I'm currently seeking the best integrated amp for playing rock music that I can find for under $1,500 (although I'd really like to find something under $1,000, if at all possible!). The speakers I will be using will likely be PSBs - either the B25 or the M2. The "rock" in question is mostly late '60s/early '70s (e.g. Hendrix, Cream, Byrds, CSNY, Zeppelin, etc.), although I must say I also play some Jazz, Country and Classical as well! In any case, I want an amp that will keep up well with fast-paced stuff and give it some air, vitality and detail in the process.
From everything I've read online so far, I'm considering a Musical Fidelity 3.2 or a Creek 5350SE, although I'm also tempted to go low-budget with the NAD c 352. What do you all think?
PSB pairs well with NAD -- in fact, it's the best sonic match of all the various possibilities you mentioned. However, the C352, good as it is, may not exploit the Platinum Series PSB's full potential, and as a result could make for an unsatisfying system over the long term. (No phono stage, either, if that matters.)
I's suggest looking for a used NAD Master Series M3 integrated amp. They're about $2,500 new...but used ones can be had for around $1,500. I've never heard the M2 speakers with the M3 amp but given how well PSB and NAD play together, it's well worth investigating.
The Nad is good I echo Ekobesky on that. The trick is to get a real powerful amp. I owned Aragon Monoblocs. They are still under Klipsches roof but aren't making amps anymore I think you should consider the older NAD power envelope amps. Also a Sansui made seriously good amps. I know I have one that is supposedly 85 watts but sounds much more powerful. You can pick up a AU-717 for nothing maybe $200. If your OK not having a remote they are good. If they break and you need a part you might as well toss it or sell it for parts but I have used mine intermittantly for 3 years no problems. The Aragon 8008ST is the poor mans Krell. You can even get the 400wpc Palladiums I had but you will need a preamp. You may want to think about it. These amps will power the cones out of the frames if you want. Finally the old MacIntosh amps are unreal in terms sheer slam if that's your goal and my little 2505 drives anything and it is rated at 50 watts. The integrateds are not expensive used. The power amp of choice in the sub $1K price point is the 2105 rated at 110 watts per side again as a rule the bench over that. They have gain controls so if you use one source you can adjust the volume. The more you spend the bigger the amp. You can get historical information from www.roger-russell.com it is not a commercial site he is a former employee. There are some pro amps that people consider musical . Check those out you can buy a pro amp for $1500 that has 4,000 watts. Do a search!
So, I guess everything I have been reading is true...NAD is the most "natural" choice for PSBs. I'm just resistant to NAD because all the reviews tend to say the same thing...great sound, but questionable build quality. Ideally, I'd like something with good build quality to go along with good sound. I'm not expecting fantastic workmanship or parts for my price range, but surely there's something that would perform like an NAD but is better built?
I agree on the great sound of NAD but also agree with the build quality issue. I also agree with going to Sansui - a few of their high-end integrates are quite powerful and have almost tubelike sound with lots of bottom end too so they can power many floorstanders. Personally though, I think the best NAD units still have better tonal quality when it comes to most bookshelf sized speakers. While I have a vested interest in suggesting Sansui (I have one I could part with) I would recommend going with a high-powered unit like the the AU-X901 - underrated 130 watts, massive power supply, XLR inputs etc..
The only thing with getting a more powerful amp is I can't crank it (because I live in an apartment), so I was thinking a less powerful amp would be better. However, maybe I'm wrong...Perhaps powerful amps can sound good at lower volumes as well?
By the way, I've never heard of Sansui before...How do their amps compare to those made by Musical Fidelity, Creek, etc.? Do the Sansui amps sound as detailed, transparent, etc. as more expensive integrateds?
I power the PSB Stratus Bronzes and Minis with a Marantz Reference Series PM-17 integrated amp and Sm-17 power amp. They have 60 watts per channel each and two SM-17s can be bridged for 200w/c. Marantz 17 series reference amps sound great with PSB and are no longer made but can be found on the used market. A used SM-17 is now for sale on this site for $575. I now use a tubed pre with mine.
(1) Good equipment will sound good at any volume, and you don't need a big amplifier to power your bookshelf speakers, however I would still recommend going with the balanced (XLR)interconnect option. (2) Depending on which amplifier was compared and which combination of source and speakers were used, and what your particular preference was, the only way to tell would be for you to listen for yourself. All that aside I would expect better sonic qualities from higher-end amplifiers and source equipment - this can be bad though because very good equipemnt can also end up revealing weaknesses in the remainder of your system, and, as in my case, you start snowballing into the world of high fidelity equipment.
Yes Sansuis are truly fine amps. They are usually old and could be improved if the caps are replaced etc. However if you have any doubt look at fleabay for the BA 2000 or 3000 these are the straight power amps same vintage as the AU series even the CA preamps fetch some money.
Am I missing something here. I always considered makes like Sansui, Pioneer, JVC in a rather low fi league. Is there a sansui line that is a bit higher in terms of sound quality? You can get a nice DK Design Mk2 for $1500 used that should blow away any Sansui, or NAD unit. I heard one on Rock music and feel that it is a great fit. Nice, punchy clean sound...
I thought that current (or at least more recent) integrated amps would be better than stuff from the '80s or '90s, simply because I'm assuming that the technology going into them is constantly improving as the years go by. However, am I wrong in this assumption?
