Best integrated amps under $9k

I am building a new house and I will be having a large great room ( 25x28).  I love music and and I love to hear all the different instruments clearly.  I don't need a heavy bass.  I am also not going to be playing music at real loud levels.   I like wide dispersion speakers.  I have been looking at integrated amps from Krell, Classe, Pass, Macintosh, ATI.  Any advice?  Sound quality is really important to me.   Whatever I buy will last a lifetime.  The reason I am thinking about integrated is that I like the idea of AMP/Pre-Amp in one box.  Any input is appreciated.  

You might want to start with speakers you love and that fit the room well then look at a good integrated match. Also not sure your speaker budget but a rule of thumb is to spend more - some say twice as much - on speakers.  I am sure there are exceptions that others will highlight but i tend to think that generally the value proposition for integrateds declines at the $4,500-5,000 level. Above this price separates generally take you more quickly to better sq levels - particularly if you are looking at speakers in the 10-15-20k ranges. All that said some other brands to consider are vinnie rossi, accuphase and devliat. Enjoy the search. 
You are missing some amazing brands like Symphonic Line, Einstein Audio and the likes. Check out Symphonic Line Kraftquelle and Kraftwerk:

Einstein Audio "The Amp Ultimate":

The Krell and Classe stuff is not even close.
There is a Modwright KWI-200, listed for three grand...that IA is a great amp that can drive most speaker loads with ease. Not to mention how wonderful it sounds. I have no affiliation with the seller. It worth checking out....good luck in your search.
Rega Osiris integrated amp

Go google the reviews .... Better stil, actually go audition this Goliath- killer.

highly recommended. 
With efficient speakers
Leben CS600
Shindo Apetite

With less efficient
VAC i160 or VAC Avatar Super 

Foy 9k get a preamp/amp.
So you need speaker also within that 9k? Or you have speakers already that have not been mentioned? Speakers first is the rule of thumb, then match amp to speakers... 

willgolf  Hi.

Before anyone can recommend anything, we need to know what speakers this integrated amp will have to drive.

As without knowing this it's wrong to recommend anything until this is known or you'll end up with an amp that's not suited. EG: Like 300w to drive horns or 8w single ended to drive Wilsons ect ect.

Cheers George    

Many thanks for your comments so far.  Speakers are still an open option.  Currently I am looking at Totem Hawk or Revel F208.  I am also going to fly to Utah to listen to the Tekton Pendragon.  

willgolf: Can’t find anything on the Hawk, but do like what Revel do with the ones I’ve heard, always been a fan of theirs.

The F208 needs a good 4ohm rated amp as by Stereophile, when this is said that usually indicates an amp that can increase it 8ohm wattage by a fair margin into 4ohms.

From Stereophile measured report.

"However, the combination of 5 ohms and –50° at 25Hz means that the F208 will need to be driven by a good 4 ohm-rated amplifier."

Looking at this, I could confidently recommend a John Curl (up there with Nelson Pass) designed Parasound Halo Integrated, and it’s way under your budget, and loaded with features, like it has digital input for an inbuilt dac, both moving coil and moving magnet phono stage, remote, the list goes on.

And what a warranty: " warranty period is for a term of five (5) years for parts and five (5) years for labor, from the date when the Product was purchased from an Authorized Parasound Dealer"

Cheers George


Agree with others you need to finalize your speakers first.  If you're considering the F208s I'd think the Totem Forest might be the more appropriate option instead of the Halk since they're more in the same price range.  Best of luck. 

Your original post says to me that you are seeking sound that is detailed with exceptional clarity and separation at low to moderate volume level in a somewhat large room... That should be your goal in a speaker. Then fit the gear to it.. 
I've owned Totem Forests in a prior system and I know both their strengths and also their not-subtle warts . 

In brief, if you are actually plunking down up to ~$9000 on an integrated amp, the FORESTs or HAWKS are a significant step down from that choice of speaker worthy of that resolution in that class of amp.

You can do much better by choosing a myriad of alternative speakers in that same price level class as the amp, that will be worthy of the amp in performance. And that difference will not be subtle .

System synergy matters .... Big time .... Full stop.


