Integrated amp with phono section for Totem Arro

Hello, gang,

I've been doing research on the following topic already, and I beg your indulgence if this topic has been beaten to death! :-)

In about a week, I should be the proud owner of a brand-new pair of Totem Arro speakers! :-)

Most of the rest of my system comes from the mid-1980s. This includes my amplifier, a PS Audio Elite Plus integrated amp, solid-state, of course, with 70 W per channel. I have assurances from PS Audio that this amplifier should, in theory, have no trouble driving the Arro, which presents a load of 4 ohms. What I'm wondering, however, it is since the Arro is, from everything I've heard, a VERY revealing little speaker, I'm concerned in advance what I ought to do for amplification if the Elite Plus turns out to sound harsh when paired with the Arro.

What I need, then, would be a much more modern, integrated amplifier, including a phono stage, because my main analog source is a SOTA Sapphire turntable.

I'd be looking at something that I could pick up for, say, $700 or less. Something used would be okay.

All suggestions welcome! :-)
Congrats on your new speakers.

Give your new speakers at least 60-hours of burn-in before concerning yourself with the amp. Better yet, if possible, put 200-hours on the by running them constantly, then start considering the system.

What cables and interconnects are you using? As your speakers get more revealing, this is a place to focus first. Don't get suckered into getting a soft-edge amp to compensate for the "accuracy" of the new speakers. Really fine speakers will show weaknesses in your sources, cabling and, yes, your amp. However, PS makes good stuff, in general, and is probably superior in quality to your CDP, TT and cables.

$700 amps aren't any more "modern" than your PS. I suspect the money will be better spent on cables and ICs, if at all. (Remember, don't do anything until the speakers are fully burned-in).


Thank you very much for the what impresses me as sound advice (ouch, sorry for the unintentional pun). I just now looked on the FAQ at and they recommend at least 100 to 150 hours of break in time (wow) for the Arro, along with an integrated amp of at least 40 watts, so actually, I ought to be in good shape.

The CD player is a brand new Music Hall CD25.2... not the creme de la creme of what's out there, but supposedly a very good player.

Cabling will be an issue for sure. I have large lengths of old Monster Cable Powerline 2 speaker cable from when I had my old Vandersteen 2C's bi-wired. Do you think I should just get them reterminated at shorter lengths and try them out while breaking the new speakers in, or should I get some new speaker cable off the bat?

The CD player comes with really cheap looking interconnects, but I have a pair of better Monster Cable interconnects from the old system that I'll start off using.

Beyond that, the main thing I'll be dealing with is the turntable, which is at SOTA right now being inspected. They'll be making recommendations for tune-up and possible upgrades. I'll be needing a new cartridge (there's a 20 year old Audioquest on that arm!) and the Linn Basik arm could probably use an upgrade but I may wait on that.

The PS should be fine - like Dave said, sit with it for a while. Get used to the speakers, let them break in...

I would not suggest going crazy on cables, but after a while look into a solid state Naim Nait or a Unison Reasearch hybrid. Otherwise, go tubes...
Yeah, shorten up those Monsters first and get good ICs for the CDP and TT next. I prefer Anaylsis Plus for great performance vs. value. If you can't spend that much, then Kimber or Audioquest are good compromises. (Forget about Monster).

Down the road you'll probably be amazed if you'd spend as much on speaker cable as you spent on the amp. Really, the improvement would be huge, but save that for down the road.


Anybody heard the Arro's with JoLida tube equipment like the 302b? I could've sworn I read here somewhere that Jolida with the Arro was a very sweet combination, but I can't find the reference now. I know I'd need to add a phono stage... I'm just very curious.

rebbi, arro & 302b is way to go for your budget.

As a CURRENT owner of Arros for 5 years+ and having matched with 302b and other tube & SS amps, I can confidently recommend this combo.

Email me if you have more questions.
The Arro is a great speaker choice for under $1K.

