Go with the integrated. The Plinius has an excellent reputation for sound and reliability.
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I'm a huge fan of integrateds. There are so many great ones available right now, it's hard to choose the right one. You're value will be much higher with an integrated. You can find preamp/amp combos in your price range, but they won't sound as good, most likely, as an integrated in the same price range. Don't forget about YBA, Sim Audio, Musical Fidelity, just to name a few.
The integrated route is probably the better path to follow, unless you go after a really good an amp (new or used)and a passive device since you only have one source. I am doing this.
Options on this level or numerous, but cost effective and good sounding are used McCormack amp and pre, Pass Alpha 30.
As for integrateds, Plinius is excellent. Also look at Consonance, Blue Circle, Conrad Johnson and Pathos.
You may find that you will need to change your speaker wires too.
Thank you for your reply. Now let's get to the bottom of your statement
"You may find that you will need to change your speaker wires too."Are these speaker cables, shall we say, sub-par? I can't justify spending $1,000 on spreaker cables, but maybe one doen't have too? Ayway, started with the Monster Ref Z2 but would appreciate any suggestions for reasonably priced substitutes that provide a sonic improvement worthy of the investment. Thank you for your help.
Sorry for any confusion. You may find that when you put all the pieces together that there may be other wires that mate better with the amp you select or make your ears happier. I have found that the Supra Screeend 3/4 Ply wires works great in my systemn as do Mapleshade and Acoustic Zen. But the Supras are what I own as they sounded the best. My daughter and son are "negotiating" over the Mapleshades. As I change amps next month, I expect to listen to other wires once again, but will start with what I have on hand. I am using a CJ MV 60 and decided to move over to the CJ MF 2250A. (BTW, thanks everyone for your input. It came down to the CJ or Aplha 30.) I run my CD player direct to my amp with a Rodersteen attenuator internally hardwired (about a 45 minute project).
Hope I have clarified things. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitiate to send me an e-mail.
I have to disagree on a few fronts about picking a Int. over seperates.
The main reason is the ability to change out components when needed.If you want another amp or Phono stage you can do so without having to get rid of the whole amplification section & Pre.
Another reason is the fact that alot of recievers are no comparision to what seperates can give you.Biasing the amp to run towards Class A is a distinct advantage when trying to get rid of the veil associated with lower end equiptment.A good case in point is Rotel reciever's which do not match as their seperates in that area.
One more case I heard of was of Krell's int. which with my speaker's made them sound bright whereas their seperate amps did not have this problem associated with it.