integrated amp vs Pre&power amp combination.

Integrated amp vs pre & power amp combination which one sounds better?Please explain why?
The question can't be answered because the answer really depends on the integrated at hand and the pre-power combo at hand, and then of course the peculairities of the physical setup and your application.

If gain is needed there are physical limitations to the integrated and the pre-pwr is the next tier up. However, some pre-pwr are not as good as some integrateds and vice versa. And when you have to sell a product, designers probably get caught up in what's going to sell versus what would've been the best sound for the money in a finished product.
Kina depends on what you get i suppose. Some people say that seperates sound better. I dunno,.. i have an integrated and plan to always have one. Maybe give some idea of price range models etc.
It's not that one is better than the other, both are electronics in a box, crude description I know. You could stuff the same electronics that are in a two box setup into one, with some shielding, and get the same or better results.

Integrated's are more budget minded and in all actuality the manufacturer should be saving money with an integrated as you have one "unit" to create and one packaging system.

That said, if the user wants to upgrade, you have more flexibity with separates. In all out high-end, generally separates are it, they may some mega-buck integrated I am unaware of for $30,000 or something.
I think price range really does matter. I was looking in the $800 - $1500 range. I really expected to like the good integrateds better in this price range (no interconnects, synergy, etc.). But the opposite was true. I did head-to-head comparisons, and found separates beat the best integrateds in my price range easily. Also there was much more variety to choose from. I ended up with a nicer pre-amp than amp, still in my budget, with my next upgrade already planned out (a better amp someday).

I'm not sure why the separates sounded better, but I suspect the answer is power and current. I got my Rotel power amp (135WPC and seemingly plenty of current) new, cut-rate at $400 (previous year's model). The integrated's topped out at 60 to 75 WPC. My speakers aren't particularly efficient, and my room is large. The integrated's sounded thin in this setup. Also the separates had much better channel separation ("soundstage").

Another reason this may be true has to do with physical design. I opened the amp at one point. There's just all this room in the box. The parts are nicely spread out, nothing has to bunch out at all. I think it's easier (that is, cheaper) to design a nice-sounding piece of equipment if you have lots of space and not too much to cram into it (not to mention separate power supplies for pre and amp). Of course, if you are short of space to *put* this stuff, that's another matter...

This is not to knock integrateds. The more expensive ones are higher power (100 or even 150WPC). And people swear by the Plinius, Bryston, Classe, and other integrateds. But you start at about $2500 list for these better units. There were none to demo in my area.

Most people will tell you that integrateds are better at this low price point, but that wasn't my experience.

Best of luck in your search!

- Eric
The advantage of the seperates is that preamps are low voltage low current devices and power amps are high current high voltage--too big a power amp in the same box will eminate a strong enough magnetic field to interfere with the preamps circuits, although you can shield like brian said. Also, both pre and pwr in an integrated will often share a common power supply, which is not necessarily bad, but.. if you need a lot of power for your amp its usually best to give the pre its own pwr source too. And, if its a high powered class A amp being horribly inefficient there's going to be so much heatsinking to deal with too it becomes mandatory to stick the preamp in a separate box for cost reasons alone. Tecnically you could have a 5 foot wide chassis and you could get them far enough apart and deal with the heatsinking but its certainly not cost effective, especially from a marketing standpoint. It comes down to matters of cost, performance, and flexibility. If you've got to drive long runs of interconnect to remote locations then a pre is necessary. The only real plus for the integrated is that a passive linestage can be done nicely and save cost and improve performance since there is no cable interface the source would have to drive. Passive control units in place of a seperate pre in a pre pwr combo are not necessarily that great since the source is getting bogged down. Active loudspeakers offer the potential to be the best with the necessary electronic equalization, so from that standpoint, pre-pwr is the best. I don't know enought about those digital loudspeaker systems--the real kind that convert the digital signal into a a soudwave all in one step so...
Thanks for all the feedbacks.
In general I think the more tranformer you have in your system is better& also the most interesting part of HI-END stuff is changing/upgrading your equipments for new taste & It is easy to do that with pre & poweramp plus interconnects,speaker cables etc....
Thanks again,
I owned a Simaudio Moon I-5 integrated for over a year. I've had an Electrocompaniet ECI-3 for the past three months. And, I'm currently running the Blue Circle BC21 preamp with the BC22 amp.

In comparing these different setups, I would agree that it depends on the components being considered. These three systems all have their strengths and weaknesses. Each has something the other doesn't. The reason I favor the Blue Circle gear right now may have to do more with my tastes in sound rather than the difference between separates and integrateds. I've really grown to appreciate the tube preamp in this combo.

Overall, this is a tough question to answer not knowing what you're considering. I was only able to form an opinion by owning and comparing these pieces.

Good luck!