If, like me, you're a "slowly upgrading" type person, why not consider a substantially upgraded amplifier to go with your Cambridge pre? You mention McIntosh integrated, but if you're going to keep on upgrading, why stop there? Have a look at, say, McIntosh stereo amplifiers, which are available at decent prices on the used market. When budget allows, then go for a better pre too.
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@goheelz thanks for the response, appreciate it. I should have mentioned in my first post that I am taking the cambridge out to put in my second system. I like the Rotel a good amount but think that it would be outclassed with the kind of upgrade I want so was going to bargain list it on craigslist.
The more I've been researching the more I think integrated is the right call for me as I want to be able to forgot about upgrading for a few years. It seems that some of the newer integrated amps offer a lot of options and some really nice sound, and are easier on the wallet. But I am interested in hearing your thoughts now that you know the cambridge is out of the equation. Also open to hearing some McIntosh or other used amp/preamp combo recommendations. If I could get a used amp and pre that meets or exceeds any of my above mentioned integrated options, I'm listening :-)
I'm guessing you have an older version of the AppleTV that has optical output? If that's the case, the the Musical Fidelity probably wouldn't be a good fit, as it only has USB input for digital.
You also have a pretty nice phono preamp, so you won't need an integrated that has one included (HINT6, M6i). The Phonomena ii will sound better than most integrateds that have a built-in phono in your price range.
I think Hegel is a great choice, and even a used H190, H160 would have enough power for your speakers.
I own the Rost, and love it. Great sounding DAC. The Rost might be a bit underpowered for your speakers though. Depends on how loud you like/want to listen.
@robelvick Thanks for the response. And yes it's the older one with the optical out. I was considering upgrading/updating to a Blue Node or something like that at some point, so that's why I'm still considering the Musical Fidelity.
And I hear your point on the phono preamp. I was wondering what opinions on that would be. I've been reading that the phono preamp on the Musical Fidelity is quite nice, but perhaps not as nice as what I have, something more to consider.
And yes the Hegel would be my choice if I can talk the seller down closer to my budget and thanks for those other recommendations, I'll take a look.
I have a fairly tricky and large listening room so tend to play/listen loud.
I think it depends heavily on what kind of sound or improvements you’re looking to achieve with the new amp. I’d call the Hegel more on the neutral side, the M6si perhaps a touch warmer, and the MA6500 probably the warmest and fullest sounding but with a still softer and less-detailed treble. No idea about the Hint 6. All good -- but just depends on what you like and what works best with your system. Best of luck in whatever you choose. BTW, if the H360 remains out of your price range an H300 will probably come up for sale soon in your price range and give you lots of the same sonic qualities. Just a thought if you really want the Hegel.
First off thanks for all the feedback thus far. I wanted to generally respond about what sound I’m looking for. Although I haven’t heard any of these models I have heard each of the brands so I have a decent understanding of what sonic signature to expect. I’m hoping to get some feedback from folks who own or have heard any of these models as well as similar products that come with recommendations. I know different amps have different sounds but also two people can like the same amp for different reasons so looking to hear more about others’ experiences and recommendations for my price range. Again, thanks for all the responses so far, very helpful!
Kinki EX-M1+ $2900 delivered to your door.
Review of the M1 first generation -
Very sparse but the best integrated amp in terms of sound/power/current under $5000 imho.
The only other amp I'd mention in the same breath under $3000 would be the Job 225 integrated, a steal at $1900 delivered to your door.
It at least has a USB dac built in.
The Parasound HINT 6 is full featured but less exciting as an amp.
sammyshaps, if you like the sound of your Rotel, why not their RA-1592 integrated? It has lots of power (200w/ch) and that same neutral sound. And its built-in DAC will put your Apple TV to shame. The advantage of Rotel is that they have been around a long time and have a reputation for very high build quality. I have a 15 year-old Rotel RA-1092 in a secondary system and it has never had an issue.
If not the Rotel, I would concur with those who have proposed Hegel products, having recently auditioned their top of line H590. Nice neutral sound. Their H190 at 150w/ch @ 8 ohms (250w/ch @ 4 ohms) is no slouch. But if you plan to upgrade other components you may want to think about how much power you will need for any future speakers you wish to purchase. A 150-200w/ch integrated will drive most, but not all high quality speakers.
I can't speak to the other brands suggested by others, but would encourage you to try to bring home a unit to audition in your room with your other equipment. If you can find dealers nearby or others who will ship to you for demo, I highly suggest you do that.
The MA6500 is great so is the 6900. For power amps look at the MC202 and 162. Unlike many people I prefer the direct coupled amps.
But what do you not like about the CXA60 that prevents you from using it as an integrated?
Telling us why that well-regarded amp has failed to satisfy may assist us in supplying meaningful advice.
