How many pairs of balanced input? What else is in the chain (dac, speakers, etc)? There are a lot of options so this will help narrow it down a little.
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All my music is on my computer (FLAC). I am looking at the Slim Transporter as my DAC. This is my entire chain! I need to get an amp and speakers.
I need one pair of balanced inputs. If the amp has a pre-amp balanced out, I might hook-up a headphone amp (Headroom) unless the amp supports headphone output.
Thanks for your help.
Is that budget just for the integrated, or the whole system? I would say that you may want to budget for a good DAC, since you can definitely improve over the Slim's DAC. One route may be to get a DAC with volume control like the Bel Canto e.One DAC3 and then get an amp and use the DAC as a preamp. I know someone who does this with a Pass 250.5 and likes it very much (although maybe still misses a preamp).
I have the Pass and love it. I don't know what they go for used, but I would guess over 3,000. I would think a YBA Passion Integre 300 would be a good route, or the Plinius 9200, both of which are very beautiful sounding amps, and both of which hold up well for resale (also match your criteria above).
I would maybe suggest pinning down your speakers first, because if you're going to buy and sell until you get the right thing, speakers are a drag to do that with; however, amps are pretty easy. You could also get a 2000 and under integreated and get a DAC that will perform better than the squeeze, unless you're going with a modded unit.
The budget is just for the integrated.
I have no intention of buying and selling! This is a long-term purchase and that was the reason why I am asking the experts!!
I called Mark Levinson and understand that they stopped making No.383 - I am not sure why. Is it a good idea to buy an amp that the manufacturer isn't interested in selling?
I heard good things about the Transporter - this is the first time I heard someone say that it is not a good DAC. The alternatives would be Benchmark DAC (same price range). I haven't looked at Bel Canto yet. I can get an optical-out from Squeezebox comes with a Optical Out so that is not a big issue.
YBA retail is $4650. I hope PS Audio is dual-voltage. I will check with them.
So judging by your response you're buying new, not used? That changes your budget, as I was saying you could get a YBA under $3000 used. I would say, and this holds true for used gear, but since you're buying new you should go listen to as many units as you can and let your ears be the judge. If you're buying speakers too than many dealers may let you try out the gear in home for a deposit. Some of us do in fact buy gear and then, amazingly, sell it if it doesn't work out like we hoped or were advised it would.
In terms of the Levinson gear, just because they stopped making it doesn't mean it's not worth buying. A decision to stop manufacturing something doesn't mean it's not worthwhile, think of cars! Levinson is known for making quality gear, and while I haven't heard their integrated, many respect it highly.
I didn't say the transport doesn't have a good DAC, just that given your budget, that is one area I think you could probably improve on and still get a good integrated.
I still think that you should choose speakers before your amp, since, the sensitivity of the speakers you choose may change what type of integrated you want or need.
Sorry for any confusion. I am open to buying new or old, under $3,000 for just the integrated amp. Only, I am not going to resell it and buy another repeatedly. I don't have the expertise/time/inclination for that. Thanks to forums like this I am learning a lot but I am also more confused!
I know that the quality of sound depends on (a) the entire system/chain and (b) my ear. I cannot get to (b) unless I visit the dealers and before I do that I wanted to come up with a shortlist. For eg. Plinius/YBA are not represented in my area and I might have to travel.
I thought I simplified (a) when I decided that my entire chain consists of:
It cannot get any simpler than that (except for the boombox). No matching preamp/amp, no Cd/phono players etc. I decided on solid-state because I have no idea about tube-rolling/matching.
Speakers didn't seem that difficult because my budget limits me to about $2k so I was looking at Klipsch/Usher/Wharfedale floorstanding models, all of them are <90dB sensitivity. But that is a question for another thread.
As I investigate integrated amps I realize this isn't going to be an easy process in spite of the constraints I imposed. I don't see a consensus and perhaps I shouldn't expect it.
I checked Plinius' site and realized that they have a "new" model now. Ditto with Rowland. I don't think audio is like computer chips (until recently chip technology was evolving rapidly). This is a mature field and if the manufacturer thinks they can come up with significant improvements every two or three years, does it mean there is something wrong with the previous models? I don't understand the cars analogy - I don't think the 2000 Camry is significantly different from the 2009 Camry.
I checked out the reviews in the magazines but I must also admit that I am somewhat disillusioned after reading Arthur Salvatore's opinions about the whole recommended components
mess. Too bad he is a tube/vinyl guy and doesn't have any recommendations for me!
I probably exposed my ignorance and annoyed some of you. I only insist that I mean no offense to any of you - you tried to help me and I thank you for your time.
Your most recent post is not ignorant or annoying, but very accurate. Often times things don't change that much (and BTW your comparison of Camry's I agree totally with Accords).
Some manufacturers do change technology however. Either way, they have to stay competitive in the market, and rarely do you see one come out with a new product that is half the price. So, in your (appropriate) cynical view, if they change technology and Model '2' is $500 more than Model '1', how do you know you're really getting a better product? Truth is, you don't. If the models maintain the same technology (like our assessment of the cars), you know you're just paying for inflation, and low miles.
That said, the previous recommendation for the Rowland Concentra is a winner. There's one on A'gon now for 3k. I owned this amp 7 years ago and back then it sold for 3k used - most products' used price decrease rapidly with age, and some increase. The ones that hold their value or increase are clear indicators of their quality. It is a classic product. For speakers, while I have not heard the ones you mention, for 2k or so you can get a used pair of Tyler Linbrook monitors (which is what I used when I had the Concentra) directly from Tyler w/ warranty. This is a fantastic match, and I think you would be very well served budget-wise. I have heard so many other speakers since then, and for the money (and much more) you will be hard pressed to do better. To buy a retail-priced speaker at 2k you will probably get a much lesser product. Obviously this is a gross generalization, but from my experience it is what I have found. Further info about your room and listening preferences is also helpful.
The new Krell S 300i may be something to consider with evolution technology, a high current 150w/ch @8ohms and 300 @4ohms. It even has ipod connectivity with fully balanced signal transfer...it appears this integrated is now truly balanced in design and execution. Sound is supposed to be more holographic and dimensional with lower distortion and more accurate tone/timbre. The remote is now metal and fully loaded with functionality. Price is $2500 (china assembly) and the weight is 40lbs....now that's value!