The MA speakers are very easy to drive, the Modwright KWI-200 is a fantastic IA( I owned one and upgraded to separates) and would be there through many speaker upgrades down the road. But for less money the Hegel 200 may be a better fit and is also well received.
Naim, Rega or Exposure. Very easy. All well below your price point.
Hi - my 2 cents. I bought a used Hegel 200 as backup for tube mono blocks. I've been very happy with it. It's got a pretty warm sound for solid state....
the upper frequencies are actually just a little rolled off compared to my tube gear, but possibly that's just in my system. Paid around $2500 for it, as I recall. Haven't regretted that choice. This is not to say any of your other candidates wouldn't make you very happy. Plinius was on my short list but I found the Hegel first. I wouldn't be inclined to spend more for just a built in DAC (didn't realize the 300 had one) but others have posted that the 300 beats the 200 on sonics. So if you can afford a used 300, that might be the way to go, though again I personally would not spend more for just a built in DAC since you already have a pretty good one in the the Oppo.
You might want to also consider a Plinius integrated amp as you had stated above. They make excellent products. I have owned several of their integrated amps and regular amps over the years. They are built extremely solid and have great sonics. I'm currently using the Plinius Reference SA amp in my main system and love it.
The Harman/Kardon 990 amp has gotten very good reviews and has a terrific amp section (VERY high current capability), can handle up to 2 subwoofers, plus it has room correction capabilities - very sweet! And it's $1995 brand new. Definitely check this one out...
I have both the H200 and H300 and have listened to both of them extensively. IMO, I don't think one neccesarily sounds better than the other but I do think they sound different. To me, and others, the 200 sounds warmer and a bit more subtle than the 300 which has a more forward, detailed sound. So I think it is a matter of taste. System is a MAC mini, Berkeley DAC 2, and Magico Mini II's Both of them drive the Mini II's quite well (can be challenging speakers to drive). My first experience with Hegel. Very impressed with their products. I have no experience with the others you mentioned.
If you are not opposed to Tubes you might want to try an ARC VSi-60. At the moment there are a couple for sale here on this site; no affiliation.
I second looking at the Plinius. Or a Melody.
Another great SS Integrated although you would have to bump up your budget a bit(used) is the Pass INT 150 or 30A. Reno Hi-Fi offers a free 10 day in home trial all you pay is shipping to and fro if you send it back.
Have you considered Pathos from Italy? It is both good sounding and stunning looking.
Another possibility would be the conrad-johnson CA200. I own one so therefore I'm prejudiced but it did replace some more costly separates (also conrad-johnson) and I've been very pleased. There are a few available now on Audiogon within your budget. I'm not familiar with your speakers but I do have an Oppo 105D which I use almost exclusively with either external hard drives or solid state drives. so that's a common point of reference. I find the CA200 to be an excellent match with the rest of my system and it has simplified my life.
Just a thought.
Another suggestion is the Ayre AX-7e Integrated amplifier. The amp sounds best when run in balanced mode. You can run balanced interconnects into your Oppo 105. See:
You might consider a pre-owned unit to keep the price down. I am using the Ayre AX-7e in my 2 channel home theater system and it is an outstanding amplifier.
Some very good suggestions above, but recommendations would be much more targeted and meaningful if you told us what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you and/or what you would like to improve upon.
Thanks for all the helpful advice and recommendations. Good question from Soix, I guess my current set up sounds pretty good to me for the money. Currently running through a Rotel rmb1075 as amp to Oppo directly. Guess looking for more of an open sound stage, detail, separation in hearing instruments etc. However wanting an amp that will last year's and power much more difficult speakers if needed. Although only wanting 2 channel still want it to sound good with movies also. In relation to type of sound, my brother years ago had a real nice Linn set up. Obviously Linn cost more once you start added pre/power amps but always loved the way it sounded. Not sure if this helps answer any questions? My concern with an amp like Rega/Nad is it won't be a significant step up. Was asked earlier by someone why not buy new, well reason is I can get more for my money used.
Also forgot to mention the amp must be able to connect directly to Oppo XLR so can utilize DAC.
I think you should check out the LSA brand of Amps(Statement). Also Ayon makes a tube Integrated The Triton earlier gens go for a lot better prices used. Both of these can drive your speakers no problem. LSA is a hybrid Tube/SS design, 150/300 watts 8/4 ohm. The Ayon Triton is a ALL tube design with 150 watts stereo. Also, the Oppo will allow use of Single ended cables so It dosent HAVE to be XLR. It will still be utilizing the ESS Saber dacs.
