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Tact M2150... amazing bargain you just add a CD/DVD transport and a single Digital cable and your done! Get the powersupply modded and a modded Squeezebox and get a killer system.. the M2150 is now available in a M2150x version with room correction and EQ which takes it to the next level... it effortlessly drove my Wilson Watt Puppies 7 which can dip into the 2.8ohm-3.4ohm area.
The other side of the equation the ARC VS55i with it's passive preamp is an extremely neutral sounding amp with amazing power since it uses 6550.
otherwise get an amp of your choice and a Placette Passive pre used for $600-700.
I'm not an expert on integrated amps, but I've just sold off my seperates for a Pathos TT (Twin Towers).
It's a hybrid int. amp that puts out 35WPC in class A. I've only had it a few days, but I can say that sonically, it's every bit as good as my seperates, it looks great, and I have fewer power cords and interconnects to deal with. I have no regrets!
Well, I've heard good and bad SS and tube. Though I tend to like tube gear better than Solid State; I think there are great solid state sounding amps. I consider good the Mac 2275, the Viva Solista, the T+A V10, Accuphase, Krell 400Xi, Lavardin. Even the Creek 4040 (the first model from 1982; the rest were pretty awful) was incredible.
I just think an amp has to reveal 3D presence, fast attack and decay, tempo and dynamics.
Funds permitting, I'm putting my vote in for the Cary 300SEI. I purchased one two years ago with thoughts of simply carrying me over for a couple of months through a system change over. When the time came, I was never able to bring myself to part with it based upon the sheer pleasure it provides.
Some tube rolling and wiring/cap upgrades at Cary, and you've got yourself worldclass musicality for comparitively little cost. Even the power limitation (15Wx2) has posed surprisingly little problem.
The 300 SEIs have been popping up with some frequency over the last several months in the $1800 to $2400 range.
Can't beat it, IMO, and it sure is nice dumping amp stands, shelves, tweaks, cables, etc., etc., etc....
I just think an amp has to reveal (...) presence, fast attack and decay, tempo and dynamicsMuch of what you seek requires good upper bass & hi freq reproduction in phase. So, spkrs are (a big) part of the equation too.
Speakign of amps, one brand that seems to offer this consistently with various spkrs (including Triangle -- but I only listened to the "Magellan" line) is Symphonic Line. They offer a number of integrateds in their product line.
There are certainly others
Totem's integrated amp takes my vote. Damn ugly and expensive, but oh so good sounding. For considerably less money, the Music Hall Mambo is a wonderful integrated (with DAC, too) for the price, and can alleviate the need for an expensive CD player. And with the right (read: high-efficiency) speaker, the Audio Valve Assistent is supurb.
I've had 5 pretty good integrateds over the past 5+ years (in order Unison Unico, Cary SlI-80 Sig, BAT VK300XSE, Cary SLI-80 Sig F1 and presently a Mac MA2275) and heard a few more (Rowland Concentra, MF, Cary 300SEI, Levinson 383 and a few others). I love the 300SEI if the power were a bit more meaty (rolled off top and bottom too) it just depends on your taste. I've never been a Mac fan until now...this mates amazingly well with the Acoustic Zen Adagio although the Cary SLI-80 is a great value and the 300SEI is also very nice. This Mac is in another league although I can't speak to their solid state integrateds.
Mine developed a loud hum that was not fixable. After several frustrating weeks dealing with the vendor, I asked for a refund. They said there was nothing wrong and it must be my system, that they'd had NO other complaints of a hum. I found out that there was at least one other complaint by a guy here of the same problem I had. The company said "Oh, I forgot..." They still have my money AND the amp i sent back for refund.
There's a guy who visits these boards who goes by the handle "XLR8OR" (if I've got that right) and he's running Triangle speakers as well. He and I both did the twin Pathos Classic One MkII integrated's running mono. It's 170wpc into 8ohms and about 300 into 4 ohms when bridged!
He's elated with the sound of the amps in bridged mode, as I am. You may be able to look him up here and talk to him. The Classic One MkII is very good performance for the price in stereo mode, but becomes a real knockout performer when bridged.
We both have posted reveiws of the amp on the Asylum.
Own it: 1964 HH Scott 222D with 7189A output tubes (not EL84's) so I get true 22wpc.
I am service eng for several super high end brands, and have yet to have this amp beaten by much at all with any level of separates. Something to be said for one less power supply and interconnect pair.
Still rolling bypass caps; finding the Solen Fast Caps too bright, trying WIMA MKP-4's next.
Jared, I would have to agree with you as I sold my KW-500, off a few years ago and regretted it ever since. For inexpensive Int. Amps, I would have to say the new NAD line "BEE" series all sound very good, they just put it in a cheap box. I have owned Mac and a few others over the years and MF seems to match up best with my speakers. I would say the A5 and A5.5 series are also very good from MF, just not as good as the KW-500. If anyone decides to sell there KW-500 let me know!!! :)
krell's newest integrated. the S-300i is a real gem imo. picked mine up about 3 months ago and couldn't be happier. listened/demo'd countless integrated amp's until i heard this krell. knew it was "the one" as soon as it was turned on. at it's $2500 msrp, i can't think of a better integrated value on the planet. with the right speakers and cable....this thing is truly outstanding. read the reviews and give it a listen. you just might agree.
