Integrated amp with HT bypass for Focal Electra 1008 Be


Hi!

This is my first post here, so,, hello everyone ! :D

I recently acquired a pair of Focal Electra 1008 be bookshelf speakers. These are going to be used as Fronts of a 5.1 surround setup. I currently have them hooked up to a NAD 326bee. NAD's power amp input is connected to Denon X3400H AVR's pre outputs. AVR is driving the center and surround channels, sub is active (Dali IKON sub MK2). This setup is not very optimal, since I cannot take AVR out of equation, and I really don't trust AVR's DAC or pre amp section very much. I want to be able to use my home theater via AVR easily, while being able to use the Focal Electras for a good stereo music experience.

I read about integrated amps or preamps with HT Bypass feature, I believe one of those would fit my requirements very well. Current models I have in mind are:

1- Hegel H360, H300 or H160
2- Parasound Halo Integrated
3- Atoll IN300 or Atoll IN200SE
4- Cambridge Audio 851A or 840A
5- Marantz PM8005 or PM14S1

Cheapest items in that list are Marantz PM8005 and Atoll IN200SE. I was wondering if one of those would just work for me, or if I should go for Hegel H360? Any opinions of these amplifiers and how they would match with Focal Electra line, especially given that it has the beryllium tweeter units, would be highly appreciated! :D

I was initially quite excited about the Atoll IN200SE, since it has a true dual mono architecture. However, then I got to know that only way to shut it down is to flip the on/off switch on it's back. Turns out when device is on stand by, it is still using around 19 watts of power.

Parasound's sub management features are quite attractive as well. I guess I can have the same with others integrated amps that have pre out (my sub has separate LFE and L/R inputs).

Any suggestions or thoughts would be highly appreciated!
denizpiri
Here's a list of integrated amps with HT Bypass - it was last updated Sept 2017
http://www.audiophile.no/en/articles-tests-reviews/item/426-amplifiers-with-processor-input

Scroll to the bottom for a list of preamps.
Thank you all so very much for all the suggestions ! :D

I am heavily leaning towards Hegel products right now, alternatively Marantz PM14S1. Read some good things about that two in combination with Focal speakers.

I use an ikea besta cabinet to keep all audio devices in. It is 40cm deep. I would like the device to be less than 40cm in depth, All Hegel devices I am looking at fits this requirement. Marantz PM14S1 on the other hand doesn't fit that requirement, same is true for Anthem STR (would be lovely with it's room correction feature). Then again, I can cut out the back of the besta cabinet to allow amps longer than 40cm. So, being shorther than 40cm is definitely a huge plus, but not a critical requirement.

I will try to audition hegel 360 this week, and maybe home demo it if I can. I can't easily find some of the devices mentioned here though :( I can't find Parasound Halo or Anthem STR in my city.

Another reason I am leaning towards Hegel is that, I might be changing my speakers to KEF Reference in future. I read many good things about KEF and Hegel combination.

Anyone here tried Hegel/Focal or Marantz/Focal combination before ?

@erikt Went trough that list before I posted and checked availability of the products in Poland. Some are just not available here, or maybe I can't search well :D

@akg_ca That system must be sounding sweet! :D My final system will be a lot cheaper in comparison.

@robr45 I was thinking about that actually. As far as I know that model uses Hypex NCore amps inside. As I understand they are one of the most transparent amp modules. I am also thinking of the possibility of making DIY amp by buying hypex ncore modules myself, and buying a preamp like Parasound P5. However, this might be quite time consuming and hypex ncore modules are not available for purchase right now :/
The m32 actually does not use Hypex, some of its siblings do but the m32 is a pure digital design and uses an all digital PWM gain stage. The chip was originally made by Zetex who is now part of qualcomm. It is a radical design and extremely pure. 
Just connected the speakers. They look amazing, but sound wise they don't sound that good without room correction of the AVR, too laid back. It might the amp as well, or the DAC/preamp section of the AVR, or the cables (QED silver anniversary XT). I will home demo Hegel H360 this week and try to get Kef LS50 along with it. To see how it behaves with better amplification. And will compare the sound with Kef LS50.

@jafant Since the current setup doesn't sound great without room correction, i am going to take a better look at the Anthem STR, because of it's room correction feature. It might be the Dynamic EQ feature as well. Living in an appartment, too late to test things already. I will also try it with DAC connected to my NAD 326 directly.

Also got lots of reading to do in acoustic treatment.
Hegel H360 is connected now. Been listening to it for last 4 hours. Going trough some Pink Floyd albums now. I threw many genres to it. So far only genre that doesn't sound so nice is Metal. Metal feels blurry sounding instead of sharp.

Hegel H360 made Focals sound very natural, yet they still have that sweet Berrylium highs, however now it doesn't strike out of nowhere. This is easy to hear with drums. Cymbals sound more right and lively, rather than 'cymbal slam on your face' sound. Exaggerating quite heavily of course :D

Tried Hegel's built in airplay feature for a while. It might be my wifi network, but it was cutting the sound every now and then, very disturbing. Now connected chrome cast with optical cable to Hegel's DAC, works flawlessly. Love Chromecast for it's price.

Another +1 for Hegel H360 is that it doesn't get hot by any means, barely gets warm.

So far, only thing I really dislike about Hegel is powering it on/off. It is done via a big switch under the unit. You slide your hand under it and push it upwards. Remotely turning it on/off doesn't seem to be possible. Then again, not sure if I should turn it on/off each time after use or put it to "eco" mode (didn't try it yet) after use. Oh and I wish I could dim the display permanently. Would be great.