best budget integrated amp for rock n roll music?

--creek 4330
--cambridge audio a500
--audio analogue puccini
--audio refinement complete
--rega mira
i have B&W 302 speakers (small bookshelf type) and play cd's mostly. usually rock -- Dylan to Mission of Burma/Husker Du/Aerosmith -- some jazz and classical. opinions? other suggestions? thanks, ken
NAD C-370, or c-350 rated 120 wpc/60 wpc conservativly i have the 120 wpc c370 and i love it. Highly rECCOMEND, also try the Musical Fidelity X-a2 at audioadvisor in the clearacnce
I tried the creek & it went into thermal shutdown. I wound up with a MF XA-1. It plays plenty loud for the bookshelf system it's in. I even moved it into the main system to have a listen & it was respectable. Check out AA like Haoleb mentioned. X-A1 around $450, X-A2 around $600.Good luck!
easy- the rega mira
it just jams and connects with rhythmic movement, dynamics and pace.

the creek is a bit underpowered tho I quite like the amp
the puccini is lacking in dynamics and punch-a snooze
the complete is a very good all rounder but not as pacey or rhythmic
the MFxa1 is static and voiced more for tonal stuff(never heard the xa2)
haven't heard the cambridge long enuf nor in a familiar context to say.sounded fine from what i heard
My vote would go to the Creek assuming that you do not expect to rock the house down. I owned a 4240s2, the integrated before they came out with the 4330, that was used with a pair of Spica TC 50 speakers. I listen to quite a bit of acoustic and electric rock and found the combination to be very satisfying. It did not, however, blow you away by its ability to play loud. Within its limited range the Creek, IMHO, is the most musical integrated amplifier of the bunch.
Good Luck.
The Bryston B60 is a fine unit with a nice live feel and sells used for about $1,000 -- plus it has a 20 year transferrable warranty. I'd be careful about overextending it but it should work very well in mid-sized spaces with reasonably efficient speakers (probably true for most of the units mentioned). I've not heard them with B&W's though. Cheers.
Drop the Puccini (including SE version) from your list, it doesn't do a good job with rock. I compared the dual transformer(SE) version against an AR Complete, and found the Puccini's low end response to be loose and slightly blurred. The Complete, though, rocks with authority and conveys a mnusicality that simply draws you into the music. It is extremely well amde, has a great remote, and at $600-650 used is steal.

BTW, the Complete is something that you can continually upgrade the rest of your system around. I had the B&W 601 & 602 series2 speakers in my system for a while, and the Complete drove them with authority. Great bass, luscious mid's, and helped sweeten their occasionally shrill tweeters.

To put it in perspective, I am about to make the jump to a $10k+ system(new, actually $4.5k used) and the Complete is staying in my house. I'm just moving it to my office or bedroom.
Find a used Luxman LV-103u 200/300 on Ebay.Its killer for the price.
Also has a great Phono stage
The Luxman guy has it right. The LV-103u or even its big brother the LV-105u has massive amounts of reserve in the caps. Solid iron also. These units will crush the above listed and not even miss a step. Don't shy away from the tube front end. It is quick and stable. Good luck.
No question in my mind. The Cambridge audio integrated is good enough to run $15000.00 speakers within its 65 watt rating. I can live with this item happily if nothing else existed. And I really mean it.............Frank
I used Manley Singray (used around $1400) with my Roger LS3/5A and on rock in a medium size room I had plenty of power. The designer of this unit Eva Marie Manley does like rock n roll.
LFD MISTRAL SE ($1,495)...I have heard 'em all and the Mistral is by far the BEST integrated available for under $5,000.
Dear FS Audio,
Please read the thread in Misc Audio titled "A question concerning ethics".Unchecked commercialism at this forum is a serious concern to most of AG's community.
I've heard the Mistral and think it to be a fine product, however your post can only be read as self serving commercialism.If you have some actual helpful advice based on your experience ,please share it. However when you stand to gain monetarily from outlandish, ridiculous tripe as your unrealistic claim for the LFD, you do this site, the product, the companies that supply you and yourself serious damage to credibilty, usefulness and reputation.
Thank you.

