coin .... SIMAUDIO integrated amp .... Full stop.

These are frequently paired up with Totems at audio expos, and since both hail from Montreal, they are frequently voiced with each other's kit .
Totem's own (discontinued) AMBER integrated amp was a joint development with SIMAUDIO based on the matters design.

To raise it up another notch, slide in a matched SIMAUDIO Cdp and DAC.
But don't scrimp and nickel-n-dime the ICs with any SIMAUDIO product ... They are very revealing and using crap cables with them will create a predictable matched result accordingly.

Last point....

The ARROs perform at their max using Totems own TRESS speaker cable which is a near clone of CHORD's Rumour or Oddysey ( all are silver plated copper). I used both with the Arros with a slight personal slant toward the TRESS (that's what the Arros are apparently internally wired with)
OP says amp needs A&B out. Otherwise I would agree with Akg_ca on the Simaudio recommendation, having run the Arro's with the i-5. I currently run the Arros with a Magnum Dynalab MD-209, and it is far superior, but well out of the OP's price range. I think that the Magnum Dynalabs extra power has a lot to do with it, so I am thinking an i-3 with the Arro's would work quite well. But of course no A&B.

I was always told the Tress was Dh Labs T-14. It's funny how all these rumours get around :)
The latest Creek Destiny can be had for less than $2k on the used market. I have read great reviews on the Destiny but have no concerning reliability.

Also, if you want to sell your faulty Creek, I would be interested. :)
"09-15-15: Riffer
OP says amp needs A&B out. Otherwise I would agree with Akg_ca on the Simaudio recommendation, having run the Arro's with the i-5. I currently run the Arros with a Magnum Dynalab MD-209, and it is far superior, but well out of the OP's price range. I think that the Magnum Dynalabs extra power has a lot to do with it, so I am thinking an i-3 with the Arro's would work quite well. But of course no A&B."

I'm pretty sure Sim makes the integrated amp portion of your Magnum Dynalab.
Great stuff.

I'm going to look at the used Bryston, Creek Destiny, McIntosh 6500, Sim products, BUT I don't even know where to begin in trying to fix the Creek. Just today both channels dropped out, and back in, and out. I wish I bought it under warranty then I could ask Mike Creek to do right by the product.

Bryston's transferable 20 year warranty is so tempting.
Luxman 505ux used fits your bill and it's bulletproof.
The Bryston is pretty good. I had one for a little while. But if you're willing to spend that kind of money, you could get an Ayre CX-7. Its in a completely different league than the other amps mentioned.
Zd542 "I'm pretty sure Sim makes the integrated amp portion of your Magnum Dynalab"

I bought the MD unheard and that was what I was hoping for. I went from MD-106T + Simaudio Moon i-5 and the sound is very similar but fuller. I attribute that to the extra power. Given Magnum Dynalab's prior relationship with Simaudio, I would assume that the design was, at least, inspire by Simaudio.
Two updates:

1. I've narrowed by shortlist to the following names:

Magnum Dynalab
Acoustic Research
Musical Fidelity
And... CREEK.

2. I found a repair shop in Overland Park, Kansas that has great familiarity with the Creek 5350. It sounds like it may or may not truly be the ribbon connection. It could also be the pre-amp switch. It's going to cost me $300 to fix it.

I think that I'm going to fix it. I'll keep you posted.

If I get it back and it happens again, I'm going to back my car over it and buy something like a McIntosh or Bryston for the build quality.
In case anyone is interested.

I demoed Naim equipment over the weekend with Totem Forest Signatures in Chicago. Just great.

I also heard back from Creek. They can locate a replacement Alps switch for 89 pounds plus shipping. They indicate the switch is very rare, which I can say is likely true because I cannot locate it anywhere.

I'm going to do the following:

1. Order the switch ASAP
2. Install new ribbon cables in the unit.
3. Install the new Alps switch.
4. Get new speakers and run the Creek til this switch dies.
5. In the interim, I'll think about what type of electronics I want to upgrade to from the Creek.
6. My electronics shortlist is: Luxman, McIntosh, Simaudio, Musical Fidelity.
7. My loudspeaker shortlist will be comprised of smaller footprint floorstanders or medium sized ones--all to please my wife.

