Looking to upgrade amp

Hi everyone,

I hope that this message find you well. I'm currently using an Exposure 2010s2 (75 wpc) integrated amp. It's certainly a very fine amp for the money (the previous version received a Class A from Stereophile). The rest of my system is an Oppo BDP 105 for CD/SACD and the excellent (IMHO) KEF LS50 speakers.

I'm happy with the speakers and CD source, but I'm finding the amp to be a bit too "clinical/analytical" sounding. Also, the rather low sensitivity of the KEFs (85db, 3.2 ohm minimum) suggests that a higher power/higher current amp would be a better match (In fact, I contacted Exposure. and they suggested not using the 2010 with 4 ohm speakers). I have never owned a tube amp, so I might be interested in moving that direction. However, I am concerned about the lower sensitivity of my speakers, so I'm looking for your input on this issue.

For convenience's sake, I prefer to stick with an integrated, but the Exposure does have a pre-out, so I could move to separates (assuming that the Exposure functions well enough as a pre to allow the new amp to show its stuff).

Do any of you have recommendations for amps/integrateds to consider up to about $3,000(USD) that might provide a warmer and/or less forward sound?

Thanks for your time!

Bel Canto S300 once connected, will sing for itself clean, musical, pleasant and natural
You can also find Sunfire SRA used.
How have you determined that your amp sounds clinical? What are the dimensions of your listening room and how loud, in dBs, do you listen?
Thanks for the responses. I've had the amp in two different locations, both relatively small rooms (11x15 ft and 13x15 ft). I listen at moderate to lower listening levels because I'm in an apartment and don't want to annoy the neighbors. I've had the amp paired with two different CD players and a DAC, and I've had some fairly good tower speakers before switching to the KEFs, which are a much better fit for the size of the room. In all cases, I've found the sound to be slightly fatiguing and not as involving as other amps I've tried (Rogue Sphinx and the older Acurus DIA 100). The Exposure is certainly accurate, as I can clearly hear the difference between CD players, cables, etc. But, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, there's just something missing.

Thanks for any other thoughts you might send my way.

Best, Scott
Hegel and Ayre would be worth a look. There's a Pass Labs integrated for sale here a bit over your price range but maybe you can negotiate that down.
4 ohm, 85 db speakers are the province of solid state amps in my experience. Tube amps just seem to like 8 or more ohms ( their square waves look better into 8 ohms too). Consider a hybrid integrated, with tube preamp and mosfet output (Nelson Pass tended to believe mosfets act more like tubes than bi-polar designs and I tend to believe him but YMMV). How about an integrated Croft "R" or Musical Design* T-75 Elite amp for around $2.5K? More power, try Abbington Research AMR AM777 for $3K used. All combine tube front ends with SS output.
-Let us know what you settle upon as this is a oft-visited theme.
*Musical Design has been flying under (my) radar but recently, a friend reports this innovative - but established- company's products compare closely with both of the above. You can choose different tube types in the pre too! I'd suggest 6SN7's.
Roksan Kandy K2 should be fine...or if you get a good deal on Hegel H200...that should give you more control...and then play with cabling a little bit...i dont know do you listen more complex music but if i was in your place and want to get best from your speaker i would avoid tubes...Truman gaved interesting opinion about hybrid choices also...
Thanks so much for the responses. I'm intrigued by the Roksan Kandy K2 - the reviews are very good, and the description of the sound is what I'm looking for. I'll check out the others as well. I appreciate your guidance.

Please keep the recommendations coming.

Smrex13 i listened your amp with many speakers, also 3010s2 integrated and monos with many speakers including yours but i did not had chance to listen Kandy with Kefs...on few occasions i listened 3010s2 int and Kandy on Bowers CM10...both amps provided very good dynamics and control so your speakers will shine for sure...Kandy K2 sounded bit smoother than Exposure...so i think Kandy would be bullseye if i understand what you are seeking...Hegel sounding little more liquid than Exp and Roksan with more power...very good integrated for money...those amps are safe bet but lets not forget that you have different source and cabling so audition is a must...
Something to consider, the Oppo has a very good volume control built into it. You could run direct into practically any amp without using the integrated's preamp. I run an Upgrade Company modded Oppo 83SE directly into a Cambridge Audio 840W with BG Corp 520 loudspeakers and the sound is very detailed, dynamic, and slightly to the warm side. The control is so good with the 840W that I don't even use my subs (Def Tech ProSub 1000)and the BG Corps only use a pair of 6 1/2" woofers per side. I've heard the BG Corp 520's with a Theta Intrepid and Emotiva XPA 1' and always needed the subs with these amps so I consider the 840W to be an overachiever and huge bargain. Of course YMMV. Good luck.
McIntosh MA6600 (you can by-pass its preamp if you want; but my guess is you ultimately wouldn't), or, I second the suggestions above about a hybrid, or, I also second the suggesion abover re Pass integrated.
Further to the hybrid idea, check out the Pathos hybrid's for sale here on A'Gon now (no, I'm not a seller). Very nice sounding line that gets at the best of both worlds, and, IMHO, cool looking too, with real nice build quality.
FYI, there's a Hegel H300 for sale here only 6 months old and listed at just a little over your price target.
Hi Scott, I've heard the Exposure and concur it's quite clean and neutral sounding.

I think you might like the integrateds from Primare, Audio Analogue, and even Naim.
The Modwright KWI-200 has plenty of power to drive difficult load speakers, mine drives a pair of Selah Audio speakers rated 84dBs and lacks for nothing, also it has some warmth to its sound is very clean with lots of headroom.

Disclaimer: It is listed for sale here.
Thanks to everyone for your responses. There are some awfully interesting integrated amps out there. I'm more confused than ever, but that's what makes this fun, right?

Thanks again,
At your price point, I think you'll find more satisfactory choices in ss amplification for your speakers.
For the power that your speakers would most enjoy, I think you'll have better luck with separate power amplification.
I tend to find better bang for the buck from domestic (US) power amp manufactures here in the US.
There is a Coda on Ebay, $2700... very fine product
Part of what makes up the sound is of course the preamp section of the Exposure, so worst case you buy a new amp and use the Exposure as pre to find that the sound is still somewhat clinical sounding.

I was on a search of my own for much the same reason, and found a great sounding amp in the Parasound A21. They also have a new pre that seems to be very popular, the P5. I'd suggest giving a dealer a visit with some of your favourite music and take your time. The A23 would be right up your alley.
I toyed with the idea of using the Exposure as a pre, but then that adds a fair number of variables to the mix: new cables, the sound of the new amp, the sound of the Exposure as a pre, etc. My thought is to sell/trade in the Exposure when I make a decision on a new integrated, thus helping to offset the cost.

Unfortunately, I don't have a dealer anywhere near me (southern Oregon), so auditioning pieces is all but impossible.

I've also been experimenting with still points, and the impact has been astonishing. I'm also working on setting up the room (just moved) to maximize the sound. So far, the results of these two things are having such an impact that I might wait on the integrated until I'm sure that I've got everything I can out of the setup.

What a cool hobby this is!
Thank again,
Simrex13, I am a little late to chime in here, however I believe you are on the right tract. Tune your room to first get the most of what you have, then consider the amplification issues. You have a well balanced quality system regarding performance/$$$. Given the number of fine integrateds in your price range, Ialso believe that is the way to proceed should you decide to upgrade.

Room treatment is a good DIY project, provdning great return on investment, let us know how it goes. Good luck.
Hard to beat the Hegel H300. I've owned some very nice separates that the Hegel will embarrass.