I would put the Ayre up against any of the amps on the market in that range right now. It's a natural sounding amp. It will play what you send through it. Honest. Closest to tubes that I"ve heard for SS and I'm a tube guy. I've heard many of the integrates listed in this thread and many are excellent sounding.
Nothing on your list is a slouch. Just comes down to taste. For me, I'd look at Coda or Ayre.
Good Luck, Tim
I agree with the Ayre recommendation, love mine! It make a very noticeable difference in all areas when I changed to it from my previous Classe Cap 151 integrated.
Yes, LSA Statement is incredible. About $3500 new, but you can find used now and then here. Mine is powerful, clear, transparent, and vivid. Easily bested my Audio research VS-115 I had a while ago.
And you can't go wrong with Ayre.
I like Joe Appierto rec. hard to go wrong with Conrad Johnson ! Should last you thru several speaker upgrades as well.It sounds like CJ would fit what you value in sound as well.Also great service,should you need it.Still kicking myself for selling my CJ amp,and will buy another when able.Best sound I've had with my system.
CJ CA-200 @ 3,000.00 used,I think new retail is 6500.00 .Probably my next purchase. But I will have to sell my Supratek Chardonnay to swing it.Whatever you end up I hope it brings you much joy.
The cj CA200 does get overlooked. I have not heard the 200 but it does share some design circuitry with the mighty Premier 350 which is the best balanced sounding amp I have heard. If you keep your MA RX6 or move up the MA line it should be a perfect fit to keep the aggressive MA treble tamed.
I was in this situation last year. I looked and listened to everything on your list plus the Luxman l-505u and I ended up with the Hegel H200. I can't stand the looks of it but wow does it sound right. For me.
Thanks for all the advice so far.Donjr did you try the Rega Elict R as I have been given an awesome price on a used model. Also in relation to Hegel I agree the unit is ugly but I hear nothing but good reports. They are bringing out Hegel 160 soon to replace 100 and 200 so may wait. Did you happen to compare hegel 100 with 200 - is there much difference?
Simonmorty-I heard the Rega Elict/Apollo driving a VA Haydn and was not impressed. IMO a $1500(new)NAD 375BEE is a better amp. If your looking for a used amp under $2K consider a Marantz-S11/2 which is competitive or better then all amps on your list, and should be a good match with Monitor Audio.
Hegel would be my choice. I also have a sim audio 5.3se I am not using if you want to buy that.
I'll second RW on the HK 990. High quality, lots of power, and unmatched flexibility (particularly the bass management and DSP). If you're looking to future proof yourself, I don't think anything else out there can match it. NAD also makes a unit that barks up the same tree, but I prefer the HK.
I own a yba passion 100 integrated.I absolutely love it.If you can find a used one go for it you wont be sorry!
Hi Martykl. So how does this unit you recommend compare to say Marantz units i.e AV7005, AV8801? I have previously owned the Marantz with a Rotel RMB1075 and the sound was good. However looking for a more superior sound and would find it hard to believe although good that the HK990 could compete for 2 channel audio with Hegel 200 or CJ CA200? Maybe I'm missing something and open to suggestions. Thanks
Just my personal, but I listened to all the integrated's talked about in this thread and the Ayre was heads and toes above the others a couple aren't in the same class at all. PEsonally, I hope you get a chance to go listen for yourself. I have used a top NAD integrated with Proac Supertowers for years and I needed a change. I also run a Marantz in my bedroom system, so I fully know what they sound like I"m not cutting them down at all as I own them myself, but they don't do anything as well as the Ayre. The Ayre should as it costs much more. The AX5 is the best integrated I've ever heard. We are talking about the AX7e in this thread but they are cut from the same DNA. Go listen for yourself as that's the only way you will be happy with your purchase.
Given what you said you're looking for I'd think an integrated from Hegel, Ayre, Pass Labs, or Plinius among others would be a large step forward in all those areas you listed. Of those I only see a Hegel H200 currently available in your price range, and if you can bargain the asking price down a bit you could likely resell it at little/no loss if it's not to your liking. But I would think that highly unlikely. Best of luck and let us know how it works out whatever you ultimately choose.
