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

Showing 9 responses by blindjim

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


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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

thus far I am certainly overwhellmed with the feedback sports fans! thank you all.

my eyes have been opened to possibilities I would never have concieved otherwise.

I’m going to read up on the items I’ve no EXP with which are listed here, and reconsider my previous notions on some of those proposed solutions I did not feel buttered my bread at first listen.

I’ve enough EXP to know synergy is key in the amp + spkrs union. with that in mind, monitors are the prefference as I mentioned earlier to be the choice maybe even mini monitors if i go with a nearfield setup.

we’ll see. .

likely the deal maker IMO apart from the feature set and cost will be support.

if a thing has none its not gonna land here unless its something like a cable. I believe makers should be easy to contact and support should yield timely solutions for end users as after the sale service/support is its own statement of & for the product, its designer, build, andat times its performance.

Going forward, the ease of accessibility for upgrades and or support means
a great deal at least to this audio nut.

@pkvintage lyyes. the BSN 2I is labled entry level . it seemed a good idea at the time.

some of its functionality is not amenable to beign vision impaired. I'm hoping its IOS app will be more agreeable.

regardless the llevel of subjective performance attached to a streaming device or its cost, the ability to use the thing via a mobile app will decree what is or is not possible, not necessarily its price.

curiosity more than anything else got me to pull the trigger on this, my initial 'streamer'.

so..... we'll see just how accessible the high tech genius designers have as well engineered their software.

BTW... NAD uses the BS sW in its #33 INT and its cost is a multiple of the 2I. it as well seems a popular enough component to have been listed in this thread as another INT possiblity.

it ain't enough to sift thru the hardware choices, the SW too must     be accessiblde compliant.

I also do like the Linear Tube Audio integrated amps on the tube side but your speaker choices will be more limited there.

if any tube INT is to be the choice it MUST be auto biased.

as 80% of the music we expereince is made in the first 20wpc, and this effort is targeted at a mid to small size room, I’m sure mating most any INT with most any speaker will work OK.

optimum results here will likely be either a matter of buy try and sell, or do the audiogon shuffle, or become flexible or easy to please otherwise with what ever combo is chosen.

all of the speakers I’ve in mind, or currently own would or should work OK with any decent 30wpc amp.

INTs I’m considering punch out power beyond 30wpc.

speakers I’m more interested in are mostly 2 or 2.5 way w/87db Eff, or higher, and usually spec’d at 8oms.

stand mounted and FS.

keeping strickly to my current plan , is the main problem.

for all intents and purposes I can buy within a bit of sanity, ANYTHING!.

anything that is, of course, I can justify. there won’t be a Vitas 30, or a VAC signature taking up space here. that is a given. I’ve heard both and both are very nice, but that entry fee vs sonic results is an unjustifiable endeavor IMHO.

hence my constirnation revolves around this notion: well, if I’m gonna spend XXXX for ABC, why not spend XXXXX for XYZ instead and then use it in the primary rig later on when I’ve relocated?

Then toooo there is this dog other barking at the aforementioned plan, just get yourself a more up to date amp, dA, and …spkrs while using your present line stage and cabling.
or buy one of the ‘turn key’ rigs your heard lately which boast an INT and speakers or separates and speakers that run about $7K w/o DA, and $10K with a Bryston or Benchmark du jour DA?

and that sports fans is my dilemma in a bit more than a nut shell.

thinking back on this thread perhaps I should have asked for ’turn key’ slam dunk INTs and Spkrs suggestion suitable for office/2nd room streaming and file playfack instead.


Myself, I find many flavors I like very much each with +s and -s so that heavily influences how I think about these things.

me too.

I know you have several speakers.

yes. all are vintage. some entry level as with the Canton bookshelf; Silverline SR 15; Phase tech PC 10.5 & PC 6.5 Std Mt.

sorry, no KEF… merely an interest in them.

thanks much for the link though. really.

why not KISS. Toss out (sell) all the other stuff.

did I mention ‘hoarding’ is my second hobby? lol
hi sports fans!

i’m about to pull the trigger and put this matter to bed.

only a couple ods and ens to address. mostly esthetics. although you can see my latest post which clarifies the odds that need addressing, i.e., stands and speaker cable adapters.

so do stay tuned. naturally there is a wait time for shipping and so forth, thereafter plugging it all together and situating the speakers.

as I can still go in a couple different directions i’ll not mention brands or models just yet. in this thread.

suffice it to say I am a bit excited on the prospects. g

Here is the final anser to what I chose in an Integrated amp & loudspeaker combo.

first however I must offer a tremendous THANKS TO ALL for their feedback and thoughts on the topic that began as a simple choice for a decent integrated amplifer for a secondary rig but then morphed into a           question of an INT + Speakers philosophic debate.

