Integrated thingy

My first attempt at posting this didn't go over well with Audiogon. Here's another go at it...

I'm looking for a beautiful integrated amp with plenty of power (at least a 100 per side). It needs to have luscious mids, a tight bottom and spacious highs. I prefer an autoformer-based volume control like the one in ASL's Flora, but I might be able to live with a potentiometer-based volume control if this is a deal breaker. It has to have a remote. I'm done with this primitive act of getting out of my chair to change the volume. I also need a nice phono stage in there too. I don't want to be too picky, but something along the lines of a K&K, Boulder, LAMM, Aesthetix. Is there a unit with a nice analog sounding cd/dvd player in there too?

You see, I've had it with the cancer that's spreading in my living room. It started with separates, then spawned into monoblocks, then morphed into biamping with garden hose PCs and ICs and eye sores everywhere. It looks like a rats nest back there. When I started looking at DACs, it dawned on me there's no end to the madness. I don't want to audition any more cables, vintage 12AX7 or 6NS7. I just want all the parts to be designed elegantly in a beautiful container with silver wire quietly doing it's magic inside.

And my girlfriend keeps asking why I have four extra pairs of speakers in my closets. I tried to tell her that I was comparing them, but she looked puzzled with that answer. And the tweaking. Oh my god. My living room looks like a garage with soldering guns, screw drivers, capacitors and wire scattered everywhere. Thank god for dinner parties that force me to clean up once in a while.

Does anyone else share my feeling of being on an irrational journey that consumes so much time, energy and money? When does it end? Why do I need all this stuff? I remember when I had a Yamaha receiver a few years ago and everything was so simple -- one power cord and a cd player. Man, those were the days! It might not have been the best sounding rig, but it wasn't bad. Where did I go wrong?
It sounds like you may be looking for the Shanling MC-30 Music Center.
Art Dudley just reviewed it in the March 2008 Stereophile.

Not being critical but by the description of your desired integrated it doesn't sound like you're ready to get off the merry-go-round; just changing direction. I understand your situation though as I feel the same way sometime. Even though I am totally satisfied with my current system, I can't resist another pair of speakers, cdp, cable... I shipped a pair of speakers this morning and the fedex tracker says a replacement pair will arrive tomorrow.
With that said, my Bel Canto eVo2i integrated is here to stay as I feel no need to improve its character.
Timrhu....agree, I have the BelCanto eVo2i Gen II. I have tried several Integrateds this one stayed...everything else has changed and everytime I upgrade CD player or speakers the BelCanto also seems to get better, if that makes any sense...
Plinius 9200. I am very satisfied after experimenting way too much!
I think you may be after the Meridian G95. No phono but that's easy enough to add your own. I have been tempted by this product myself.

You took the words out of my mouth, I'm going through the same thing. Cables, Home Theater, 2 channel Mono Blocks, Power conditioner, tweek here and there. And now I'm just lookng for a nice intrigrated.

So far I think I'm going for a used YBA Passion.

Although I'm trying to audition a BAT 300x or Plinius 9200 before I make the leap.
The VAC Avatar Super is a little shy on what you are looking for in power at 85 WPC. I think the VAC Phi integrated is close to 100?
Check out the SimAudio Evolution Series i-7 integrated. The new 2008 version just came out and it's better than the older model.
Linn Classik. Love mine and I use it with Sequerra Met 7...which I think is a nice combo. I would also second the idea of a YBA. More tube-like than the Classik perhaps (though nothing is really as good as tubes). I currently use my Classik as preamp and use a small Sofia music baby as amp. The music baby is an integrated however. It's pretty good, but not up to the standards that you mention.

I had to downsize years ago when I was very mobile and had to move back and forth from Africa. Had that same "separates sprawl" that you mention.

Good luck.

Good luck
There's more out there than I was aware of. I appreciate all of your suggestions.

Timrhu, you're right. I'm not ready to get off the merry-go-round, but I want to start eliminating cables, boxes and clutter. That was the main focus of my rant, but I'm plagued with the desire to taste everything. It may be the only way to learn, but it's starting to feel irrational. I've gone through so many components the past few years that it seems crazy when I stop to think about it. I find myself asking, why do I have all this stuff? Is it really about the music, or is it gadget lust?

