I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for a used amp for around the $500 range. In the past (pre-divorce) I had a Parasound 2200II and a PS Audio HCA-2. I listen to a wide variety of music but mainly smooth jazz. Like everyone else I am looking for the best sound for the best price.
Personally, I've ditched the budget vintage amps in favor of the Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp. It's about 85/170 wpc into 8/4 ohms, and has a seemingly non-existent noise floor. Very quiet, dynamic, nuanced for the price, and musical once it breaks in (takes about 100 hard hours).
You can get one from Amazon new w/warranty for around $474 with free shipping, or a factory-refreshed B-stock from http://www.accessories4less.com for $400.
I've lived with mine for 6 months after years of using an Amber 70 and a VSP Labs TransMOS, and this Onkyo trumps 'em both in pretty much every way. The VSP is 150 wpc, but the 85 wpc Onkyo sounds just as big. It delivers big current instantaneously.
You didn't mention what speakers you would be driving but the Sophia Baby is extremely sweet sounding if you can get by with its low watttage. Sell new for ~$800 but can be found used or demos for around $450 on Audigon.
I have two Amber 70s and their great little amps for well below 200.00 each. I have had great results with the B&K 200 mono amps for around 500.00. There built well and should have no problem driving almost any speaker load.
The Jolida 102B, occasionally found on Audigon for ~ $400-$500, with the very engaging El 84 (6BQ5) tubes (as used in many of the old HH Scott amps) in push pull is a great little amp and a bargain to boot.
Big difference in asking question if you say what speakers you have,what the sensitivity is,ohm load (all easy to look up) and how large your room is.Tubes are great and rule of thumb is you can double power rating versus a solid state.Muisc only or latter HT?Need to fill in blanks.But you have some good tips for a used unit for an 6-8 ohm 97-89db sens or better (limits speaker options but more sens opens up to lower cost to quality).Parasound,NAD,Adcom,Rotel is all on same plane but you could get a nice Creek integrated or Parasound and step up in quality. Chazz
You can have some fun with high end sound with a hybrid (tubes in pre section and SS in amp section).Jolida again would allow you to get warmth and tone out of pre tube section of hybrid integrated and get a 70 or 100 wpc model. Chazz
As for speakers I am using the (url=http://www.madisound.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=35_37&products_id=367)Eton 8.1(/url) I had someone build the cabinets for me and I upgraded the caps, internal wire and binding posts. These speakers sound amazing! Thanks for all the input and if the speakers change your opinion, I look forward to reading more.
Yes I own the Mccormack DNA-0.5 Deluxe and I'm not getting rid of mine any time soon. It's an amazing amp for the money. Steve McCormack (SMC Audio) offers multiple upgrades and can take it to near stratospheric levels if you have the money. He's also a great guy who will jump in here every once in a while to offer advice to owners.
I'd try a Dynaco ST70. Not the last word in power or low frequency extension, though with your loudspeakers, it will be fine, as it couples beautifully to my Fried A/6, which have a similar design - apart from the series crossover. A cheap way to get really true tube sound.
If you want to try dig. amp listen first,everybody has different opins on them,i didn't care for them,but it might work work for you,Forte, I've never heard,but i cant see how you would go wrong,they just knew how to make a amp.Amber might be good,but isn't it a bit old,so that might pose a problem.I think i got lucky when i found my counterpoint on Ebay,More then happy with it.Yes the most music for the best price,unless you're rich is what most are after,