Listen to your Arro first and be patient. It will take a while to break them in (common issue with Totem and Dynaudio speakers) before they could sound their best. See if you are content with the sound that your current amp, CDP, and the Arro produce. If you are, do not waste your money to upgrade your electronics until the PS integrated breaks down which I don't think that will not happen any time soon.

Totem has recommended Rega integrated and Rega Apollo with the Arro, a very popular combo in Europe. But of course, Naim 5I and Naim CDP will be significantly better than the Rega combo.

You would have to spend 2 or 3 times more if you want a better CDP than your current Music Hall. The local Totem and Dynaudio dealers in my area have recommended the Music Hall if your budget for a CDP is around $600.

Better interconnect say Monster or AudioQuest helps but do not spend more than $70 per pair. That was my Totem dealer's recommendation.

On the other hand, the speaker cable upgrade is worth the $$ but do not go over the $1K mark. Unless, you can print money faster than you can spend.

PS Audio was sort of ahead of the curve. There were some smooth and musical solid state amps in the '80s, and PS Audio stood out as one such. I have an Amber Series 70 power amp and it's another example. I think hanging tight with what you have is a good idea.

Since the Arros are bi-wirable/bi-ampable, if you find you need more power, find another '80s-era PS Audio amp. They should be pretty inexpensive by now. Then, for the price of one used amp you could bi-amp and double your power to each speaker.

In fact, here's a same-era 70 wpc PS Audio amp with a BIN of $200.
Okay, then. Consensus seems to be to "cool it," get the speakers broken in, then go from there. Thanks, y'all! :-)
Hmmm.... one other question... what about the NAD C372 with the Arro? Some good deals on that one out there right now...
Rebbi,I was a owner of the Arro,the Unison Unico was a Magical combination with Mullard tubes in the preamp stage,it was really shocking how great that combo was.That was over 4 years ago and the Unico has gone up in price a bunch,but thank China for all the nice push-pull tube intergraedamps and Hybrids such as the Unico that are flooding the market in abundance,which mean music for the Arro's! and they are very affordable.Remember when it comes to amps for the Arro its about current 1st and formost and quality (tone,attributes ect.) more than quanity (watts) I had a Nad 320bee and it just didnt have the magic and dont listen to that claim from Totem that says "40-150 hours for break in" they wont really start clicking to around 300hrs and then they will really be singing at 450 hrs,yes yes i know its a long time but it will be a fun journey dont get paranoid it will be well worth it.You have a good Cdp with a solid transport,but I would have suggested a tube Cdp,but its ok just pick you up a good tube dac from and call about the little great mods they have for the 25.2 which is the most mod friendly Cdp around,and get ready to approach your setup with your Turntable with your old Vandies or best it!
Rebbi, only consider the NAD when you're certain that you need more power. Moving from PS Audio to NAD at the same power levels is generally NOT considered an upgrade. Going from 70 to 150 watts is significant, but not a big jump. If it becomes apparent that you need more power, then a jump to 250 is likely to be more appropriate and you should be looking to upgrade quality at the same time or at least staying at the same quality level. That puts you looking at a bigger PS or a Bel Canto or something along those lines. Since you've gotten into more revealing speakers, the quality of the integrated amp is way more important than it used to be.

Tawaundabomb and Dcstep,

Thank you so much for the good advice. I can't wait to actually get the Totems (and a some sort of component shelving) so I can start breaking in the speakers. (The Arro's are on order, and the dealer is waiting for them to come in... by tomorrow, I hope!)
Sounds like a formula for a great weekend. Have fun.