Thanks guys for all your help. It has helped me narrow down my search a lot. Currently looking at Hegel, Ayre, C.J and Pinius. Guess my desire is that it will work with my current speakers but also for upgrade
I've had the Modwright KWI 200 since August and quite like it though they weren't lying when they said tons of break-in is needed. Detailed while maintaining a hint of the warmth I found lacking in many other amps. That warmth is the glue that holds all the bits and pieces in the soundstage together IMO.
However not 100% sure I'll keep it, also want to hear the Hegels therefore I find Drarmi's earlier comments comparing the two very interesting. If I go Hegel it will be the H200, not interested in spending the extra money for a built in DAC on the 300
IMO, the HK is a somewhat different animal than virtually any other model recommended in this thread, so it will come down to your personal priorities. The HK power amp section is a true high end SS design, similar in many ways to those found in Electrocompaniet amps (they were designed by the same person). As far as I can tell, the execution is first rate and the HK 990 will handle most speaker loads very gracefully and without complaint. Personally, I doubt that any other SS integrated amp in your price range will be meaningfully superior in this respect.
The pre-amp section is where this choice will either win or lose for most audiophile types. It can be used as a traditional high end unit in direct mode. I thought it sounded very good this way in the lengthly home audition I conducted. I didn't compare it to Marantz, but I did have the opportunity to compare it to a my Bel Canto and Pathos integrateds with my SF Cremonas. I would honestly be hard pressed to tell you I heard much difference between the Bel Canto and the HK - tho I thought that the Pathos was a somewhat different sounding animal.
However, when used with the DSP engaged in a system with subwoofers (a pair of 12" Rythmiks) and Maggie MMGs, the HK really shined. It replaced a high end Onkyo pre-pro and an ARC VT 130SE and sounded very, very good in comparison. At the price, I felt it a real bargain for such an application.
My bottom line (per my previous post) is that the HK probably provides unmatched flexibility relative to the universe of high end integrateds. IMO, it's very, very good as a traditional unit, but absolutely great when used with sub-woofers. Since your speaker choice is TBD, I thought it was a particularly appropriate recommendation in your case.
BTW, I never had the chance to buy the unit as HK discontinued it before I pulled the trigger and I no longer buy used gear.
I used Plinius for years and it was an awesome match for my Dynaudios. I owned the 8150 through the 9200 and, in my eyes/to my ears, they are eye catching ear candy. Bullet proof and perform well above their price point. The 9200's are generally in your price range.
Not sure way would match your speakers well
Years ago, I had the Acurus DIA 150...too old, though.
For tubes, the Rogue Cronus was a great buy.
Good luck, have fun and enjoy the tunes!
Try and find a used/demo Exemplar Audio Exception Integrated. With a really nice front end you would have to spend big big bucks to beat this unit. I own one and have no plans on replacing it. It is a beautiful sounding piece of audio equipment!
Lot's of choices. I'd love to see you get an Ayre and put it up against all the other choices you have. That will tell us about your ear, lol.
I just picked up a preowned Hegel H200 after listening to their gear at the recent RMAF. Although I have no experience with the other amps mentioned I am extremely happy with this unit. Much deeper sound stage and resolution compared to my Anthem AV30/A2 combination. Plenty of power to push my B&W803s speakers with much smother bass as well.
Heard the Ayre AX7e last year at HiFi House thru some Wilson speakers. Blew me away, clean, transparent, hint of warmth but nicely detailed. Only issue is it works best in balanced mode. It got me started on thinking about a serious upgrade to a modern integrated. Heard a McIntosh 6700 the next day and also enjoyed that. Different level there though.
I made the decision to go fully balanced. I am even looking into going balance for my turntable/phono pre. It has made the world of difference. Just get a balanced DAC and you're all set. When you play in this range, going balanced is pretty easy. The Ayre to me just blew away all the others and I often will bring my integrated with me to shops and listen straight up. Even the sales people are blown away by the Ayre. Any shop I've gone into who sells Ayre along with others ALWAYS has demoed with the Ayre gear if I didn't ask. If you ask the workers, they all say the Ayre is what they have or want. I find that telling myself.
An Ayre AX7e mated to a Monitor Audio RX6 with wood flooring "might" make earplugs a necessity. IMO the RX6 needs a "calmer" form of amplification if natural timbre/texture is valued over hi-fi gymnastics.
