Integrated Amplifier Choices for LSA-1 Signature

A few weeks ago, I started out by asking for recommendations for an amplifier to drive my LSA-1 Signature speakers. Several agon members were kind enough to provide valuable advice.

My current setup is: LSA-1 Signature front left/right, LSA-1 Center, Onkyo RC-180 AVR (110 wpc, 2 channel driven), Apple TV connected to the Onkyo via HDMI (use it for both netflix and wifi streaming apple lossless music from itunes on a different computer). And finally, a DefTech SuperCube 1 for sub.

The setup is in my living room - about 25 X 30 with no back wall (opens into the kitchen). The setup is going to be for music mostly (2.1). Mostly listen to jazz, blues, classical, opera with occasional pop/rock at moderate volumes.

To make a long story short, I am not happy with the sound of the Onkyo, it just not driving the speakers well. Clarity is compromised, base has no punch and is a bit muddied, not much detail or resolution. Also, the LSA sound is a bit more smooth and laid back which works great for jazz but sometimes I wish I can get a bit more oomph and feel the base - not earth shattering but enough to 'feel' it.

So I started out thinking that I can buy a used amplifier (around $1200 - 1500) and use the pre-outs from my Onkyo. But several members (notably brownsfan and manoterror) suggested that I am better off using a better source and either buy an integrated with a nice built-in dac (e.g. Harman Kardon HK990) or get a nice player like Oppo-105.

Like everything else in life there are different ways to skin this cat. Just wanted to get some advice on which would be the best way going forward on a limited budget (around $1500 this year, with potential of adding another $1200 next year):

1. Harman Kardon HK990 - built-in DAC, room correction, good power. But honestly, I am not too crazy about the way it looks. If I'm paying $1500 (used), it better look like one which it does not.

2. Yamaha AS2000 (can get a used one) and a decent used DAC. I have heard good things about this integrated. Built like a tank and looks damn good too. I have had a Yamaha receiver in the past and I liked the sound.

3. Peachtree Audio Nova 125 - this seems to be the best choice. Heard great things about the DAC and now with 125 wpc, it seems to have more power than the outgoing Nova. But I keep reading on forums that this set is more suitable for a smaller office type setting and might be anemic in a larger living room. Also, since I'll be streaming my music from Apple TV, this looks like a great choice.

Which route would you guys recommend? I am also open to other suggestions. Want to get something in a couple of weeks.
Well I just picked up the new Nova 125 today and it is powering a big pair of Usher 8871's in my 20x20x12
LR that opens up just like yours into the kitchen/dining
area, and I have no problem with power. Sounds just beautiful across the board. Really brought the Ushers alive! I think this would be a great match for your speakers with the ribbon tweeters. This amp really sparkles on top.
I have an Undewood Modified LSA Standard and my Tyler Acoustics MM5 and 7U speakers both sound superb.
telescope_trade: thanks for the info. very helpful! if i'm not mistaken you were also driving your ushers with a HK 990 at some point. how would you compare it to the peachtree?
i'm thinking if i wait out for a few weeks you'll get bored with your nova and put it up for sale here ... j/k :)
dave, jazzfan: the yamaha looks really good. is anyone of you using it with a DAC, if so which one? i'm trying to understand how the overall sound quality would differ between the Yamaha (+ decent dac) and Peachtree Nova 125.

Yamaha looks really nice and I suspect that its 90 WPC rating is a bit on the conservative side compared to 125 for Peachtree. But then Yamaha might have been understating. Yammie also has balanced inputs which I don't believe are present in the Peachtree. Is this something that will make a lot of difference if I get something like Oppo 105 in the future?
Hi Arafiq,

Ok, I have had the Nova 125 for hours now and am ready to sell. LOL!!! It is a very lively & vibrant sound with a lot of detail & air. Hard to compare to the HK until it breaks in a bit, but I like it a lot so far. Are you any closer to a decision?
I have the LSA-1 standard monitors (hope to upgrade to the signatures in the future) and just recently purchased the Yamaha A-S2000. I was having the same problem you described: lack of bass, no punch, and an overall lack of body. I love this Yamaha because it is so musical yet detailed and transparent at the same time. I was fortunate to find a "scratch and dent" model on Crutchfield, which came with a 60 day money back guarantee. Well, I can guarantee that this amp is staying in my system ;-)
The Yamaha is made in Japan, has a weight of 50 lbs, and has got more features than the Peachtree, plus it has built in phono!

