Naim Nait 5i (italic) used at ~$900-1000
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I second the NAD BEE series.You can get new equipment,amp and cd player, with that budget.Peace of mind that a warrantee brings will be much appreciated.There are several NAD authorized online dealers.I have done business with Spearit Sound and can recommend them highly.Below is a link to their website.Good luck.
the conventional wisdom would be to get your speakers first, then match amp to same. however, if you want to get the amp first, i concur that you're on the right track with your list--arcam, rega and cambridge are all good, reliable all-arounders which should drive any reasonably efficient monitor. if you're planning on using vinyl, keep in mind that some of your candidates don't have a phono stage. on the other hand, if you want the flexibility of a tuner, phono and/or computer audio, the outlaw rr2150 receiver is really good bang for the buck
I can't believe no has listed or suggested a Primare I-21 or the older A30.1.
I think the Primare is what your looking for. Go through the reviews and you'll see what I mean. They are also some good suggestions above like the Naim, Classe CAP, Music Fidelity.
They all sound different and I have had these in my rig but the Pirmare did Neutrality, absence of coloration and tonal accuracy very well and had 75wx2@8ohm. It's good looking, has remote, reliable and quiet, perfect for a small room. Can be purchased on Audiogon starting for around $750.
I suggest that you include Primare to your list.
If listening to AM/FM is a requirement, I would go for one of these if he has enough room for it:
They are dirt cheap, reliable, abundant repair facilities, will drive virtually any speaker he would ever own and sound musical, comes with a remote...I don't think you will get all these qualities in another new receiver (or even a new integrated) for that price, although you might be able to get higher resolution at the expense of something else. Otherwise go for a NAD integrated.
These are all good choices, kind of depends on your friend's preferences.
Cambridge Audio Azur 650A - very lively sounding, good PRAT for this price range, good power
NAD C-355BEE - neutral to slightly laid back sounding, good bass
Music Hall A25.2 - sounds pretty good, a little warmer than the Cambridge but not as warm as the NAD, less resolving than either. The new 50.2 is more powerful, better sounding, phono preamp, but a touch over the 1K price barrier
Rega Brio - less power than the Cambridge or the NAD, but a really nice sounding little amp with phono inputs (an all Rega system with their RS1 speakers and Apollo CD player and/or P3 turntable would be hard to beat for the money). Mira amp is better, but also more expensive - maybe used...
Marantz PM 8003 - another nice amp on the warmish side of neutral.
Naim Nait 5i - wonderful amp, lots of PRAT, super musical for solid state but perhaps not the first choice for classical music
Primare - yes, these are also wonderful, more neutral than the Naim and more power reserve
Neutrality, absence of coloration and tonal accuracy are definite requirements, as is reliability
I would recommend the Parasound Zamp with a ~$30.00 Alps or Noble volume pot. I love this little amp but beware it does not soften the sound in any way and bipolar's are not as forgiving as MOSFET's or some tube systems.
Since you probably won't want to make your own pre-amp and need more than one input you could try the Parasound Zpre but it will color the sound.
IMHO Naim, Musical Fidelity, Exposure. Naim are all colored and not nuetral.
I would second the advice to begin by selecting speakers first. Then you will know the impedance and power needs.
For acoustic classical and jazz at moderate levels with near-field listening (you said the room is small), I would begin by looking at Spendor, Harbeth, and any of the LS3-5a variations (used originals or current knock-offs). Depending on his tastes and the set up, a sub may not be needed.
If he chooses a 16 ohm Rogers LS3-5a the amp choice could be quite different from some other model with a 4 ohm rating but higher efficiency.