Looking to upgrade amp, need help.

I am currently looking to upgrade my amplifier. My current system is:
Focal 836v's
NAD C375Bee
NAD C546 cd player
Project debut carbon with Ortofon 2m bronze

I listen to both vinyl and CD's. Mostly classic rock but also a wide variety of music at times.  

My budget is $1500-$2000, probably purchase used to get more bang for my buck. I don't have a preference between SS or tubes, but don't have experience with tubes (but think they would be a good match for the Focals).

Any input is greatly appreciated!!


Try the NAD with the ZU Wylde well broken in short interconnects (0.5 m)
I guarantee that you will keep the NAD
Yes, you should go for tubes with the Focals.  I had the smaller brother to the 836V years ago.  The treble was a bit hot but the sound was so open and clean.  
+1 for Rogue Audio.  Have a look at Jolida 3502, have used one for over a year now without issues and it sounds great.  
I have been reading about the Cronus Magnum II, would like to audition but don't know where. You own or heard it?

How big is your listening room? Mine is about 14' x 22' with 8 foot ceilings. Curious how far the 50-60 watts from the Jolida will go. I will say that the 150w from the NAD I have now is more than plenty in terms of volume, even when cranked up it's not even to 12 o'clock in the knob.
There's an Esoteric AI-03 up for sale for $2K that should sound better than the NAD. You have lots of options with that budget and it just depends on what aspects of your current system you're trying to improve. A better DAC or cartridge, or even room treatment might give you the best incremental improvement. Just need to find the weakest link.
The Jolida has no phono stage. My friend owns an older Cronus Magnum ( 50 watt) that uses EL34 tubes and it is real nice. There are plenty of dealers that sell Rogue. You should find one that has a return policy in case you don’t like it! Your speakers have a 90 db sensitivity ,so if you find an older one ( 50 watt ) it should be enough power for your speakers. BTW, there are some used ones listed right here on AudiogoN !
Your speakers have 92db sensitivity, 40-50 watts will be more than adequate.  When your speakers hit 101db, you are still only using 8 watts!
My room is smaller, my listening position is 10 feet away from my speakers which are rated at 89db sensitivity.  I have driven them with a 35 watt Primaluna amp with no problems.  At a minimum, try a nice tube preamp/ss amp combo with the focals.

@jmdavidson87 - Add the Rega Elicit-R to your list. It's a really great solid state integrated amp and slips in right in the middle of your proposed budget for a nice second hand unit. I've had lots of solid state, as well as tube, amplifiers over the years. I'm completely content with the Rega. It also has a good sounding phono stage built in. I have the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut DC Esprit SB with the original Ortofon 2M Red and it sounds fantastic through the Rega Elicit-R.

@nutty - We should have an integrated amp shootout sometime. BTW, I had the Anthem Integrated 1 and Anthem Integrated 2 in the past. I liked the Integrated 2, but unfortunately the volume control did not have enough steps and it was too loud at minimum volume and the steps were way too far apart with my relatively efficient speakers. Both sounded good, just didn't work for my situation.
Rogue Audio Sphinx is pretty amazing. New at <$1500. Very dynamic with a touch of tubes.  
Primaluna Dialogue is a touch over $2000 but all tube goodness. I have a Primaluna Dialogue Premium, really elegant with a smooth but accurate response. But have heard the Sphinx with some Tannoy's DCT series that was amazingly dynamic, maybe similar to your Focals.  
Balanced Audio Technology VK-300SE Integrated. These typically sell in the $1500-$2000 range. I've been using this model for 15 years and I highly recommend it. These have been around a while so check the serial number with BAT for a recent issue (my latest one is about six years old). Very musical, powerful, versatile, and has a sound that is both stable and "right". For best results, you must buy the "DR" 6H30 driver tubes ($600/pr) but this can be a future upgrade.

Good luck in your search!

I recently sent my Anthem I225 to Parts Connexion. I had Chris install (2) Mundorf 82131 AG 15,000uF- 100v Capacitors and a 110k Blue Velvet Potentiometer. I still have the original Nichicon Caps in storage. I believe the new changes have given the amp a little more refined sound. The volume pot has been tamed as well. 


So, like several Focal speakers, the 836 V excel in having a low impedance around the worst locations in the bass (100Hz). It is practically their trademark. See here:


This actually IS a speaker that could benefit from bi-amping, but with no terminals for it, you are stuck.  What these speakers need is unusually beefy amps. Not high in power, but with excellent low-impedance drive.

I would suggest among the best values are the Parasound A23/A21 amps in the linear area, and Hypex or nuForce amps in the Class D range. Look for amps that can drive 2 Ohms.


For CLASSIC ROCK i wouldn't recommend spending good money for a better amp.  The reason is simple- more revealing equipment is not a great choice for most of what's out there. But for acoustic instruments (folk/jazz/classical/female singers) perhaps you would benefit- but then you would need a better CD player.  I am not sure about your turntable.
Ex:  i put on CSN&Y Deja Vue on the other day and the mixing errors,
timing errors, etc. almost ruined the usual pleasure i get out of listening
to this album.  Sounds much better on a mid-fi setup IMHO.
Of course there are exceptions- like Pink Floyd, or remastered Rolling
Stones, Santana, etc.  

I have heard and much admired those speakers. They are fairly balanced and on the warmer side. I don't think they need tubes in the mix unless u like to roll.

