Best integrated for my purposes - help me choose 1 of 3!


I did a bunch of research over the weekend and narrowed down choices.  My requirements:  2 channel amp that integrates well with my LS50 - ideally with HT Bypass.  The Ls50s are also part of my HT system.  I can use HT Bypass to send L/R to a 2 channel amp where all of my analog sources are pluged-in.    

1. Outlaw Audio 2160II  ($1k)
2. Parasound Hint6        ($3k)
3. Yamaha A-S1200 (or 2200) ($2-$3.5)

Ok, so right off the bat, the Outlaw will need a 2 amp / 1 speaker switcher - something from Niles maybe.  For $1k it's hard not to consider.  The Parasound is probably the most well recommended of all the choices - it's solid performer.  Yamaha - buy once / cry once.  I'd get years of use with the Yamaha even after the KEFs have been upgraded.

Cost is part of the consideration...  Does the Parasound sound 3x better, not sure, but probably not.  Yamaha 2x better?  Maybe, I've never read a bad review.  Steve Gutenberg suggests that the Outlaw is *very* good bang for buck!  

Thoughts?  
5a56b072 88de 4c81 9685 0426d6c703b5martinman
You don't need a switcher with the Outlaw. You would hook it up the same as either of the integrated amps, except you would just use any unused analog L&R input (instead of the HT bypass L&R connections). The only difference is you would need to pre-select a pre-set volume position on the Outlaw receiver when you "switch" to HT. Whereas with the 2 integrated amps you would select the unity gain HT bypass. No big deal, just a minor inconvenience.



In the long run you will like the Parasound best. You might also look at a Musical Fedelity but I don't know about the HT aspect.
Parasound of those three...
At $3k you are into the range of a Raven Blackhawk, an amp that is in a whole different league, so much better than the rest you would not believe. But it does not have the silly bells and whistles you want. All of which (HT bypass, omg.) do nothing but add cost while actually making the sound quality worse. 

In the long run an amp like the Raven will have you happy and smiling probably for the rest of your life. You need to get into five figures to be significantly better, and it is built to last for life. It will also be quietly urging you to ditch the HT hoax which is holding you back sound quality wise, more than you know. 

But you know what they say, experience is the school of man, and he will learn at no other. 
the Outlaw will need a 2 amp / 1 speaker switcher - something from Niles maybe. For $1k it's hard not to consider.
Yes, I totally agree that Outlaw Audio 2160II at $1k is hard to beat.
Actually, a true HT bypass circuity is just a simple line level A/B switcher to disconnect the internal preamp section and switch the power amp input to a external source.
you can simply use a line level source a/b switcher on the Outlaw 2160II pre-out/main-in jacks to get the job done.

As @imhififan said: 
you can simply use a line level source a/b switcher on the Outlaw 2160II pre-out/main-in jacks to get the job done
This is correct. However, you should pre-select a volume setting to use when you run the HT auto-setup on your HT system, and choose that pre-determined volume setting when you select/listen to HT in the future. This way your front L&R speakers will always be set correctly as they were when you ran your setup routine.
I have the Hint 6 and am very happy with it. I guess MC doesn't understand HT bypass. I think you can find new a bit cheaper than 3k, Try Dave Weinhardt at Weinhardt Design.
Ah, my favorite song is coming on again. It goes, "Raven Raven Raven, Tekton Tekton Tekton, Raven Raven Raven, Tekton Tekton Tekton."
Thanks everyone,

HT bypass is a convenient feature for WAF that's all - kids too.  Its not that high up on the list tbh, and I would't want to compromise 2-channel listening.  But it would make for a nice and tidy setup.  

@millercarbon: I agree, i'm all for tubes.  In fact, if they offered a DIY kit, I'd be all over it.

I wouldn't necessarily need a line level switch.  I was thinking of this:
https://www.nilesaudio.com/product/amplifierspeaker-b-selector-FG00003
Slight bump in the signal chain though.. 
For most transistor power amp, a speaker switcher is safe. If using a speaker switcher on tube amp, a dummy loading resistor will be required on most output transformer coupled tube power amp.

