I recently purchased a Bryston b-6o mainly for jazz, electronic-ambient and some rock/folk after listening to other integrated amps: Naim Nait 3, Redgum, Audio Refinement, NAD, ROtel, Creek, Jolinda and others very briefly. The Bryston seemed better for video/cable movie sound too. While the Naim sounded better with some music, the Bryston was all around easier to live with for my sound needs. Good luck. It is really hard to compare amps because each dealer has a different line of equipment. Most of the integrated amps will be at least good. You will cannot make a bad decision.
Try to audition Electrocompaniet and Plinius.
The Sim I-5080, new this year, is a fine 80 wpc integrated at $1299.
There a number of good ones out there, especially if you shop competative prices. Believe it or not, the Krell 300i can be had new for very near your top price point and around $1500 if you will accept a 9/10. I also like the Roksan Caspian (msrp $1500)which I've seen as a barely used demom for $795. However, my best buy recommendation is the Classe` CAP 151. Msrp is $2k. I can tell you where to get a new-sealed-in-box unit with full warranty from a authorized dealer for $1496 delivered!
I purchased the Roksan Capsian mentioned by Shoff and it sounds great with Spendors. I auditioned and did not like the Audio Refinement.
I own the NEAR's as well and drive them with an Anthem Integrated 2 fed by a Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1 with very good results. My room is not very big 14 x 16. the NEAR's are wonderful and the hybrid Anthem is a nice unit.
I agree with Emily's recommendation of the Anthem. I love my Jolida, too. Gotta have tubes!
Electrocmpaniet! The only integrated better is Avatar(VAc)but 500 more (used).
Musical Fidelity A300, $1495 for dual mono 150w with remote control. Sam Tellig gave rave review in Stereophile couple months ago, MF really turning out great sound for maximum value........MF is for real, Nu-Vista amp is class A rated, very reliable can't go wrong with A300
Audio Refinement Complete sounded MUCH better to me than ACURUS, NAD, CREEK, and much more neutral than VAC Avatar (what a joke!). Simply the best integrated under $2k IMHO. DO NOT ASSUME THESE ALL SOUND THE SAME! All you need is an excellent, resolving speaker to differentiate them. The Complete is clearly the smoothest, with great pace and resolution. It's a little laid back, and a tiny bit soft on top, but can be had for $900 with remote discounted! Try one.
Subaru!...how much "MORE" is Audio Refinement...neutral than the AVATAR? And, you are able to tell us that? Right? You are full of $^(&! You never listen Avatar, otherwise you would never made such a statement. Also, Linn Majik beats any Int. amp in the 2k range HANDS DOWN!
I own the A3 MF integrated and feel it is the integrated equivalent of McCormack .
Eldragon...cut the flaming, huh? Compared to Audio Refinement Complete and ACURUS integrateds, which measured within 0.5dB of each other 20-20k, 1/3 octave sweeps, the AVATAR: flat to 100Hz, then dipped to -2.5dB at 250Hz, rising through unity at 1k, to +3dB peak at 4.5 k, then nothching down -10dB (!!) at 11k, then climbing back to +3dB at 20kHz! Can you guess what that sounded like?? These measurements were performed following sessions with several experienced listeners. We all noticed a leaned-out lower mid, lots of tube low-treble hardness, and a completely sucked out high treble with no "air", and decided to measure the freq resp to verify what we heard...and this was with an efficient, 5.7-9.5ohm benign speaker load, not some wildly reactive electrostatic. VAC admitted that El84 tubes color FR more than their other pricier designs' tube complements, but this result was ridiculous! So get your facts straight before you flame folks, pal: some tube amps can offer wildly colored tonal balances, and thus can hardly be considered neutral. The Audio Refinement has a surprisingly smooth, neutral balance that I found much more relaxed and musical than ACURUS, NAD, CREEK, and ROTEL, and should complement the thread-head's NEAR metal driver 50's quite well. And for UNDER a $G! You may prefer the Linn (probably that's why you bought it, eh?), and with your speakers/room/taste maybe it's a good match, but what we're tryin' to do here is help this guy out, right? So please lighten up, and enjoy the music!
I'd have to go in the lines of YBA, Plinius, Electrocompaniet. Although they are over $2K new, but can be have for less in bought used !
I have got to second or third the Electropaniet. Not a lot of power, but with the right speakers the EC-3 is great music.
the Accuphase E211 is a serious contender in the $2000 price range. The last time I checked, John Barnes at Audio Unlimited (303-691-3407) was asking $2100 for line input only and $2300 with the optional MM/MC phono stage. If you buy from him, tell him George sent you.
Good point Geomann. John is a great dealer, and he offers the Electropanient also. I have listen to both units as an AV integrated, and picked the Electropanient primarily because of size, less $, and it has balance input and out capability. It has worked out well.