I may never know the answer to that question, but I'm close to having the sound that I've been looking for. The only problem is that it doesn't look the way I want it to. Adding to that, I hate to think about preamps. One of the main reasons I got into passives was to avoid the coloration of actives. Why add another layer of complexity to the picture when you can pass the signal through and have better control at the source, amp and speaker level? I don't want to revive that debate here, but it's a concern of mine.

I also hate cables. They're a mystery to me. They always have been. But I had to think about them with a passive. I never liked that. An integrated reduces the number I need to think about.

The Bel Canto, Plinius, YBA Passion and Linn Classik are all very interesting. The Plinius and Bel Canto look absolutely stunning. Between them, I lean toward the Plinius b/c of the power and that sexy face plate. My speakers are not efficient at 87 dB.

If I were into home theater and liked digital amps, the Meridian G95 might be something to consider, but I didn't care for the sound of NuForce 8's which are digital, so I'm hesitant to consider D class amps. That may change, but for now I have my heart set on tubes. I forgot to mention this in my original post. I'm sorry about that. It was a major oversight. I've had a few amps over the years (Parasound, McCormack, NuForce, Quicksilver, ASL) and I have to say that I prefer tubes over SS.

The VAC Phi Integrated would be at the top of my list, but the price is way beyond my reach. Retail is somewhere around $22k. My budget is no more than $3000.

I was kidding about the cd/dvd bundled inside. The phono stage isn't so important either. I'm sure I'll be experimenting with that for a long time to come, so it's best to leave it as a peripheral.

Does anyone have any experience with the Cayin A-100T. The specs look good at 100W (Ultralinear) and 50W (Triode).

Thanks again for all your thoughtful responses. -Mark
Hi Mark, I've got one of those Cayin 100's driving my Silverline Bolero's, primarily using a Raysonic 128 CDP as a source, but I also use a BAT (more romantic) and a Wadia 302 (for more drive and mid-range clarity). I've been in the process of 'downsizing' ever since I retired my TT and got tired of all of the system synergy issues. I also use two other CDP's for various types of music, my remaining idiocy (I like to think).

It is exceptionally well built and very easy to use and maintain. Its very responsive to tube changes. I settled on SED KT88's and EI 12AX and AU 7's for a good combo of warmth and clarity.

I prefer the ultralinear mode. The difference between it and triode is most observable as in triode there is a real dip in the mid/upper mid range and the sound becomes relaxed but a bit thin. In ultralinear you get both more drive and an upfront(not bright!) mid-range. BUT for casual listening triode is great - the amp runs very cool (for tubes) and you should get really long life out of the power tubes.

BTW, its not a 100/50wt amp. VAS and Acoustic Sounds' ads are contrary to the owners manual. Not an issue for me as I have 92db efficient speakers. The manual spec's it out as 36/70 wt pc. About 1.5db less power output. Not much.

At 3K I think its an excellent unit and I see relatively new ones for 2K or less. Don't know how you can go wrong at those prices.
Thanks Newbee. I appreciate the info. The Cayin is more in line with what I can afford. I was trying to stay at 100 watts, but I may not get everything I want. I wonder why their website says power output is 100 watts. Are there different models?
Different versions? Not to my knowledge. You might like to visit the current post requesting info "multiple choice integrateds" where in the Cayin A70T is discussed a bit. Only about 3db difference between this an your 100wt goal. And about $1000 new, and $600 used, difference that is from new. :-)
I must have been having a bad day when I started this post. As much as I want to simplify and de-clutter, I can't imagine letting go of my amps and TVC. I really like their synergy. They offer something very warm and realistic.

However, I'm thinking about a Monarchy M24 serving as a preamp and a DAC. Lynn Olson wrote an interesting review where he said:
If you use the Linestage with the built-in [volume] control, it'll sound noticeably more closed-in, less dynamic, and less open than it really is, with just a bit of grain at the top. With an external AVC or TVC feeding the linestage, the linestage actually sounds better than the AVC or TVC by itself, and the sound quality leaps to the top of the tube-linestage league. The real giveaway is the grain—a good tubestage should never have any grain, at least with a competent power supply. Get rid of the control, the grain completely disappears, the soundstage width and depth doubles, the bass deepens, and dynamics really open up. It's not a small difference.

hmm. This would mean more clutter. How does one resist?
Oh and check out the Muic Hall stuff. I heard it not long ago at Promusica in chicago. Not bad. I still prefer my Linn Classik, but the Music Hall was pretty good.