Dayglow....I have no idea what you are talking about in regards to the Ayre....There is no way it's a bright amp. Please reread all the posts by those of us who have the amps from Ayre and you will notice similar words like nearly tube like...It's very detailed in a warm way...It's the opposite of bright. The problem with Monitor speakers from everything I've ever heard is that they are very bright. They aren't my cup of tea, but some people like that in their sound. To me Wilsons are also tipped up in the high end and When I've heard them with the Ayre amps they've sounded their best.
Dayglow, have you owned an AX7e? If so, what have you played it with? There is NO WAY that the Ayre are 'hi fi gymnastics'...they are the natural Timber/texture that you mention.....I'll take everyone else comments over what you have shared. I"m sure you've never own the Ayre and probably haven't even heard it based on your comments. I've shared on a few threads that I have brought my Ayre to other dealers to audition speakers as I was keeping my Ayre and wanted new speakers....even the dealers said they were shocked as what the Ayre did. One actually called Ayre to see if they could become a dealer....Glowing endorsement to say the least I'd say.
No I have never owned an Ayre product. I had a lengthy demo with the K-1/V-1 at Stereo City(Grand Blanc MI)about a dozen years ago. The source was a Sony XA-7ES with Thiel 2.3 and the Wilson Cub 2, can't recall the cables(lol). The sound with both speakers was thin, hyper and steely sounding on strings(violin/guitar). Many variables here... was the gear broke in, cable/speaker synergy, acoustics? Who knows but this demo left a poor impression regarding Ayre considering the cost. Several years later at Audio Dimensions(Royal Oak MI) I had a short demo with the AX7/CX7(not the Evolution) with MAG 1.6 speakers/Kimber Kable and this set up was better but an overall thin/dry sound still prevailed. Since most of us agree the Monitor RX6 is bright/thin, and with the addition of wood floors leads me to believe Ayre/Monitor Audio RX6 would not be a good match.
Well, Theil and Maggies can sound that way regardless of what you run them with. Set up is key. I don't know what older Ayre stuff sounded like, but the AX7 is a great match for a speaker like that. Plenty detailed, but honest in it's presentation. It's a mellow amp if you would. It's not even close to what you assert. I've heard the Ayre on so many speakers and it so many different systems and the one constant is that it's helped all of them and even store owners have noticed the same thing, even if they weren't selling it. The AX5 is probably the best integrated I've ever heard and fits into any system and makes it better. I'm saving up for that one. The problem with the net is that folks make assumptions and in your first post you stated your feelings as fact if you would and that's skews things for the original poster and the rest of who read and don't listen. I'm not flaming you, just pointing out that unless you actually hear products together and especially the newest stuff (that we are talking about in the thread) maybe it's best not to say that you may need earplugs to listen to it. Thats not fair to the Ayre folks. I"m not a shill, just a satisfied customer....I listened to the Hegel gear, Ayre gear, Sim gear and all the rest before settling on Ayre....There are major differences in all of them and that's why there are so many products out there. I've never heard anyone say anything bad about Ayre before, I guess that's why your comments really threw me for a loop. Hope this isn't harsh as that's not how I intend it to be.
Ctsooner-You make many good points. I have not heard the flagship R series amp/pre, or the latest Evolution 7 series. I'm sure the latest Ayre products can sound fantastic when mated with the right speakers/cables ect. From my own experience I would start with a Marantz PM-11S2/3 to tackle the aggressive nature of the MA-RX6 not a AX7. Is the Marantz a better overall amp then the Ayre AX7? With my own biases/experiences I would say yes, even if the majority disagrees. The earplug comment was just poking fun at a shrill/bright treble that can occur if there is a synergistic mismatch. This was not directed against Ayre but with possible speaker synergy and room acoustics.
Monitor Audio speakers mate well with CYRUS electronics
They were featured together last month in Toronto at the audio expo here.
Simonmorty, my apologies for not responding to you last month. I did not compare the H100 to the H200. I compared it to the Ayre AX7 and Luxman l505u. I loved them all but the Hegel worked out best for me at the time. I would have been happy with any of them, that's for sure.
Dayglow, my point is that you can't make a statement that you think the Marantz is better than the Ayre when you have never heard the Ayre, let alone in the same system. That's the problem I have with your statements. I have heard the two amps vs each other. I like the Marantz unit...I like it a lot, but do yourself a favor and go listen to the amps side by side in the same system.
Unless the Evolution upgrade changes the overall character of the Ayre AX7(have demoed it)I stand behind my statement.