Best Integrated that you've heard under $5k


It's a crowded market in the under $5k arena...

Let's hear which integrated amp surprised you and maybe even had you shaking your head in disbelief. 

Watch the first response be, 'no $5k integrated is that good' blah blah blah. You know how it is, lot of old fogeys on here that are done censoring themselves and take it out on the thread.

Also, if I've missed the cutoff and there's just this $6k or $7k amp that is worth consideration, feel free to mention.
cd45123
It all depends on your speakers.  I have the Decware SE34I.5 and it is the best integrated I have ever heard.  That said, it is 6 watts/channel so it requires highly efficient speakers.  I have it hooked to some Altec Lansing A7-500's and it is the most musical, best sounding combination I have ever heard.  Hook the Decware up to some Wilson speakers or Maggies that are also very nice and it will sound anemic and terrible.  Good luck, but in my opinion its all about the matching.  Now if you were to throw out some 82 db sensitivity speakers, that's a totally different animal.  The Decware with the Altec's is like riding in a beautiful luxury sedan.  Something with a 82 db sensitivity is more like a high end sports car and is going to need some horses (watts/power). 
Decware Mini Torii 4 watts 6V6 tubes use with a 92db eff Ref 3A de Capo   full rich sound
I might be out of left field but, my current list.

Hegel H390
Michi X3
Technics SU-G700 (3k) cheap option, but I absolutely loved it so much I swapped it for the Technics SU-R1000.
uh boy....

Here we go...the ol "what's best..."
I use a polarizing Chinese brand-nuff said. 

Let's see how the thread stays on track.
@tablejockey I know right, lol. I'm a glutton for punishment
cd45123-

you didn't specify SS or tubes?

My mention is tube. Don't forget the lead times if you go USA. Good luck
Can be anything, doesn’t matter if it’s 2 watts or 200, obviously there a synergy thing but it’s always interesting when something surprises us that we didn’t see coming. The reviewers can only disclose so much if they want to keep doing it.
Yamaha AVR.
Just kidding.
Humor is always appreciated
Take a look at Leben, both CS-300 or CS-600 are quite remarkable.
ljutic-
Raven Blackhawk 
Indeed.    

Under $5k will get you a Raven Blackhawk with all the best tube upgrades including the ones not listed on the site that you have to call and talk to Dave Thompson or James Connell to get.
That’s it. What did I win?
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Leben, Line Magnetic, VTL, Aesthetix Mimas, Belles, Toolshed, 

the Aesthetix w card based Jim White phono and or DAC is stellar Finesse sonics w sledgehammer drive IF needed.

but i have heard all the above in excellent systems….vs. reading about them…. heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend…you get the ole REO Speedwagon lyric…..

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tomic601 got it right Aesthetix MIMAS at 7k and Belles aria sign5.5k

Enjoy the Music
Tom
The only one I have heard, thus the absolute best without question:

my Cayin A88T (I got version 1 for 16 ohm taps). Just biased (internal adjusters) by VAS. Version 2 and 3 omit the16 ohm tap and add external bias control. This review is why I took a chance, darn glad I did!

https://6moons.com/audioreviews/cayin/a88t.html

I prefer KT88’s to optional 6550’s,

I prefer ultra-linear mode (45 wpc) rather than it’s optional triode mode (22wpc) which can be remotely toggled, thus easy to compare. You don’t hear more volume when you switch, just a slight difference is sound characteristic.

Awesome build quality and sound. Happily it sounds like my 1958 Vintage Fisher 80Z tube monos, but with the modern features of an integrated and remote.

If I didn’t need 16 ohm, I would definitely want to hear a Raven with the built in optional crossover for a sub.
I should have added the CODA CSiB integrated that I sold and bought the CODA separates. The CSiB is an excellent sounding piece.

