I'm somewhat surprised that no one has replied to the above post. It has well over 50 views to boot. So, did I not ask a good question? Or should I have asked a more specific question or what? I'm a newbie at this game and if I offended or didn't ask in the right way please accept my apologies.
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Ok, I think I've narrowed it down, and would really appreciate some feedback. I inquired about the Krell to an Audiogon member selling one here and he suggested that the NAD M3 would be a better choice for the ML Ascents. The reviews look pretty darn good but for that much money, I can get a Musical Fidelity A5 integrated amp. So, anyone have any comments/feedback on a comparison or choice between the NAD M3 and the MF A5 ?
I have had the NAD M3 for several weeks now, and I am impressed with this amp's character. I have dynaudio s3.4s; the M3 drives the 4 ohm nominal current hungry dyns with great control and ease. I recently took a path, or I should say a different seat on the audio merry go round...in that i replaced my smaller older generation dyns with the modern (more $) s3.4s, while also simplifying the electronics. I had an ARC 100.2 and ARC LS25MKII, and as I have told others, The M3 presents a very similiar transparent open midrange, excellent bass speed/depth, soundstaging that does not suggest there is any limitation from the M3 (in my experience, if the ambiance is actually encoded in the cd most decent systems let you hear that)...the only area where i feel the M3 is not as good as my previous ARC combo is trebles. It's simply not as extended and pure up there. It's not that it's bad at all, more like a bit curtailed, which overall to me, tilts the sonic balance of the M3 to the warmish side.
There is much more i could say, but i'll spare you the details. The M3 is a great integrated amp. I don't know anything about the ML's you have. What's the power requirement/load spec?
Kfkester: I don't think you're being snubbed.
Wait until tomorrow which is when a lot more people visit this site.
FYI, click on discussion forums and do a search on "Integrated Amp".
This topic comes up so often that the burn-out factor starts to apply.
Also, I think a lot of people are on vacation.
Look at the unusually low number of new posts to confirm this.
This probably won't be what you want to hear, but any well designed solid state integrated amp with enough power will work just fine. It hopefully will have no sound of its own.
I wouldn't sweat the choice other than making sure to have enough watts. The Krell unit is well engineered, well built and resonably priced. It would be my pick.
All cabling can come from Blue Jeans Cable. http://www.bluejeanscable.com/
For a source component, I'd consider either a Denon 3910 or an entry level DVD player + Benchmark DAC 1.
Last winter I compared the NAD M3 and the MF A5 at the same dealer, with the possibility of replacing my MF a308 integrated. They were hooked up to Spendor s8e's. I am not familiar with the ML Ascents so I do not know how either the M3 or A5 would sound with them. I have two older NAD receivers and a 320bee in systems scattered around the house. I generally like the warmer sound of NAD, and was looking forward to hearing the M3. To my ears the NAD had less detail than the A5. It seemed to put a veil over the music. The A5 had considerable detail and sounded better than the NAD, but seemed a bit too analytical.
After the listening session I concluded that my a308 was more to my tastes.
Since the Ascents are the best speakers you have had, you are rightly looking forward to hours of enjoying the music that your completed system will bring. If you have to go out of your way to listen to these amps at a dealer it will be worth it.
Thank you all very much for the responses. There are a couple of places in Houston where I could audition some of the amps, but no place with both the amp and the speakers together (grumble). I guess that is the downside of buying used gear, it is kinda hard to do auditions like one would like.
I talked to Dave and The Upgrade Company and he suggested I get the Krell and have him do the upgrade thing. He agreed with some reviewers that the Krell 400xi is a bit bright and "forward" sounding out of the box, but after the upgrade he claimed it would sound far superior to either the NAD or the A5. Based upon the discussion and input from his customers on this forum, I think I believe him.
Funny enough, I like the LOOK of the Krell, but I am supposed to be buying this gear for how it sounds lol... so I guess I need to recalibrate some part of my brain or another.
I would definitely listen to as many brands as you can. I listened to quite a few and each had their own characteristic sound. As a electrical engineer, I firmly believed for many years that basically all amps were equal. Input in = identical but amplified output. I considered the D/A conversion in the CD player the key element in sound reproduction. It wasn't until I listened to some of the higher-end stuff that I realized how different they all sounded. My quick take is this:
Musical Fidelity - veiled sounding, smooth, unnaturally warm. Remember 30 years ago when some amps and receivers had a "presence" tone control. Well, it's turned all the way up on MF. It's something you could get used to.
Arcam - overly analytical. The Thiel speaker of the amp world. Brain says yes perfect heart says walk away
Levinson - good but neutral - almost no personality at all which I suppose is a good thing. They weren't particulaly compelling.
Ayre - Levinson only more so.
NAD - warm, nice sound, decent for the money - stumbles through difficult passages. I have not heard the M3.
NAIM - best I've heard especially on their higher end stuff Just a gorgeous sound. Plays everthing well. If I had a stereo budget of $60k this is where it would be spent. Their 5i would make a nice bedroom system. :)
Rega - nice warm sound, similar but a little better than NAD.
Rotel - more of a lower-end sound like the big name mass market stuff.
Yamaha - nails on the blackboard since the 90s.
Krell - forward yes, detailed yes. Controls the speaker. Arcam with balls. Fairly smooth and leans slightly toward warm. Very well-built.
Mcintosh - high-end stuff is still very good. Liquid, smooth, detailed. Probably the third best I've heard. Lower-end Mcintosh integrated are harsh on the upper register expecially the MA-6300.
Theta - The second best I've ever heard. Just right in every way. It's difficult to figure out what to buy from them though with all those amps with plug in cards, etc.
Cary - ok does everything very good but nothing fantastic.
Marantz - ok as well. Good all around. Built well. Probably the best Japanese amp.
I'd like to hear a lot of other brands such as SIM, Moon, Bel Canto, Plineus, now that I've been building this library of brand sounds but I've only got so much time and I'm not sure a lot of them are available to hear around here. I'm planning to audition a Rowland soon so I'm looking forward to that.