Help me choosing an Integrated Amp


Hello everyone,
long time reader, first post here.
Sorry if my english is not perfect, it’s not my mother language.

Long story:

I have an electrostatic headphone system right now, because I didn’t have the necessary space to have a dedicated room for speakers, I think that the most important aspect in sound quality is room acoustics, so why spend money if I can’t have optimum acoustics? That’s why I have a headphone system right now.
But, story changes, I bought a flat last week, and will do reforms to have a listening room (6 meters x 4 meters x 2,5 meters).
My current setup is (besides modded Stax SR-007A and KGSSHV Carbon CC amplifier):

- Metrum Pavane DAC
- Custom 0db PC, Asus RT-AC88U router & MCRU linear PSU for router.
- Full Ansuz X Cable loom and Mainz X-TC.
- Furutech FWS (R) Schuko Outlet.
- Sonore MicroRendu & Sonore Signature PSU (with SR fuses)

My speakers will be Strauss Elektroakustik SE MOD 901, they’re not very well known but they’re awesome, transient response is lighting fast, almost like my Stax headphones, plus they’re super coherent, seamless. I fell in love with the speakers.
Room acoustics will be done by Strauss himself, so the last link is an integrated amplifier (for budget and price/performance reasons).
The speakers are not very sensitive, they’re rated at 85db and recommended power is 20 to 160w at 8ohm.

Due to budget reasons, I will try to buy second hand or ex-demo, so not possible to audition the amplifiers.
I don’t like tubes, for me, the ideal amp should be pure class A (if possible), dual mono, fully balanced with no negative feedback (if possible). Ideal "sound signature" would be balanced, very natural without glare, huge soundstage and details presented in a natural manner, I don’t like hyped top end, the speakers are VERY neutral and accurate, so they will expose negative qualities of the amp like a magnifying glass.
This is the list:

- Audio GD Master 10 (Class A/B, 250w at 8ohm)
- Gryphon Atilla (Class A/B, 100w at 8ohm)
- Accuphase E-600 (Class A, 30w at 8ohm)
- Pass Labs INT-30A (Class A, 30w at 8ohm)
- Electrocompaniet ECI 5 MK2 (Class A or A/B???, 120w at 8ohm)
- Ayre AX-5 Twenty (Class A/B, 125w at 8ohm)
- Constellation Inspiration Integrated 1.0 (Class A/B, 100w at 8ohm)

I like to listen music between 70-85db (not too loud) and the room will be 24 square meters, is a 30w pure class A amp enought for the speakers or should I buy a more powerful class A/B?
Which amp is better?


pitomazogordo
Personally I am not familiar with your speakers.
That may not matter with my recommendation, as it's been similar for the past, almost 20 years. One of, if not the Best sounding electronics I've heard, is the Gryphon. It is a completely transformative amp, in that it doesn't sound like 'solid state' or 'tubes'. It is akin to music. Music so well reproduced that it becomes almost invisible. Character is on the dark side of perfectly neutral. I've compared it to the Fabulous Rowland Research, lesser McIntosh, CJ, KRELL, Plinius, Ayre, yada yada, yada. I have an ongoing love affair with this product. Now, having said that I've to heard the Audio GD Master. I hope you'll enjoy whatever you purchase. Music is too important to be dissatisfied with one's purchase. Good listening.
Larry
pitomazogordo,
oops.
I left out my other choice. Valve Amplification Company.
Not knowing if tubes are an option, as for many they're not, I have to include VAC. Kevin Hayes is on another planet when it comes to design. And, he's a Good Man. His work impeccable, well thought out, and absolutely amazing sounding. He's a bonafide genius designer, the likes of Jim THIEL, Rich Vandersteen, Nelson Pass, et al. I do believe he's making the Best Tube Gear around. Just my opinion.
Again, music is one of life's most enduring pleasures.
Larry


Have you ever heard a good Class D amplifier?


If not I’d recommend considering that as an option if you want top notch sound at any volume with those inefficient speakers. Rowland and Bel Canto make excellent Class D amps.

Or if low volume is all you need for certain kinds of music requiring less power to deliver the goods, then the lower watt Class A option is a good one.

There may be more powerful Class A amps that can match the output capability of a good Class D amp but total cost of ownership will be much higher with any Class A amp especially when power bills are factored in.

Just pointing out the options. All have advantages and disadvantages. No one approach has it all but I find Class D done well to offer the fewest compromises overall, if any practically these days really. Its where things are going.

