Integrated Amplifier for Monitor Audio Silver S2 Speakers

Hello to everyone.
I have very modest system and just recently I purchased Monitor Audio Silver S2 speakers.
So far I am using NAD C356, lots of bass but of course not so much details. My room is 17'x13'x9'.
I am listening everything, from uptempo jazz to old disco music. My budget is $2000-$2500.
Thanks in advance on your opinions
Here ya go!
THANK YOU for the advice but I would like stay away from the tube Integrated amplifiers since I'm listening music all day long. Sometimes is always on. I know that the best sound comes with the tubes but I prefer SS Integrated amplifier which I should mention.

Those Monitor Audio Silver S2 speakers are nice - they're around $1000 new if I'm not mistaken - but spending $2000 to $2500 on an integrated amp and less than half that amount on the speakers seems to the reverse of what you'd want to do.  I've always had better success putting more money into the speakers - that component (along with the room) has the biggest effect on the sound you're hearing.  If you're not hearing the details you want, you should start with the speakers, not the integrated amp, especially since the amp you already have is a nice NAD unit.   

I know this is not what you want to hear, since you recently bought the speakers, but if you spend $2500 on an integrated amp and keep the same speakers you have, you're pretty much going to hear the same sound you're hearing now - no matter how good the amp is, the speakers can only do what they can do.   

My opinion is you're better of taking the $2500 you have in your budget and buying the best speakers you can possibly afford.  You'll have a better chance of success than throwing a $2500 amp at a $1000 pair of speakers.
My good friend just recently bought Accuphase E-370 and he was kind
enough to bring an Amplifier just to hear the difference. 
Of course, I shouldn't to this because I cannot afford such amplifier but the sound was.........what to say, tight controlled bass, beautiful highs and details that I could tell where is which instrument. He also suggested Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum amplifier but as I mentioned in posting, I would like to stay from tube amplifiers.
I would respectfully disagree with Gator, as I find the electronic distortions of amps much more jarring to my ear than those of loudspeakers, so I would also allot much more of my budget to electronics than speakers. I like where you are going with this

I will recommend Monitors British cousins, the Exposure 3010S, Naim Nait XS or Supernait and the better Rega amps. 

The pacing of these amps will bring a lot to the table with your uptempo music and respect the slower stuff as well. 
If you are willing to buy used there is a BAT 300x se on here at the top of your price range (no relation to seller) and would allow you to build a great system around as funds allow for future upgrades.

If you prefer to buy new look at the Vincent sv 237, I had one and it is spectacular. Also check out the new amps from Peachtree.

Big +1 to bcgator’s comments. Suggest you read his post again to help you achieve what you are looking for

Your MA’s are very nice speakers but hardly accurate and a new integrated, especially one 2 to 3 times more expensive, isn’t going to change they way they sound. It will just result in having way too much amp for the speakers you have and an unbalanced system.

No other component will determine the way a system sounds than speakers. And the room they are in. And it sounds like these may not be the speakers for you.

Was the audition with the Accuphase in your listening room or his?


I've listened Accuphase in my apartment with my modest set up (OPPO 103 as a source). Signal Cable (all cables). My friend also brought his
Cardas cables but the difference wasn't like a day or night. All in all, I clearly heard a lot more details. Of course not even close like with his set up: Accuphase E-370; Monitor Audio Platinum PL300 speakers and Luxman CD Player.
viridian +2

@djengan, in your budget I would also check out the Arcam FMJ 39 and the Parsound Halo Int. Good luck with your search.


A Sugden A21 should give you everything you want and sound better than most solid state. I was really impressed. 
Get yourself a Parasound Halo Integrated.  It has plenty of power, has a great built in dac, has tone controls, 160wpc, phono input, balanced inputs and outputs and sounds wonderful.  I replaced a Rogue Cronus Magnum Integrated with this and couldn't be happier.
Hi djengan, 
I'm in agreement with Viridian,  amplifiers do make a significant difference.  You've already proven this fact with the Accuphase amplifier placed in your system,  clearly superior sound to the NAD.  Electronics make a considerable impact.  It isn't just about the speakers,  yes they're important but tend to be over emphasized in my opinion. I've heard numerous examples where upgrading an amplifier resulted in significant sound quality. Can speakers do this? Of course,  but so can power amplifiers. 
Best Wishes, 
Roxy54 who posted above has very good ears and taste IMO. The Sugden A21 SE he recommended is worthy of more scrutiny.  A solid state pure class A amplifier noted for really fine sound quality  (very organic and sophisticated). Built with exceptional parts quality. 
Everyone has to do things their own way. However, some of the other posters recommend formulas for how much your speakers should cost relative to other components. There's really no nice way to say this, but if you select components that way, you're asking for a train wreck. The only thing you can be certain of when you spend more for a product, is that it costs more. There's absolutely no reason why a pair of $1000 pair of speakers driven by a $2000 integrated amp, can't sound better than $2000 speakers with a $1000 amp. There's so many reason's for this, I couldn't even scratch the surface going over them in a post like this. But I can give you a couple of examples. 