The Yamaha has both the best build and sound quality. Economy of scale allows them to use better parts than what you’ll find in the others. 
Hardly true in the yamaha argument  parasound uses very high quality parts and they are designed by John cure a genius in circuit design

We are a parasound dealer and we have a demo set of the pre 6 and a21 amp so we can give you a good price on the combo

Dave and troy
Audio intellect nj

Parasound dealers
Send me a PM and I can give you the name of the dealer I bought the Halo Integrated from.  I got a good discount  on a brand new unit.  He will ship if you are too far away. 
If the Yamaha has the same sound now, as when I had one of their integrated amps which was in 1989, then I would pass. Kind of a bleached sound and was not that musical. I remembering asking the dealer if that was their “natural sound”. Go with the Parasound, it sounds great and at 160wpc, it’s a great unit. Plus, it’s got a decent built in DAC and if you want to add a sub, it has the adjustable crossover frequency and level.
Why not a Hegel? You should be able to get an H200 or similar on the used market, checks all your boxes. Over performers for the money.
An Ayre AX-7e is 1.5K$
B
I have own both parasound halo and yahama as2100 .. I will take Yamaha over parasound halo any day ! Yamaha sound was more defined and detail sounding more than parasound plus Yamaha tent to toward tube sound while parasound tent to ss sounding !
I think a personal demo is in order and vote Yamaha.  
Hardly true in the yamaha argument parasound uses very high quality parts and they are designed by John cure a genius in circuit design
It is indeed true. The Yamahas employ Nichicon and Chemi-Con caps. The Hint has cheap Taiwanese caps. Parasound reserves the top- shelf parts for their higher-priced Halo products. They at least had the sense to replace the cheap Alps pot with a better volume control in the Hint6.

I owned the original Hint, and while it sounded good, it also sounded unremarkable, rather boring and homogeneous within a few tracks. The A-S1100 produces a wider/deeper soundstage, more fleshed-out tone, slightly deeper bass and greater resolution. That last advantage was probably due to the much lower noise floor. However, that might not have carried over to the new models, since they’ve switched to toroid transformers that have a hard time handling any DC offset on the mains.


It’s definitely worth taking a look at the Musical Fidelity M6si. I briefly had a HINT 6 and eventually replaced it with the M6si. The Parasound had a few more bells and whistles, but IMO the MF bested it in SQ.  Plus, the MF does have an HT bypass, and it’s dropped in price since I bought mine so it’s actually a little less expensive than the Parasound.
"In the long run an amp like the Raven will have you happy and smiling probably for the rest of your life..."

He meant "until the tube needs replacement, which is just around the corner" so skip the Raven. Which, indeed, could be recommended although not for you in this particular case.

As someone has already said, personal audition is called for and I would also vote for Yamaha. Simply because their (much) lower level amplifier is surprisingly good and I have never heard other two.
"Ah, my favorite song is coming on again. It goes, "Raven Raven Raven, Tekton Tekton Tekton, Raven Raven Raven, Tekton Tekton Tekton."

Wrong lyrics, it goes "Eric, Eric, Krissy, Eric, Tom, Dave, Ted, Tom, Ted, Dave, Krissy, Eric, Eric, Eric"
@glupson7 it will be quite a while replacing tubes on the Raven as the tubes are run with less power which will cause them to last much longer.

I love my Blackhawk.

Last for many years.
@glupson I have the Blackhawk also and it will smoke any Yamaha, Parasound, or the Outlaw.

But for $2995 the OP could buy a Pathos Classic One MK3. Or the Simaudio 240i that is a great SS integrated.

Should quit being being such a DB.

Especially about Schitt you do not know.

@glupson I have the Blackhawk also and it will smoke any Yamaha, Parasound, or the Outlaw.

But for $2995 the OP could buy a Pathos Classic One MK3. Or the Simaudio 240i that is a great SS integrated.

Should quit being such a DB.

Especially about Schitt you do not know.

Yamaha is lofi not hifi.


skypunk,

"Should quit being being such a DB.

Especially about Schitt you do not know."

Classy and astute gentleman that you are, you might have noticed that OP was asking about three amplifiers he had already chosen and not much else.

You may want to forgo judgments about my knowledge of certain equipment or, at least, try to avoid labeling people. If for no other reason, then because it uncovers your personality.

toyman,

I believe that tubes in Blackhawk last longer than in many other applications, but "rest of your life" is, hopefully, overestimation. Not that SS amplifiers are guaranteed to last forever. I am not surprised you love your Blackhawk. I have heard Raven amplifiers at one audio show and was pleasantly surprised. Just by what I heard there, I have already recommended an audition, or two, to people interested in trying tubes. If I were looking to try tubes myself, I would easily start with Raven.

