I would look at the Dehavilland IOS, depending on your speakers' requirments, this tube amp may be very hard to beat.
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Jeff Rowland Concerto (Latest generation of JRDG integrateds. 250 watts into 8 ohms. Very compact,very cool running, specifically by design. After 200 hours or so of run in, the sound has very pleasing,easy quality to it with no trace of ss brightness or harshness. The only other integrated with which I have experience and might be considered an alternative is the Plinius 9200, which, while accomplished in it's own way, it not in the same league as the Concerto.
The Musical Fidelity VK500 is damn good with 500 watts and phono to boot. It has a few small tubes in the pre amp section and is otherwise SS. I have heard the Rowland Concentra II and it is a little grainy and romantic in comparison. The Levinson 383 is grainy and flat and does not compare to either.
If you'd like to experience a traditional tube sound, and if cost is truly no object, the VAC Phi Beta would be an insteresting option, at almost $20k (!). I have owned VAC gear in the past and actually considered this when putting together my current, cost no object system. Of course if $20k is too much, the VAC Avatar Super features some of the same technology, but at about 1/4 the price.
Vac Phi Beta
I am a reviewer for PF online, My favorites in order are:
1) JRDG CII
2) YBA Passion
3) Edge G3
I currently own the G3 and will be writing a review for it soon. Truth be told the only reason I don't own the YBA is that it did not fit on my rack (too long). This is not to knock the G3, I really enjoy the G3, fast, clean and great punchy bass. Dollar for Dollar I would rearange the list with the G3 & YBA being equally in first place.You really cannot go wrong with any on my list, ot most of the ones listed here. However, I was pretty disapointed in the MF gear...
the Tenor OTL 75Wi integrated monoblocks are easily the finest integrated amps i have heard. you will need a reasonably easy speaker to drive.....hopefully at least 90db efficient and a fairly flat 6-8 ohm load with no big dips in the impeadence curve.
most Kharma speakers are good matches for this amp.
I second Budrew's request for a comparison of the YBA Passion Integre with the Lavardin IS Reference, (or IT), by anyone who's had the chance to hear both.
While we're at it, there are some strong reviews out there for the Unison Unico SE and several of the Audiomat models, including the Opera. Anyone had a chance to compare these?
The VAC Avatar seems to be a strong contender. Much buzz about the new DK Design Group hybrid, I'd love to hear from folk who've actually heard and compared.
The DK Design VS-1 Mk2 with a tube preamp stage and a solid state output stage is liquid and crystal clear with a rather pellucid presentation. It is also a beautiful design and built like a tank. I would be very surprised if anything at any price sounds appreciably better through a high resolution system.
An all tube integrated design will not likely have a lot of bass impact unless you have very efficient speakers and Jazz and Classical contain a lot of bass information. Maybe with horns..
As far as all solid state goes, I would seriously consider the Plinius integrated even if it is relatively inexpensive. Their separate amps are easily some of the best sounding available at any price and the integrateds retain much of the same character of sound. Unless you are using ribbons or electrostatics(and even then)you'll approach the liquidity of tubes and retain the phenomenal bass response this equipment is known for.
You may want to inquire with Tube Research Labs about their new SS 225 watt integrated (ST-225).
It is $5500.
I will be hearing it in a friend's system later this month as he is going to demo with his Soundlabs.
TRL makes SOTA tube preamps and amps for very high end use ($100K+).
They really like this SS int amp.
Will let folks know what I think.
This weekend, I will attend the intro of the new SimAudio I-7 at a local dealer. I'll be interested to see how it compares with the I-5, which I liked very much in my small room. Some have suggested the Plinius 9200 is similar in some respects to the I-5, but considerably better; I haven't been able to hear the latter.
Will the I-7 simply add power, or significantly enhance refinement as well? I'll report back if anyone is interested.
I'd actually like to hear more about that Blue Circle integrated from Philnyc; what price bracket, what attributes, what comparisons made etc.
Well guys, disappointment, because the I-7 was a no-show. More precisely, the SimAudio rep showed up with a non-working prototype of the 1-7; the chassis and terminals anyhow. Said they'd decided at the last minute it wasn't quite ready; e.t.a. now October. The rep says it will fulfil the promise of more power than the 1-3, more refinement than the I-5, a better pre than the P-3 separate. I'm salivating...
He did demo the new CDP from the same Evolution series, and it sounded fine indeed, driven by Moon W5 separates through some big Maggies.
Meanwhile, I finally got a listen to the new Bryston B100 SST integrated. I should issue a disclaimer; not being personally familiar with the Bryston sound, I'm not the best guy to say how generous a scoop of Bryston you are getting. Secondly, I was listening to it in the store with other components I haven't spent a lot of time with; the MF A5 CDP, and JMLab Profile 918 speakers. I've had a fair amount of time with other members of the MF and JMLab families though.
That out of the way, it sounded very good, very competent, lots of detail, generally sweet highs, rich mids, bass to spare, etc. I didn't get a first impression that I was listening to a break-out product-at-the-price, such as my Nait 5i, but the Bryston is no slouch. At one point a vocal crescendo got a little screechy and started to break up; but I cannot say without more time whether that was one component or another, or the recording. Definitely worth a listen in its niche...around $3K Canadian, prob'ly about $2400 USd, give or take.
Haven't been on Agon for a few days, so I missed your question to me about the Blue Circle NSCS integrated. It is a 110wpc solid state integrated with an amp stage that uses design elements from BC's 200-series amps. The base price is US$2495, with Shallco volume control upgrade options (single Shallco or dual-Shallco). Also has optional remote volume control, although this is not available together with the Shallco versions.
I haven't had a chance to do any comparisons with other integrated amps (asides from BC's entry-level CS integrated), but it has become my best-seller, and it has made it very difficult for me to sell Blue Circle's lower-priced seperates because the performance level is quite high.
Positive Feedback just published the first review: