Creek 5350 is well-thought-of piece that will drive 2 sets of speakers. You can find one for <$1000 rather easily I should think.
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Used or demo Portal Panache would be a superb choice if you only need a line stage and don't require a remote. To drive two sets of speakers you might need a switching box. I'd recommend a used Bryston if you can find one. Maybe a bit more investment, but another great option if you can find it would be a used Unico Unison SE, or with less power, but also an outstanding choice, the standard Unico Unison. Not sure if they have multiple speaker options.
I'd go with a Classe CAP-151 or Plinius 8100 for the Paradigm's. But I feel that your Sony CD will be the weak point. The 100's require a fair amount of power to drive with authority, but I'd wager that the Music Hall Mambo would be able to drive it reasonably well, and is well below your price limit and includes a very nice DAC.
Why don't you get a nice used DAC, keep the carousel and find a nice used integrated? There's plenty of great units nowadays since the economy's going bad and people are dumping ballast.
An early 80's classic: Yamaha A-1 dual mono integrated...real nice! It's got 2 C-core shielded transformers, Nichikon Gold main caps, dual mono volume pot , disc direct bypass, real world, useful tone controls & outboard cartridge loading. Hard to find, worth the wait.
The Creek and Jolida integrated amps are nice too! You can get a 100WPC Jolida hybrid w/remote volume for $600 or less. A friend of mine got one here for around $550 w/ 1 month use and original sales recipt!
I have heard that getting separates is generally better all around
I would not say, today, that separates are generally better than an integrated. There are tradeoffs involved both ways. Expense is the biggest, as you mention. Size is another. Actually, at a given price level, I think you should in principle get better sound from an integrated than from separates. Power supply structure and shielding need to be good in the integrated but you eliminate a set of interconnects, and money saved on the extra box can be spent on better parts.
By the way, I also have a phono need, and I don't need a remote, if that helps. Thanks so far for all of the suggestions. I was also suggested (by someone who wanted to sell me his), a Dared VP-845. 18wpc or whatever it is seems really low to me. And while I still don't get that watts doesn't necessarily equal power out the speakers, I don't see this working. Any more thoughts?
Also, I was very much ready to buy the Creek - it is highly respected here. Having trouble finding it used, I started calling authorized dealers for demo units. A guy here told me they had several that either hummed or overheated and that they were no longer carrying them (although they are listed as an authorized reseller). Any comments on this?
Having to drive two sets of speakers from the same amp limits the possibilities somewhat. In this case you might actually want to go for entry-level separates, if only to choose a preamp with two sets of outputs so you could buy and drive a second power amp later on.
I wouldn't look at Cambridge or NAD, though. I would see if I could find gear by Linn for this, or perhaps Rotel. Linn are good at multi-room systems. Used, a Wakonda or Kairn preamp and an LK85 or LK140 (much better-sounding) might work. I'm afraid you'll have to ask a dealer or check Linn's site to see if these amps will do multiple speaker sets.
For the same money, though, you would get better sound from many integrateds. I would forget tubes unless I had technical help, because of the multi-speaker requirement. If I could find some way to live with only one set of outputs, I would want to try an integrated by YBA, Sim Moon, Vecteur or maybe that Portal.
Thanks. I'm curious as to the comment on the NAD. The c372 (?) has been highly recommended here by several people.
The issue with the speakers is I have an in-ceiling pair in the dining room - Polk (new but basic), and the Studio 100s as my "real speakers." I don't necessarily need to
drive both pair at the same time, but I don't want to have to unplug. Also, I have heard some switches work, but I have spade cables, so the "twist-in" kind won't work.
Blewis1041, about the NAD, it's my champagne tastes I'm afraid. I always try to stretch to the very best possible sound for the buck. I'm willing to do some hunting for it and put up with some inconvenience in the outcome.
The amp you mention is still very good. I recommended and had installed its precursor, the C370, in my school's computer lab to drive PSB Image speakers for the projection system. The result is great on movies and demos, and better than most any school has a right to expect for music.
I'm ridiculously golden-eared, and the integrateds I named above (and even the Linns) play in another league--but they won't do two speaker pairs easily and the NAD will.
Blewis, do you have room for a separate amp with volume control (e.g., your integrated that you're trying to replace, or the McCormack Micro Line Drive that just sold for $260) to drive your dining room speakers? Then, you could use a spare line-out, like a tape out, from your main preamp or integrated amp. This would give you a much larger selection of pieces to choose from for your upgrade, and you could really concentrate on your hifi goals for your main system. I'm assuming you wouldn't have to be overly picky or spend-y about the quality of amplification and cabling to drive your dining room in-ceiling Polks.
Some very good integrated amps mentioned above.
It seems to me, though, the important criteria of driving two pairs of loudspeakers is being overlooked. Other than using a passive switchbox, which would enable two pairs of speakers to be used one at a time, the only viable solution I have seen presented is the NAD C372. I'd also consider a DENON 380X receiver (3801,3802...380X). No, it's not audiophile, but it'd likely keep up with the NAD, and a Denon offers another option that will drive two pairs of loudspeakers simultaneously.
I like the suggestion of a DAC rather than a new CD player. You can find really good DACs for under $500...CI Audio VDA2, MHDT Lab Paradisea, a couple from Lite Audio. Any of these will improve your CD sound, and you still have the advantage of a changer, or the ability to add a computer source down the road.