best sounding integrated for under 2500.00

just getting back into audio. want this to be my last purchase. like smooth warm sounding equipment as i listen to alot of metal and rock from the 80s. this can sound harsh on alot of equipment. been researching for months and im getting more confused by the minute. i thought creek destiny or krell 300 might do the trick. any other suggestions. powering psb stratus golds.
My local hi fi store gives rave reviews to the Cambridge Audio Azur 840A that retails for about $1,800 and on my last trip to the store I inquired if they still had one in the store since I didn't see it anywhere and the response was that they did. I pointed to the Krell S-300i and told them it was on my dream list and they told me that they liked it even better than the 840A.

I'd try to listen to both of them, but I doubt you could go wrong with the Krell, but the extra $700 might make the 840A a better value.

For reference, the 840A is the only Cambridge Audio product that my local hi fi store keeps in the showroom, they really love this particular model.
I really like the Creek Destiny myself. I have not heard the Krell but that seems like a good choice as well
VTL IT85 is fabulous. Warmth, detail and imaging. The new Anthem integrated and used Plinius.
FYI,stores always love the brands they carry and their favorite model is the one the customer is thinking about buying. Just a thought. BTW,the VS 840 sounds great.
Correction,the CA 840.It's early!!!!!
The choice will depend on the speakers you have or are getting.. No point in recommending amps that aren't a good match for the speakers you'll use with them.
I recommend the Wyred4Sound STI-500. 250w/ch, many features and very well built. Prior the STI-500, I had a Naim XS and McIntosh C42 preamp/MC252amp. STI-500 betters them all. Read the reviews. Talk to Walter at Underwood.
CJ MF2500a
The Exposure 3010s2 would fit your needs.
cayin 100 should be considered.
Erikminer, he has PSB Stratus Golds.
Any of the Simaudio integrateds could work for you. I've had the I-5 and I-5 LE and been very happy with them playing everything from rock to Bach.
Rowland Concentra or Concentra II, used, which show up here on the A'gon from time to time. You may have to stretch a little for the Concentra II (I think they usually go for low 3's). Warm sounding and built to last.
Vincent and Rogue should be considered too.
Go no further, if you can find a used Cary Audio SLI80 F-1, you can get it for that. The non-F1 version is great as well, and would be a little less if found used.

Great integrated, with plenty of power. Sorry I sold mine.
"FYI,stores always love the brands they carry and their favorite model is the one the customer is thinking about buying. Just a thought." - Tpreaves

I can't argue this point in general terms, but the salesman knows that I have no plans to upgrade any of my equipment so they have no reason to push this particular product. On the last trip to the store I was actually there with a friend that was looking to purchase.

I've heard them rave about the 840A more than once. If circumstances were different when I upgraded my equipment I would have likely purchased one, but it didn't quite fit into the overall plan.
If you would consider a tube integrated I would suggest a Cary SLI-80 (Used) ....

Leben CS-300.
I would think a tube amp, most any tube amp, let alone a low powered one, would be a very bad match with the OP's speakers. His speaker likely needs at least 100 watts SS to drive them. SIM Audio is proabably a good match in terms of power and drive - not sure about sonic signature, but something of that wattage and ability to drive low and swinging impedances - not for a tube amp.
Yes, great integrated, but not for OPs speakers IMHO. 84db, 2.8 impedance dip in bass region and impedance swings all over the place based on 1997 Stereophile measurements, exactly what a tube amp does not want to see in a speaker.
I've owned a couple of integrateds recently. PS Audio GCC 250, Krell 400xi, TAD 60 tube integrated, the Rowland Concentra that I recently sold FAR outclasses them all. I moved on to more expensive separates and sometimes wonder how much more I'm getting. Plus the Rowland is a piece of art to look at.

Good Luck in your search
I would also say the "V2" model of the Cambridge Audio 840A, even though I'm getting ready to sell mine due to system consolidation. It's a fantastic integrated. I wasn't a big fan of the first version, but the V2 model is outstanding.

