Looking for a ‘’No braine’r Integrated amplifier under 7500 or so


hello all!

I’m looking for ideas on a ‘slam dunk’ flexible high value solidly performing INTEGRATED amp for an office system, but one that for a while can be my ‘go to’ or primary unit and is a bit above entry level.

preference is to buy new, but preowned in the right scenario works for me as well.

Pesently I’m starting all over in amassing gear and felt to initiate the project by wading into the water slowly.

I have on hannd remnants of my former   efforts in a then very good line stage preamp and DAC, though the DA age is showing and well behind current popular trends  and support for new formats.

also on hand are some ‘so so’ amps, and several pairs of speakers and I just added a Blue Sound Noede 2I.

ultimately I see nearly everything being replaced but felt starting with a very nice Integrated seems as good a starting point as any.

topology is as such, not too too imoportant. decent power however is key as speakers being paired here are as yet unknown. likelyhood here is a pair of monitors and a sub.

the music playback will likely be streaming from providers and NAS files.

Aesthewtix Mimas has peaked my interest currently. and having owned bAT their INT is interesting too. apart from these two I’m wide open to suggestions on current one box amp solutions..

glass or sand power here makes little difference apart from thereafter mating speakers to the INT power constraints..

your thoughts, and expieriences here are vastly appreciated. THX
blindjim
Pass Labs Int 60... or even the Int 25 if you want smaller. Both no brainer for sure. So many options at this price point... all good for the most part. A Simaudio 700i (used) hits all the buttons too. If you really want to go crazy and have a dac on board etc... Hegel 390, almost untouchable in the 5-6k realm.
How about the Bakoon AMP-13R? 25wpc/8ohms. About $4500. There is an extensive review of it on sixmoons.com.
Coda CSi Balanced. Try and compare to the Pass integrated amps. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Check on the AVM A5.2.  Extremely flexible as you can add a DAC, Phono and FM Tuner card in expansion slots.  185w into 8 Ohms, is Class D with a tube based input stage.  It is incredibly detailed with wonderful bass response.  The tube input stage tempers any brightness. It is not quite as warm as a Pass or Naim integrated but will work with all but the brightest speakers.  

Lists at $6500, DAC cards are $600 each. 

Gary Beard wrote a review of it for Positive Feedback and I would agree with it.  

I have one here that I am removing the DAC card and phono stage from and am sending along to a customer early this week as they bought just the base unit.  Incredible amp
I’d check out the offerings from the following, (in no particular order):

Accuphase, Luxman, McIntosh, Krell & Devialet.
Hegel 390, almost untouchable in the 5-6k realm


as geof3 said... 
What speakers will you be using?
These days making life simple and going integrated is a very good choice. I am heading more in that direction over time and have done a good bit of product research.

Features matter here as well as power and sound quality for a slam dunk.
Given that clearly look at NAD M33 or Anthem STR.

Another very good less expensive option is Bel Canto c5i or c7r if tuner matters. 60 w/ch there will get you to high safe listening spls with most speakers but not the ultimate spls. I have c5i in my family room system and can vouch for that. Has everything save MC phono and tuner and always sounds great.
There are other Bel Canto options worth a look at but can get pricey.

I would strongly consider McIntosh as well. Get the one that meets your needs best. I particularly like the two hybrid models. As I do the hybrid offerings from Rogue.

if smaller speakers are ok look at Vanatoo active speakers. These cost a pittance, sound great, are very adjustable and have a lot of modern technology baked in to enable that. Fabulous product. Add a sub and you are on the big leagues for sound and good to go. The latest similar active speakers from KEF another excellent option.

I own and can also vouch for Vanatoo and kef ls50s though my KEFs are passive version. Currently run the latest meta version but own originals also. 
Any McIntosh integrated amp. 
In the "never have a doubt it will sound really good" category I'd put Luxman or Ayre.

