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: http://www.symphonic-line.com/integrated_amplifier_klangquelle_kraftquelle_kraftwerk.html
Einstein Audio "The Amp Ultimate": http://www.einstein-audio.de/en/audio-components/amp-ultimate
The Krell and Classe stuff is not even close.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.