Parasound is a little bright for my taste, except the new halo series, which I think is incredible. I usually recommend the audio refinement complete in your price range. It is exactly as you describe, a warm transistor sound. However, I'm a little hesitant, not knowing what speakers you are driving. It would be worth a listen and falls at the lower end of your price range.
although only 50 Watts, the Audio Refinement Complete is a great integrated in your price range. It pushes my 89 Db speakers with ease and sounds wonderful to me and many others. it is a worthy consideration.
good luck, Paul
Thanks for the advice! You are right on with part of the Audio Refinement recommendation. I heard some Audio Refinement separates while auditioning speakers. Imaging, soundstaging and warmth were some of the best I have heard. The sound was just incredible, except for the bass. The lower end lacked substance/slam which is very important to me. Hooking up my MD-308 to the same speakers made a huge difference in the slam and control in the lower registers
Has anyone heard the Jolida JD-1501RC? This looks interesting.
I have not liked the sound of any NAD equipment. Some Rotel has sounded good, but I don't know about their latest offerings. My favorite (lets face it, it's a dream on my budget) amp that I have heard lately is the Macintosh MA-6900.
A great way to get a remote preamp would be an "obsolete" Harman Kardon receiver - like a pro logic model. These - AVR20 - AVR80 - have preouts, and are very neutral stereo preamps, with many inputs. Just ignore the prologic aspect of it. They sell for between $100 - $200. The larger HK units - AVR70 and 80 - would have the minimum wattage you need - 70 wpc. This may be the unexpected all in one answer.
But, if you feel the need for another amp, a guarantted mellow sounding unit comes from the DENON POA series of the mid 80's. I highly recommend the POA1500 - 150 wpc - usually on EBAY for $200 - 300 range. That amp in combo with an HK preamp will give detailed, yet slightly warm music.
Don't miss the Roksan Caspian. More power than its 70 watts imply, and terrific sonics, more American cojones than British PRAT, to my ears. The piece worked great with a variety of gear, small, effective remote, standby function, low profile and understated even elegant apprearance. Their is also an Anthem 2 int. up for sale here, 90/145W, headphone jack [tube-derived?], remote, tubes and SF build quality. Good luck, Trip
Creek passive preamp used with Nikko Alpha 400 amplifier also used on ebay.
Not bright and killer for the budget...
The new Rotel RA 1072 is supposed to be a great piece for the money. A great option used is the Primare A20MKI or i20 as it is now called.
BTW: If the Bryston B60 sounded harsh I'd look at what else was in the system as it is a very refined sounding amp in the highs.
The AR Complete isn't as tight sounding in the bass as the Primare or Bryston. The Roksan Caspian has about the best bass I have heard in an integrated at the price but it is not as transparent as the Primare or Bryston. Maybe the new Caspian M1 is.
Mcfavre4, I believe the model number from Rotel is the RA-1062. The now famous cd player is the RCD-1072. Or, do I have it confused?
Tripper and/or Mcfavre4:
How does the Roksan Kandy compare to the Roksan Caspian?
Thank you for the correction, you are right it's the 1062, sorry. I am expecting a 1072 cd player tomorrow to play with as my potential replacement player. My confusion.
I haven't heard the Roksan Kandy but the British hi fi mags just did a test with several decent integrateds including the Kandy and the Rotel 1062 won hands down. This was when tested amongst several listeners. I'd try to give it a shot. I bought the Rotel RA01 for my Dad to replace his Denon 3302. It is superb.
I have a Jolida 1501A hybrid integrated which sounds amazing. I bought it new through Galen at gcaudio.com for a good price, I think it was around $600 or less. He may have even offered a two week "demo".
Definetly worth an audition.
I would recommend to take a look at the Jolida 302B all tube amp (I know you wanted solid state, just could not resist). My first tube integrated and I am very impressed. Extremly quiet, not quite a solid state bass but more dynamic and better timeing than my Linns. Looks like I have to sell $2600 worth of Linn solid state equipment now. The 50 W on the Jolida tube amp feel like more power than the 85 W from the Linn LK85.
Key--I believe the Kandy gear is of lesser construction, i.e. parts refinement, simpler power supplies, and lighter chassis. Still fine values but they offer two lines for a reason. At least they don't make 17 levels of cables! The Kandy CD for $295 should be a fine value if that interests you, and a good match, natch. Good luck in your search.
Used Mccormack Dna-1 or Dna.5