plinius 8200 is one of the best integrateds at any price IMO. just slighty above your budget on the used market. this amp served me well before moving to seperates.
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Sounds like your budget has dropped since you originally inquired about amps & preamps to drive the 4.5s.
It probably isn't what you want to hear, but IMHO you won't be fully taking advantage of your investment in the 4.5s with any integrated in this price range.
Can you get a decent amp? Sure. Will it maximize what the 4.5s were made to do, I doubt it. In fact, I'd guess that if you ask A.V.S., he'll say the same.
You've got a speaker that thrives on high current than most tube-friendly designs. It has resolving power that mades tubes best choice. That's why the BAT amps are a great match for them.
For $1500, I'd recommend a CJ CAV-50 and an external phono like a Lehman Black Cube or Phonomena. However, I think you'd be a lot happier in the long run if you wait until budget allows more $. If you haven't already bought the 4.5s, I'd reallocate more of the budget to the hardware and get the VR2s instead.
You can probably guess from my setup that I'm partial to McIntosh gear. If you don't mind getting used, I would recomend going separate. Depending on availability and your luck you can get a nice Mc pre with phono for about $700-$800, and for another $700-$800 a nice amp, like mc7100 (100Wx2), mc2505 (50Wx2) or similar.
Sbank, thanks for your comments! I am actually all over the board on this topic. I wanted to see what was available in a reasonably priced integrated because this hobby can get expensive in a hurry. My middle tier option at the moment is to get either the BAT vk-60 and the vk3i preamp or the VTL MB 125's with the 2.5 preamp. What I really want to do is order the Berning zh-270 amp and the Supratek Syrah preamp. Each day my mind changes on the most prudent approach. Now it is up to me to determine whether most prudent means sonically or financially! Up till now, the dealer who sold me the 4.5's had lent me a Sophia 40 watt integrated which was only barely adequate. Even with the Sophia and the Rotel RCD1072, the VS 4.5 was nice to listen to except for loud passages of orchestral works. One can do much worse than an el-34 based amplifier. I really did feel that better electronics would make this speaker really sing. It is by far the best piece of audio gear that I ever have owned. I really appreciate your thoughts.
Your comments make sense. I can relate, as I was an owner of the 4.5s with BAT vk60 & vk5i a few years ago. Now I use a Berning. It is certainly better than the BAT to my ears, but it should be at double the price. (Not to mention the wait for new & lack of used available!).
My very first tube amp was a VTL ST-80, certainly not as nice as the 125, so take this w/grain of salt, but to me the VTL doesn't give you the transparency of the BAT nor the Berning. Details will lack, relatively speaking.
The BAT combo could be the smart bet for your situation; you could use it for a year or two, order a Berning and/or Supratek whenever finanaces allow; use the BAT while you wait for them, and them sell the BATs at nominal depreciation. You could do a lot worse! Keep us posted...
Thanks again for your input. What you say makes a lot of sense. I will let you know what I do. There is a couple of month wait on the Berning but I really want one. A question about your BAT gear, what cable did you use since one is supposed to run it ballanced(twice the cable!) Does the Berning merit the raves of those who post about it? Have you ever run it without the preamp. I guess I could leave the phono to the side until I can afford a preamp? I am very intrigued by this amp. I heard the Siegfried here in Chicago and it was very good. How does the Berning do on your Von Schweikerts?
The Berning is all that & more. It is definitely better with a preamp, but still better than most other things running direct. Buying the Berning now, and waiting on a preamp might be the ticket for you.
I didn't have the Berning until a few months ago, and the VR4.5s were sold long before, so never heard them together.
This amp is so far in a different class than the others mentioned in this thread(as it should for the price), it's like comparing a Ferrari to a bunch of Hondas & Toyotas. They might be overachievers at their price point, but head-to-head, no contest.
RE: BAT cables, you don't need twice as many cables, you just need interconnects with XLR connectors. Your speaker cables can still be single wired or bi-wired, your choice. I used a few different ones: Transparent, Audioquest, Audio Magic(who makes the VR jumpers).