Integrated or Receiver?


That is the question.

As my luck would have it, my near 30 year old Denon PMA520 integrated amp is apparently on its way out.  I've already spent $150 to fix one problem only to have one channel all but vanish (can hear some high end audio but it is faint) and the other channel cuts in and out.  Since I had the unit cleaned just a few weeks ago and the noise that had cropped up in deep bass, I would have to believe this is another problem and would require additional servicing at additional cost.

The way I see it, this is throwing good money after bad.  Will probably scrap this thing and will buy something new.

Since my budget is going to be under $400 right now thanks to a slew of other expenses that take priority, I am wondering if I should just settle for a basic entry level amp like the Yamaha 301 or Onkyo 9050 or purchase a Receiver from Yamaha or some other company that is fairly inexpensive and use that for a couple of years until I can buy a better integrated amp when I should have more money to budget for it.

Any thoughts on this?
will62
Dont forget about NAD, they are solid and have won praises for decades with their well-priced but quality products. 
On the used market, a used NAD will even take you bit further in terms of SQ.
Hopefully the amps and receivers are better quality than the CD players. I had a NAD CD player a number of years ago that croaked right after the warranty expired.  

Will at least take a look at them.  Not going the used route again at this time.  Have had a used Yamaha Receiver that I bought last year suddenly develop problems too though at least that still works well enough to use.  Have lost an Input channel on it.
Here ya go!
https://www.musicdirect.com/receiver/cambridge-audio-topaz-sr10-stereo-receiver
Not sure what sources you have. But if you only have one, or zero, analog sources, you could get the Nuforce DDA-120 Integrated amp/DAC for only $225. Check it out:

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=1NUDDA120


reubent.  Have a Tuner, CD Player, Cassette player.  That Nuforce won't work for my needs.  Thanks for the suggestion.
Will, too bad about the NAD CD player, but all older CD Players fail, due to moving parts, lasers, etc .... but not amps, thats why i suggested the NAD amps
yogiboy.  Thanks.  That may work.  I was reading about the SR20 just a few minutes ago but this one appears to have what I need including the phono stage.  Plan to have a turntable again.  Will consider this but will have to do more research first.
What do you see as your system in a couple years? You might check out the used integrateds and receivers offered here on AG. Buy something used for now, sell it later as your system evolves. 
There is a Cambridge Audio 540A for sale by TMRaudio here on AG, a trustworthy seller. asking price is $209 + $37 shipping. Offers are considered.
You would need a phonostage, however an outboard one could be purchased when you get a TT. Schiit Audio makes a highly regarded one for $129. 

Good luck in your search. 

will62
look into the Yamaha Aventage receiver series. I recently had an audition with its matching universal player- BD-A1040.
Happy Listening!
Thanks for the additional suggestions.  When I have time this week I will look into them.

1graber2.  The NAD CD player that I had died after a year and a week.  Warranty was for one year and right as it expired, it promptly bit the dust.  Bought a Cambridge Audio after that and it lasted a few years.
With a little searching you should be able to find a Yamaha A-S501 under $400. It would take most NADs to school IME.
+1 helomech. The Yamaha A-S501 is a nice piece if you wish to purchase new and you think it will fit into your future system. It has internal phonostage and DAC (no USB input). Also a subwoofer output. 
Yes, I am looking at the new Yamaha stuff now.

One problem I am running into is trying to find a amp or receiver that will allow me to Biwire my 6 ohm Mirage OM 10's.  Every amp or receiver I've looked at can't handle the lower impedance except when the OM 10's are not Biwired.  My Castle's are 8 ohm and don't present that problem.  
I would go integrated. I think you have a tough decision. Many here will go window shopping for you to spend your money. It is difficult to fish out good suggestions from the hype or advertising on a piece of gear or even sugggestions. If I am looking for audio suggestions I tend to listen to others who have owned the equipment they suggest and are not overly enamored. Yamaha is a good choice although I have not owned a receiver by them in many years. Just make sure the amp section has the current and capability to drive your speakers, that is key for good sound, since an underpowered amp will strain with power hungry speakers. Good luck.
will62
One problem I am running into is trying to find a amp or receiver that will allow me to Biwire my 6 ohm Mirage OM 10's.  Every amp or receiver I've looked at can't handle the lower impedance except when the OM 10's are not Biwired.  My Castle's are 8 ohm and don't present that problem. 
Will you please explain why you think biwiring will change the load seen by an amplifier?