I always had the impression Sansui is low-end stuff and am not aware if they manufacture gears that cater for mid-end. I believe Sony, Pioneer and JVC amps are even better sounding than the Sansui. NAD is a higher step-up from all these mass-market amps.
I recently followed an auction for a circa 1977 BA 3000 Sansui power amp. not the integrated. It fetched over $3,000. Sansui was a premium brand it was more High End sounding before High End became a phrase. I have to tell you that their old tuners are still considered amongst the best ever made and are compared with modern tuners on a regular basis on the tuner info site. Beyond which one of my amps is an integrated tube amp vintage 2003. The circuit is the "Mullard Long Tail" which was developed in 1922. This is not a replica it's just a new version of that circuit . Anyway shell out $200 for an AU 717 and see. I ask you this do you think a 25 year old KSA 200 pure class A Krell is a bad amp?
i have a Creek 5350SE and it's a lovely amp that gets harmonics right. However, the ONE form of music for which I will not recommend it is rock. It is because the Creek sounds so reticent and almost "slow" with fast-paced music that I am in the market for an integrated in this price range (or a bit higher one) myself. If you like jazz, chamber music, or intimate acoustic stuff, though, the Creek gets my highest recommendation.
ask NAD techs. which pieces they consider best build models past to present, google it. fwiw, i've owned variuos nad int. and they all had minor diffs but this new 'hi end' line mentioned above sounds intrigueing. they offer lots of down road capability as far as bridging etc and soft clip circuit is a plus when someone gets carried away. btw, are you playing vinyl?
all due respect to rnm4... for your musical tastes i don't think subs need be a'nightmare' down the road. imo i think bass drum slam is perfect for subs and rock of that vintage does not contain a lot of 'nuanced' extreme low end sonics beyond bass kick... ocassional genesis and e.l.p. notwithstanding. if your thimg was mainly classical music or pipe organ it might be another story. even then, subs crossed over real low don't necessarily pose a problem. just my exp. lotsa purists simply prefer no subs and i'm down with that if you got $$ and space.
Rnm4, If you want full-range sound that goes below 35Hz, you not only need to look at good full-range speakers but also powerful well-built amps as well. With whatever full-range speakers you have, the Naim Nait 5 won't give you the lower octaves all the way down to even 50Hz.
Also, properly/professionally integrated speakers and sub bass system setup can sound awesome. It may require more work due to the intricacy in the integration process but if done properly there is no issue at all concerning using subs with the main speakers. I would agree with Veroman that the only time when no subs are preferred is when space is not a problem(huge room), and when one has lots of $$$ in spare for a decent pair of full-range speakers and an amp capable of delivering the current in driving those bass drivers. Having said that, a pair of subs(or more) in a huge room complementing a pair of full-range speakers may yield better results. It's all about integration, and of course $$$.
He wants to spend no more than 1500 on the amp. I assume he'd be pairing with speakers in that category as well. Maybe for large large $$ you can get a well integrated sub/monitor setup. But in that price range, I doubt it. I've tried it, and didn't like it. Also, I simply don't believe the Nait 5i won't drive full range speakers to below 50hz. Why on Earth would you think that? Of course integration and synergy are everything, but that argues for fewer elements to work with, not more.
Krell all the way. Rock, or any other bass-heavy music, will require a tight grip on your woofers, something that only a high powered amp can provide. Forget all those puny-wattage int-amps, you need something SS with at least 150 watts, no matter how efficient you think your speakers are. And one more thing : get some tone controls/equalizer as well. Those rock recordings need some tweaking to make them listenable.
did i say that rnm4? i do not even know the nait5i and 50hz stuff? and full range spkrs? and all the rest of this stuff. my post was not assuming anything about speakers of any price fwiw. i honor your exp. with subs but for rock and roll i was merely pointing out that suicane could get a nad amp, save a few bucks and get a self powered sub for bass kick if he so chose as nads have sub outputs. i feel you misunderstood my posting. i have full range speakers but i added a sub for foundation and it was no big deal as it crosses over so low most music hardly moves the woofer anyway.
No Veroman, you didn't say that about the Nait 51; Chandler2 did. You did say that sub integration *need* not be a nightmare, which I agree with. But at the same time I think that in the OP's likely price range, it would likely be one, and that he'd be better off with full range speakers. I honor your experience too, but think that Naim and NAD are in different leagues, and that it would be better to go with the Naim (still saving a few hundred bucks over his stated 1500, which could go to better FR speakers), rather than sacrifice quality over the largest range of frequencies just to service 20-50hz with a self powered sub. Given good full range speakers, there's no need for that anyway. The Nait is super slammin' and punchy as it is.
rnm4, suicaine lists 2 small monitors that go to 45 and 50hz. true $1500 COULD buy great sensitive floorstanders and maybe the 50wpc nait would power them. i have a nad 372 150wpc (170 according to manual) that would do the job and it is built like a tank for @$700? i think nad build quality thing is overhyped given the price range. a few weaker designs have cropped up over years. in smaller room the M2 might not need a sub anyway at -3hz at 45 hz. it may be one of those punchy small monitors that defy the stats. ;) we don't know how loud op likes it nor room size tho. so i err on side of more power. Spinal Tap RULES!!!