I just posted this in a different thread but it bears repeating:

At $5500 it's well below your $9k ceiling, but it's as good as it gets with respect to sound quality.  I've been buying John's stuff for years and it's always blown me away.  I had his eXception II pre 10 years ago and it was the heart of my system. I brought it to all my friends' systems to show off what it could do in their listening rooms. Upgrading to his current one was such a change, I risk sounding like ad copy trying to describe it.

The integrated is exactly like the pre-amp I have now, except it also has a 50wpc output stage.

With your room size and volume requirements, that should be plenty unless your speakers are unusually inefficient.

Paul Wakeen of Stillpoints just had one of these commissioned for his personal system, so it's fair to say it's a piece of reference equipment even though it's squarely in the 4-figure price point.

If you're in the SF Bay Area, you're welcome to stop by and hear what his gear sounds like.
From that maker's website:
" We believe that an integrated amplifier when done correctly will outperform best separates available.."
This is big BS. And they know it. I will not buy anything from him for one dollar.

The funny thing is I went to his website and he doesn't even carry a power amplifier.
Any of you guys rocking the new ML integrated?
willgolf, while the integrated amp I have and would recommend may not be on par with some other recommendations made in this thread, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the integrated that I own/use - a Musical Fidelity M6si. Like all manufactures who boast about their equipment, in this case, part of the marketing speal is it's exceptional VALUE. Depending on the dealer, etc. it can be had new for somewhere between $2600 and $3000. Musical Fidelity claims anyone would be hard pressed to hear a difference between it and anything else costing many times more. I personally listened to a Krell Vanguard along side the M6si and was didn't hear enough (if any) of a difference to warrant spending another 2 grand on the Krell. 
fliz, as to the exception, I checked-out the website and based on the description this does appear to be more than viable option. At least the website is informative and includes pricing info, unlike the other sites mentioned in this thread. I would welcome an opportunity to see/hear one in person, but that doesn't seem to be an option as the sales portion of the site doesn't indicate there are any dealers close to my location (Long Island, NY).

I do have one "issue" with the exception, however, that I simply cannot get past and frankly this would likely preclude my ever purchasing one. The wattage. 50wpc is simply too low. No head room what-so-ever and even with very efficient speakers (92db?) it would be conceivable to drive the unit into clipping if heavy metal or many rock songs are passed through it and the desire is to achieve anything close to concert levels. Even if the desire is to only play at modestly loud levels (98db), that would likely require (of course depending on speaker efficiency) 8 watts or thereabouts and there just isn't enough headroom with 50 being the max it could do. Also, speaking in general terms, I've read in numerous other posts that it is "better" to have an abundance of power in reserve even if never needed, as it contributes to the quality of the sound when played with significantly less than the max rated wattage.

I would have to think the  designer of the exception would be better served making the same unit in a 150 (or more) wpc unit and upping the price another grand or so.

He mentioned that 9k was his budget. Why would he look at a ML Intergrated that is 12k?
Simple really, buy used/demo. There is not much difference in $3K ?
It seems to me that the Totem Hawk would be to small for a 25x28 room. With your stated criteria, "sound quality is really important to me", I suggest you first find a speaker that is well matched for your size room. Then find an amp that will work with the speakers.
Speakers at 92db/1w/1m that would be a max of 108db or so at 50w/1m

I’m using a 300b set that’s 8wpc with speakers that are 102db so that gets me about 111db.  Previously I was using 2a3 amps that are 3.5wpc and the added power did make a pretty significant difference.

I rarely listen to anything louder than 95db at the listening position though.  Louder than that just hurts.  I couldn’t imagine what I’d do w/ 50wpc

I'm a HUGE fan of extremely high efficiency speakers, but the catch is that they require a gigantic room to shine.  

You seem to have exactly such a room.
if WAF isn't a factor....
I am now realizing that even though the Totem Hawks sounded awesome in a smaller room, they would not in the large room I described.  So now I am looking at the Raven Reflection MK2 integrated amp with Legacy Focus SE speakers.  Dave the owner of Raven is awesome and extremely helpful.  He is also going to have a range of integrated tube amps from $2500 - $10,000.  Check out Raven Audio.

I used a pr of Totem Signature Model 1's monitors in a room that big and I thought they did quite well with a 225w amp .