The KRELL K-300i I linked above is smoother (Class A first 90 watts) and is being compared favorably to $13450 Boulder and $40K D’Agastino on Stereophile. I put mine up for sale last week to raise some cash for another upgrade and then came to my senses. I removed the ad.
I think Musical Fidelity makes incredible sounding stuff...I had an m5si and kind of bummed I sold it. Muscular, meaty sound but stays delicate enough on the highs.
Would love to hear some of their higher-end stuff...
Tubes, Quicksilver Integrated, Raven Audio Blackhawk, Pathos Logos MKII and Pathos Classic Re-Mix In Pol. (Pathos are Hybrid)

SS, Simaudio 204I and 340i, Belles Aria, AVA DVA M225's (AMAZING). Had an NAD M10 that was fun also.

Now spend a bit more $6500 to $7500 (now) the Audio Hungary Qualiton X200.


Simaudio has some good integrated that shocked me when I learned their price.

Rega has some nice integrated as well.

And NAD was my first integrated and that brought me years of enjoyment.
I really like Simaudio gear also.  They are pretty expensive and I would have a hard time paying their MSRP, but I was able to pick up a 600i for well under your budget.  I've compared it to integrateds from Heed, ARC, Vincent, and Peachtree and it's better than any of them.  I also have a Simaudio headphone amp and it's the best I've heard after owning a number of different headphone amps. 

There's always something better, and "better" is always a matter of taste (unless you're one of those ASR guys), but if you can find a pre-owned Simaudio integrated in your price range I think most people would find it very enjoyable.
Easy... Kinki Studio EX-M1. You would have to spend over five grand to significantly better it. It's only 2400 shipped. Sounds like it should cost 7 Grand
+1 for Raven Blackhawk.  
+1 for Audio Hungary Qualiton x200. If your speakers are on the efficient side, the Qualiton a20i is another solid contender. Excellent class A tube sound. 
a lot of people have never heard it because it is class D but check out wyred4dound STI. 
The PS Audio Strata has been a great integrated amp.  I hear the differences in any of my cables, sources and speakers.  The quality of the sound, build and features along with the unassuming size makes it a high value piece.  It drives my Proac 3.8’s and JM Reynaud’s with ease.  Wonderful piece at $3K. 
NAD M33. By def it’s a SS amp, but has all new amplification, almost zero distortion, sounds like neither tube or SS, somewhere perfectly in between.  200 watts with room correction, too.
Hooserinohio has it right!

There is no “best integarated” amp at any price!

Without matching the specific amp to specific speakers.

You must match the impedence as well as the efficiency of the speakers to the amp, among many other factors. If you get the right match then there are many great integrated amps!

Hegel integrateds are “best” with Harbeths, while Line Magnetiics may be best with Proacs or Klipsch Heritage speakers, etc., etc.

Select your speakers and then find your amp to match, or vice versa!
It's just a bit over $5K, but so worth it considering the excellent onboard DAC that for most of the others you would have to add...consider the Audio Note Cobra. 
I haven't heard a ton of integrated but one I really liked was the LTA Z10 integrated I think it's just under $5k.
ditusa said:Quicksilver integrated.
http://quicksilveraudio.com/products/integrated-amplifier/ __________________________________________
+1. Easily drive Focal Aria 906s, rated at 89.5 dB sensitivity, to loud enough volume. Said to be engineered to work each tube at moderate effort for longer life. Rock-solid construction.
I auditioned the McIntosh MA352, Prima Luna EVO 400 and the Line Magnetic 805iA.  I have DeVore Fidelity O/96.  I purchased the Line Magnetic.  I felt it had the best Soundstage and brought out everything, instruments and voices the best.  For me it was the clear winner.
I have Peachtree Nova 300 had a Nova 150 and think these amps deserve some love. 
Used…

Pass Labs Int-30a
Pass Labs Int 25 (pushes the 5k mark even used)
Hegel H390 and H190
Simaudio Moon i7

New but slightly less overall…

Parasound Hint 6 or Halo, Hint is a tad better
Peachtree Ints are good to, but geared a bit more toward digital IMO