My listening experience with Mc and Pass leads me to believe speaker matching is more important.
Man, so many choices at that price point or less. I would recommend you start by deciding what features you want or need such as on board Dac, on board phono, balance control, remote, etc.  From there you will still have a lot of options. I have a McIntosh MA7900 that suits my needs to a tee. Some aren’t fans of the sound of McIntosh amps but I am. Good luck!
NAD M33 is worth a look. Depends how large an office but active speakers save some room. 
Would add that many options for $7500. How much it actually costs will mostly depend on features and power requirements. If no brainer means going as loud and clear as you want with any speaker, for me that means 200w/ch or more. If you can live with spls that are not damaging to the ears (under 90db) then good sound with most any speaker can be had for much less.

Of course with high end audio, the sky is the limit in regards to how much it can cost but at some point you are paying mainly for build quality and/or aesthetics and the sonic benefits become more marginal and debatable as well unless you have heard the product before and had a chance to compare to others.

Then there are good quality high power tube amps which tend to be very expensive and lots of tubes to deal with and maintain .... Also inefficient and produce lots of heat.



I honestly can’t conceive of spending that much on an amp without knowing what speakers I’m going to use.  Maybe I’m just built different.  Best of luck. 
Ayre AX5 Twenty.  End game integrated IMO.
I just bought this from Coda ,I heard a earlier model ,and the new one is better , even the preamp section is on a separate bosrd and can be upgraded in the future. It has 3 options highest power 
400-800 wpc then 2 more options I bough5 option 1 the most popular which is very conservatively rated 150-300wpc but first 18 watts is in pure class A , which means for normal listening it will be at its best , the transformer Huge 3,000 va , with 80k in filtering caps . http://www.coda.cc/product/Silver or Black, I bought Black and 3 choices for buttons black,silver,or Gold ,Black and ahold looks nice. $6500 retail 
Mike at Audio Arcon is a very good guy to deal with and a fair deal.and free shipping it weighs 56 lbs 62 shipped.
look at stereo times best of 2020. My brothers Gryphon Diablo is a little bit better but at almost 3 x the price .IMO none better under $10k+.
Ayre Twenty series, Aesthetix Mimas. Both hyper musical and fad proof....
One important thing I forgot to mention ,Coda Audio all worked together with Nelson Pass, with  the classic Threshold company 
until the 1990s solid well thought out audio engineering .Compare Anything even seperates $5-6k each against this integrated amp 
the synergy is Outstanding .
Blindjim...the is blind willgolf.  Please don't make the same mistake I made.  I bought Mola Mola Class D amps prior to knowing what speaker I wanted.  As soon as I picked out the speaker I knew the amp was not going to work well.  I believe a speaker is critical first step.  I ended up getting 98db speakers so super easy to drive.  I basically gave the Mola Mola Amps away for a new Tube amp.  

I believe you are aware of Raven Audio.  They make an assortment of integrated tube amps from $2.5 to $14k.  I had a Raven Reflection MK2 tube amp that was incredible.  You can get a Blackhawk for half of your budget and never need another Amplifier.  Call Dave Thomson at Raven.

If I were to go SS, I would definitely consider the Luxman line in your price range.  

My buying order of preference would be Speakers, Integrated Amp and then DAC / Streamer.  I just travelled down the journey you  are on.  I am now in the DAC phase and just ordered a Lampizator Pacific, so my much lover Lumin X-1 is for sale.

Good luck!
I love the idea of the  "integrated turntable" by Mcintosh....with other additional inputs. Just a cool unit. Can't speak to sound. But it is an office unit



