Integrated amps, need some help

Budget is under $300, looking at a used NAD. I've also heard good things about Cambridge Audio. Any other suggestions would really be appreciated. Sorry the budget is so low, but you have to start somewhere. Newby hifi guy here.
Rotel makes good stuff that goes in that range too. Please do not apologize re funds. Don't spend any real $$$$ on wire. Look at a few posts on DIY re cable. If you are $$$$ short for a time DIY will get you into GREAT sound for really very modest $$$. This goes for amps and speakers too.

You do not have to spend a lot, you just have to know a little.


Sincerely, I remain
I checked out a Cambridge A500 and a NAD C350 and C370. I didn't like the Cambridge at all, very brittle sounding (maybe it wasn't burned in? but I doubt it.) There's an appreciable difference in quality with the NAD to my ears...listen yourself
For around $300 you might find used Arcam alpha, Audiolab, or Cyrus amps. IMHO these are all better than NAD or Cambridge. Granted they will be nearly 10 years old at this price, but they're usually built to last at least 20 years.
Nuthin' wrong with NAD stuff, terrific value. If you'd like a tuning section as well, the NAD7100 Reference receiver (my first pick) or the NAD7250PE would be great choices. The 7100 would likely sell for around $250, the 7250PE around $175. If you don't need a tuner section, why not pick up the original classic in quality audio, a NAD3020 integrated for around $150? You may want to keep an eye open on Ebay and Audiogon as this gear does pop up frequently.

p.s. if you're looking for speakers to mate with his gear, look into B&W DM302 ($150 used) or B&W DM303 ($200 used)
The Cambridge Audio integrated to get used is the A3i. It was designed top to bottom by Michael Creek. Much better than the A500 and better parts (High current R-Core transformer, Sanken transitors, MosFet devices). Has a MM phono stage also. Was a HiFiChoice Best Buy for years. See the reviews at The A3i is the only way to get a recent Creek for under $300. It is a very conservative 50 watts at 8 ohms (70 watts at 6 ohms). One was tested out at over 70 watts/8 ohms at the rated distortion.

The NADs are also very nice, and are a good choice (C340, C350). I have owned both (prefer the A3i). You could also consider the Rotel RA-970, RA-971, or RA-972. It all comes down to personal taste.

I'm not sure how set you are on integrated, but you could pick up a rotel pre amp for less than 200 bucks used and then a little 50 wpc solid state amp that is 8 or 10 years old. It'd be fun to play with and leave you with plenty of room to upgrade in the future. arround Cambridge integrated amps throughout
they have an unbeatable prices for new mid-fi equipment.
Well, there's no accounting for taste. I auditioned the NAD C370 against the Cambridge A500 about a year ago, and preferred the Cambridge. I found the NAD unbearably mushy and imprecise. "Romantic" is the nicer way to put it. I agree that the Cambridge is bright, but given the choice I would go the "analytical" (Cambridge) route (in the end, I chose neither, and upped my budget). I like the Rotel better than either, but I think they're a little out of your budget.

I think the moral of the story is that if at all humanly possible, you should listen before you buy. People have different taste, and at this price point the "personality" of the different pieces is pronounced (the NAD and the Cambridge represent almost opposite philosophies, in my view).

If there is a store near you that sells used equipment, patronize them. I agree that a good 10-year old piece is going to sound better than something new at the same price (this logic is more true of amps and tuners than, say, CD players). Again, listen before you buy. Half the fun is trying stuff out. It may be heresy here, but I would avoid starting out in hi-fi via mail order.

- Eric
Dig into those pockets and spring for a Musical Fidelity X-A1; used price $325.00 to $350.00. Construction quality and sound are quite a bit better than the amps that you are considering. A few months down the road you won't even remember the exta fifty that you dropped.
Love the Arcam and Cyrus amps. He's right about build quality and sound. Beats the new stuff hands down. An old ONIX would also be right.
Do you live in New England/Massachusetts? Spearit Sound sells NAD, Rotel, Cambridge and Creek. One stop comparison. See info at (was Northampton Audio). They are also nice folks there.

They also have on close out brand new AMC tube integrateds (with phono) for $499 ($1000 list). Or you can break the bank and get one of the Krell, Classe or Conrad Johnson integrateds they sell (Ha!).

Don't play rock on Spearitsound systems if the distinguished older guy (owner?) is around. He didn't like that when I was demoing Paradigm Studio speakers....

Good store though.
I assume you're talking about Richard Moulding at Spearit. I've known Dick for 25 years, since I was in high school (that will make him feel old). He has always had very sensitive hearing, so don't take it personally. I hung out there so much in college, he once offered me a part-time job. (The place was called "Sound & Music" back then.) I kind of now wish I had accepted; would have been fun. I now live 400 miles away, but still do business with him on occassion. I still drop in when I am back home visiting. He is very honest and fair. Jack Tozzi and the others are very good also.

I came back to say there is a Cambridge A3i on eBay right now. Ends on 3/24 in the afternoon. The link is:

I purchased a demo A500 from Audio Advisor for $339. I liked the build quality better than the NAD that I auditioned. The Cambridge does need run-in time. It is now relaxing and is quite enjoyable for the $$.

The good thing with Audio Advisor is you can return it if its not to your liking. Worth an audition. And, of course, let your ears be your judge.
I would definitely go for a used or demo amp with your budget. I personally have never liked the sound of NAD equipment. I recently listened for about an hour to the NAD CD/amp combo at a dealer when I was buying speakers and it sounded just dreadful to my ears. (I don't agree with the recent TAS review on the same CD/amp.) Another dealer who recently dropped the NAD line said that one of the reasons for his decision was that quality control of the NAD products was not as good as he would have liked. Perhaps what I have heard has been a bad sample. In any case, this all points to the fact that for your budget you will be able to get a better sounding amp with higher build quality and hopefully better sound quality in the used market.
I have an NAD C340 amp which I like, although some of the other posts make it evident that this opinion is not universal. If you cannot afford to spend too much money, but want to get a reasonable-sounding amp and are willing to go for something older, you might try a Dynaco SCA-80 amp from the 1970s if you can find one used for a favorable price. It was a well-made and durable transistor amp with about 40 w/ch RMS, good sound, and clean styling.
AMC integrates are the alternative to NAD. It has the tube sound. AudioAdvisor and Saturday audio sell them.