The Peachtree does have the built in DAC however, and I don't know if you like Class-D amps. I don't like them.

The Peachtree is only 22 lbs and is made in China.

To me, the Yamaha is the superior product...
I was looking at Yamaha myself but it was a no go (RS 700BL) and the Peachtree is in another class as to be expected. Have not heard the AS2000, but think it would be on par with my HK990. In my system so far, I am prefering the Peachtree as it really brought out the bass and has more resolution & seemed to breath life into my speakers.
I don't think I would relate weight of a unit to the SQ of or where it is made. 95% of everthing here on the gon is made in China, and I'll tell you those children who started making these products when they were 4 years old are now 8-10 and are really masters at their trade!!! (I'm just kidding)
Class D has come a long way and if you have not heard the "latest", I suggest you do before you judge it. Like I said, I just came off a 55lb HK 990 with every feature in the book (including DAC) and it is not a superior unit to the Peachtree.(As good maybe)YMMV. I really liked the HK 990 a lot, but in "my system" I prefer the Peachtree as it seems more alive and makes my speakers sound like I have subs in the room. I was wondering where all that 24hz bass was hiding all this time.

And the reason I suggested this amp for those speakers is a friend of mine has them and I heard them (although they were BN) and my feeling was they needed more extention on top, otherwise sounded great. I feel the Peach may be a good match.
I think it's hard to simply say that an amp would be "on par" with another amp without actually hearing it. I have not heard the HK, so I would never even venture such a guess. Nor have I heard the Peachtree, so I can't comment there either. Class D has indeed come a long way, but right now, the sound of this Yamaha coming from the LSA-1 is very good. I do suggest that you try to demo it before making a final decision, unless of course you demo something else first and are completely satisfied.
After seriously looking at the Yamaha, I have decide to give Peachtree a try. Just like telescope_trade, the dealer who sold me the LSA's also advised that they are a particulary good match for my speakers because they extend the top end considerably.
In the end, I think I would have been equally happy with the Yamaha but the fact that with the nova I won't have to buy a separate DAC - less money, smaller footprint, more efficient due to class D design.
Also, I was thinking of buying the Oppo 105 in the future, now with a really great DAC built into the nova, I can probably get the Oppo BD-95 and save myself several hundred $$$.
Dealer also mentioned that the built-in DAC significantly improves the sound of internet radio (I use Apple TV for this), so that's another plus as I listen to internet radio quite often.
Will order the unit sometime next week. I hope I won't regret not buying the Yamaha as it has received nothing but rave reviews.
want to thank everyone for the wonderful advice. and telescope_trade, you have a week, if you get bored with your nova just let me know :)

No,I agree a demo would be the best (for anything)but
am only offering suggestions based on what I have heard. The HK & Yammie (when I said on par) are both SS amps and not Class D, and may or may not sound more similiar to each other than the Peachtree.
I think the energy that the Peachtree has is awesome and really brings my speakers alive compared to my HK. I'm really awestruck what the Peachtree is doing now. Bass I have never heard from my 8871's (ever) and a energy & clarity that are unheard of for the price. IMO.
The Yamaha looks like a sweet integrated and would like to hear it one day.
jwglista, that has been my issue. I cannot find any dealer in my city who can demo that specific model of Yamaha. I did find a dealer who can demo the Peachtree next weekend. Like I said earlier, the Yammie looks much better than the Peachtree (at least to me) but I can't demo it and would need to spend more money on a separate DAC as most of my music will be streamed via Apple TV.