According to the manufacturers, I am reading on the back of amps or receivers that you can't run 6 ohm in biwire mode (morphs into 3 ohm) because it will overload the amp.  Do a close up of the back side of some amps and receivers from Yamaha, Onkyo, Cambridge Audio etc. and look at the speaker connectors.  You will see notes concerning the load that the amp or receiver can handle when using single pairs or biwired.
I like Yamaha.  Have a 35 year old A 500 right now but given the age I think it is wise to get something new just in case that decides to bite the dust like the near 30 year old Denon.

The new Yamaha or Onkyo may match up well with the Mirage speakers since I've read the newer amps are a bit on the bright side vs. the neutral sounding or flat A500.  The Mirage speakers are quite flat and would reduce the bright sound of the amp or receiver.
Those warnings are about using two sets of speakers. Where does it say bi-wiring? Bi-wiring will not change the speaker impedance!
Well, that is interesting.  I guess I should just use a single pair of speakers per amp then.  I was thinking of two pairs of speakers running simultaneously on the same amp.  Did it with a little Dayton 120 amp for while and it sounded great.  But only one input and not really being able to properly biwire and only having one set of speaker connectors on back makes it a less than ideal amp.  

Sounds like Bi wiring is not the formal definition of using two pairs of speakers at the same time with one amp then.  Thanks for the input.
will62
Sounds like Bi wiring is not the formal definition of using two pairs of speakers at the same time with one amp
Correct. Biwiring is running separate cables for LF and HF from a single amplifier to a speaker that has separate connections for each. It is often confused with biamping, which is using a separate amplifier channel for each LF and HF speaker input.

Post removed 
Difficult to find a budget integrated amplifier that will effectively drive 2 pairs of speakers at the same time. Both speaker pairs would have to be 8ohms or better across the frequency range. Few are. Many would have connections for 2 speaker pairs with a selector that would allow you to choose a speaker pair to listen to individually.  My cambridge Audio 540C will allow this. I would not rum 2 pairs at the same time however. 

If an integrated has pre outs you could run additional amplifier to the 2 pair of speakers. If the additional amp has gain controls you could then adjust the output of the 2nd speaker pair relative to the 1st pair. 

Thanks for the added info on the subject of running four speakers.  Got away with it on the Dayton amp but won't even think of trying it now with the real amps.

Oddly enough, I just got home from work and plugged in my headphones into the Denon PMA520 and started to play a cassette tape.  Suddenly it is functioning perfectly again.  Last night and yesterday afternoon I lost one channel but the other worked and then later in the evening I lost both channels.  No audio at all.  But now this evening it is working perfectly.  

Weird.  Will still shop for a new integrated or receiver but will hope in the meantime this Denon will last at least a few months.  It would allow me to save more money and budget more for a better amp.
Yes, I am looking at the new Yamaha stuff now.

One problem I am running into is trying to find a amp or receiver that will allow me to Biwire my 6 ohm Mirage OM 10's.  Every amp or receiver I've looked at can't handle the lower impedance except when the OM 10's are not Biwired.  My Castle's are 8 ohm and don't present that problem

The Yamaha can handle it. I've used both sets of terminals to bi-wire 4 ohm speakers and it didn't break a sweat. In fact, you want to leave the impedance switch in the 8 ohm position when running such a configuration. 

Check out this video:

http://www.audioholics.com/audio-amplifier/impedance-selector-switch-1

And this one:

http://www.audioholics.com/amplifier-reviews/yamaha-a-s801-amplifier-review

BTW, the amp section is essentially the same between the 501 and 801.
helomach.  Thanks.  

I've read a number of reviews where people claim the newer Yamaha amp's sound bright.  What is your opinion of this?

