Krell K-300i (with its optional DAC) vs. McIntosh MA7200 (with DA1) vs. ? (including DAC)
A few weeks ago, a friend and I were fortunate enough to be parked in a nice sound room with a MAC MA8900 and a pair of Sonus Faber towers. I'm assuming the MA7200 is the same as the MA8900 without the tone control knobs. Unfortunately, I don't remember which Sonus Faber. I think they were something in the Sonetto line. I wasn't paying close attention to this kind of stuff because I was there for a demo of the Degritter. The sales person was nice enough to park us in this room and hand us an IPAD so we could entertain ourselves by streaming tunes on Tidal while waiting for several of my records to be cleaned. It was a slow day at this shop. I have no idea what streamer was in the chain. This was certainly a great way to spend about an hour, so so, waiting. Since then, I've had dangerous vicarious thoughts about the possibility of upgrading my MAC MA5200 because what we heard that day was outstanding! The detail, imaging, separation, soundstage and frequency response were absolutely wonderful! Although I love my MAC, I'm always open to any and all alternatives when it comes to stereo toys. I think most audiophiles want the best sound they can afford and I'm not one who is wedded to one brand or another. One integrated in the $8,000 to $9,000 range that's getting a fair amount of good press, these days, is the Krell K-300i. I absolutely adored the old Krell amps I heard back in the late 1980's through the mid 1990's but haven't listened to any since. I've also read a fair amount of good reviews on Hegel integrated amps. About a year ago, I spent some serious seat-time with a Simaudio Moon integrated that really impressed me and, about 4 years ago, a Musical Fidelity integrated that impressed me, as well. Since I'm looking for excuses to avoid home chores today, I thought I'd throw this question out for fun.
So, what say ye? If you had $8,000 to $9,000 to play with, what integrated amp would you go with? I listen exclusively to vinyl and CD. TT is a MoFi Ultradeck with Mastertracker. CD is Marantz CD6005 and speakers are Revel Performa3 F206. I know upgrading these, likely the speakers as a next step, would be a logical progression. This is why I mentioned this is "dangerous" and "vicarious" thinking! Frankly, in order for me to seriously entertain a move like this, my ears would have to convince me that this would be an appreciable improvement in fidelity with the speakers I have now for a few years, or so, before the next move. I'm skeptical of anything other than a subtle improvement, at best, and for this kind of dough it would have to be more than subtle. There is one high-end shop within reasonable distance that deals McIntosh and Revel. I could likely get a reasonably good sense there of what an MA7200 would do with a pair of F206 but all the other shops near me do not deal Revel and the other amps I mentioned. So, this would require more sophisticated critical listening and educated guessing. Just curious what you folks think and especially curious if any of you have done serious A/B seat-time with any of the integrated amps I mentioned and/or upgraded from an MA5200.
P.S. I'm really not interested in the opinions of equipment bashers or otherwise pompous, arrogant, self-involved humanoids who only want to prove they're the next best thing since sliced bread and prophylactics. Critical analysis is fine and welcomed. This can and should be done intelligently and respectfully. If your aim is to crow about your equipment and choices at the expense of others, please do it someplace else.