Integrated amp: Can it perform equal to separates?
I need to downsize to lessen moving expenses. Want ot find an integrated amp that can possibly perform equal to separates. Currently have a Bel Canto PRe3 line stage and a pair of Red Dragon M-500 digital monoblocks. I am also getting out of analog, and want to have just two pieces of electronics, that is, an integrated amp, and a CD player.
I need at least 100-150 RMS. Don't need any special features on the integrated that is, theater processor loop or inboarded DAC. Can spend up to approx $2100 for a USED and VGC integrated?? Thanks, Jim
There are so many factors involved with your question "can it perform equal to separates?" But If we are going to talk about integrated amps, and if you can find one used (very difficult and you know the reason why) I would go for the YBA Passion Integrated. The sweetest high current 100 wpc SS I've every heard. If I were going to move from my Bel Canto SET 40 amp (not happening)to SS, I would go for the YBA Passion Stereo Amp. I love YBA: Passionately.
Sunnyjim, All things being equal (except cost), separates, just by virtue of redundancy, should have the potential to outperform an integrated. If cost if figured into the equation, Ill take an integrated almost every time, because the slight potential gain to be realized by that redundancy will rarely justify the cost.
If, what youre really asking is, can you get top notch, state of the art performance from an integrated, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
I did the same thing youre looking to do, and havent looked back.
Integrated amp: Can it perform equal to separates?
Absolutely! Many will even out-perform seperates, especially when you are looking at lower price ranges, like $2K. In most cases a $2K integrated amp will outperform a $1K preamp and a $1K amp, because you can put better quality components inside since you aren't paying for two chassis' (which also means more power cords and interconnects). One of the best pieces of gear I ever heard was a VAC Avatar Super integrated amp, it soundly whipped many higher priced gear I put against it. You won't find one for $2100 though.
In your price range, I'd probably be taking a hard look at the Abbingdon Music Research AMR AM-777 w/USB DAC that's currently for sale. However you seem to be wanting more power, so look for a used Ayre AX-7e or Plinius 9100 integrated, they should fill the bill nicely.
could also look for a CD player with variable output and sell the Bel Canto but keep the red dragons ... not a ton of choices but Ayon, Resolution Audio, Wadia all have models with variable output ... Theta Miles BALANCED would be nice and inexpensive with the Red Dragons too
I also have limited space for my audio, so I use an integrated amp rated at 100W per side. I have used several SS but tend to like the hybrids better for my taste. A lot of good ones out there, new and/or used.
I have a two phase system...When I want simplicity I use my Coda CSi Integrated amp...This baby gives me everything I need, and can be acquired in your price range...Then when I have the itch I go to my Modwright tube pre-amp into my B&K SS amp...I just couldn't give up my separates when I got the Coda due to my ecclectic music taste and selections. Happy with both set-ups especially the Coda and the power it delivers to my speakers.
Another option might be what was suggested. A power amp and a DAC direct to it. I have a PS Audio PW 2 and it sounds better slightly direct to amp than through my expensive preamp. I would think something like that would give you the biggest bang for the buck by far
Thanks to all who have responded so far to this thread. The comments were all very helpful, though, I am unfamiliar with a few brands.
The speakers are Acoustic Zen Adagios which I love, but they weigh 95 lbs boxed, and are very expensive to ship 2800 miles from Hawaii to any California destination. Therefore, I may have to buy a smaller speaker, IF I can one that gets close to the Adagios' performance. But I will have to cross that bridge later if I can't find a local buyer for the Adagios
As far as replacing my Rega Apollo with a player that has a volume control, and use it direct with a basic power amp, I am doubtful I can find a high end player with first, a volume control, and second, a volume control that is reasonably accurate, regardless of the smooth action and accuracy that the remote may offer.
If I were to get a PS Audio or Peachtree DAC etc, etc with a volume control. I have no guarantee that an outboarded DAC is going to make a big difference in the sound of the Rega Apollo. The good DACs also have computer audio features I am not interested in, so this plan might just be throwing money away for convenience,and marginal sound improvement. Pass, CJ, ARC, Boulder integrateds are out of my price range. I have seen a few "older" Bel Canto integrated amps with 150RMS without an inboard DAC or multiple inputs for computer audio. Again, I must weigh and consider the "issue" of performance parity using a 5 or 6 year old unit versus my current separates set-up.
