Accuphase E550 or Sugden Masterclass.
517 responses Add your response
First, let me clarify that I do not believe that there is any one 'best' of anything in this hobby. The following response is what I personally consider to be the best to my ears, and in my experiences thus far.
On the more expensive side of town, I'd say either the Karan Acoustics KA I-180 (solid state), or the Jadis DA50RC (tube).
I agree there is no best, but there is good and better, and not so good. So yes, there is no best, but there is a group that should be auditioned and the VAC is one of them, as is the Jadis integrated. Of course the speakers you are using will have a lot to do with how well any of these integrated will perform. Perrew, what speaker are you looking to drive?
Thanks for all the answers, maybe the phrase "best" is not a good absolute measure. Im looking for experiences with the mentioned integrated amps. There will always be synergy effects between different setups and you can alter things with cables and other things to cater the sound to your preferences. I still think you can list pros and cons for the amps. So far what Ive read in magazines, almost everything is positive though, is that the Gryphon benefits alot from an SRA platform (HIFI+). The Gryphon is excellent but cant touch the Ayre MX-Rs and is slightly behind the FBI. But the FBI is twice the price. (Ljud och Bild, Swedish mag.) The Gamut seems to be liked alot by Absolute sound and JValin who said the Gamut with Arc CD7 and Magico Mini2 is a great setup. For Vitus Jeff Fritz of UltraAudio let his Boulder 1060 go for the Vitus. Rowland has no test afaik yet, but DCstep here on Agon seems to be very impressed with his unit and GuidoCorona seems to like the Capri pre thats suppose to be similar to the Pre in the Rowland. For the Apl 6moons test was so and so but hes into SETs all night long. Some people have let go of their DartZeels for the UA-S1.
I have used Wilson WP7s but looking to change these to smaller floorstanders plus sub.
So what do you thinks is the "best" integrated amp?
With the same proviso, no such thing as best, I suspect the Vac Phi beta would be best in most circumstaces. Meaning it's output of 110 watts I believe, would drive most speakers. Having had a few very good integrated amps, Lavardin IT, Karan K180, clearly the best in my system was the Viva Solista. At 22watts, clearly, it won't be best in many systems.
Others I might mention, the newish Pass labs 150 integrated and Conrad johnson C200. Not much experience of them, but the companies products are always good, in my view
Gudiocorona, Ill try to describe my preference . I like a neutral but not a thin sound, I like bass that is deep but fast. I would say its a mix of SS speed with the fullness of tubes. I have no special prefs. for either technology. I used to own a Spectron MIIISE and a VTL TL7.5 with Wilson WP7. Although I got to much noise from this pre/amp combo. I think there might be some trouble with AC noise but not sure.
Perrew, have you tried to use a different linestage with the Spectron, or a different amp on the VTL TL7.5?
By the way, as the Rowland Continuum 500 converts the AC to 385V direct current and buffers it through capacitors before feeding the result to the power supply, it should also address most any residual AC noise problems you may be experiencing. G.
Fafafion: Neodio 150 looks interesting but no one seems to cary it but France?
Ecruz: The TRL ST225 also seems to be impossible to find?
Coffeey: 6moons seems to like Coda
Teddy_bear: I never read UHF but I saw Ultraaudio still had Vitus as ref. I think the Kondo seems nice as well but bit expensive compared to the others.
Guido: I tried different amps with VTL, no change. Used Transporter direct to Spectron, that lowered the noised a lot. Still Id want just two boxes, one amp and one source=>1 IC, 2PCs and SC i.e. minimum cables.
So can someone comment on the Gryphon Gamut Vitus and Rowland?
"I tried different amps with VTL, no change. Used Transporter direct to Spectron, that lowered the noised a lot. Still Id want just two boxes, one amp and one source=>1 IC, 2PCs and SC i.e. minimum cables."
Yes, there's a lot to be said for a two-box system, particularly with Class D. With my Rowland Continuum 500, the incredibly sturdy chassis, short point to point wiring, physical isolation of components and, most importantly perhaps, Power Factor Correction (presenting an even load to the main and converting AC to 380V DC) leads to an ultra-quiet system.
Class does introduce EMI/RFI into your environment. If you've got a digital source, like a CDP, that introduces more and your general envirnonment may or may not be loaded with RFI. These factors make balanced mode, chassis design and circuit design critical to quiet operation. An integrated designed with all these factors in consideration gives you an elegant and, in the case of the C-500, a powerful, musical solution.
The TRL ST-225 is only available direct through Tube Research Labs. You can inquire about them by contacting Paul Weitzel directly.
There is an Audiogon review on the integrated. I happen to own the amp only version the D-225, which is what Ecruz just bought, along with the matching battery powered Pre-1.5 (the integrated has a passive preamp section from what I recall).
These amps are excellent for the money. If you can hear one in advance you might just be tempted to place an immediate order. If you contact TRL they may be able to refer you to someone in your area that has one.