I have the older amp version of your INT - 372Bee for the last many years. It is a keeper. I recently swapped it out for a well received 500wpc ICE amp($2K). Could not hear a difference/upgrade! I paid 350 for the NAD 6 yrs ago for a used unit.

What are you looking to do with this change?

I like Brystons personally with any speaker - lots of good deals on SST2s with the cubed out. That said there are many good choices.

Good luck!

+1 for the Esoteric integrated.  Its a great deal.  You could also look at a Parasound Halo Integrated.  You should be able to pick up a used one for 1700-1800.00 or a new one for around 2200-2300.00.  I went from a Rogue Cronus Magnum 100wpc tube amp to the Parasound Halo and in my room the Parasound sounds much better.


I listen to 95% rock and out of that 70% is Classic Rock. It all sounds fantastic on my system which certainly isn’t mid fi. Funny you mention CSN&Y, as I listened to Deja Vu on my VPI Prime Saturday afternoon with a ZU/Denon DL103 cartridge played through a Rogue RP-5 tube preamp, an Odyssey Stratos Extreme amp to my GE Triton 1 speakers. The sound was quite breathtaking and I heard no timing errors, just pure blissful music. So, in regards to what you posted, I am not buying it.

@nocrapman  This change is mostly geared towards the fact that I think I can get more from the Focals than the NAD gives, and fortunately I have some money to play with ☺️  When I auditioned the Focals, the amp they had hooked up was a Krell S-300i, and it sounded fantastic.  

Already so many good posts on this thread and a lot of great looking amps mentioned!

Also, I am not concerned about the phone stage on the amp because I am using the Pro-Ject Tube Box S phono preamp (forgot to post that in the beginning)

I am torn between tubes or SS.  Before I posted this thread I was already looking at:
Krell S300i
Rega Elicit-R
Rogue Cronus Magnum II
Audio Research VSI60 that's on AudiogoN right now for ~2k

Now I also like what I read about Jolida, BAT, Parasound, PrimaLuna.

Decisions decisions!
I have an Audio Refinement (YBA) component stack for sale that would work great with your speakers and budget:

AR Complete tuner
AR Complete CD player
AR Complete integrated

The AR integrated beat out a Rogue Cronus Magnum side by side for warmth and musicality in my system tests.  Plus, very very good reviews.  You could have all 3 of the above with remote for $1000 plus shipping...
I totally agree with the Rega recommendations above. This set-up on Canuck Audio will fill your life with joy (the phono stage on the Cursa preamp will destroy the Project BTW, which you can sell, and the Exon monoblocks will best the Elicit-R):


I don't know the seller BTW, I'm on the other side of the world. I just looked up Rega Exon on Hifishark thinking it might be the answer to your situation. Good luck!
That Audio Refinement mentioned above is very fine sounding gear.  It may be sold, I just checked listings and didn't see it. 

I love my Parasound Halo Integrated.  Amazing amp, fantastic DAC, good separate headphone circuit, and a very nice phono section and it's on the Stereophile Class A list.
I also own the Parasound Halo Integrated. Haven’t looked at anything else since I bought it. If you call Safe and Sound in Chicopee, MA they might be able to work something out on demo unit. They're great.
I have the Focal 836V's and an SW800V sub.  I can highly recommend the Marantz PM-11s3 integrated amp to pair with these.  The amp is rated at 100w@8ohm doubling to 200w@4ohm,but has been tested by a few magazines and puts out significantly more power than this.  Also benefits from an excellent mc/mm phono section.
+1 for Safe and Sound HQ in Chicopee, Mass.  I bought my Halo Integrated from them and they were very easy to deal with.
Here's my experience: I've had a Nakamichi Receiver 2, which I love, for 25 years. Someone gave me a NAD 7250 PE a few years ago, so I thought I'd set up a second system in my basement, since I already had a pair of Boston Acoustics T 830s. I was disappointed with the NAD/BA combo, so I sold the NAD and bought a Rotel RX-1052 receiver. I upgraded the BAs to Canton 3-way towers to get more out of the Rotel and soon decided to upgrade the Rotel to get the most out of the Cantons. I'd heard some Prima Luna separates that I really liked, but my room is pretty big. I listened to a Belles Aria a few times and fell in love; but I need a balance knob 'cos of a slight Hearing Loss....I'm making things too wordy. Here's what I've heard ranked favorite to least favorite considering cost:
Primare I32 (no phono, though)
Belles Aria
Prima Luna Dialogue (too expensive)
Creek Classic 5350SE
Rogue Sphinx

I really wanted to hear the Krell S-300i; but didn't get the chance before I had to decide on the Primare. I am very happy with the I32!
Another +1 for the the Halo Integrated, its a great amp for the price. I ditched my Pro-Ject carbon for a VPI scout about a year ago with an Ortofon 2M Bronze, it sounds so much better.
Halo sounds lifeless and fatiguing overtime.  Look for a Hegel integrated.  Yes with a great built in dac and multiple inputs.  No wonder  they sell so many.  Just plain good. 


I listen to my Halo integrated for a minimum of 6 hours straight every day and I have never gotten listener fatigue and it never sounds lifeless, dull or otherwise.

Today I auditioned the rogue sphinx, Cronus Magnum II, Krell s300i, prima Luna prologue, and parasound halo. I think I am going to buy the parasound halo integrated, it was fantastic! I was very pleasantly surprised.