Another, that's actually a tad better than the 840A in my opinion, is the Vincent Audio SV-336MK. It's a hybrid integrated with a 12AX7 based preamp married to a 150w SS amplifier section. Outstanding build and sound quality.
dang - wish I could edit... that should be the Vincent Audio SV-236MK
Also. I listen tons lot of the same music you do I imagine. Huge NWOBHM fan (Holocaust, Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head, Limelight, etc). Up the Irons!
No, Rowland would never work with this kind of music, forget it. They are very rare, and I want one!
Rowland of course. There is nothing better for the price, hard rock or whatever.
I am actually in the exact same position as the OP (PSB Goldi) - would the collective community here consider MF A308 or A5 to be decent candidates?

If not, why?
While it is true that all dealers say they like what they sell, in this case I think your dealer is not leading you astray. I just acquired the Cambridge Audio 840e/840w combination, and if they are any indication, the 840a V.2 should be a great value for the money. It pains me to say that, a little, because the units are made in China, but it is true. The controls and inputs are unusually flexible (I believe the front end on the 840e and 840a are virtually the same), and the sound is great. My impression is that CA's whole Azur product line is a winner. I think you could do much worse than to hop back down to your dealer and purchase, without fear of buyer's remorse.
Sorry, just realized that I got the original post and first response confused. The basic message is the same, though- if your target price is $2500 and under, the 840a would be a good addition to your short list.
has anybody heard or auditioned Atoll integrateds. someone told me about these and after some research they sound like what im looking for. i just dont know about reliability.
I have a new Bel Canto C5i, that is absolutely amazing. I have it matched up with an AppleTV and Klipsch Heresy II's with Crites crossovers, woofers and tweeter diaphrams, and it's absolutely stellar.

Great integrated DAC and it has a MM phono stage, which I have yet to use. Great for a second system for me, and it's beautiful as all of their gear is.
Two integrateds that I'm surprised to see haven't been mentioned and that you might consider would be the Ayre, which can generally be had for less than $2k used, and the Naim NAIT 5i. Both make music.

Happy listening.
I have the Atoll components. Great sound, never had a problem.
You can get Atoll AM200 power amp and PR300 pre for $2200 from
Rega Elicit, Plinius 9200 ( maybe a bit over your budget but worth it, imo) the Creek Destiny is very good unless it breaks, damhik, ARC Vsi55, Atoll is also a nice piece, but weak resale value I'm afraid.
Is there an integrated amp in the $2,000-$2,500 should avoid? Other than tube ones? I get the feeling you can hardly go wrong with an SS integrated in that price range, though they may be a clunker out there to avoid.
I don't think there are any actual "dogs" I think there will be better sonic choices for the OP's speakers. If the choice will be solid state I'd stick to something that errors on the musical side rather than the more neutral, PSB's are a nice speaker but with the aluminum dome tweeter I'd be careful with my amp choice. The Plinius 9200 would work well and if the OP isn't going to really crank things up the Rega Elicit is a really musical amp too.
Going back to the original question...and budget.

The PSB Stratus Gold speakers need some juice to sound their best. They are a nominal 4 ohm load with dips below 3 ohms - while many of the integrateds here are, in fact, fine machines, they are not optimally suited to drive such a load. From what I've read from current and past Gold owners, the more clean power, the better.

On my radar are Musical Fidelity (A308 and A5), Krell, Plinius...any others that deserve consideration?