Mesch mentioned Cambridge Audio but upon review and reflection from a previous Cambridge amp I owned, it was too clinical for my taste.  A bad matchup with the Mirage speakers.  The sound was not really neutral and grated on my ears every bit as bad as the Yamaha A500 and Klipsch Heresy combination I had in the 1980's.  

I would prefer to find a neutral or slightly warm amp vs. one that is either bright or clinical sounding.  A wee bit bright probably would not present an issue but one that is heavy on the bright sound won't work.  
Just checked the manuals of a couple of Integrated's.  Looks like Onkyo amps need at least an 8 ohm speaker for bi wiring.  But Marantz says  a 4 ohm or higher will work.  Same with Yamaha.  That is good news.

Will hope the Denon can last a few months until I can come up with enough money to get a pretty good integrated.  Should be able to spend over $400 if I don't have go and get one in the next month.
@will62 

I can't speak for older Yamaha units. I have the A-S500 (501 sans the DAC) and would characterize it as mostly neutral with a sweet top end. It will be mellow with mellow speakers and bright with bright speakers. I've used it with Klipsch Heresy IIIs, Vandersteen 1Cis, Spendor 2/3s, Monitor Audio Silver 8s, Epos Epics, and Stirling LS3/6s ($5500 speakers) just to name a few, and it played well with all of them. It never once got hot. I currently use it to drive a pair of KEF LS50s in a bedroom system. It was surprisingly smooth with the Heresy IIIs, but those are are nothing like the ones of old. Honestly, any SS amp that's warmer than the Yamahas will likely be veiled. There's always a trade off and that's the price for the mellow sound of something like the lower end NADs. I've had a Parasound Halo Integrated in house that was more fatiguing than the Yammy. The Yamahas do take time to break in - about 50 hours before they sound best. 

Here's a review and measurents of the A-S500, which is the same amp, just without the built-in DAC.

http://i.nextmedia.com.au/avhub/australian-hifi_reviews_2014_2014-02_yamaha_as500_amplifier_review_and_test_lores.pdf


If it were me I'd pick up an old Marantz Reciever from the 1970's that's in good condition. I love that sound and they were well made!
The Receiver modle would depend on the needs of the speakers.
+1 for an NAD receiver. I'm still using a 40 YO one in a fourth system. 
Paid $50.00 on ebay. Had it 10 years now. Still going strong. Powered up 24/7. I'm not sure if my Krell will last that long...
I have a friend who bought a RR 2160 receiver by Outlaw. He still has it and states it has been the best audio purchase he has made. Plenty of power, phono section and usb for Itunes or whatever HDD. I do not know if you can connect two sets of speakers or not?? Worth checking out but it really costs more than $400, more like $750 or $800. Check Music Direct online.
For your applications - you need a robust power supply that can handle essentially any impedance - preferably a toroidal supply.  For that kind of money your best bet is a Cambridge Audio or especially NAD that are relatively good at handling variable impedance's at a reasonable price point.  Several small NAD/Cambridge integrated amps for sale on Agon now.  Another option is a much older former top of the line AVR receiver from Denon, Marantz, Sony, Yamaha, or even Arcam if you can find one.  These were flagship products for these companies and because of the relatively high volume of production - they could pack a ton of technology and value in one box.  Most have a direct sound or processing defeat setting that shuts off all digital electronics and provides relatively quiet operation with tons of power reserve.  Trade off is these may crap out at any point.  I would NOT buy a low to mid level AVR as they way over report their power delivery and often do not perform well with low impedance loads.
"Just checked the manuals of a couple of Integrated’s. Looks like Onkyo amps need at least an 8 ohm speaker for bi wiring. But Marantz says a 4 ohm or higher will work. Same with Yamaha. That is good news."


I don’t understand why bi-wiring would cause a problem with any amp? Please explain!

donvito.  All I am going by is what I read on the Onkyo website manuals. I don't have enough of a technical background of the circuits and design of the units to comment.  I have friends that are Broadcast Engineers and others that have a background in the technical side of electronics, and I bet if they saw the schematic of the units they could explain why.  
2psyop.  Yeah, I just read a great review of the Outlaw in Stereophile.  That will handle four speakers or bi wiring.  Would have to check with the company to be sure that my 6 ohm Mirage could be bi wired with it.  

