I used to run the Krell HTS Pre/Pro into a Krell KAV-1500 5 channel amp. Since I live in a small NYC apartment, I decided that it was just too much stuff so I downsized to the McIntosh MHT-200. Between selling offf the equipment and all the expensive interconnects and extra powercord, I walked away with cash and more space. No buyers regret whatsoever. Best move I ever made for HT.
However, my issue now is HT or 2-channel for music. I recently (a day ago) installed 2 McIntosh MC275s to drive the L+R channels for music. I had always wanted to try tubes and I had an opportunity to get these 2 at such a goodd price, I couldn't pass it up.
If I had to sell off everything and go into a 2-channel integrated, I would go for a VAC Super Avatar. I would miss the glow of thte tubes and the lit glass panel of the Mac though!
I considered an integrated amp at one time & have noticed that some seasoned audiophiles that have reached the end of the road, do this as a final solution to the madness that comes with this hobby. I personally feel that a integrated amp restricts your ability to pair different products together (other than CD players & tuners) unless it has main ins & preamps outs. But if you feel compelled to use these inputs & outputs then you might as well have gone with separates. If you do decide to go in this direction (integrated) I wouldn't rush into selling your separates before knowing this can result in a long term, satisifying experience.
We'll discuss it more this weekend, but years ago, I went from a Krell KS-50 and CJ tubed preamp (name forgotten) to a DIY solid-state integrated that a good friend of mine--a master engineer with two graduate degrees from MIT--built for me. It weighed 90 pounds and had a transformer the size of my head (which is quite inflated, as you know). Anyway, my friend's integrated really put a serious beating to the Krell combo, and I sold that setup in a hurry. Integrateds are getting better and better every year, and while separates can sound better than an integrated at equivalent pricepoints, it depends on the designs in question. There are some FANTASTIC integrateds on the market right now that can compete with separates at significantly higher price points. In addition, you have one less component in the chain, which is almost always a good thing. In theory, having the power supplies separated is superior to having them in one chassis, but I think integrated design has evolved to a point where a well-designed integrated can seriously compete with, and sometimes better, more expensive separates. With your current equipment, I definitely think you can find an integrated that will better it. It might take some research, but it can certainly be done, IMO. It never quite ends, does it? :)
The Rowland integrated and actually the Tact M2150 integrated could fit about 80% of my needs. I was amazed by the Tact since it only requires a transport because of the built in DAC amp essentially. But then again I like chasing the merry go round of this hobby... so off I go again to spend 5x the integrated on a pair of monoblocks and all the complexities of powercords, interconnects, and power filtering .....
For reasons of space I went from McCormack separates, a DNA-0.5 amp and TLC preamp, to an Audio Refinement Complete integrated. That was quite a move down in terms of the original cost, as well, but I'd always liked the Audio Refinement and decided to give it a try.
I'm very happy with the switch. Combined with a pair of reasonably efficient ProAc Response 1s monitors and a subwoofer I actually prefer the sound in the new space to what I hold in a larger space with floor-standing ProAcs and a stack of separates.
I switched from a separate transport and DAC combo to a one-box player at the same time and gave away my tuner because there was so little decent music on FM locally.
So, I went from five boxes to two and got rid of a tangle of cables that always took a minute or two to comprehend. I like the simplicity a lot and the sound suits my space better.
I know even if I make the switch, it will not be the end of the road for me component wise. Just the thought of consolidating and upgrading in one stroke is appealing. I am actually pretty happy with the performance of my system, so I am a little reluctant...but I know there is better out there.
I love this topic
8 years ago I had a 9 component set up (separate monos, pre, power conditioner, DAC, Transport, Correction engine, speakers & sub). I now have an integrated, CD and a pair of speakers. I do not regret the transformation in any way and the sacrifice in sound quality is negligible. I have not shirked my love for audio in this process at all, in fact I have become a reviewer for positive-feedback and as a result get to listen to a lot of cool stuff and even then I do not feel pulled to return to the mega-set-up. I have reviewed several integrateds before I settled on the Edge G3
If you do it right a smaller equipment set up is very satisfying. This is not to be confused with a cheaper set up, good sound CAN still be expensive
.but as with a mega-set-up it doesnt need to be
I think you can be very happy with a modest set up, John Brazier
Another alternative worthy of consideration, but may require replacing your system altogether:
CD or DAC w/ volume control and analog input option (e.g. Theta Gen VIII, Audio Aero ???, MBL 1611)->I/C->active speakers (e.g. ATC).
IMHO this is even better than using int amp since the amp-speaker interface is greatly optimized.
Dlwask your reluctance is duly noted as you know where I've been. Could find yourself posting on a thread: "Any Regrets" but there are some very good integrated amps out there like for example the Portal Panache which sells for $1,295.00. If I were to make the move to integrated, without reservations, that would be the one I would purchase. Its preamp section is strictly passive and its amplifier section closely resembles the distributed node design found on McCormack amps.
I think you could be very happy if the change was a positive one in a different direction. You could try a quality tube integrated that matched well w/your VR2's which would be a whole different sound from where you're at. I tried it and am a convert. I had to find appropriate speakers unlike you. Sure, I don't have the slam I used to, but the change will draw you into the music more I believe. Glad to see my old Pass X2 is still in your system. Good luck.
