Integrated Amp -- $1,500 or less.

I am in the process of downsizing my system. The only thing that I plan to keep is my Tyler Acoustic Taylor Ref. Monitors. I would appreciate suggestions on which integrated amps to audtion in the $1,500 or less category (new or used) to replace my Supratek Chardonnay and Bryston 4BSST (please, no Bryston comments -- I happen to think this was a great match). I realize that I am going to be sacrificing quite a bit as a result of this change, but changing priorities (i.e., WAF) dictate the change. Also, although the Bryston was 300wpc, the Ref. Monitors are pretty easy to drive, so power is not a constraining factor. My next step will be to find a CD player in the $500-$1000 category to match whatever amp I choose, so suggestions for well matched systems are weclome as well.


I just got a Unison Research Unico a few weeks ago. And it sounds so sweet. The best under $1500 amp I have ever owned, or even heard.
Yba Integre DT, and matching CD for less than 2K.
Blue Circle CS Integrated (new)

Used YBA Integre DT.
Or if you do want new, then its smaller cousin the Audio Refinement Complete..
Denon PMA 2000IVR integrated amp $1,200. Yes, that's what I said too when I first saw it, a Denon? A freind of mine works at a local electronic shop in town and every time I came in I'd check out all the audio gear and was always drawn to the room with the Denon integrated playing along with a Sony 9000es sacd dvd player and set of Infinity speakers . The Krell/ Martin Logan room just sounded sterile and uninvolving in comparison. Finally after 3 months I bought one to try out at home. This integrated amp is built like a battle ship rated at 80 watts a channel of ultra high current (this thing is so conservatively rated its almost false advertising) with separate power supplies. But how does it sound you ask? Glorious! It gives my McCormack DNA.5 Deluxe /Conrad Johnson PV 12AL tubed preamp combo some serious head turning competition and in some ways I even prefer it to the separates. I keep saying, how can this thing be sounding as good as it does, after all its just a Denon and Denon is suppose to sound like cheap Japanese audio right? Well most all of the Denon receivers I've heard do sound terrible but something is totally unDenonlike with this particular piece. It may just be the best bargain out there right now if you're not too embarassed to let your freinds see you own a Denon.:)
Aronov LS960i has been a great favorite of mine. A tube integrated amp whose 60 watts per channel yield a wonderful sound which will surprise you, as it has my visiting listeners, over the years. If you do a current search on Audiogon, there is one offered for sale at $1250. The seller's advertisement is a bit over the top, and most owners are actually quite satisfied even with the original manufacturer supplied tube set, but the item is worth a long look. Full range sound is fine, and it brings out the best bass capability of speakers in a completely unexpected way for this used price. I am not related to seller or to manufacturer.
Blue Circle CS
If your speaker is easy to drive, than I vouch for the 47 Labs Shigaraki integrated that can be had for the stated price or even lower used. It has a separate power supply and 3 inputs only, but when it comes down to drive and sound quality, it matches well into very expensive 5K combination, as I had playing before I got into it. It has 20 watts, but you have to hear it to believe it. It is amazing. It can match about 100% of the sound quality that a First Sound Presence Deluxe preamp offered partnered with a 200 watt DNA 225 would pound long as the speakers you are driving are medium efficient, in dynamic terms. Furthermore, it gives the midrange insight that the same preamp would give with a 300B Western Electric tubes would provide, or least I call it a good 95% of it. I doubt that there is an integrated mentioned here that can do both of these feat together into one.
Mine sits beautifully on top of my McCormack Amp, which has become a $2700 amp rack for it. All other components in my system are becoming irrelevant as I speak. I have ran it with Epos ES11 monitors, which give a slamming sound, that I have not been able to hear from it, and now, I run it with a pair of horn loaded Fostex cabinets. Most excellent quality of sound.

If you already have had Bryston gear have you thought about a B-60? They can be found used for half of your budget, and with thier 20 year transferrable warranty, what is the point of buying new?

just my 2c

Tom, keep an eye out for a used Joule Electra VAMP integrated amp. Joule sold these for $3,800 new and Jud (Joule) lost money on every one he sold. I stole mine for $1,000 and I it is a keeper. I actually need to sell it to free up money for a preamp for my main system but I can't bring myself to do it. It's too damn good.

I am very familiar with the Joule products (own a VZN80 OTL amp). The midrange of the VAMP is killer. It works very well with my Merlins VSMs. Think midrange similar to his OTL with control/convenience of solid state. Solid state is not supposed to sound like this. The highs are not as extended as the OTL. (What is?) When I get some time I am going to roll a few tubes in it. It comes with a remote, multiple inputs, etc. etc. I'll put it to you this way. If I were forced to get rid of the VZN80 and run the VAMP I could get by and still experience world class audio.

A classic piece of audio equipment.

Another poster mentioned Aronov. I have owned an Aronov amp and did not like it at all with the Merlins.

Best of luck.

I use a Plinius 8150 int. amp with my Tyler Taylo monitors and am quite pleased. My source is a Linn Ikemi. Happy listening.
I stumbled across a used Primare A10 recently, it is one helluva nice integrated and set me back all of $550. Really nice build quality, good remote, and puts out a respectable 50wpc. Not that well know cuz it's Swedish but the ergonomics, component selection, and inputs/outputs are very well thought out. A headphone jack would have been nice, guess you can't have it all. It has a somewhat dark/laid back quality to it that I enjoy; similar to the Audio Refinement with maybe just a touch more mid-range bloom. Certainly worth considering IMHO. Jeff
There is an EAR 834I for sale now for $1500. If you can put up with tubes, this is one supurb integrated. I use the 834L line stage in a 2d system and love it - tonally it sounds very much like my ARC sp10. If I were to downsize this would be #1 on my list.
bryston integrated.
A Unico would be a solid choice. Buy a used one from the listings and use the rest of your budget for music, cables, etc.
I am demoing a Portal Panache (demo unit $1300). It sounds really nice with my Paradigm Studio Reference 20s.
Thanks for all the suggestions -- now its time to go out and do some listening.
Try a Audio Aero Prima amp. I bought my mkI last year used, put a new tube in and replaced the power cord. It already had Cardas post and rca's, Kimber caps and a Alps volume control. All this for under a grand! If you can find one, try it out. The mkI has 3 inputs, a pre out on it with the option of using a cdp direct to the power amp portion. If you can't find a dealer in your area, try Audio Aero website for info. Good luck listening.