May be the best way to go.  Save the money and when I can buy it, get it.  Looks like a great receiver and apparently the best thing out there at that price point and under it.  
To the other people that responded in regards to buying used.

I would prefer to buy new at this point.  Buying used at this point in time seems foolish.  While I can get something pretty good for a good price, if I have to start shelling out money for repairs, it quickly becomes a money pit and not worth the initial cost and the repair costs could exceed the cost to buy a brand new unit that is good.  

I already have spent $150 to repair the Denon and $100 to buy it.  That was the original cost of the unit right there.  The same thing could happen when I buy another used unit.  
I was only suggesting you buy used due to the fact that you were considering the possibility of a 'short term' unit until you had the money for something better later. Also at the time no one knew about your desire to run 2 pairs of speakers at the same time. I do understand one's desire to purchase new, and would never try to talk one wishing to do so into purchasing used. If you are willing to consider increasing your budget to that of the Outlaw receiver there are many good choices out there (including the Outlaw). I would keep an eye on online retailers such as Music Direct, Audio Advisor, Crutchfield, and others. They often offer discounts on many fine products.

Be specific when researching your choices regarding the use of 2 speakers pairs. Ask the sales people you deal with about this. I would caution you regarding running 2 pairs of speakers simultaneously at very high volumes. There is a big difference on the demand made on an amplifier between biwiring, biamping, and running 2 pairs of speakers simultaneously.

Truly wishing you the best in your search. 
mesch.  Thanks for the added info.  I don't necessarily have to run two pairs of speakers simultaneously.  I just tried it for a lark with the Dayton amp and it sounded great.  Using the Omnipolar OM 10's with the more detailed sounds of the Conway 3's provided a great soundstage with lots of detailed music.  But I've found that Bi Wiring is every bit as good and has greatly improve the audio quality of my equipment.

I was thinking of buying a cheaper new unit for short term simply because the odds that it would fail would be lower than something comparable that is decades old.  A new $250 Yamaha for example is likely to last a lot longer than one of the older units I've bought.  Would buy me the time to get the money I need for something like the Outlaw.

I suspect the Yamaha A 500 will be a longer lived amp than the Denon PMA520.  Yamaha has always treated me well and I've never had a bad piece of equipment from them.  
2nd the Yamaha 501 or even the 500.  spend your money on the amplifier.
jag.  Only one thing worries me about the new Yamaha amps and receivers.  I've read a large number of reviews from people that claim the they sound too bright.  Not just a couple but a lot.  I can't listen to bright speakers or amps for any length of time without listener fatigue.  

Older Yamaha amps usually were neutral and not bright.  My 35 year old Yamaha A 500 is just that.  Still sounds great.  I've read the AX596 from a few years ago is also not bright.  Somehow with the last series or two of amps, Yamaha has changed the sound.

I was just reading a few reviews on the new Onkyo A 9150 and that might be a better choice than any new Yamaha amp.  Not bright at all.  Will read more about Marantz to see if that might work too.
After decades with receivers (Sansui/Sony ES/Pioneer Elite) I realized one day that I no longer (as in never) listen to the radio anymore.  Decided then, rather than upgrade to an integrated amp (receiver with no radio tuner), I'd just switch to pre-amp/processer and power amps.  I went with Emotiva for the incredible value and bought a 7.1 processor, a 300W/chan stereo amp and a 125w/chan 5-chan amp.  

Though I still use a Pioneer SC-05 receiver in my office system, I'll never buy another one.
dynaquest4.  I still listen to the radio but mostly for news, sports and talk.  But will still listen to music if I find a station that plays Classical which I have a limited collection of CD;s and albums.  Sometimes will listen to Jazz on the radio too though I have a pretty good collection of it.

I don't have the money to with separates really unless I want to neglect more important things like projects that need to be done at my house, replacing other electronics that have crapped out recently and seems to be an ongoing problem (TV, Wet and Dry Vac, Printer etc.) and paying off some debt.  