I just recommended to a friend what I thought would be a cool, decor friendly, and cost effective minimalist setup. A used Musical Fidelity CD/DAC/Pre or whatever it's called, an integrated cd player/preamp running line level into a pair of used Paradigm Reference Active speakers. Cool idea huh?
I am getting ready to ditch the preamp entirely for a dedicated phono stage that will run directly into my amplifier which has two RCA inputs; one optimized for DAC output and the other for standard line level. The amp has a pair of quality stepped antenuators. It is the way to go. I am thinking of having Goldpoing build me a nice quality switch box (without their attenuator) so I don't have to keep plugging cables in and out as I have TV, DAC, phono, tuner, and cassette as sources.
IF your source matches to the impedance of your amplifier the best preamp is no preamp.
>>IF your source matches to the impedance of your amplifier the best preamp is no preamp<<
Not true. Many sources benefit from a high quality linestage. Do some homework.
I believed that separates were superior until I bought a Creek 5350SE for a second system. The right integrated, mated with the right source and the right speakers is superior in many ways.
Hey Pehare, I just noticed your "new" system. Thats a change alright! Glad to hear you've found something you like better. I have heard the new Coincident (forgot model) with Manley this year at CES and they sounded great. Hopefully if I make a change I won't turn my entire system over. Ideally I could just combine pre and power amp (maybe phono stage too) into a single unit and keep the rest intact.
Dlwask, You may find it interesting that VSA has been doing a lot of their speaker demos with integrated amps (VAC) and in talking to them, they seem to lean in that direction.
My seperates have been sold. With absolutely zero sellers remorse.
The synergy between my integrated amp and speakers is remarkable.
in other words... The sound I hear makes ME happy.
If you are still enjoying the search then no. I too was one of those using four or five components where there now are two. Every once in a while the idea of separates works its way in but I fight it off. If I decide to upgrade it will probably be a cdp with adjustable output into a power amp. Keep it simple, that's my audio motto.
Of cause this can happen very easily. I have a friend that had high $ system but used cheapo interconnects and powercords. He sold the system and bought the combo unit and invested some of the money in good interconnects and powercords. He is now very happy. This is all about system synergy. A $50k system will sound like $5k system for lack of good quality interconnects or powercords.
yes i think that there is alot of killer int-amps out ther these days,i went from seperates to int,cd,speaks.love it,sweet and simple.imho!
I ran an Aragon 2004 MkII with a Forte 40 preamp, driving a pair of Mirage m5's for a long time...I recently sold all of it and went to a Jolida JD-302B tube integrated with a Jolida JD-100 cdp and a pair of PSB Stratus Silvers and couldn't be happier!! It was like a breath of fresh air to try something different....will I ever go back to separates again? Who knows.....but, change can be a good thing...even if it lets you hear something in a different way for a period of time....that's what this is all about, isn't it?....the road to musical nirvana!
I bought the new Jeff Rowland integrated and couldn't be happier. I now quit thinking of upgrading all the time. Much less stress!
Maybe I'll move my Marantz SR19EX receiver (don't laugh, I love that thing) into the main rig for a few days to see what happens. Just a little flavor change and see how I react to the new sound...I've never A/B'ed it with the Pass Labs stuff :) If I switch to an integrated I'm not just looking for different, I want improvements over what I am hearing now.
Dude, I've been there done that and lived through it, and yes I am happy. I used to have VTL seperates, and switched to a Cary Sli-80 and loved it. The system is far simpler, as you pointed out and I get much more enjoyment out of it. Now, luckly I had speakers that allowed me to go to another amp very easily, 92db Coincident. The vtl was a VTL 150 and the Cary is only 80 max, but I listened to it in 40 watt triode most of the time.
You can do this if you take the time and find the right integrated for you. My big suggestion would be to make sure that you want tubes or SS before you choose.
I do not think one necessarily has to compromise when going to integrated amps these days (MAC 6900 and Levinson 383 are amazing integrateds). That said, let me offer you a slightly different perspective. I now have a DAC that also acts as my linestage. So, I have integrated a preamp and a DAC -- and I have a stand alone amp. This has worked out really nice for me.
I didn't have some of the exotic stuff mentioned here but
I am happy with less equipment and better sound. I switched from Rotel seperates and JM Lab speakers to an Audio Aero integrated and Soliloquy speakers. This downgrade cost less than half of the system that it replaced and sounds better. No regrets here.
I started a thread to the effect of advocating integrated amps and was politely slapped down. I ran a CJ Premier 17 , into a Pass labs Aleph 3 with Living Voice Avatars for 2 years and was very happy. Looking for a tube amp to match the CJ, I was advised by 2 dealers, that a tube integrated was very little more than a power amp. So I changed to a Viva Solista 18watt, SET based on 845 valves and could'nt be happier, apart from the heat. Downsizing is a relative term. It weighs 60 odd lbs and takes a lot of space, plus it runs HOT, which is causing dark mutterings from the wife.
I believe there is a real move back to integrated amps from High End Manufacturers, probably not the best they can make, which will be a pre and monoblocks, but well up the range. Look at Audio Research, Mark Levinson, Music Fidelity, Jadis and many others. Sure you loose flexibilty, but it means shorter signal paths and saving money. In my case that let me move up a clear notch in performance without spending more. It made sense to me and for tube fans there are some very good tube integrated amps out there for a similar price to a power amp.