Ken Lyon
A couple of used suggestions :

1. Mission/Cyrus 2 with optional PSX power supply. I had one of these in England and it was extraordinarily powerful with real driving bass. Detail is not sacrificed, though. Cyrus 3 with PSX is equally good but more $$$$$

2. Audiolab 8000A or 8000S : also powerful, but with less pronounced bass than the Cyrus amps. Maybe slightly more refined.

Both are well built and will last at least 15-20 years (my Cyrus2 is now 15 yrs old and going strong). Hope this is helpful.
I have heard the ARC Complete with your speakers in a dealer showroom and it was a synergistic match. If you can't do a home audition, this may be a safer option.
I also have recently purchased the ARC Complete and like it.
However, if you are on a budget and you can arrange a home trial, I would suggest trying an NAD integ amp.
I have an old NAD receiver, and while the ARC is definitely better, if I carefully adjust the tone controls on the NAD I can come closer in sound than the price difference may indicate.
Mr. Lyon,

Ok...Here we go ;-(

First, could you please explain to me why it is ok for you to promote your Neuance Isolation products in these forums, but not ok for me to do the same for a product I represent? Just as you feel that your product is the best around, I feel the same about the products I represent (see below for a more in depth discussion of this). On a side note, my dad and I auditioned your platforms at CES2001 and were VERY impressed, as they easily bested other similar products that we auditioned.

Second, I should have qualified myself as a dealer for said product, it was not intentional as I assumed that folks reading would be able to click on my user name and realize I was a commercial user. I apologize and will directly state my dealership status in the future.

Third, the Creek was right up there with the Mistral as far as sound quality is concerned, but we couldn't pick up both lines and in the end the Mistral had more appealing cosmetics to us. So there, I said something good about a product I don't sell ;-)

Ok, those things being said...Rant mode on:

A quote from the thread you mentioned from the Audiogon staff, "In summary, Audiogon DOES require users with financial interests in audio to register as a "Commercial User", and this status is displayed when a forum participant's Username is clicked. However, it is worth keeping in mind that Audiogon is indeed a marketplace, and that EVERY user's advice could be suspect. While we do try to "label" some users as commercial in nature, let us not forget that virtually everyone here will spend money or collect money for audio products - sooner, or later, or earlier"

Father & Son Audio is registered as a commercial user and of course we have something to gain if someone were to purchase an LFD Mistral integrated. However, this is the issue that you are missing...You CANNOT make the assumption that just because a dealer of a given product is touting it that they are evil and cannot be trusted. Did you ever contemplate the fact that the dealer may be stating an opinion that he/she truly believes in?

My claim concerning the LFD Mistral, which was judged inaccurate because of my dealer status in your infinite audio wisdom, is just an OPINION. How is your statement that my OPINION was "outlandish, ridiculous tripe as your unrealistic claim" any different than my claim concerning the LFD Mistral.

Furthermore, what is your basis for stating that my claims are "unrealistic" when we are in fact dealing with a purely SUBJECTIVE topic? IMHO it is the best integrated under $5,000. But that is my OPINION, if you don't agree, then that is fine. The statement is simply an OPINION, nothing more, nothing less. The poster asked for OPINIONS and that is what I gave. Just because I am a dealer for said product, it does not mean that Kbinner has to purchase that specific piece. If he is like most of us, he will obtain a short list, listen to all of them, and purchase the one he likes the most, in his OPINION.

Your concerns are valid, but cannot be applied in such a blanket fashion to all dealers. Yes, some dealers pick up certain lines not because they sound the best to the dealer and hence may not be the best for the customer, but instead because said product has the highest markup. Every product that we sell is in our humble OPINION (i.e., SUBJECTIVE) the best in it's class. I am trying not to turn this into an advertisement, but I feel like my integrity was directly attacked in your post.

...Rant mode off.

I apologize if this seems like rambling and somewhat emotional (it is), but I feel I had to defend my business and myself.

If you wish to discuss this further, please send me an email, as I don't want to clog up this thread with any off-topic discussion.

Thanks for reading and best regards.