When you look at a speaker, where is the money going? Companies like Vandersteen and Magnepan put very little into the outward appearance of their speakers, where companies like B&W and Wilson do. The ratio of performance to appearance is very different. If you're going just by price, you can easily pick a more expensive speaker that isn't as good as what you already have. 

Selecting components is all about system matching. How well does a component work with your other components, and is the change positive or negative? The better you get at matching components, the less money you need to spend. 

You don't have to take my word for any of this. Do some listening and you'll see this for yourself.
After looking at both the subjective parts and the measurement-based parts of John Atkinson's review of your speakers, and after looking at descriptions and specs of the NAD C356BEE (although I'm not sure if that is the version of the C356 you are using), my suspicion is that BOTH the amp and the speakers are contributing to the lack of detail you described.  With the speakers probably contributing somewhat more significantly.  For example, from the review of the speakers:
The most obvious characteristic of the Silver S2's sonic signature was its mellow treble....
...the speaker does have an identifiable character, being balanced on the warm, mellow side, this is probably a good thing, given inexpensive electronics' tendency to have glary trebles....
... The low-frequency -6dB point coincides with the port tuning frequency of 42Hz, but a slight energy excess in the upper bass is visible. Together with the overall depressed level of the tweeter, this will give rise to the warm, rather mellow balance I heard.
All of these characteristics are consistent with compromised presentation of detail.

Before proceeding any further, here are some things that occur to me that might be worth trying if you already haven't:

1)Position the speakers so that the tweeters are aimed directly at the listening position, and are at or close to ear level.

2)Turn off the amp's soft clipping feature, if you have been using it.  (Although when you do that be careful not to turn up the volume high enough to cause clipping distortion, which would be obvious on dynamic peaks in the music).

3)Activate the amp's tone defeat function, to take the bass and treble controls out of the signal path.  (Tone controls can often have adverse effects on transparency, even when set to their neutral position.  Especially in relatively inexpensive designs).

4)But also try turning off the tone defeat function, and using the amp's tone controls to either boost the treble a bit, or reduce the bass a bit, or both.

Good luck.  Regards,
-- Al

Hi Al,
Very good suggestions from you that are cost free and simple to do. His speakers seem capable of reasonable detail with a better quality amplifier.  Note Djengan's description of the sound when the Accuphase replaced the NAD. Definitely more detail/better sound quality   extracted.  So  it appears that these speakers have potential that's exploited with the use of a superior power amplifier. 

+1 Mb 1 audio, oh so true regarding price/performance. 
I just noticed from reading one of your other posts that you have an Oppo 103. If you're willing to conduct a simple experiment, I think you'll find the results worth while. If you look on the back of your NAD, you'll see that the amp and preamp sections are jumped externally. This means that you can use it just as an amp or just as a preamp, and not have the signal pass through the component you're not using. Remove the jumpers and run a pair of interconnects from the analog output on your Oppo to the amp in of your NAD. Use the volume control on the Oppo. 

The reason for this, is that preamps make a much bigger difference then most people realize. If you go direct, you shouldn't have any problem hearing a difference. Most likely the change will be good. There's too many variables to say exactly how much of a difference it will make, but its absolutely worth a try. The results you get may give you some insight on how to proceed.

I'm assuming all of your equipment is broken in, and you've tried some different placement options for your speakers. Also, I'm familiar with both your amp and speakers. You should be getting some good sound. Ultimately, they may not be to your taste, bit I think you should do as much as possible to make sure there really is a problem.