… and the winners are:
BC E1X integrated amplifier 170wpc @ 8
joseph Audio Pulsar Graphines monitors 87db @ 8
dsound anchor four post stands. for JA Pulsar Gs

with a strong desire to remain conservative the bC INT got the nod on the BC house sound alone.

he JA Pulsars got the nudge from audio show setups I attended that demonstrated they were more than competent speakers capable of superior sound.

the SA stands cost was a big pill to swallow , but if these were good enough for the designer, Jeff Josephh, it seems a safe bet to go with the stands Je J showed his speakers with. and liked

Although it ended up this way it nearly didn’t.

going with a one box rig with DA/preamp/amp in something familiar which as well mated well with the Pulsars became a tedious endavor as the choices were few and far between. one was up for sale but went sold quickly. looking into a new one seemed the best bet at that time. finding one and about to pull the trigger, then reviewing the funds more closely I figured to merely use my existing separates, wait a while and either find a suitable INT or upgrade the amp later.

then a friend saw one for sale off this site and arrangements were made to get into a preowned unit. going that way allowed me to have the funds for the SA stands too.

Agreements were made with the vbarious merchandisers and funds were sent. now we just wait for the big brown truck or the big grey truck to slide by..

here’s hoping all will mix well in the final analysis, and I believe it will.

now… digital cables, and maybe new/different speaker wires. power cords anyone? hmmm.

again, many thanks everyone as the list here for a little while anyghow is one I’ll keep for reference and possibly try some of those suggested later on.!!

0I got los0t….. So, OP is asking for integrated, right?

sorry you became confused i’ve. no clue what caused it.

yes. I was seeking a competent great preforming INT in the $7500 MSRP range, more or less.

… and I chose one. see most recent posts above.

as for Sugden… I’m not a fan yet but have not heard the whole line either.. IMHO Rogue, Pass, and Raven would have surpassed Sugden as a pick anyhow had i not selected Bel Canto.

As the pairing of amp & spkrs is key in the minds of many audio hobbyists.Some superfulous and unnecessary input came via the item I never mentioned. With which speakers the prospective INT would supply?

Some posters chimed in on this segment avidly and made the point I was somehow putting the cart before the horse seeking the power plant without also indicating the speakers with which it would join..

nonsense. the speaker first camp takes their notion to far and too often.

staying away from scenarios which pose more critical unions and eyeing those INTs dishing out 150wpc or more seemed the prudent path for pairing with a wealth of possible combinations.

given a choice has been made, other offerings are now merely considerations for some others in this hunt or for a third system perhaps.

with all said and done, I concluded the next items to be pursued and listed them here, , please see above. sorry if this too was distracting.

thanks everyone for every contribution herein.


Congrats on what I’m sure will be fine choices. Do post your impressions of the gear here when you get it, as it breaks in, and after it stabilizes out after break in.

Thank you. I’m hoping so too. in fact I’m pretty sure it will be just fine at the onset,

just figuring out the best paths for introducing the digital feeds will be a chore. the pdf user guide on the BC E1X was done as images only. sighted folks won’t notice a diff, but accessibility software can not read images. meaning all 45 pages of the preamp… DAC… and amp guides will have to be printed oput and rescanned ass OCR files then re-read and decryprted as the OCR ver is not an exact copy of how the items on each page were inserted. offten much of the content is well, scrambgled about the page. its a real chore at times.

then there’s the fiddling with cables, and iso gizmos, power line conds, etc.

I’m actually looking forward to this build as a few perspectives or bits of EXP . will arise during its arrangement and run in and with differing stands being used briefly right off the bat until the SA stands are made and delibvered.!

one thing for sure I’m not digging too much is running in a brand new pr of speakers… again. lol

but then somewhere in it all is the fun of this past time. somewhere….


presently running in the new Pulsar graphines with my dusty but trusty Onkyo 805 receiver with about 60 hours on them by close of day today.

another pair of speakers, these being floorstanders from Phase technology i just had completely rebuilt should arrive back from the factory tomorrow… perhaps.

Sound anchor stands for the Graphine stand mounts are still on order.also awaiting several signal cables from Monolith for connectivity.

with all of the equipment on hand having been sitting static for quite some time now, I see another month or so at least before I could honestly begin apprasing anythibng.

the JA Pulsar G’s do seem to be advancing in their presentation fullness at least. their lower register compliment has been the one aspect not easily overlooked by virtue of its presence from day one. Both the Onkyo Rec and JA Pulsar’s demonstration are akin to being neweish as the Receivert has been sitting static for years pretty much, seeing nearly no use in the intereim. both run several hours daily in another room playing various FM stations.

FUN! FUN! yeah, loads of funl.