Best bargain integrated amp?

I'm in the market for a new integrated amp. I currently own a Cambridge Audio 640A, but am begining to notice its short commings. I'm looking for a more refined amp with more power. I listen to mostly rock, jazz, acoustic guitar stuff: Leo Kottke, Nick Drake etc. in that order.

I would like to go second hand and spend no more than $700.00, and I guess my question is will I notice a considerable improvement sound quality with a second hand amp of this price?

I'm interested in the Odyssey Audio Cyclops but have yet to find it used. What other units should I consider?

My system:
Speakers: Acoustic Energy Aelite 2
CDP: ShengYa CD-s10 (tube)
Interconnects: Kimber Kable Timbre
Speaker Cables: PS Audio X-Stream Plus

Thanks for the help.
Hi Catt3,

Could you say a bit more about what you do and don't like about your current amp? Is it lacking in bass (I found the Cambridge gear bright for my taste)?

In my experience, more money does buy a nicer integrated. Consider, for example, a used Arcam. But integrateds in your price range aren't powerful. The powerful integrateds are expensive. Surprisingly, I think you can do better for the money by shopping for separates. Kind of counter-intuitive. If you have the space, separates are the way to go.

Does your amp have pre-outs? Perhaps you can buy an amp now, and pre-amp later.


I'm using a Naim Nait 5i and think it's terrific. My source is a Naim CD5i and speeakers are Devore Fidelity Gibbon 8's. Makes me forget about hi-fi gear and listen to music - that's what it's all about. You can probably find one on here for $900 or so. Cheers!
I would suggest the Roksan Kandy III. The Roksan has features such as headphone out, phono section and two preamp outs, all of which are useful. They usually sell just under your price on the rare occasion they are offered used.
I've owned mine for about a year now and feel I'd need to spend between $1,000 to $1,500 or a used Krell, Classe or Plinius to significantly better my sound but I'm in no hurry. This is just one of many suggestions you'll recv.

While I'm satisfied with the Cambridge, the bass seems to be vague at times; sometimes it all sounds smeared together like I'm hearing one note. Although it is a tad bright this doesn't bother me as much as the bass.

Also, I had mentioned the Clycops because of its minimalist design. I don't own any vinyl, don't listen to the radio, and don't have a tapedeck or any tapes for that matter. My entire music collection is in CDs. Why pay for something I'm not going to use?

Are there any other "minimalist" integreated amps out their besides the Cyclops that I should consider?
FWIW, you might check out the Melody SP3 from av123. I believe it's in your price range, especially if you partner with someone who wants their little monitors in the package deal they have.

I haven't heard one, btw, but it looks well built. It is not quite minimalist in the sense that the 47 Labs chip amp integrated is, but it is minimalist in terms of features and so forth. And it's tubed.

Now, you want to rectify the bass, and perhaps you think tubes are not the best way to do that. I would expect your current speakers do not really have low bass, and would wonder if you aren't hearing a room problem. It's funny that an integrated would have one note bass. But just in case, the Melody is a heavy chunk of iron, and some of that would be fairly robust transformers for the money.

A Jungson JA-88C is another "minimalist" design. It only has three inputs and on the front there only is a volume knob and volume display. The unit compares favorably to integrateds in your price range and only costs $400. However, it looks like the Cyclops might be a little beefier in terms of power.

Also, I just read that the Cyclops goes for $895, so you could get it new for $200 more than what you were looking to spend. Maybe the extra money is worth it for a brand new unit?

Good luck on search,

Sold my Cambridge Audio integrated to buy the Melody/Onix SP3. is is just great - I really anjoy the difference.

It has lots of authority for a tube unit, but if bass slam is what you are after, you might need to stick with transistors or perhaps a hybrid unit like one of the Xindaks that has been appearing on eBay.
Portal Audio Panache designed by Nelson pass (?) or Musical Fidelity X-150.
Audio Aero Prima is a hybrid integrated. It contains 1 tube in the preamp section.
The SS amp portion puts out 40 watts. It has more than enough power and base for dynamic music such as rock.
It is quite a bit better than my Rotel seperates that preceded it.
There is a Mk I listed now for $680.
I own several amps and a standout at your price range would be the Audio Refinement Complete integrated amp. about 45 watts. I am surprised it has not been recommended up till now on this thread.
Check out Consonance I just bought an A120 Hybrid, great amp. There is a A120 SS for sale for $500 in the classifieds!
One of the most under-rated int-amps: Kavent/Vincent/Sheng Ya line of products. As a bonus, you also get defeatable tone controls
The cambridge is a good little amp. I used to have a Cambridge A500 5 years ago when I first got into hifi.

If you could spend a little more ($800) you can get a used Blue Circle CS. It's very musical and will sound awesome with you type of music. I love mine. It's a steal and a deal. Read some of the reviews on it. I think its worth saving for.

Happy listening,
Bought a NAD C352 recently (80 watts a side) to replace an 11 year old NAD 310 (20 watts a side)...spent under $500 new and huge bang for the buck..not much on looks but competes with much costlier pieces.
Okay, so I'm selling one, and take this for what it's worth...

But, the MD-208 receiver from Magnum Dynalab is one of the best buys for a medium priced system. You save money (and issues) on interconnects. You get a world-class tuner. And the amp is no slouch -- it's easily somewhere between the current Sim 5i and 3i. The sound is (yes) tube-like and feels very even and natural. I've seen it paired with $4k+ speakers (my situation, in fact) and it was a perfect match.

If I had to have just one medium-priced system, it would revolve around this piece. The fact is, I have two other very expensive, there you have it.
Marantz PM 7200.
Onkyo tx-lr552. It's a 6.1 digital discreet for only $200 on the web. Sounds smooth like an upscale piece.
I second the nomination for Naim Nait 5i. There are so many nice integrateds out these days, from budget to high-end, I doubt any one can claim to have compared them all. But I've sampled enough to say the Nait is very fine, punches above its weight, and stands up well to far more expensive kit.
I've had mine for about 6 months. It continues to please and even surprise. It offers such a good balance across the range of musical attributes that you tend to just enjoy without missing any 'ultimates' that may available higher up the food chain, so to speak.
The music comes through free of any tendency to harshness or undue brightness, with good pace, rhythm and a slight warmth or richness without loss of clarity.

Some limits on versatility though, in terms of adaptibility to headphones for example.

You may be able to stretch your budget just a little for a used one, or perhaps the previous model Nait 5 may serve.
You may get a brand new one from within your budget. One of the best integrated.
ASL AQ1001DT for about $1,500 will give you a tube integrated that has the lush qualities of tubes, but will also give you a lot of the positive attributes of solid state.

If you want solid state I agree with above Naim Nait 5i received great reviews in "the absolute sound". I beleive they compared it to the best integrateds no matter what price.
Densen Beat 100

For the money it's hard to beat ....
For the money your only talking about spending, i would highly recommend trying the Kavent integrated amplifier through Kellsie audio and video designs.. I think you might be quite impressed and may not look back..
Good Luck,
Chinese, Jungson JA88C for $400. Easily sell for $1200-1500 if it was from one of the better known American companies.

BW Maxx
no offense, but your cambridge is probably fine.....the speakers are not going to get better even if you spend alot more. remember, what you have is not the classic ae of yore, but the slap the logo on it generic variety. the cambridge, the creek, the nad are all modest in price but can handle much better speakers effectively
Consider a Rotel 1060-very well received and has phono too. A used Denon PMA 2000 gives lots of bang for the buck too.
I just sold my unico unison for $750.I cant immaging there is a better INT amp in that price range..