The Peachtree Nova is now actually $1999 new from Peachtree. They have a deal at the moment to upggrade the Nova 150 and 300 to 500 level. There should be a wave of these refurbished 150's and 300's on sale from Peachtree soon.
I am debating whether to trade in my NOVA 150 and pay $2000 to upgrade to the Nova 500. The 500 has more power, a better preamp, and better DAC. Got 2 more days to decide.
First off just want to extend great thanks to everyone who has chimed in. A lot to research and a lot to think about. This is what I was hoping for in posting - a bunch of different suggestions and perspectives, so again, greatly appreciate it!
To answer @tlinkie there's nothing I strongly dislike about the Cambridge per se. It's a wonderful amp, an exceptional value, and I've enjoyed it for 2 or so years. As mentioned earlier I am wanting to move it to a second smaller system which is part of the reason I'm in the market.
If I had to say what I wish the cambridge improved upon in my current setup it would be a wider sound stage with stronger placement, better articulation, a little less bright, and some more heft behind the sound overall. I think I can best describe it as sounding a bit thin and not so sure footed with instrument placement on tricky tracks. I think it works wonderfully for most classic era jazz but if I put on an album like Herbie Hancock Headhunters it leaves me a bit underwhelmed. The strong, very present bass throughout gets a little flabby and lost and it struggles sometimes with the treble being overly harsh. When listening to MFSL Miles Davis' Someday My Prince Will Come last night, although I was pleased and engaged with what I was hearing I couldn't help but want the music to reach me more. And by reach I mean in the actual physical sense, the notes seem to fall short quickly and space between is lacking. Anyways, wrote this quickly and hopefully that makes some sense!
Thanks again everyone!
@sammyshaps -- great description of what you're looking for. Given that, I think you'll be very pleased with the Hegel. It will certainly tame the highs a bit while adding more heft and meat on the bones in the mids and bass. I think you'll also find the soundstage will expand in all directions and elements within the soundstage will more solidly and believably occupy their own space within the stage.
The M6si might work too, but I'd be less confident recommending it over the Hegel. Read some reviews and see which one more reflects what you're looking for if you haven't already. I think the MA6500 will roll off the highs to much given what you're used to, but I could be wrong. Again, best of luck.
@kairosman the Kinki EX M1+ looks very interesting it had not been on my radar. Thumbing through some reviews it seems to be described, sonically, similar to many of the reviews I've read of the Hegel H3600, but perhaps with a bit more fanfare.
Out of plain curiosity has anyone here listened to both the Kinki EX-M1 and the Hegel H3600? I know the Hegel has a built in DAC and the Kinki-EX-M1 doesn't, but the difference in price could make up for that. Would be interested to hear if anyone has listened to both and could report.
@gratefuleric I had actually looked at the Peachtree Nova and have heard earlier iterations (iNova). There's a dealer close to me that stocks Peachtree so I might have to check out the newer offerings. I will offer that aesthetically the Peachtree design has never really been my cup of tea, but at the end of the day sound wins, beauty is only skin deep ;-)
"...the Peachtree design has never really been my cup of tea, but at the end of the day sound wins, beauty is only skin deep ;-)"Do not forget, you will have to see it every day. Just because she is smart, it does not mean she has to be bad looking. Those things are not mutually exclusive.
Musical Fidelity M6si ($3k new), Rotel RA-1592 ($2500 new), Parasound Halo Integrated (HINT) at $2500 new are all awesome and have decent DACs too.
Or the Rega Elicit-R analog integrated ($3k new) no DAC though but Rega makes a standalone DAC and I believe it retails for around $1200ish If I'm not mistaken.
For used integrateds the Hegel that you mentioned is quite spectacular or some lower end McIntosh integrateds. Most recent Hegel & McIntosh integrateds usually have DACs.
I like my marantz reference pm14s1 integrated amp. I got it for 2 grand as it was a customer return. It retails for $2999. So far it has provided everything I could want and need...nice analog warm sound. No digital inputs or outputs whatsoever, and made at the reference plant in Japan. I also own the rogue sphinx v2 in black still in box unused. It is my back up amp and from what I've read about it, it too is a very nice amp.
Just wanted to add another vote for the Kinki EX-M1 integrated. I have the first generation that only set me back about $2200 US. One of the best values of my 40+ years as a high end enthusiast. It looks like this original model is still available for $2400 (as opposed to the "Plus" model for $2900). You can find my comments/review of this amp posted at:
Cheers, and best of luck with your amp purchase! Michael
Hi all, thanks again for all the replies. After a lot of reading and research I’m leaning toward the kinki ex-m1+ I’ve heard nothing but good things. Does anyone in the New York City area have any idea where I could demo one? Or, for those who have ordered direct or from an online retailer (@niskymichael), is there a return policy and/or trial period? Thanks!