Best Budget Integrated Hands down

I have sorted through over 1000 threads on this site trying to figure out what is the crème de la crème of budget integrated amps (under $1000.) I have come up with a pretty good list of amps that have great things to say about all of them. I have heard plenty of good stuff, are there any amps on this list that have big pitfalls? If any people have done comparisons on these or have a suggestion please let me know.
• Audio Analogue Puccini SE
• Plinius 8100
• Bryston B-60
• Unison Unico
• Blue Circle CS
• Classe CAP-100
• Musical Fidelity A300
• Audio Refinement Complete
Thanks for any help you can give me.

Eric Baer
Sorry, but they are all good. It really depends on your personal taste in sound and type of music. Also maybe what speakers, etc....

The only one on that list that I have personally demo'd is the Audio Refinement Complete. It basically is a baby YBA Integre.

I have demo'd the Blue Circle CS separates (pre and amp). I am personally a big Blue Circle fan..
The Blue Circle CS gets a lot of things right plus it's small. The BC gear is high quality.
I think the Creek products deserve consideration.
Please take no offense, but that's like asking did the chicken come before the egg. Listen to the ones you are interested in and make your own judgement. It really is that simple.
I'd add the Densen B-100 to that list. Unfortunately I think there's only one shop in New York that carries them in the US.

I've auditioned several in your price range. Ended up with the Plinius 8100. You can probably find a good deal now that the 9x00 line is out.

Might want to add the Simaudio i-3 to your list. It's about a thou used and is a solid product.

Are there any features you're particularly interested in? Phono, HT bypass, etc could make your decision easier.
I'm quite happy with my Bryston B60 integrated, however, if I were to "trade up", I would probably either consider the Creek 5350SE or the Plinius 8150...I think that it also depends on what speakers you plan on driving...I am using B&W CDM1nt's and am happy...who knows...after 2+ years of having the Bryston, I may find that I am accustomed to the sound and find that the conditioning will affect my preference and I may not like the "upgrade"

just my 2c

quality comes in price brackets...within each price bracket you trade off pros/cons but dont expect to find something under 1000$ that will beat something for 2000$
(used pricing at least...some companies will put any-ol number up there for retail/list price!)
I have listened to the Bryston, the Audio Analogue, and the Audio Refinement Complete in my system at one time or another. All are decent enough amps. The Plinius and Classe are very good but kinda in opposite directions.
Of the 3 above I have actually lived with, I will go with the other one I used, the Creek 5350se. It just sounds more refined. The only caveat is it comes with a passive preamp with increased gain in the power amp section. Source components need to be matched somewhat for voltage compatibility. Unless it is a really low voltage source, everything is fine. You can also purchase a gain board for the amp that allows for about 7db more gain but I think it detracts from the pristine sound and imparts a little coloration. The Creek was a Stereophile "Class A" component, a status it deserves IMO.
Going to have to do your homework. All are pretty good little amps.
Certain amps are better for certain speakers than others. They have an almost symbiotic relationship. I'm unfamiliar with the sound of some of those units, I must admit, but if you could tell us what speakers you were considering--or, already have--perhaps more qualified individuals could give you more specific recommendations. They might be able to tell you what is best "hands down"--for you.
Thank you guys for the help. The system as of now that will go with one of these amps is a room about 25x30 and includes
GMA Europa Speakers (89db sensitivity)
Analysis Plus Cables and ic's
with a phillips 963sa cd/dvdp
The weak link for redbook cd's is the phillips but i have a Njoe Tjoeb 4000 in the other room. I really need to just figure out what amp to use.
I'm looking at similar integrated amps. I have GMA Europa speakers, Audio Magic speaker cables, a modified Sony SACD player, and Audio Dynamic Cryo 3 interconnects.

I'm following this thread. Suggestions appreciated. I'm also considering the Jolida 1501 HD, and possibly the Dynaco SCH(?) 35 for an inexpensive amp. I'm currently using an old NAD 7400 series receiver.
I've owned the Bryston B-60R and a Plinius 8200 mkI as well as Arcam Alpha 9 and Alpha 10, Anthem Integrated 1 and Integrated 2. Currently I'm using a Cayin TA-30 tube integrated. If you can get away with 35 watt/channel of tube amplification, the Cayin is really good.

I don't know that it is "better" than the others that I owned in the past, but I do know that I'm enjoying it more. It is "really good" and can be bought for as little as $499 brand new.

Personnally, I don't understand the overly-enthusiastic reviews given to the Bryston B-60. I also wasn't thrilled with the Arcam Alpha 9 or the Anthem Integrated 1. I did enjoy my time with the Plinius 8200, I liked the Anthem Integrated 2 and I thought the Arcam Alpha 10 was great for the price I paid.

But my $499 Cayin TA-30 really makes me smile!!!!

Disclaimer: My System, My Room, My Ears....YMMV!!!!!!


For those who are interested, I have narowed my selection down to five integrateds. Each one has amazing reviews and many recomendations from audiogon and audio reviewers alike. Each one has the MSRP next to it but mind you these are (some of them) older models and the used prices will be much more modest. My budget is $1000 max so if anybody has any ideas let me know.
• Audio Analogue Puccini SE ($1150)
• Plinius 8100 ($2000)
• Unison Unico ($1400)
• Creek 5350se ($1500)
• Musical Fidelity A300 ($1700)

Eric Baer
I'm surprised you don't have the Jolida integrated hybrid tube pre/solid state amp on your list. I've seen a lot of great write ups and people who own them generally give them great reviews.
What about the Portal Panache? Looks like a killer value to me, and it was designed by a real industry heavyweight. They won't say who, but you can guess.
Audio Aero Prima mkI. Check out the website for info and sales.

Why did you take the Blue Circle CS off your revised list?
I own both 5350SE and A300. Both are fine for the money, which was all I cared to spend at the moment.

Several of your choices are available used on Agon:

Audio Analogue:

Creek 5350SE:

MF A300:

MF A3.2 (A300's replacement I believe):

Last one sounds like a deal.

As the Nike commercial said - Just do it.
We are down to four amps now in our final stages of elimination. Every amp on this list is a viable contender.
• Audio Analogue Puccini SE ($1150)
• Plinius 8100 ($2000)
• Unison Unico ($1700)
• Blue Circle Audio ($1150)
I am in an audio wasteland (Memphis TN it is far from the music mecca you may think) and will not be able to audition any one of these. Recomendations are all Ive got to go on. throw them out

Eric Baer

I have heard each of these and currently have the Plinius 8200 mkII in my system. I'm not sure that the 8100 is up to snuff, so to speak. The 8200 used can be had for your price and I would strongly suggest considering it. Much tighter bass than earlier versions. And much better, up and down, than the Puccini.

Someone above metioned the Cayin TA-30 tube amp. If you're open to considering tubes, I'd put it on your list.... although it seems too late now! But, I did hear the Cayin yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Audio Society. It blew away the modded McCormick DNA-1 amp + McCormick TCL-1 pre.

For more on the Cayin, check out Paul Grzybek's web site:
I know this response is late, but for anyone scouring the archives...BUY AN AUDIO AERO PRIMA HYBRID AMP!!!!!!!!!
This thing absolutely blows away the Unico, and the Classic One, and virtually every other amp I've heard. No kidding. The separation of instruments is incredible, the balance and clarity virtually unsurpassed. You must hear this amp! It plays jazz as well as heavy rock, and sends bass through my Soliloquy 6.2's like you cannot believe. An amazing product, and about $1300 on the used market!