You cannot go wrong with either of the two units that you mention. If you are willing to buy used you also might consider a VAC Phi Beta 110i integrated amplifier.
They don't come up for sale often, but it may be worth waiting for. It's discontinued, but used to sell for $19K - $22K. Should be able to get a used one for around $10K.
The new Ayre integrated is about $10k. I heard it at RMAF driving Vivid G3s. It's pretty special and it's on my list even tho' I have no idea how to pay for it!
Atma-Sphere all the way!! Perfect match for the electrostat.
Ok its not integrated.. just my 2c
Have you considered the matching Quad Classic II? I believe it falls below you budget
Please look at the Luxman L-590AX, Class A Integrated priced at $10,500. See: http://www.onahighernote.com/luxman/?c=8&id=56
I like mine very much for use with my Sonus Faber Auditor M Speakers.
Hegel H300; product of the year by some reviewers; and less expensive than your budget.
The Atma-Sphere M-60's can be upgraded with internal volume control. If you have a single source system this could be an option.
I'd second the Hegel H-300 which is great bang for the buck. I can't recommend Luxman or Ayon (in the case of the Triton) as they are made in China. And I certainly wouldn't recommend a $10k tube integrated to drive Quad's which are 86db.
Can someone explain why the cult following with the Quads and Atma-Sphere. I'm surprised to consider the Atma-Sphere OTL ideal at all, considering the Quads have impedance fluctations from 4 - 15 ohms - not exactly what I think an OTL would like to see.
My take on the Atma-Sphere 'sound' is that it is very fast with lots of transparency, but not sufficient dynamics and meat on the bones.
Also, how important is having Class A vs. Class AB. Obviously there is no crossover distortion with Class A, so how do VAC and others get around this with such success?
Does this give units like the Ayon Triton III and Luxman L-590AX a theoretical advantage from the start?
I thought all Ayon Audio is made in Austria. Is the Triton III an exception?
Two other terrific integrateds you could consider if you're prepared to stretch would be a Simaudio 700i & Boulder 865 @ around 12k.
In regard to Class A vs Class AB integrated amps, solid state Class A integrateds won't have enough power to drive your Quads, so it's not really worth discussing. Class A/B amps can sound linear and very good if there are a good number of watts in Class A & the designer was successful in notching out any audible crossover distortion. I know that Boulder go to great efforts to notch out crossover distortion & their measured linearity suggests that is so. Edgar Kramer reviewed the 865 for AVHub including a comprehensive lab report which is worth a read.
Ayon Audio build their top ranging gear in Austria which is terrific (eg: CD-2s, CD-5s), however the Triton (and lower range gear) are made in thier factory in Hong Kong with Taiwanese-assembled boards. Have a look at these two links which confirm this -
(Preamble: If the US Ayon Distributor is trolling AG for negative commentary on Ayon components as usual. Don't shoot the messenger. I did NOT write these reviews)..
The cult following for ESL's and Atma-sphere is very simple.. ESL's draw a tremendous amount of current on the high frequencies and very little on the lows ( this is the exact opposite of a conventional loud speaker ) Atma-sphere excells with this type of load! Sorry for the quick response I have to pick up my 3 year old!
P.S Call Ralph at Atma-Sphere he can explain it better!
Thank you all for your input! Intrigued by the opportunity to get into a used Esoteric A-100 or Jadis DA88S as other great options. Wish there was an easier way to compare these choices.
Do yourself some justice..give the power hungry Quads the Nitro they really need..the $6000.00 giant killer integrated..the Musical Fidelity M6500I..puts out 500 watts continuous into 8 ohms and 850 watts continuous into 4 ohms. Weighs 63 pounds.
You may want to consider the LSA Statement.
$12K list but available for $7K.
Correction...the price on the Musical Fidelity M6500I is
I still stand by my recommendation of the GamuT Di150, but another integrated definitely worth considering is the new Ayre. I heard it two days ago for the first time; it was driving Devore Fidelity Silverbacks and 3XL's. Another superb product offering from the wizards at Ayre!
I would go with the Ayon Triton. I have heard its little brother, the Spirit, drive some current hungry speakers very well. I would only imagine the Triton would acquit itself very well with your speakers.
I predict that the new Rowland Continuum Series 2 integrated with the new Pasquale Class-D technology coming out in April will be a major advancement and a tour de force against all other integrateds on the market.
Priced at $ 9500.00 it will give you 800 watts into 4 ohms.