I think I'm in love with the VAC Phi Beta. It is quite the stunning piece.
And that was before I saw the favorable comparisons with Halle Berry over at sixmoons.
I've heard other VAC amps recently and was similarly impressed.
Can somebody tell me how well the Phi Beta might fare driving a pair of Ohm Walsh 5s? These present a somewhat challenging load and love to suck amps and power from SS amps normally.
I notice the PB is rated at same power output into 2, 4 and 8 ohms, which sounds promising. Could damping factor be an issue?
TRL ST-225 is the best I have owned. No remote however. It absolutely opened up my music collection like no other high end piece of gear I have ever heard. An utter and complete step beyond anything I have heard regardless of price.
I cannot imagine a better sounding set-up. If so, I want it yesterday!
Can somebody tell me how well the Phi Beta mightI
once owned a VAC Phi 110/110 stereo amplifier, and I used it with Von
Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE loudspeakers. The VS loudspeakers do not present
as difficult a load as the Ohm loudspeakers.
I found the sound to be exceptional at times, with a liquid midrange,
especially if using the amp in Ultriode mode (not sure if the Phi Beta
integrated amp has ultriode/ultralinear modes).
However, bass response in the VS speakers improved substantially when I
replaced the VAC Phi 110/110 with a Moscode 401HR hybrid amplifier.
I suspect the VAC Phi Beta would not be an ideal match with the Ohm
loudspeakers, and would result in an unbalanced, tipped-up, bass-shy
Like David12, I'm also very impressed with the Viva Solista. My friend has his paired with 86bd efficient speakers in a decent size room, but his listening is pretty much limited to small ensemble jazz and classical. With speakers rated in the mid 90dbs or better, I suspect the Solista would play any music with world class results.
I use many SET amps the better ones a wavac. The FBI sounded great on my SEAS bookshelfs and my 3 way front horn but the SETs all have better musical connection make me listen longer and with more interest than any SS Ive heard. But the FBI still is amazing for SS I could live with it. Since I design loudspeakers I tried a few diferant KCS designs on SET and the FBI.
The biggest mistake people make in buying intergrated amp is to buy the miniturised version of seperates,the classic example at the moment is the new Pass lab intergrated.It is nothing more[just like most other intergrated amp] a single chasis version of their seperates...
You should look for brands that makes Intergrated amp for a living,and believe me Neodio not only look interesting,it is [like Lavardin]unique..
I have also listen to all of the Int amp in your list and the Vitus and Krell are definitely in the top 2[depending on your taste,they are as different as Obama and McCain]
To these ears of mine KRELL FBI is the best sounding krell products
I think the Pass is basically their X-150 amp with a passive pre, I don't think there should be any complexity or compromise that might occur when building a pre into an amps chassis. Pass certainly knows how to build amps, adding as passive attentuator (perfectly matched to the amp portion) should make for a great integrated, assuming you like the sound of a Pass amp, I do. I've not heard the integrated, but I would be shocked if it was a mighty good one. Not bad looking either IMHO.
While it may not be the "best" in absolute terms, the set of two Pathos Classic One MkIII tube hybrid integrateds running in Mono mode are wonderful. I have not encountered another amplification scheme quite like it, nor one that sounds quite like it. Quite a lovely concept and execution.
At upgrade time I sold my MkII's to a man downsizing from Boulder separates. He was surprised at how little he gave up in terms of performance. I wasn't surprised.
The Absolute Sound review of the Pass INT-150 is in the September issue.
They said the front on view is "As imposing as a Peterbilt"
Neil Gader said "it's sweet and romantic, neutral and warm". Robert Harley in a side bar to the main review, "There must be a strong family resemblance between the INT-150 and the XA-100.5.
Neil went on to say "It's a musical force of nature."
You have to take reviews with a grain of salt, but as a former Pass Alep 1.2, 3, J, and XA-30.5 owner, I can tell you that Pass SS is very special and the only SS (well, maybe Ayre)that appeals to me, though I still prefer tubes.
The Pass sounds wonderful.
I'm still thinking though that the Rowland 500w/ch Class D is probably the best high end match for my big power sucking Ohms.
I almost went straight to Class D power amplification during my last upgrade, but decided to go with the Musical Fidelity A3CR which I picked up for a pittance in the interim in that I thought it would work well (it does) and give Class D some additional time to mature.
The A3CR is doing very nicely, but when the time comes to replace the Carver pre-amp, one of these beefier integrateds with a good integrated phono section may well be the way I go .
there is no bebest integrated. howver, i would nuy the original jadis orchestra 60 watt at a fair price. it is my favorite integrated amp.
my favorite amp, which i would buy in a minute at a fair price, although not the subject of this thread is the conrad johnson mv 125. it is my favorite amp of all time.
it is a joy to design a stereo system around that amp.