I'd wait until you know how your speaker situation shakes out in California before choosing an integrated. Not that you're likely to make an amp choice you'd greatly regret, but you might choose differently depending upon which speakers you end up with.
Jim, if the Adagios are that expensive to ship and you can sell them locally, it might be more cost effective to repurchase them after the move. They do come up here fairly often (there are two pair listed right now). Dick
My first reaction as a previous Pre3 owner is to say keep it. Unless you're moving without shipping any goods it won't ad much to the move. I have regretted parting with mine many times. It was used with quite a few amps, many of the class D, with excellent results. Of course now I am using an integrated amp for ease, but really not that much simpler than when I had the Pre3 running. The amp the Pre3 replaced was the Bel Canto eVo2i which I would recommend with one caveat. Make sure BC still supports it. In your price range though, I'd recommend a used Unison Unico SE. Plenty of power and in your price range. Good luck, a shame you're leaving the islands.
TO Timrhu, Thank you for your response. I agree with you, BC PRe3 is the best pre-amp I have ever owned. It really would not cost much much to ship to California. I just would like to have less boxes; I downsized before, but did not get the same quality of sound larger system I sold. The main shipping expense will be the Adagios which weigh 90 lbs each and are big. I bought them used from a guy who lived in Wisconsin and it cost $525.00 to ship to Honolulu. The turntable should be easy to sell and my phono pre-amp. Are the BC eVo2i and Unison Unico SE integrated amps. I think the Unison is. I really want to get a better amp than the Red Dragon mono blocks, and just have one box. They are good amps, but again too many boxes.
******* The islands are great, but for me they got old very fast. It is great to see college age ladies walking down the street in bikinis, but I love Southern California.
The Pre3 had that elusive property of the straight wire with gain IMO, absolute neutrality. The class D amp that worked best with it for me was the Bel Canto Ref500S. I had the stereo version, not the mono blocs. I also had a pair of mono blocs which used the same modules your Red Dragon amps use but the Bel Canto bested them in my system. Also tried using my Resolution Audio cdp without the Pre3. The RA has a very good analog volume control but I preferred the sound with the Pre3 in place.
Timrhu, I considered the REF 500S and the REF 500 mono blocks, but decided on the Red Dragon blocks. The BC 300S stereo amp comes up occasionally for sale on AG. I am just curious if the BC integrated 300i,(there were two versions: one has a toslink, the other USB input) is close in performance to PRe3 pre-amp and REF 500S combo. They came out approx the same time give and take a year. The 300i is 150RMS and got very good reviews. There are always some tradeoffs in these these items.
The Bel Canto S300i is a good integrated, but the PRe3 and REF500S would be a substantial step up. If you're getting out of analogue, then you could definitely consider getting rid of the PRe3 and use a Bel Canto DAC directly into an amp like the REF500S. You'll improve your digital front end and with 2 half sized components (the DAC and amp), it will take up no more room than one full sized component.
TO ROGERCR, THANK YOU FOR YOUR RECOMMENDATION OF THE VAN ALSTINE integrated amp. Did you ever have the opportunity of listening to one using CD's. Van Alstine's products are mainly mail order but do offer a 30 day home trial. That's great but I don't want to tie up $1800, especially if I don't like it and want to return he item for a full refund.
I am sure it is a great sounding unit, surely VA claims it will outperform any other integrated on the market. However, I have been down that road of extraordinary claims before. I will be happy if it is as good as what I have now. The convenience of an integrated amp is very appealing, especially if you have an aging back. Again, thank for the recommendation
Have you considered a Jolida Int. I have a fairly small room now and the Jolida 102-B that I used to use as a backup in a much larger room ,has been my main stereo for the last couple months due to repairs on my #1 system.I just cant get over how good this combo sounds! Of course much depends on the size of your new room and what speakers you end up using.Good luck with everything!Ray