...Mike - Father & Son Audio
ummm...mistral=best integrated under $5k?!

granted you have registered as a "commercial user" (and i applaud you for that small concession), but how many of us bother to check each and every user status for all of those who post in the forums? i know i don't unless something like this is brought to my attention..then again, i don't buy jack based on someone else's opinon. howevwer,the sad fact is that there ARE people who are easily swayed by what they read on-line.

your mistral flag waving hardly seems like an objective endorsement to me. if there's one thing i've learned though my own audition of various components, it's that you (usually) get what you pay for. there are bargains out there but i HIGHLY doubt a $1500 integrated is gonna stack up to many $5k pieces, much less ALL $5k pieces. not to mention that for that $5k, one could find some very good separates that would easily outperform most integrateds.

try to keep your self-serving pep rallies to a dull roar. ugh.
Dear FS,
I likewise am wholey impressed with the LFD Mistral integrated as well as the rest of their range.I find them easily to be amoungst the most musically adept electronics in their respective price ranges. They are possessing of rhythmic, dynamic and expressive qualities rarely found in components of their genre or pricepoints.As much as I appreciate the little Creeks, the Mistral to my tastes,which favors timing and emotional connection, is easily the more accomplished performer.In my opinion, the LFD is one of the best kept "secrets" in the current audio market.
Anyways,what I most objected to was the absence of qualification and expansion of your statement.Had you just added the reasons for your opinion, the recommendation would be of sharing your experiences with an excellent candidate for consideration rather than commercialism.
As industry members,I feel we have an extra responsibilty in the manner in which we conduct ourselves here.I apologise that my own behavior could have been better handled as,in retrospect,my response was unnecessarily strident.
btw- if you search the archives here and at the other fora where I entertain myself(AA vinyl,in particular), you'll find that I regularly recommend the products of my competition specifically to avoid mention of my own.

You just don't get it do you. IMHO, the Mistral is the best. This is only my OPINION. Absolutely NOTHING in this industry is OBJECTIVE (except for actual electrical measurements, which themselves can sometimes be suspect). If you disagree, then that is fine. I must ask you this: Have you heard the Mistral and if so, what other integrated pieces did you compare it to? If you have not heard it, then you have ZERO basis for your statement, "i HIGHLY doubt a $1500 integrated is gonna stack up to many $5k pieces". Also, the poster was asking about integrated amps only, NOT separates. So your statement that "one could find some very good separates that would easily outperform most integrateds" may be true, but has no relevance in this thread.

Look, all I was doing was bringing up an integrated that had yet to be mentioned that the poster should consider. That is it. You want others that I like, fine: Creek, Plinius, Rowland, and Chord. But in the price range the poster was asking about, the Mistral is the one I recommend.

Also, I take great exception to your statement, "the sad fact is that there ARE people who are easily swayed by what they read on-line". You insult the general "audiophile" population (me included) when you make statements like that. EVERY customer I have EVER dealt with has been very careful when throwing around the kind of money that this hobby can sometimes require. They listen, contemplate, listen again, take a break from auditioning for an extended period of time, listen to competing products I recommend, listen to those I represent again, ad infinitum, then they make a decision. Why do you think there is so much traffic to audio forums like this and Audioasylum? Because these "easily swayed" people as you call them are in the middle of extensive research concerning the products they are interested in.

Finally, LIGHTEN UP. As important as listening to great music on great equipment is to us, there are MUCH more important things in this life.

...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Thanks for the reply. You are correct when you state that I should have qualified my statement. Actually, right after I posted my original message, I re-read it and thought to myself, "Uh-oh, this might be taken the wrong way." Sure enough, it was.

As you stated, we as industry members do have additional responsibility concerning our conduct. It is critical that we behave in a most ethical and professional manor. To not do so hurts everyone in our profession. I most sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone or if any of my statements seemed unethical, as it was most certainly not intended.

...Mike - Father & Son Audio
All the comments are worth noting. I had the Audio Refinement Complete for about 1 year, and it was a marvelous unit sonically and functionally. I sold it and bought the Mcintosh MA 6450 integrated amp...WOW!! The Mac has phenomenal sound, build quality, and function. I wanted the exotic, imported, audiophile brands, and the best unit was right here in the good ol' U.S.A. Go listen to, and operate a Mcintosh. Worth every dollar, and then some.