Chapter Audio Precis 250S. I just took on the Chapter Audio line and am currently have this integrated in the system I use. Of course you can take this with a grain of salt since I disclosed that I'm a Chapter Audio dealer, but this piece is incredible. Mind you, it certainly is not cheap, but IMHO you could spend considerably more on many different types of separates and not get the kind of sound quality and musicality this piece provides. At 225W into 8 ohms and 450W into 4 ohms, it also has the power to drive the vast majority of speakers out there as well.
We wouldn't be comparing apples to apples. The Chapter Audio Precis 250S is a $11,995 USD integrated amp and the Bel Canto integrated amps retail for $2,495 USD. It's not a fair comparison.
Hmmm... interesting. I compare unevenly priced systems everyday. I have a main system downstairs (Mcintosh, Aerial 10Ts) and a bedroom system (Bel Canto, Aerial 7Bs) and listen to both nearly every day. They don't sound the same but they both sound very good. For different pieces of music I prefer one over the other. The price differential was fairly great especially when I had the c2300 tube pre on the main system. I think when you jump into threads as a dealer touting product, you shouldn't say how good everything you sell sounds without being willing to offer counterpoint.
I'm not trying to put you on the spot but in another thread you were touting Bel Canto. I have Bel Canto and I think it sounds great as well. I'm interested in reading about what others who've compared high-priced Class A and A/B designs with Class D have to say. I've had a steady stream on high-end Class A and A/Bs (most recently Pass, Electrocompaniet) through my second system and would like to hear what others have to say about Class D who've had a chance to extensively compare them.
I think the Class D sounds quite good. It does sound different but still very good. Let me put it this way... I'm not already searching the Power Amp ads on Audiogon and pretty happy about the break.
Wireless200, I like Bel Canto a lot as it seems you do as well. I've been a Bel Canto dealer for a long time and am a fan of their products. I still think it isn't a fair comparison as the Chapter integrated amp is almost 5 times the price as the Bel Canto integrated amps. If you read between the lines, the Chapter Precis 250S is in a completely different league and it should be considering the price difference. In my opinion, this amp is extremely impressive regardless of what class of amplification is used. The original poster was asking about the best integrated amp you've ever heard. So, I answered with what is the best integrated amp I've ever personally used. I'm just keeping on track with question asked in the original post instead of comparing two different Class D integrated amplifiers. If you want a comparison, feel free to email me. I disclose that I'm a dealer, so I don't have an agenda I'm hiding. I was just trying to keep the thread in line with the original question. I hope this helps satisfy you. If not, feel free to email me any time.
I traded in my Musical Fidelity KwPre and Kw750 pre/power amp for an LSA Signature Integrated Amp from Underwood Hifi. No contest, the LSA is better in every department, takes up a lot less space, reduced my cabling requirements and includes a phono stage. I must say that I'm extremely impressed with it (sound, build quality, etc.) and I really think I've arrived at my last amplification stop. It came with EH tubes (6922x2), but I upgraded with NOS tubes from Andy at Vintage Tube Services (Siemens-Halski and Telefunken).
Audiofeil, you have a valid point. I guess I probably shouldn't mention about products I sell. However, I'm definitely not the only one, that's for sure. But, I'm upfront about it so people can be free to take or leave my opinion. I'm just very passionate about audio and wanted to share how much I'm liking the Chapter integrated amp. I have been an audiophile long before I became a dealer and became a dealer because of the love of the hobby.
After exploring various integrateds over the past few years; Jolida, Rogue and CJ tubed, and Krell and Musical Fidelity solid state, and while all fine integrateds with various strengths and limitations, I have finally settled on a CJ CA200 solid state and am very satisified with the overall presentation, impact and delicacy. It is quite tube like in many ways but doesn't soften the dynamic impact when called for. Also images float in the air above, to the sides and behind the plane of the speakers. Used, this is truly a highly refined and bargain amp.
Totem made an integrated way back when. It was an ugly thing, shaped like a semi-cylinder. But it sounded fantastic (especially for a SS integrated amp to someone who has a clear preference for tubes). I've never heard the Totem Forests sound any better than with their own integrated amp.
I've never seen one on Audiogon, and suspect that the one I listed to at my (then) local dealer was relatively rare.
I have been using integrated amps for about 10 years, Karan, Lavardin, Viva and a number of others. Al were good, except the Karan K180, I did'nt like at all.
The 2 I have at the moment are the best so far. Firstly Pathos Inpol2, a hybrid Class A 50 watt amp. Secondly, an Ayon Spark, 20 watt SET. Both are truly excellent and sound similar, detailed transparent, good soundstage, very musical.
the best though, clearly to me, the Dartzeel integrated, 8050 is it. Just wonderful, but out of my price range I am afraid.