I am quite satisfied with using a Integrated amp and will likely continue to do so.  There are very good Receivers out there as well like the Outlaw and that may be a worthy replacement to a integrated amp.  Still have plenty of research and reading ahead.
Anyone heard of Internet radio, as streaming thousands of radio stations from around the world, even through your phone? Give it a try and you'll no longer consider a (traditional) receiver as an option unless you like dials and meters.
Will62, the Outlaw is a good choice if you want a receiver. But since you already have a tuner, you can probably get more bang per buck in an integrated.

I understand the concern about buying used given your recent experience, so that would rule out a big old Denon, Yamaha or similar AVR. As I said previously I would steer clear of low to mid range AVRs because I am aware of two specific cases where those have disappointed user with nominal 6ohm speakers. The NADs listed on Agon come with factory warranties, fwiw.

Thinking on this a bit further, as suggested above the Outlaw price point opens up a bigger world of choices, like the Onkyo integrated you suggest or units from Cambridge Audio, Marantz, Sony, Yamaha, NAD, etc. At this price I would not rule out a used integrated from Primare or Naim, which are built like tanks, have strong high quality power supplies (but likely not biamp or multiple speaker capable) and sound wonderful.

Get out and listen.
Throwing this suggestion into the mix, as I don't believe it has been mentioned: Peachtree
Yea, within your budget or beyond you are wise to stick to an integrated. So many great ones available today and you already own a tuner. If you are concerned that the Yamaha may be too bright, the Marantz may prove more to your liking. The models above the 500x series are made in Japan I believe (6,7,8oo4,5,6). They all have phono stages. The X006 series may have DAC, I am not sure of this. 
Another unit which coul;d fit your budget is the Emotiva BasX TA-100 stereo preamp/DAC/tuner with integrated amplifier. It goes for 399.  For a hundred less, they have a preamp set up the same sans an amplifier.  So, if the pre section is as good as some say, the integrated could be used that way down the road by adding a more powerful amp if that is desired. At that price point, that would be in the running for me. For double that, an Outlaw RR2160. Used on used sale sites, there are more options at the 400 dollar range, but the emotiva seems to gives alot of inputs plus 50 watts is sufficient most of the time.
I love what my Musical Fidelity integrated does for my B&W 804d2 speakers.
+1 for the Emotiva TA100.  Just picked one up today and hooked it up to my Monitor Audio Bronze speakers.  Very well made and good presentation.  Sounds terrific.  Tipping point for me was the optical input, which allows me to use a toslink on my Chromecast Audio.  The Emotiva has a better DAC and the sound improvement is noticeable.
Somehow with the last series or two of amps, Yamaha has changed the sound.

I don’t believe they changed the sound much, if at all. One reviewer compared the new A-S2100 to the old CA2010 and claimed they sounded identical. A member of another forum I frequent compared the 501 to his early 90s Yamaha (I forget which model) and claimed they were very close.

I think some of the impressions of "bright" sound come from their cheap, BB level AVRs, which do have a "smiley face" EQ curve for home theater applications. When I bought the A-S500, I was replacing a $200 Yamaha AVR. The difference was night and day.

I also think these claims are attributable to their accuracy with certain tones, like those from strings and piano. I have guitars, a viola, and an electric piano at home. Though I’m not the musician in my family, I know how instruments are supposed to sound, and the Yamahas nail it better than all other amps I’ve heard fore or since, with the exception of Exposure. Others lack the "air" of real instruments. I think some may mistake this for brightness.

Lastly, some amps have an emphasis in the 200 to 500 Hz range that give an impression of warmth. The Parasound Halo does this. It’s slight but definitely there. I think some refer to this as "smooth" or "smoky." What they’re really hearing is an unnatural tonal balance. So when they hear a Yamaha amp through a YouTube video (where I suspect many are getting their "auditions"), they immediately dismiss it as "lean" or "bright." However, if these same folks were to strum a guitar or play a piano prior to their auditions, I have no doubt whatsoever that they’d find the Yamahas produce the more natural sound.

I too have a very low tolerance for bright and fatiguing gear. Even though I’ve had subjectively "warmer" amps in my systems, they were far more fatiguing over sustained listening. Since you like your current Yamaha, I have little doubt that you’d have any issues with the new pieces.