Having said that, OP really does not seem to be looking for tubes. I may be wrong, though.
Gday from Australia, I'd give the Parasound P6 a look/listen. Not sure if you're curious about tubes/valves, but I highly recommend the Primaluna Dialogue Premium preamp. 
Cheers Ricey
@helomech Parasound HINT Halo-Integrated thus the Hint6 is in the Halo line.
To answer a couple questions:

Tubes...  I'm all for tubes but only in specific applications.  I've been building guitar tube amps for the past 10 years all PTP.  I've yet to cross over into HiFi building (save for a bottlehead headphone amp kit).  My current thought is this:  tube preamp section / SS power section is the way to go.  All tubes in the signal chain tend to warm things up too much IMO.  BTW, i've run across old Fender tube amps with the tubes still chugging along.  NOS tubes last a heck of a long time - that is, unless an audiophile comes along and has a tube rolling hobby (*guilty too!*  :)  ).  
  
I have no doubt that the Blackhawk sounds stellar.  My bias with this choice is cost.  You don't need to spend $4k on a PTP wired amp.  I'm quite happy exploring assembly, soldering, component placement and tube rolling from a DIY perspective.  I've 'stuffed' a few circuit boards (guitar pedals, haggermann phono stage) and it's a PITA.  So, i'd rather pay for this type of assembly.  So, just a personal preference.  

Interesting views on the Yamaha vs Parasound.  The Yamaha is a stellar choice but as someone mentioned the transformer change in this model year...  I know from the amp building that this is a major foundational aspect of the design.  Not sure any of the reviews floating around are valid anymore.  This will introduce change for sure.  

The parasound ticks all the boxes and I just recently talked with Mr. Weinhardt :).  We'll see!   



Post removed 
Interesting views on the Yamaha vs Parasound. The Yamaha is a stellar choice but as someone mentioned the transformer change in this model year... I know from the amp building that this is a major foundational aspect of the design. Not sure any of the reviews floating around are valid anymore. This will introduce change for sure.  

The parasound ticks all the boxes and I just recently talked with Mr. Weinhardt :). We'll see!  
 
When I owned the original Hint it had quite loud transformer hum that also made its way into the speaker outputs. That was before I discovered some DC offset on my mains. Unless they’ve changed something about the power supply I’d be weary, maybe send an inquiry to Mr. Schram before making the purchase.

In the short time since Yamaha switched to toroids in the new X200 series, I’ve encountered a few owners complaining of hum. The remedy was an AVA Humdinger. The outgoing X100 series didn’t have this problem. If I were in your boat, I’d search for a new-old-stock 2100. They’ve been closing them out for prices closer to original MSRP of the 1100. I highly doubt the new ones sound any better by real-world metrics and the EI transformer is an advantage IMO.

@helomech Parasound HINT Halo-Integrated thus the Hint6 is in the Halo line.

I understand that, but they don’t use the same quality of parts throughout the entire Halo line. As you go higher up WITHIN the Halo line, the parts quality improves. The JC2 preamp for example, has much higher quality parts than the preamp section of the Hint.
Of the three the parasound would be the best but for straight i would go with a true vintage top notch integrated and you will get better sound and for less than three thousand dollars.
For $3250 you could get a Sugden A21se pure class A integrated...way better than any of those listed. 
I have owned both the HINT6 and the Yamaha A-S2100. The Parasound is very nice and a jack of all trades. The Yamaha is definitely built better and the overall fit and finish is a level up for sure. Both could be a good fit for you however the Parasound is a better match in my opinion with the KEF LS50s you have. I also had them and the Yamaha combo is almost too much of a good thing on the forward, detailed end. If you get a different speaker I could easily recommend the Yamaha as the best choice.
OP, let me also say that unfortunately you’re gonna have a majority of people tell you to buy some other amp they’re in love with for myriad reasons, none of which may be important or relevant to your tastes or your situation. Ignore all that fanboy s**t.  Some people clearly can stay within the limitations you set in your original question and I think those opinions are going to be relevant and helpful to some degree.
None of the above!
sansui g-9000
bingo!!
I appreciate all the suggestions and detours :).  It's a great time to be an audiophile.  There are so many choices out there.  Just wanted to update the thread -- the Hint6 is enroute!  Ultimately, it checks all the boxes and is probably the easiest to integrate into my setup.  It also frees up my bottlehead headphone amp for a 2nd listening station. 
@martinman 

you made a very wise choice.  Let us know how it goes once everything has settled in the system.  Congratulations.