https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/lifestyle/MTI100
The Luxman L-509x is terrific but a bit outside your range. Not sure if you could find one used. Build quality is as superb as the sound quality. I recently got one and am floored at how good it is. 
Post removed 
I am pretty satisfied with my Krell K300i intergrated so far, with my Monitor Audio PL 300ii speakers and Marantz SAKI Ruby sacd player. I have to use an outboard phono stage is my only beef for my Gold Note Mediterraneao table. 
Luxman, accuphase, pass. I hear great things about coda but I would never buy an integrated without a rotary knob for volume. Up/down push buttons a deal breaker for me. 
+1 on the latest revision of Coda CSiB, because it's the No.8 with a preamp section.
The Norma and CODA integrateds mentioned previously by others are very high current, Class A to almost 20 watts, and no global feedback and ridiculous damping to kill dynamics and detail. I have the CODA No 8 amp and it is better by some margin than anything I have had previously, and I have been in this hobby as a gear hound for some time. If you want better you are looking at Gryphon Diablo 300 at triple the cost new. If resale value is a primary concern, go for Pass Labs 60 or Luxman 509 used, though likely you will be waiting for awhile before one comes up for sale.
No brainer here for an all in one, SOTA solid state amplification, streaming integrated 200 watt (into both 4 and 8 ohms) amp with Dirac Live room correction is the NAD M33. I have one and couldn’t be happier. Last time I looked they were tough to find in stock, but well worth the wait!
I have to throw in the Musical Fidelity M6si and the Mcintosh MA7900.  Both are absolutely stellar.. The MF being better for the money but the Mc being a Mc.
If you can live without an integrated phono input and a used one, nothing will even come close to a Pass Labs INT250.

sorry I'm late getting back to this post...

@mapman

Features matter here as well as power and sound quality for a slam dunk.
There are other Bel Canto options worth a look at but can get pricey.

I would strongly consider McIntosh as well. Get the one that meets your needs best. I particularly like the two hybrid models. As I do the hybrid offerings from Rogue.

if smaller speakers are ok look at Vanatoo active speakers. These cost a pittance, sound great, are very adjustable and have a lot of modern technology baked in to enable that. Fabulous product. Add a sub and you are on the big leagues for sound and good to go. The latest similar active speakers from KEF another excellent option.

I own and can also vouch for Vanatoo and kef ls50s though my KEFs are passive version. Currently run the latest meta version but own originals also.


blindjim> thanks much. that’s a lot of input and it is all is very welcome.

I vaguely recall the NAD house sound. I am familiar with BC fairly well and own their BC DAC 3 still. friends have owned more recent dACs and a complete set of BC power, albeit with various spkrs.

I’ve not been disappointed with the sonic results BC has delivewred regardless the spkrs, Jamo, Canton, ML, etc.

i know nothing much of Rogue but am interested in hybrid power, be it Class d or more trtditional topologies.

McIntosh never has been an attention getter IMO with the exception of what I’ve heard from their 600 series and 500wpc monos… and that sort of investment here is far too much.

I went with BAT some years back and enjoyed that presentation although the prefference was bAT tube pre and BAT sS amp. thereafter I went all tubes monos and silverwlines.

the KEF monitors interest me, as do joeseph, pulsars; Harbeth 7s, and the newer Silverline modest towers selling for $2K retail. preludes I think.

in all I enjoy a punchy natural sound with great imaging and presence. i’ve no issue adding a sub if needs be

I’m in flux now with a likely move just aahead, and some refurbishing on this house so it will sell quickly and these irons in the fire preclude my pursuit of the real goal of assembling another primary system for some time yet, sadly.

I do feel however having a nice INT and naturally revealing rig will enable me to do some checcking out of other elements of what’s out there now, wires, PLC, DAs, amps, spkrs, racks, stands, etc.


@erik_squires
In the "never have a doubt it will sound really good" category I'd put Luxman or Ayre.
My listening experience with Mc and Pass leads me to believe speaker matching is more important.

blindjim>
not a fan of Ayre though I can see where having a tube pre w/Ayreamps might be viable.
I heard several rig with Luxman $10K INT a yeear or two ago. many combos were indeed quyite nice. paired with Magico A3s and AQ wires was the best. another Lux rig w/Harbeth 7s was very nice. though I felt the ;’Lux sound’ too rounded or mello with less leading edge definition and or dynamic relief. the single hagel INT comprably priced had more distinction but the Dyne C60as   joined to it did not make an involving presentation. too detailed and not enough body. nearly the antithesis of the Lux/Magico affair.