When you have an issue, or get frustrated, its very easy to pull your best components off the rack and get rid of them, thinking you've fixed the problem. 
++Viridian. Spend more on amplification. Information lost cannot be regenerated by even the most expensive speakers. 

+1, initially I had my theory to get the speaker of twice the cost of Integrate amplifier for better sound, later down the road, realized the amplifier is equally as important as speakers, even having good sourced can't be ignored.

First need understand what is your taste, what type of sound you like, with that in mind start your chase..

There is a used Redgum integrated from Canada for $999, 120 watt/ch. It is an incredible value and should better either Exposure or Naim, though I cannot be sure. I use the same amp with $5k analog source and generally it holds its own. Current new price is close to $3k. I will replace it only with something like Pass Int-60 or even better Gryphon. Or some high end tube amp.
Hi everyone. This is my 1st post but I look forward to reading every Friday when the email comes. 

Anyway, I remember from a good few years back that Monitor Audio worked especially well with Musical Fidelity amps. I myself have a pair of Studio 20se energized by Musical Fidelity A3 dual mono integrated with chord carnival speaker cable and qed silver interconnects. Sounds awesome with exceptional midrange. Unfortunately those speakers, as much as I love them are lacking in low end thump but they do sound so 3D I can never sell them. 
I then bought some great B&W 603 S3 speakers and have to say, I never thought the amp was able to produce that kind of bass. Wow what a combo!
So, before going out and buying some expensive new amp for your silvers, try out some older 'goodness' that will still blow your socks off. After all, this is a great used equipment resource...
The Belles Aria is well within or below your price point. You could sell the S2s and use the proceeds and change to buy some towers.

If you like the S2s a lot and want to get an integrated that doesn't cost more than the speakers, I've found Rotel integrateds and receivers to be great values.
The Monitor Audios are great sounding speakers for the price point.  Perhaps not the most revealing in the upper treble, but their pitch, tone and timing can be quite good when matched with the right electronics.

I have some MA Apex 40's which I believe use the same tweeter as the Silver S2's except in a MTM arrangement. These MAs are in the front end of an HT system which is driven by an Arcam AVR-400, and in either 5.1 or 2channel the amp-speaker combination works extremely well. With a decent analog or digital front end the soundstage is well presented and male and female voices are particularly compelling.

Due to my experience, I would think that Samac's suggestion of the Arcam A39 is solid. Perhaps any quality amp that excels in the areas of PRAT and purity of tone would match well with the Silver S2's, making the usual English designed suspects or similar pertinent.

FWIW, I tend to fall in the higher investment in electronics side, but the codependency of gear, ear and room make any strict rules 
Almost Irrelevant.

note 1: MA Silver S2s have a fairly big woofer, so do not under power. Your NAD should generally be fine on that count.

note 2: advice to point Silver S2 tweeter at your listening position is spot on and will reward.

note 3: an NAD weak point is metal jumper bars in the back connecting the preamp and amp sections. Try replacing these with decent reasonably priced 0.5m interconnect like Audioquest diamondback or king cobra or similar from another brand (but not AQ dedicated preamp jumpers, not that great). This should yield a noticeable improvement. You could experiment with silver and copper wires if you have both in hand. A cheap upgrade while you sort out move to different electronics.

note 4: I doubt that the preamp section in the OPPO is better than the NAD, but at least it would take the sucky stock jumpers out of the signal path (see note 3 above).  If you try this, compare with IC in NAD Pre-amp signal path to make sure it is apples to apples comparison.
@ knownothing
Thank you on your opinion. Very  helpful information. I did replace jumpers with the Cardas dedicated Pre Amp. / Amp. jumpers. They are
available only from Music Direct. The highs improved but of course they didn't improve everything. It's still NAD house sound just slightly more open.
I decided to stretch my budget so now I am considering Hegel H160 but
unfortunately the dealers that carry Hegel don't carry MA speakers. So I would like to see opinions on this pairing, Hegel + MA Silver.
Thanks in advance on your opinions.
Post removed 
Have you looked at the Belles Aria yet? It's $1,900 and blows a Rogue Magnum Cronos away. 
Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I have not heard the Hegel with MA speakers but it is a good amp. Two other good solid state integrated amps in the general price range of the Hegel are the Naim XS 2 and the Rega Elicit r. If your are able to afford any of these three amps, I would ditch my previous Arcam A39 recommendation and look at these instead. Sorry to add complexity rather than reduce it:-/