Best Integrated Amp

I've been on a quest for a long time for the best sounding integrated amp. I've tried everything in my home, The Krell KAV300i, the KAV500i, the Mark Levinson 383, the Musical Fidelity Nuvista integrated amp, The Audio Research CA50, the VTL IT-85 and countless others and I think I finally found just the right one; The Goldmund Mimesis SRI2. This integrated is rated at 125 watts into 8 and 200 watts in 4 with 25 amps of current available. When I was comparing this to the Levinson 383, it blew it out of the water, it was much smoother, MUCH MORE DETAILED and just plan more life sounding, I don't feel that the 383 sounds flat, I think they raised the midbass level to try to make the amp more exciting, however after time its just tiresome to listen to. Another amazing thing is that the Goldmund wasn't any weaker in power then the 383 and it cost considerably less at only $3750. I think I've finally find something I'm going to stick with a while. All the other integrated amps out there had flaws, the Krell KAV500i while more powerful, was dull and lacked soundstaging depth or width, the Audio Research CA50, while a wonderful sounding piece just lacked power with its 45 tube watts and the VTL, just wasn't that good. I honestly think that the Goldmund SRI2 is the best sounding piece of gear I've heard in a long time. If you get the chance you should listen to it for yourself. I was just wondering if anyone had any other ideas about what they thought was the best integrated out there. (BTW this integrated out performed a Levinson 334 and 360s and a Conrad-Johnson Premier 17LS with a Classe CAM350 that I heard last week)
Try the Rogue Tempest.dont let the price fool you.Rich Rodgers of Bound For Sound said about Rogue in the last issue of BFS # 132."Let's just say that for people who dont have to buy audio equipment simply for ego embellishing purposes,the purchase of a Rogue is a final purchase."I fully agree.
Try a Pathos Twin Tower....I also like the Goldmund....for the money the Job stereo amp with single input and volume control is amazing.
Have you auditioned the Rowland Concentra or Accupahse E-407? I have heard excellent comments regarding both from others on this site.
Hi Bigcigarman, A good friend of mine is an audio dealer that has Goldmund and also Gryphon. The Gryphon integrated IMO was better than the Goldmund integrated and not by a small margin. I have had both in my system and neither one performed as well as the Pathos twin towers. I think Mgs advice is worth checking out. Good luck.
Bigcigarman, I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding the VTL. I listened to it, and was not impressed. As you said, it just wasn't that good. I fail to see where all the hoopla comes from for this amp. Chip Stern's review in Stereophile was an abomination. The fact is that he reviews a lot of integrateds, each one seems to end up as the best he has ever heard. I wonder how he forms his opinions. As horrible and amatuerish as Michael Fremer is, he does seem more often correct than Chip Stern. I do have to praise Stern's writing style however. As far as a tube amp goes, have you listened to anything from Jadis? Their Orchestra Reference, DA-30, and DA-60 are all wonderful. As good as I have come across. Don't be misled by the extremely conservative Jadis power specs; they measure far more powerfully than they advertise. The DA-60's 8 Ei KT90 output tubes should address the power requirements of all but the most insensitive loudspeakers. On the solid state side, Jeff Rowland makes some very nice sounding equipment. I would not be surprised if the Concentra was an all star integrated.
Have you tried the YBA Integre DT ?? Stereophile class A
Bigcigarman, thanks for a very informative post. Can you tell us a bit more about the associated hardware? I am particularly interested in the speakers you used with the 383 and the Goldmund?
How about the Sim Audio Moon I-5.
The associated hardware I used with the Levinson 383 and Goldmund were B&W Nautilus 803s, Thiel 2.3, Martin Logan Prodigy's which I have right now and the Maggie 3.6R and I've gotten a chance to hear Levinson with all of them and it just doesn't sound that good. Its not even an issue of money, I mean their built well, but I think the Krell is even more beautiful if all you care about is heft and looks, but even if the Goldmund was the same price as the 383, I still would'nt buy the 383. The problem I think is that many people with who are decently well off start with the 383 and don't get much chance to hear much else, because I mean it is a Levinson! For the rest of my system I've had the Accuphase DP-55 and Accuphase DP75V, Accuphase surely makes good digital. I've tried numerous cables from Kimber to Monster Cable Sigma to MIT to Transparent. Despite what other people say, the new MIT stuff is good. It isn't a crossover but a "phaseover" and puts the signal back in phase, MIT sounds very impressive with Martin Logan, however with the Thiels which are already phase correct, it wasn't the best combination. Kimber stuff is also pretty good especially the 8TC which works nicely with Goldmund, because Goldmund is ever toward the side of musical (AKA warm) Hope this helps.
I agree with Trelja in that the Jadis integrateds are the best sounding ones I have heard, although I have not heard the Goldmund, Gryphon or Pathos units. Given your speakers and their power requirements, though, they may not give you quite the power and control of the solid state units, even though they do, as Trelja points out, sound considerably more powerful than their ratings. I am surprised that the Goldmunds did so well with the Maggies, as I've always felt those speakers required a lot of power and current; I guess that says a lot about how well made the Goldmund is.