I'd expect that with a lower watt option, Class A or otherwise, you will never know what your speakers are truly capable of, if that is something that matters to you.   Everyone is different when it comes to these things.

For 85db speaker, 30w is not a good choice. From your list, I like Pass in general, but you will need a bigger one. Another brand that meets your description and is great sounding is ASR. 
Since you know the speaker designer, ask what he has heard successful with them. 
Also, VAC is great, but they are tube amps. Cheers,
Spencer 
Did you have price constraints?
Is there a reason you left the Pass Labs INT-60 off your list?

I think for those speakers, in that size room, 30 wpc may not be sufficient. Even Pass Labs website recommends speakers with at least 87 db sensitivity for their INT-30A.
The INT-60 still gives you almost 30 wpc of Class A power, then slides into Class AB to give you 60 wpc if needed.
Thanks guys for all the answers!!! :)

Dind’t know about Pass Labs INT-60...this one looks like the real deal.
Here in Europe costs 12.000€ (ouch), my budget is more or less 6.000 to 8.000€, I’ll try to get a discount or a ex demo unit. 60 watts in pure class A integrated amp by Pass Labs...mmm so good to be true :D
Gryphon Atilla also looks like a dream.
In addition to the comment regarding Class D, I decided to try Class D, out of curiosity, more than anything. I know, in this context, what I'm about to say will sound ridiculous, but I bought a Class D Audio kit, and eventually added another amp module, and run the two in bridged mono, for 500 Wpc.

The point being, my Tannoy HPD speakers have never sounded better. Last night, Sara Vaughan and orchestra sounded nearly like they were in the room with me.

The ridiculous part of this is, I've invested a total of $550-$600 in the amp. Now, I'm not suggesting you do what I did, but it's just an example of how good even inexpensive Class D can sound. I've owned many fine amps over the years, and this is the best any system of mine has ever sounded.

Something to think about, and perhaps investigate. Best of luck in your search.

Regards,
Dan
I suggest trying Gryphon first. 30 watts would not be enough. The only question about Gryphon is how fast it will be, probably fast enough.

Class D is truly the latest and greatest amplifier technology.

If sound quality, size, cost, power and current delivery matter, and it appears they do with your speakers as is most often the case, I would strongly recommend giving it a try before feeling required to make a much larger investment.
Mapman, it's a foregone conclusion that none of this D-stuff can compete with Gryphon. This is top level, among the very best there is. 
Accustic Arts is one of the very very few, that can compete with Gryphon.

The new Accustic Arts Power One MK 4 Integrated Amp made in Germany

Class D is truly the latest and greatest amplifier technology.

You state that like it is a fact. Hahahahahaha
I'll stick with the oldest and greatest technology....tubes.
I had the JR Continuum S2 which is Class D. I thought it sounded great; however the JR 625 S2(Class AB) is significantly more musical. Class D has the advantage when it comes to heat and the ability to leave them on continuously.
Is it really a forgone conclusion? I’ve never heard Gryphon that I know of but have heard many great ones.

Sure tubes are best old technology. So it’s new technology versus old. The battle is on.

Anyhow in this thread OP indicated not interested in tubes.    Class D might be just what the doctor ordered so it's worth being aware of 
Class D may indeed be a good thing to look into. I've heard the Mbl entry level system that uses Class D power ($30k for integrated, CD/DAC, speakers) and it is wonderful. Very musical if I do say so.

But I'd look really closely at what the speakers you love so much were auditioned with. Try to go that way since it is a known good combo to your liking. And of course, we all have at least slightly different criteria in the way we want out systems to sound. Good luck in your search.
Post removed 
Yes, Mapman, it is.
Guys-

how about older Krell ? Possibly 300/400 series integrated amps?
Inna, may I ask how you know that?
@mapman 

He knows because he listens to youtube equipment videos.

I was reading the review of the new SAE amp linked to in another thread here this morning.

The reviewer noted that matching this high performance amp to the right mates was key.

Some may take that as a less than favorable review. I do not. As time goes on I’m increasingly of the opinion that how the system is assembled end to end is always the key. There is a lot of great performing gear out there at various price points, but none of it can shine best alone.

Hifi is definitely a team sport!

Mapman, you can ask me anything you want. Question is can you accept that what you have and what I have is junk compared to some of what's out there including Gryphon ? 
As for youtube 'auditioning', it gives you some ideas if your hearing and your headphones are good enough. I didn't listen to any D amps though except Rowland integrated.
In any case, the OP wants to try Gryphon regardless of my opinion and I fully support this.
Inna, could be. One would hope one gets what they pay for. Not familiar with Gryphon so can’t say.   The Gryphon amp is definitely a looker though.   Probably out of my league. :^)

Junk? That’s pretty harsh. Still very expensive junk if so for sure.