the only Pass amps/sound I’ve experieced has been with hybrid panels, ala ML. XA and XS series. IMO the limiting issue therein was the panels. just never have warmed up to the lack of immediacy and impact of panels. I’m always agast at their ability to image though and yield such honesty.
.
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@crouse
Man, so many choices at that price point or less. I would recommend you start by deciding what features you want or need such

blindjim> agreed.
my needs are minimal. remote. on board DAC is likely one as well. no phono. can’t see any need for tone controls either. pre outs and a sub out should do me.



mapman's avatar
Ag insider logo xs@2xmapman18,412 posts
02-08-2021 2:12pm
Would add that many options for $7500. How much it actually costs will mostly depend on features and power requirements. If no brainer means going as loud and clear as you want with any speaker, for me that means 200w/ch or more. If you can live with spls that are not damaging to the ears (under 90db) then good sound with most any speaker can be had for much less.

Of course with high end audio, the sky is the limit in regards to how much it can cost but at some point you are paying mainly for build quality and/or aesthetics and the sonic benefits become more marginal and debatable as well unless you have heard the product before and had a chance to compare to others.

Then there are good quality high power tube amps which tend to be very expensive and lots of tubes to deal with and maintain .... Also inefficient and produce lots of heat.

blindjim>
you have written many sailient points an am grateful for your time and efforts.

a ‘slam dunk’ or ‘no brainer’ anything IMHO is something you hear (in this case) and imagine its value or costs at one price, then find out the item is well below what your presumptions were initially. naturally this supposed item has met or pushed all or most all of your audio nervosa buttons, of course.

or… once you’ve heard the thing, and heard the price, you almost break your arm getting your wallet out of your pocket to pay for it

its simply hearing that thing that butters your bread, is flexible in this scenario and is readily affordasble.

as for mating speakers that is why I’m considering those INTs with 150wpc give or take, into 8ohms as the base line for power.

heat as well leans me towards a hybrid arrangement, ala tube pre SS or ‘D’ power. rather than an all glass box.


@soix
I honestly can’t conceive of spending that much on an amp without knowing what speakers I’m going to use.

blindjim> thx
yeah I get that bit too. albeit with 100 to 150wpc @ 8, the choices are vast.

of lower powered INTs I did enjoy what raven offrered at the 2019 Fla Expo paired with their hybrid spkrs wherein the lower ranges were aided by on board amps. so there is that avenue and then we’re back into glass power completely and not a lot of it to boot

as for my target price I just felt in that arena the SQ should be delivered with more than a bit of integrity and present an involving toe tapping and grining emotive expewrience…

if mybrid, and the likely aim here, rolling the pre tubes allows for still more prefferential adjustments

in all, its simlply another begining… where things ultimately land may be somewhere else entirely. although I would care for the one box idea to be good enough one would want it to be a keeper and build quality often indicates such things as voice and reliability, hence once more, spending 7K more or less. ought to provide these attributes fairly well.
thanks so fr, I'll be back shortly and respond to the balance of your posts.
Linear Tube Audio - UltraLinear Integrated. You can get it with a built in phono stage if need be. 
I have the CODA CSiB and I think it is great. It is the 2018 version and is not even the best version of this unit. Though I imagine the 2021 version is only a bit better. (used 3.4K)

I am getting a Krell K-300i integrated hopefully this week. Have not heard it yet but it is got some amazing features. ($7K new with integrated DAC).

