Integrated Amp upgrade?

Hello all,

Looking to upgrade my Cambridge Azur 851a.

I will be pairing with Spendor A6Rs (no sub). Two sources include Gold Note PH-10 & Mytek Brooklyn DAC+

My budget is $2K (new or used) and my top three choices right now are:
-Electrocompaniet PI-2
-Ayre AX-7e

My room is on the small side, and I usually listen with the volume on the high side of medium. All genres of music.


7bc4daa2 be3e 4e1a 95da 243581b9bbb5robelvick

Take a hard look at Belles Aria integrated.

(I currently own an Ayre AX-7e mp and a Rogue Cronus Magnum II.  My next amp will very, very likely be a Belles.)

Yamaha and Exposure are both excellent with Spendors. 
Ayre is top notch

add Creek to your listening list
Not an integrated but as an alternative how about a Schiit Freya preamp and a Vidar power amp for LESS than 2K for both? I have no clue how the Vidar sounds, but I own a Freya and it sounds great. I will suggest a new Jolida integrated as I owned one of their amps and it worked very well for years, and was a steal based on what other stuff cost. 
Thank you all for the suggestions so far.

Let me also mention - I would like to have an amp with two sets of balanced inputs. I know the LFD does not, but it made the list due to it’s high praise.

@wolf_garcia I was also thinking about the Schiit Ragnarok, but i’ll consider the separates you mentioned.

Hegel H160 has one set of balanced inputs, but it is a very good integrated amp.  Used ones are under $2k.
I would think the LFD and Spendor would make a nice Brit-fi match.
How does the H160 compare to H360?
The h360 is far superior. Depending in your needs, look at the Hegel h90, much better than the h160 with the new soundengine 2. Price is $2000 new
I understand the Schiit Vidar's balanced inputs only work if you're using 2 of 'em as mono amps. 
Ended up going with the Electrocompaniet PI-2. It was between that and the Ayre, but the Ayre was about $1k more & only 60wpc - compared to 100wpc in the PI-2.

Should have it by this Thursday.
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I'm currently using the Ayre AX-7e with some light modifications as my reference and think it's a special amp, but to state the obvious, it's not for everyone or every system. It excels at speed, articulation, resolution and micro dynamics, but prefers easier loads and can lean on the dry side. There are 3 relatively straightforward mods that will make it sound a fair bit more liquid. Unsure of match with Spendors and Mytek (I'm currently requesting the Mytek for review).

A used Bryston B60 is a also very nice piece, but not in the same league as the Ayre.

I've also heard the Belles Aria is fantastic but David Belles keeps quite busy and I haven't been able to get one for review yet - I'll check in with him again.
Ah sorry missed that you got the Electrocompaniet - let us know how you like it vs the Cambridge!

I received the Electrocompaniet PI-2 yesterday. I’m going to let in burn in over the weekend. The dealer instructed that it will sound good out of the box, great at 100 hours, and it’s best around 200. But, I did do some initial listening after running it for a few hours.

Right off the bat, the sound is terrific. Crystal clear vocals, warm and detailed instrumentation, and dead quiet. Much more natural sounding, compared to the Cambridge. I’ve only been using the Mytek so far, but my early indications tell me that vinyl is going to sound fantastic as well.

The PI-2 drives the Spendors with ease.  The volume level ranges from 0-127, and right at 50 it's much louder than I would normally listen, but it still sounded wonderful.

I’m going to attempt to be patient, and let is burn in all the way before I do any critical listening...if I can.

Will report back in a few days.

Best regards,

Sony TA1-ES, KEF LS-50's, Martin Logan Grotto, AQ-Cheetah interconnects, AQ-Aspen speaker wires, AQ-NRG4 power cables, SONOS streaming Pandora.
In my 45 years of playing with audio equipment, this is one of the best systems I've heard. Don't fall for the esoteric names. Both Sony and KEF have money for R&D. The Sony runs in class A operation. In a blind test, I bet a whole bunch of reviewers would find this near the top of the test. For lower to mid listening levels, you will fall in love.
I recently switched from a hybrid Vincent sv-237 to a musical fidelity m6si ($2995) solid state and will not look back.  It's a dual mono integrated without the mono block price.  The thing sings and has enough power to muscle thru anything.  Check it out

Congratulations, great choice. That Electrocompaniet integrated looks fantastic; large toroid transformer, plenty of power supply capacitance and output devices. Everything in that amp looks very well thought out.

Electrocompaniet has a long history of making excellent gear. I also appreciate how great their gear looks as well. Enjoy that new amp. 



  • @samac 
Thank you!  I'm really happy with my decision.  I agree, it is a beautiful piece of equipment.

@robelvick yes congrats I've never heard an Electrocompaniet amp but they have a great reputation and I've always been curious. Enjoy and happy listening!
I would get some tubes in there.  +1 on a Musical Fidelity, but also Cayin, PrimaLuna, Rogue, maybe even a Jolida with a few mods.
Exposure 3010S2

Seen it paired up at the audio expos with Spendor speakers and VDH cables .....very nice pairing.