I'd prefer to avoid class D amps; the ones I've heard have not exhibited the warmth I prefer although I am not close-minded on the subject.
A used Portal Panache (100w/8 200w/4) would be a worthy choice - though you can get it new for $1795. Unverified rumor is that Nelson Pass designed the circuit. The Ayre would be wonderful IF it had more power for the PSBs, but I think it would be a bit shy.
More I think about it a used Plinius 9200 would be a great choice.. Lot's of power, very musical, non-fatiguing can easily drive a 4 ohm load, good phono section, built like a tank. I had one for almost 7 years and it was built proof never an issue and it took me a long time to find something that really was better.. and it was tubes, which wouldn't drive those PSB's you have.
atoll 200.creek destiny. musical fidelity a5. plinius 9200 has come up alot. which would be better sounding and reliable for psb stratus golds.
Simaudio Moon i3.3
Vikingnick, IMO, you should seriously consider the Atoll pre/amp option. Think of it as a 2-piece high current integrated amp, which has 124000 mf capacitance and 1000 VA power transformer. Now, can you get something like that for $2200?
I highly doubt that.
Creek is nice I had one, it blew up.. took MONTHS to get fixed because it's made in China and Creek UK (forget Music Hall) had to wait to get the parts needed from China to fix it.. That's only one data point but I sold it shortly after and replaced it with a Rega Elicit. The Rega won't really drive your PSB's, it's only 80 wpc. Atoll is very nice but no resale value, if that's ok then consider it. The Plinius, and again I had one for almost 7 years and never a hiccup, has got all the power you'll need (200 wpc) and is sonically outstanding, tons of great reviwes and has been a TAS editors choice in it's price range numerous times. Plinius has after almost eight years come out with a replacement for the 9200 (Hautonga) so there are a few good buys on used 9200's, fyi the 9200 really haven't changed much but the later versions did add a balanced input. Seems that 9200's get snapped up pretty quick on the 'Gon so if that's the direction you want to go you'll need to keep your eyes open. Oh and Musical Fidelity, I haven't owned one but they have always gotten good press and are certainly a worthy product.
I just re-read this question, and since it does not ask in regard to what speakers, just best sounding integrated under $2500, I'm voting for the Cary SLI-80 again. Great sounding integrated with 80/w, and great to look at, great re-sale.

I'm voting again, you know, like a Chicago election.
He speicfically mentions PSB Stratus Gold, which will make the Cary SLI-80 not sound like the "great" integrated that it is.
Pubul57 have you heard that combination?
No. I have heard tube amps with speakers not appropriate for
tubes and then the same amp with speakers that are and the
amps always sounded best (and the speakers as well) when
properly matched to the speaker. As wonderful as the Cary
may be, it remains a tube amp, and the PSB a speaker that
performs best with high current amps, SS for the most part,
though I am pretty sure a CAT JL2 would drive the PSBs very
well indeed (a high powered, Class A, 200lbs tube amp with
three massive transformers each weigh as much as the whole
SLI - yes a tube amp like that would be undaunted by most
speaker loads - the SLI is not that type of tube amp).

As for the importance of matching amps to speakers,try
listening to B&W 802D with the Cary, then
lets say a pair of Merlin VSMS with the Cary - your
impressions will be quite different, the CARY will sound
like a much better amp with the Merlins. Then try the B&W
with a McIntosh 200 watt SS amp, your view of the B&W is
considerably better than you first thought - even if you
thought it sounding quite good with the Cary - till you hear
with the SS Mac - almost a different speaker, for the
better, driven with the MAC. The Merlin will sound great
with both, but it will clearly show the superiority of tubes
with speakers that are meant to be driven by tubes.
pubul57 what integrated do you think i should go for as you seem to know my psb stratus gold needs. my listening room is small but the psb seems to need power. i love a wide soundstage and cant stand the harshness of overbearing highs.
On reputation alone, I think the Plinius is likely to be a good way to go. The Portal Panache is another good candidate, I do think Nelson Pass designed the circuit, and nothing he designs sounds anything but good. Basically any integrated SS with 100 watts or more should up for consideration. What I would not do is go tubes with those speakers, and I only have used tubes with a few forays into Pass SS, so it is not that I am an SS guy, but if I loved the PSBs, and many do, I do think you have to go the SS route to make them sing and give you the bass they are capable of. The Ayre mentioned is great, but not enough power for those speaker at loud levels IMHO. Same with the NAIM mentioned, great amp, but you need some juice for those speakers.
pubul57 what integrated do you think i should go for as you seem to know my psb stratus gold needs. my listening room is small but the psb seems to need power. i love a wide soundstage and cant stand the harshness of overbearing highs.
The Portal is a really nice amp. I has at one time considered one, but for me no remote was a deal breaker. Also and you didn't mention if its important but it also does not have a phono stage.