If my wife gives me a hard time about setting up my KEF LS50's in the family room with one of these 2 integrateds then I will sell one of them.
Hi blindjim. My opinions here are going to be very different than everyone else. They all sound like they have more experience than me. But here goes... I personally LOVE the Naim uniti atom/nova line. It is absolutely amazing. I have an atom which puts out 40 wpc and the nova which I think is about $6000 puts out 80 wpc. Although 40/80 doesn't seem like much many reviewers have noted that the atom can drive many speakers just fine. This will of course depend on your distance from your speakers, how loud you like to play, and how sensitive they are. I sit about 10 ft away driving martin logan 6xti speakers (93 sensitivity) and they get loud and the bass remains tight and deep. It's incredible. I would go for the nova for the 80 wpc at your budget and unknown speakers. The naim is an all in one box solution and they call it a "lifestyle" product because it's just so easy to plug and play right away. It's visually nice to look at and again in an office setting seems perfect. You're not looking to fuss with too much and just want a simple solution that has amazing connectivity. The naim ticks off all boxes there. That would be my suggestion to look into. 
Two words: Speakers first!
More words... Everything thing else will hinge on that. Amp, sources, etc. IMHO you cannot make a wise decision on an amplifier, integrate or otherwise until you know what speakers you will be using. Enjoy the hunt.
Happy listening.
The go to integrated amp would be an accuphase they have never skimped on quality at all in their fifty year existence.
@blindjim... given everything you stated above, you need to seriously consider the Hegel H390 in your auditioning. It is an outstanding Int and has all that you want and don’t want. No it isn’t tubes, but class a/b dual mono design. It has the grunt to run pretty much anything.
Sugden ANV-50 or Sugden Masterclass IA-4 or Pass labs, all class A, all sound tremendous. 
I came from the world of too many boxes pre dual mono and phono stages and know the pain. Integrated are great.

In UK sugden possibly ATC who makes speakers but also do great amps.

I have a luxman and like many others who buy luxman and accuphase they just stay for 5 years plus (I’m keeping mine forever)
So depends on speakers but I have the 550ax2 running into tannoy speakers and as a 20w class a it is effortless. Cracking phono stage too.
So the 550 or 590 class a if speakers 90db or more and maybe the class ab 507 or 509 into difficult loads...like electrostatics (these work in class a for first few amps)
I had a new power supply modded for my bluesound and actually use a chord DAC but as a started the bluesound is very good.


If you are thinking mini monitors and subwoofer or pair of subs then Lyngdorf TDAI3400  , loads of power on tap and the best room correction out there. Allows you to have a normal looking room with flow no need to shell out on room treatment flawless integration of subwoofers.

Works fantastically with Jern 14 monitors and rel subwoofers. 
This is my recommendation. Amps from Musical Fidelity. The 600 has 220 wpc and is the best sounding integrated I have ever heard. At $7,200 it is a steal.  Not overrated or overhyped. It is actually made in England. Here is a review from Andrew Robinson.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfWNQvw-Jq8

Magnum Dynalab 307 hybrid integrated amplifier for about 5K new. For some reason the company keeps low profile. I got a used certified for 4K and it was like new. Plenty of power (200W), dynamics and excellent full sound, even at low volume. Highly recommended. I have paired it with Yamaha NS 5000 speakers and Ideon Ayazi DAC. Another one you may get used below your budget is the  Vitus RI 100. Good luck.
Give the Vincent Audio SV-737 a look. They make some very respectable sounding gear.
https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=VISV737
For office,  take a look at rotel X5 ..

Hegel.  Current is H390, but since they have a H95, I would wait for the H395.  Finest integrated around, the 390.  My guess is that the 395 will come out shortly and have Roon integration.  250w per channel, and my H360 makes my Raidho's sing.

As others have said you really need to pick out the speakers before you choose an amplifier. I am a big fan of the Aesthetix Mimas with the internal DAC card. I have used the Mimas with a pair of Harbeth SHL5+ and my current speakers, Vandersteen Treo CT's. It has been the best amplifier I have used for sheer musical enjoyment. The musicality of this amp keeps me up late many nights. It's impossible to concentrate on anything else while the music is playing.

You have gotten some really good recommendations on this thread and I urge you to listen to as many of these amps as you can. Only you will know which one is right for you as we all hear things differently and have different listening priorities. Good Luck!