Sample review:

do you own the Anthem STR?
Happy Listening!
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Just for fun, here is a list of *integrateds that have passed through since I started this thread:

-Electrocompaniet PI-2
-Hegel H160
-PS Audio Stellar Gain DAC/S300 AMP (Stack)
-Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-2170
-MicroMega M100 - current

What a wild time to be alive!
^^^ All those amps & not a keeper in the bunch?Time for TUBES then!!!

The MicroMega has wowed me from day 1, which I can't say about any of the other's on the list.  I will hesitantly say that it's staying for a while...

But considering my track record, tubes certainly could find their way into my system at some point.
@robelvick  5 amps in under 5 months! What are you looking for that you haven't found yet? (except ~ tentatively ~ perhaps the MicroMega)

I was looking for an integrated with a great built-in DAC, and balanced inputs for my phono preamp. 

Electrocompaniet didn't have a DAC, vinyl sounding great though
Hegel's DAC was just so-so, vinyl was good
PS Audio great DAC, but the the S300 amp was a little too clean 
Lyngdorf - fantastic DAC, but the vinyl was too clinical sounding

Now at the Micromega, great DAC, warm & powerful amp.  Vinyl sounds great again!
@robelvick  Thanks. Most would have been changing speakers rather than amplification (or near all in one units). I find that interesting and encouraging. Sounds like you have found that balance in functionality and performance!
Thanks! for the update - robelvick
Happy Listening!
I did forget one integrated that I used between the Electrocompaniet & Hegel.  For about 2 weeks I was using a LFD NCSE MKII.  This amp was something special.  Paired with the Spendor A6Rs, everything sounded warm, exciting, and detailed.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get over not having a remote and the volume had to be dialed in perfectly to achieve that great sound.

@jafant  While I was using the PS Audio, Lyngdorf, and Micromega - I was in between speakers as well.  There were a couple weeks that I was auditioning Tyler Linbrooks, Salk Songbirds, and Scansonic MB2.5s. While they all had their high points and sounded very good with each amp, I settled with the Scansonics because they did everything very well, with all types of music and sources. 

The MicroMega drove/controlled the MB2.5s the best, and to my ears sounded the best too. 

Last month - Musical Fidelity M2si

Last week - Parasound HINT

what's next? who knows? not me..

2 months ago - Wyred4Sound STI-500 V2 (with separates)

1 month ago- Hegel H190

2 days ago - Gold Note IS-1000
Have you considered Luxman integrated ?

Yes, I have, but never have had the chance to hear one.  The  LUXMAN - L-505uXII had always caught my eye, but no DAC.

One day, maybe.
a very fine system indeed. Sony ES can make statement and reference products like no other entity.  Happy Listening!

Have you considered Accuphase ? not sure about pricing and availability in your area.
@fdpdk  I have not.  What model would you suggest?

I'm also quite thrilled with the Gold Note IS-1000.  Everything I want/need in one box.

Are there any other integrateds out there that:
-Class A/B 100w >
-Built in DAC & Streamer
-MM & MC phono capable

The Mark Levinson 585.5 comes to mind, but that is out of reach for my budget.

Could you give a few brief impressions of the Wyred STI? Also how it compared the Micromega. TIA


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The Wyred4Sound definitely has more power, and it quieter than the Micromega, but you'll have to choose your separates carefully.  The Micromega - not the case as it's an all-in-one.

@jones4music  I had the 2170 on two separate occasions.  I really tried to love it, and sometimes I did.  However, most of my listening is vinyl, and playing vinyl through the Lyngdorf lost all of the pizazz that I love.  I think vinyl should stay in the analog domain, instead of going through an ADC.  Just my preference.

What were your impresssiond regarding Parasound HINT6 ?

I did not have the newest version of the HINT(6).  The older model was fine, but the DAC and Phono stage were decent at best.  I always used separates, which led me to search for a different all in one integrated.

I believe the newer HINT6 has an updated phono stage, but same dac.
Get the Rega Elicit-R.
This is a difficult task if it works get an external DAC then you have a lot of good options for the price which are typical AVRs.
@caphill - I like your style!

Get the Rega Elicit-R

That's what I have, and I really like it.
Pure analog integrated amps (no DAC or no digital circuitry) are usually better than the ones with onboard DAC & digital circuitry.
Ideally DAC & digital circuitry needs to be separated from critical analog circuitry in order to achieve optimal performance cause digital-analog conversion can potentially inject and induce noise to analog audio circuitry. 


What do you think of your Rega Elicit-R analog integrated? 
Are you also using Rega CD player or Rega DAC as your digital front end source component? And/or Rega turntable and phonostage pre? 

@caphill - I use a Rega Saturn-R with my Rega Elicit-R integrated amp. I also use a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB TT using the built-in phono pre-amp in the Elicit-R. It's a fine sounding system and it uses a single remote control for the whole system. Nice!

The Saturn-R also has multiple digital inputs, coax, optical and USB, so you can use it as a DAC. All controllable from the single remote.

I like it a lot. I've had more expensive and more complex systems, but I like the sound and the simplicity of the current Rega system.