Seems everyone has decided to ignore the Plinius 8150/8200. I still think this is one of the best sounding and best values in an integrated. Next, everyone ALWAYS ignores the Densen integrateds. Smooth sounding and quite unique design. The Mesa Tigris, while only 35wpc in triode sounds much bigger and is a fun piece because of it's flexiblity. I own a Copland CTA-402 and believe it is the sleeper of the bunch! I would only replace it with the VAC Avatar because like the Copland, has the phono or go back to separates.
I agree the Plinius is one of the BEST integrates, I own the 8200 that I am planning to sell because I am upgrading. It is nevertheless very dynamic, detail and just a bit warm. Perfect for my taste.

I too usually look for integrated amps because I think there are some great units out there and the one box saves space. I haven't heard all of the units that you have but I really enjoyed the Musical Fidelity NuVista integrated. With its power supply, it's a two box unit so the space savings is out. What did you think of the NuVista. I reread Fremer's review of the original NuVista amp and then his review of the integrated and I read the reviews by others of the integrated. I think they were all pretty much in agreement about its sonic character, basically smooth, powerful, detailed, and musical. What did you think?
Has anybody listened to the new Krell 300il? It supposed to be a complete overhaul of the 300i integrated. I've listened to the 300i and love the dynamics but did not like the midrange. I can not find any info on the 300il but Krell says it is their best integrated ever and the midrange is much improved over the 300i. I would like to find an integrated with the dynamics of the krell but with a smooth tube-like midrange.
I like the Rowland Concentra. My other equipment includes the Meridian 508.20 CD Player and ProAc 2.5 speakers.
Yyoon- I have the Sim I-5 and love it. Very tough to beat at its price (2650). I have heard alot of good things about the Plinius, but didnt get a chance to audition it before I bought the Sim (was offered a very good deal on the I-5 new, and bought it).
The Musical Fidelity that I got the day when it came out was very good, however I don't think that at $4500 it was better then the Goldmund, it had slightly more current, but with the Goldmund and my Prodigy's I was still able to put out 113db in my room with a reference count basie jazz recording, so I don't think I need the extra juice. The M3 was overall okay, but still slightly ruff and grainy subtly, but not as smooth as the Goldmund. As far as the Krell 300IL, my local dealer has gotten it in, and I got a chance to hear it for 15 min, much better then the old KAV300i, but that doesn't say much. There are still much better stuff out there. Although I think it sounded more natural then the KAV500i close to the Levinson 383, but Goldmund is still the king of integrateds for me!
Mr. Bigcig, does that Goldmund have remote Volume control? Great info on your posts, has somebody found themselves another reviewer? :~} I'm currently (no pun ...) slogging along with VAC Avatar SE, ok with high efficiency horns. Actually as I upgrade cables I am getting happier with it. Jim
hi, I am relatively new to this level of equipment and am trying to make sense of all this. I have worked my way up,(without having a plan of course) and have BW Nautilus 804's, and BW602s w/ HK500 receiver. I have learned that I can use that HK as a pre-amp and get a good amp to do justice to my 804 speakers. I have no idea what the cost of these amps you guys are talking about, and would like info in that area. I may scrap the HT-pre-amp idea and just get good separates, but need to know at what entry level cost were talking.
JKINGTUT: The Goldmund does a have a remote volume control. Very simple metal cased remote. With just mute, volume, and a mode that you can set a reference volume, which you can return to with one switch. I've heard some VAC stuff, pretty good for the money actually, just a different sound from the highspeed ultra wide bandwidth solidstate such as the Goldmund or Spectral. JOEB: These amps we're talking about range from $2500-7000, I used to own Nautilus 804s, they are decent speakers, just be careful of what you pair them with. If I were you I would get an integrated amp and plug the cd into the integrated so when you listened to music you would do so without the receiver being in the path. And I would connect the preamp out from the received to the tape in on the integrated in, so you could do music and HT without unplugging any cables. Just set the integrated amp to a reference level and then adjust the volume with the receiver so that all the levels are balanced.
Thanks for the reply, I hope to hear alot more solid state stuff in NY in May at the Hilton, everybody I know in this is all tube all the time so I have had no exposure but I do have an open mind although my preference is definitely for horns which seem to like tubes. But I enjoyed reading your posts enough to check this amp out, so good luck, and one final question, did your comparisons include analog and digital source material?
Just auditioned Sim Moon I-5 and the Plinius 8200 today and while both were good, there wasn't really any comparison. The Sim Moon I-5 wins hands down. It just has an incredible sound. Paired it with Gershman Acoustic Avante Garde and it was an amazing combo. Hard to beat in that price range,IMO.
for a period I had a VPI Aries with the JMW memorial arm and grado reference needle. I used a CJ Premier 15 phono section for my comparsion. But I don't have a large vinyl collection, but it sounded very smooth, a little on the tubey sound, the sound the goldmund made with vinyl, very nice.
Seems like there is enough confusion now for you. One thing I suggest, finding the amps you are considering and take them home listen for yourself with you existing system. I don't think there is a best amp out out there. You need to find one that you like and afford.
I am with you. The best soud I had heard came from Goldmund electronics. The 39 is a real marvel (be careful with the price). try it !
If you have the scratch, the Rowland Concentra is an outstanding piece of gear. I set up my wifes' boss with a concentra, Dynaudios and a Meridian front end. Very very nice.