Rebbi,by all means go check out the Peachtree Decco intergratedamp,it combines Scott Nixon's Dac and 50 watt Chip amp,with a tube preamp linestage.The Decco is distributed thru Signal Path,the fine folks who was importing Musical Fidelity in U.S. in their best moments they also are the makers of the Era speaker line just dont listen to the Era's the were voiced with and the setup is the most magical setup I've heard regardless of price.The Decco sales for $799,Scott Nixon's Dac and chipamp sell for $800 by themselves,and you get a great tube amp to,but with a very creadible headphone section,its the best deal in audio right now,and it has stunning buid quality and its a real looker,David Solomon that the Dac section easily best Musical Fidelities X-dac which is 1 of the very best dacs available, the Decco has detail,dynamics,bass grip,and great layering ions,and above all it has amazing sepration and musicallity,its a must audition even for people who dont need a amp.

Hmmm..... 68 watts @ 4 ohms... I wonder if it would drive the Arro's adequately?

As sensible as everybody's advice here was regarding, "wait to break in the Arro's before you upgrade your amp," I confess that I caved in to a good deal. I got a Unison Unico Hybrid (80 w/channel tube/transistor) integrated amp, mint condition (current street price of around $2500 new) for $800 plus shipping here on Audiogon. I just couldn't resist! :-) So now I have even more to look forward to.
Congratulations. I've heard great things about the Unico. And for $800... nice.
An afterthought: I see an $800 Unico listed (now marked as sold), but it doesn't have the phono stage. If this is the one you purchased, what do you plan to do about your turntable?

Yes, that's the next question. I'll need some recommendations there. Anybody?
07-23-08: Rebbi
Yes, that's the next question [what to do about a phono stage]. I'll need some recommendations there. Anybody?
Depending on how cheap you want to go, the Cambridge Audio 640p could do it. Price/performance has changed in many areas since the mid-'80s. You've been using an '80s-era PS Audio. I was using a mid-'80s Amber Model 17, and also used a VSP Labs Straightwire II. The Straightwire was incredibly fast and transparent, and retailed around $1500 in the mid-'80s.

The $169 640p easily bettered the phono stage in the Amber (which was highly regarded in its day), and *at least* equalled the performance of the Straightwire as well.

I admit, I haven't A-B'd it against a Lehmann Black Cube, but even that or a Project Tube Box SE is about 3x the price of the Cambridge. And if you decide you want better, most mail order houses that carry the 640p (e.g., Audio Advisor) allow you to return it for refund within 30 days.

Yes, I've seen that Cambridge unit on the web and didn't know whether it was well regarded or not. I"ll have to look for some reviews.

Also, I've seen a little unit by Vincent advertised... need to look up some info on that one as well.
Anybody heard this Yaqin MS-12B tube preamp that goes for about $180?
I enjoy my Lehmann Black cube. It's the old version without the upgraded power supply. And for ~$250 used, I think it's a great bargain. It easily beats the phono section in my Rotel receiver, which isn't all too bad itself. More detail, better soundstage, and just more realistic overall.
I have auditioned a pair of Arro driven by a Cambridge Audio A640. Good bass, transparent midrange, and good image for a pair of tiny 4.5" driver.

Totem mentioned Rega to me probably because Rega was their distributor in Europe. I was thinking about getting a pair of Arro too but that was I brought home two pairs of Dynaudio monitors. From now, I will bet my money on Dynaudio.

I personally own a NAD C372 and a NAD C270 and use them to drive my Dynaudio monitors also 4 ohm impedance speakers. Both are neutral with the NAD C270 a tad warmer which is better for my taste of bass pitch and definition. Since the NAD C372 can drive the Model 1 well it means the C372 can drive the Arro with much ease.

Cambridge Audio is a very good choice (great for the money) Rega Mira or Creek 5350 are good too just more expensive. Roksan Kandy, the latest version, is also a good candidate. On the tube side, Cayin sounds really warm and is a capable amp for your Arro.

Just don't get that Creek Evo, underpower but very expensive for what it could do.

As mentioned above, I managed to score a Unison Unico here on Audiogon. It sounds very nice with the Arro and will drive them to SPL's that I'd never listen to because I value what's left of my middle-aged hearing apparatus. ;-) I'm still waiting to see how it sounds as they continue to break in.