Thanks for all the advice everyone!
You mentioned that you had or have heard the NAD 375, Rogue Sphinx, and Exposure 2010s2d. Out of curiosity which one did you like the best?
I think there is some confusion. I only demoed Naim equipment last week. I haven't had the chance to demo the Rogue Sphinx and Exposure. NAD is really not on my list, but I'd be willing to give it a listen.
I think that question was for me. Yes, I've had the Exposure 2010s2, the NAD 375BEE, and the Rogue Sphinx.

I thought the Exposure was a very nice amp - refined sound, clear, musical. However, I had it paired with the KEF LS50s, and it didn't quite have the power to drive them. I later came to realize that I didn't like the KEFs, but I had already sold the Exposure.

The Sphinx really didn't work out well for me. I thought the initial sound was somewhat artificial, and I had problems with hum issues. It didn't stay very long, so I don't know how it would have sounded after the tubes burned in a bit.

Frankly, the NAD was the most enjoyable of the three. I know that NAD sometimes gets a bad rap, but the 375BEE was really a good amp. It has a metal bridge between the pre out and the power in. When I replaced that with a good set of ICs, the sound took a huge jump (it was already pretty good). It has tremendous control of the bass, and a very open, non-fatiguing presentation. I think it's overlooked due to prejudices against NAD and the fact that most people demo it without replacing the metal jumpers.

Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

Best, Scott
For Jbhiller - Jb, what kind/model number of Naim gear did you audition with the Forests? Thanks.

I would certainly consider selling you the Creek. It's in 8/10 condition.

I can send you the information on the Alps switch that I bought from Creek. It should be here in Chicago (shipping from London) this week.

It needs the switch installed and new ribbon cable, which I have. But the ribbon connection pins are a bit worn. I think it needs a new connector soldered in. They are cheap, but I'm not sure how to do that. And, I'm not sure how to solder the switch in either.

I called some folks and got quotes from $200 range, +/-.

I can send you pics, my telephone, etc. I really love the amp, but would consider selling.

Can you private message me? If not my email is [email protected]
Jb- Would you please provide details about the Naim gear you auditioned with the Forests? Thanks in advance.
It was Naim separates--preamplfier and amp. Pretty pricey..somewhere north of $5/7k for both, maybe more.

Very nice stuff. Something I missed with the Naim stuff that I get from my Creek.

I received my Alps switch from Creek today. $150 and I'm going to have to install it. I'm thinking of hiring a pro and having her clean things up and check the bias. I may buy a Creek EVO 100A and later sell the 5350se. It's such a great box in great shape.
Thanks for the reply, Jb. Good luck with installing that Alps. Getting the unit fully checked out and cleaned when you have it in sounds like a good idea.
"I may buy a Creek EVO 100A and later sell the 5350se. It's such a great box in great shape."

I'm not saying that's a bad idea, but I would take my time and not rush into it. The EVO 100A is very different from the 5350. Here's a list of things they changed.

-The 100a uses and active line stage instead of the passive like in the 5350. In my opinion, going passive is what made the 5350 so special. Its difficult and costly to build a good active line stage, so if you can't get a really good one for some reason, a passive is usually the way to go. Also, if you need an active LS for some reason, you can just get an upgrade card from Creek.

The 5350 was made in the UK, where as the 100A is made in Asia. (I forget which country.)

The 5350 keeps the amp and preamp sections completely separate. That's why there's jumpers on the back. It can be used as either an amp or preamp only. And because of the external jumpers, the signal doesn't run through both sections. The 100a doesn't have this feature.

The 5350 uses Mosfet's in the amp, and the 100A uses bipolar transistors. Its not better or worse, but different. Generally speaking, there's usually a large sonic difference between those 2 types of transistors.

I think that list covers all the major differences between the 2. If I were you, I would want to demo the new Creek first in my own system before buying it. If you don't have a local dealer, Give The Cable Company a call. They're a Creek dealer and should be able to send you one for demo.
Personal a really good bang for the buck is fixing or even upgrading parts for the creek since you already like it. Beyond that I would suggest LFD, Exposure, Naim. Older Exposure is a good deal. If you upgrade to the speakers you are talking about all theses choices will have a good chance of being a good match.