Best Regards,
I could add the Densen Beat series... have also liked the "rocking" abilities of the rega, cyrus, & mfd -- but pls note, I have never listened to any of these machines with your speakers!

Finally, a (very) long shot: a used model "RG9" made by Symphonic Line. I has great sound & excellent rocking abilities -- and it's pricey, new.
Hence the long shot!
The Mistral is a bad little man. A couple years ago I heard it with a CD12 driving a pair of $4500 Ruark 3-ways, and, man, great tone, very potent, and smooth. They never told me the price of it, but I would of died if they said, "$995". I bought the pre a few months ago, used, based on on that audition. Great products. Good to see Mistral getting some lip service.
I love the Puccini but it's strength is not speed and bass kick, so not for the rock and roll lover. For more natural sounding music (classical, jazz, voice), it's hard to beat.
FS Audio's comments on the Mistral are consistent with my own experience. I've tried many inexpensive integrateds (NAD, Denon..) and also Magnum Dynalab 208 (Stereophile Class A) and that one from Italy (Audio Analogue I think). These ranged from good to extremely good but the Mistral is the first solid state amp I've ever heard that has the presence and palpability of tube gear, and without rolling off high end at all. It softens the bass just a little. I have had this unit for a couple of weeks and I'm still in shock over how good it is. It is VERY present and lifelike. The only hint of a flaw I can discern so far is a slight emphasis on lower treble and that slight softening of bass. My tube monoblocks do have a bit more weight and slightly more relaxed, but the Mistral is fantastic, a real keeper. The sound is so liquid and beguiling I can't believe it's solid state. BTW, I have the LE version of the Mistral.

I feel that FS Audio is also correct in stating that they should have been clear about being a Mistral dealer when they made their original comments. Any dealer commenting on a product that they sell should mention that in the comment, period. I'm glad to see they realize that.

I have never heard the Mistral so I cannot compare. I did just finish a very long shopping period (7 months) for an integrated and listened both in home and at dealers with my own cables. It may be beyond your price range (as it was for me) but the YBA Integre DT IMO sounds fantastic with all sorts of music. I listen to Jazz, classical, rock, Drum'n bass and some wierd progressive stuff that not alot of people seem to like....

I wound up getting a great deal (though still over my initial budget) and for the moment feel that I could live with this amp for a very long time. I must mention though that my speakers are very easy to drive: +/- 90db and the combination with the YBA Integre DT fills my place with dynamic sound at about 10:30 on the dial. Bass without a subwoofer is tight and extremely musical, with a sub you get added impact. Let it warm up when auditioning as I notice that it gets richer the longer it plays.

New, the Integre DT can be pricey, but you might find a used one for a good price.

The other "budget" amp that I heard which sounded great on rock during my shopping spree was the NAD C370. A great rock and roll amp with plenty of power, lots of punch and pretty good detail too. It's only when I compared it to models like the YBA that I realized just how much more information and subtle detail and tonal shifts the higher priced amp could deliver.

I'm not a dealer, just a music lover and part time musicien.

Just another suggestion to confuse you even further, if you do as much research as I did, you'll eventualy get something that will sound great no matter which brand you choose.

Good Luck
I will add another vote for the Mistral. If you have not heard it, you owe it to yourself to audition one.

Currently I am using an Onkyo DVD as a transport, Chord DAC 64, the Mistral SE, and Talon Audio Khites in my "music only" system. I also have plugged it into my home theatre (stero mode only of course) and driven a pair of Def Tech BP 30's without any problems. Last night, I was listening to Glen Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations, through the Khites, and the piano was right there in my room. I could hear the decay of the strings!

I have found only one fault with the Mistral, no remote.
I forgot to mention in the previous post, most of my listening is to Eric Clapton, SRV, Mike Bloomfield, Carlos Santana, etc., and the Mistral rocks!
Don't forget Exposure Integrated amps. They might be a little harder to find but well worth the effort. Very well built and designed for reliability. They do well with all types of music. I use a model XV which has a phono stage. A line stage only version is a model XX. I believe there is a model XXV Super on audiogon now for $600, it also has a remote control.