"Junk" should not be taken literally, of course. I know that my Redgum integrated cannot really compete with Gryphon integrated, it sounds pretty good though. For fun I listened to my Redgum on youtube too and could recognize the sound. Then I listened to Gryphon Diablo integrated. Well, no comparison, though the speakers used with Gryphon were also better. So yeah, one must be careful listening and comparing the equipment under less than perfect conditions, to put it mildly. Unfortunately, Gryphon is currently not represented in the US.
I think, Diablo is about $15k, you can buy it from a European dealer and have it converted to US voltage by Gryphon and shipped to you. 
Saw one used in Australia the other day on usaudiomart, about $6.5k Australian voltage. Too much for me at present.
inna if it sounds as good as it looks then that would suffice for me.   Though its so beautiful that I might find that distracting.  


Gryphon aesthetics is quite unique, I like it too.
Inna do you think the aesthetics might influence your judgements of the sound? I know most will put up with more when beauty is a factor. Just wondering. I of course am impervious to such things. 😉
I think, you can never rule it out. However, another brand I am interested in - Ypsilon - has aesthetics that I don't care much about. And yet another - Lamm - is just fine with me.
I heard Ypsilon amps made in Greece, is one of the best too and another amp that is just as good is Metaxas, made in Germany
I would recommend Musical Fidelity NU VISTA 800. Bought one 2 months ago and I am very impressed. System is:
Sonus Faber Elissa SE speakers
Antipodes Audio Dx music server
EMM LABS DAC 2X current edition DAC
Antipodes Audio Cabling
Sound Anchors Equipment Stand
I have not heard of your speakers but I have a pair of Verity Audio Rienzi’s paired with the new Hegel H160 (+Mac mini running Roon over Synology NAS.) The result is accurate, warm, beautiful music.

http://www.hegel.com/products/integrated/h160

Good luck with your search!
Just ordered a Hegel 360 to go with Dynaudio Contour S3.4s. 
Will be selling a Luxman 505ux and its one helluva amp. 58 lbs. and so solid. 
Metaxas, sounds Greek to me too. I took a look at his website. He is an artist involved in many different things. Never heard this name before. There are a number of European companies that are virtually unknown over here, or known only to a very few people. I guess, the same with Japanese companies.
The Krell Vanguard sounds wonderful. It does everything well. 
+1 for Hegel
What about a boulder 865? This might check all the boxes that you want. The 865 is class a for the first 15 or so watts then transitions to a/b for to 150 watts. The Boulder has everything that Boulder amplifiers are known for... they present whatever it is fed, they are dead quiet, and the offer a large soundstage. There is a great write up for the boulder on stereophile.

I think the boulder is better than the Ayre and while they differ from the Gryphon in sound, I think they are more comparable.    
Why not ask the manufacturer what a good match for their speakers would be? Surely they must have tested a number of them.
I looked up the "Strauss Elektroakustik SE MOD 901" a conventional two way speaker,  mfg rates it 85db@8ohms and recommends "20 to 160w" - I imagine 20 would be valve watts?
In an apartment room  19ft x13 ft x 8ft  I imagine 50w/ch or better @8  ohm would suffice - unless there are no neighbors, :)
  
So, there are folks who actually can compare audio equipment sound quality by just listening to YouTube videos?! I probably missed the humor in that.... or it was meant to be serious. Hard to tell these days.
Thanks everyone for being so helpful and responsive to my thread!
Things turned to an unexpected direction, I ended up with Pass Labs XA60.8 and XP-20 preamp...why? I wanted an integrated amp, and this combo is mega expensive...well, I've been very, very lucky, because I won 10k euro from a lottery ticket!!!!
Dealer had ex-demo XA60.8 and XP-20...40% discount, so I didn't think it and bought them.
Didn't tried with the speakers (I haven't got them yet), but wow, the amps sound amazing, I listened to them with Magnepans (very tough load) and no problem, super natural sound and lots of power, I suspect it will drive my speakers with ease.
I'm very happy, very very happy...this is a once in a lifetime purchase, the amps have 50 hours of use and are in mint condition...I suspect that they will last more years than me!!!
Have a nice day everyone of you guys!!
Congrats. Let us know how they work out with *your* system.
Happy Listening!
Right. The best integrated amp are separates. Good choice.