Supernait 3 is a high quality piece. 
I have a list of highly regarded integrated amps in your price range, but haven’t personally heard them except a well regarded previous generation amp.  Also, the sonics of the integrated depends on the rest of the audio chain and room interactions.
No idea if you want tubes or SS?
No idea if your speakers are rated 83 or 95 Sensitivity.
But why not throw out the best options:

Lejonklou Boazu Integrated. 40wpc. $4,400 new. Swedish- S.S.
Blackest background you've ever heard.
Pass Labs INT25 25+wpc. Used $5,500 or so.S.S. but tube like sound.
Audio Research I-50 $5,000. 50 wpc.New. Tube. Coming out soon.

Good luck!!
Limited scope of experience here, but my Hegel H390 drives my Dynaudio Contour 30s quite nicely. Factor in the very competent dac and streamer, it’s a solid choice. Lack of long promised Roon readiness deserves a demerit however. 
Naim products are consistently rated better than Hegel $4$.
Kind of a hard price point for me. At dealers and shows I often hear more expensive or way cheaper integrateds.

One that stood out is Bryston B135 cubed. I just saw one on hifishark.com for $7500. Maybe you can find a cheaper one.

For cheaper my favorite is the Schiit Ragnarok 2 I own right now. It sounds way better than I thought and is a great buy in the $2k - $3k range. 

I am curious about the Lejonklou that someone mentioned above. Maybe next time I upgrade (if that happens).
I really liked my rogue audio Sphinx at the time. 
I’m basically in love with the Tubelab SSE that I built myself.
The term "integrated" traditionally has been short for "integrated amplifier". However, in the world of digital streaming systems, the part that really matter to SQ and functionality isn't so much the power amp but the pre-amp, along with the DAC. Therefore, it may make sense to focus the integration farther up the chain.  For about $5K or less, there are many good products that integrate streaming, D-A conversion, and pre-amp capabilities (volume control and source-switching).  The Cambridge Audio Edge NQ, for example. Others include the NAD Masters M33, Matrix Audio Element series, iFi Pro iDSD, and Bryston BDA 3.14.  You'll need to pair one of these with a good power amp, but the resulting total cost (and box-count) could wind up in about the same territory as you'd get with an integrated amp and source (e.g. turntable, CD player, or dedicated streamer). 

At some point (say, the next 5-10 years) the integrated amp as we know it may be going the way of the stereo receiver. If you're already marrying source selection and volume control to your streamer/DAC, it is redundant to integrate these functions with the power amp as well.  Separating the power amp then creates opportunities for mono-block or multi-channel configurations, along with the smaller footprint of a modern power amp like the Benchmark AHB2. Or use active speakers, for no visible amplifier footprint at all.

Of course, none of the above applies if you are into vinyl, tubes, and low-wattage SET amps. 
I just bought a Hegel H390 intergraded and am very happy with it.
But like others have said, a lot depends on the speakers you are driving.

Check it out.

JD
The Sugden A21se @ $3250 is quite a bargain. Also, my Marantz pm14s1 @ $3000....both the best I’ve ever owned. Also the Unison Research unico primo and the Naim Nait 5si...Next, I'm going to try a Van Alstine SET 120 control amplifier, just because, only $1199. It should let the source components speak for themselves, as it has only a passive preamp, volume control and input selector. You are hearing only the amp, and from what I’ve read, it’s a great sounding amp. 60 watts @ 8 ohms, 120 into 4....first 10 watts biased class A. Communication with Frank came to a halt when I inquired about a discount, lol.
Van Alstine should either be highly discounted or not bought at all.  You think communication halts when you ask for a discount, just hope you don't have an issue.  You will find that you own a really expensive boat anchor. 
@hoosierinohio I have always received great support and fast response from AVH never an issue nor have I ever had an issue with their gear...
But everyone is challenges these days with staffing, supply-chain and logistics.

Just the facts of life during COVID.