I have owned several IA's and my favorite, so far has been the McIntosh MA6500. Compaired to Musical Fidelity or Krell, it was more musical and less scientific sounding. The only thing I didn't like was the size of unit (too large). If you can live with that, I feel it is a winner.
A308 - best MF integrated for the buck. Many think it sounds better than the newer A5 integrated
Plinius 9200 - used around $2200. More refined sound than the MF, with just about the same amount of power. Decent phono stage as well.
I second Jihley's comments on the McIntosh. I preferred their integrateds over the MF. I demoed the MA6500 & MA6900 and can understand why their equipment is selling well. I decided to stay with my Krell integreted which I also liked better than the MF (perhaps if I'd listened to the Mc first?).
The 308 is hard to beat in terms of styling.. and even performance. But the SE version of Unison Unico would be worth a look (and listen), maybe not as much power (140W) but beautiful looks and highly regarded sonics (currently A rating in Stereophile, whatever that means...), comes with a phono stage too.
There are only 3 MF integrated amps to consider, the Nu-Vista, the Tri-Vista and the kW 500. They have a tube pre amp section that makes them better than the rest.
Of the MF integrateds, the Nu-Vista M3 is the best value. Several up recently for sale on the Audiogon in the 2000 dollar range. I own the Tri-Vista myself and it's fantastic. A better amp for certain than any of the McIntosh solid state integrated amps. The 2275, however, is another story, sonically and price-wise. In addition to the tube preamp sections that Merganser mentions, one of the important advantages of the three MF amps is the choke regulated power supply housed in a monstrous box separate from the main amp. These power supply boxes supply effortless power to drive virtually any speakers and all of the amps are an exceptional value compared to what you would pay for separate components to achieve these sonic capabilities.
I agree with Washline... I have ownd Jeff Rowland and SimAudio (Moon),integrates, I currently am using the MF TriVista 300 and find it to be the best and most musical integrated amp I have ever had in my system. The Nu Vista is a very good bargain, but if you need the power or the volts to drive your speakers, a step up to the TriVista is well worth the money.
I have the Trivista and love it. Great deatil, liquid sound. The phono is just ok if you have moving coil -- compared to the Hovland 100 preamp which has amazing phono.
I owned a Nu-vista for about 4 years and enjoyed it tremendously.Unburstable power and a decent enough phonostage if you look at it as free (converts by a couple of internal dipswitches to mc by the way).
It also has the benefit against the Tri-vista that you can replace the valves yourself - no small thing given the wieght & size of the units.
It came very close to my current Supratek/Pass labs set up and cost way less money.
The Nu-vista benefited greatly from good cables, a Synergistic Active power cord being the best (imo)of the many power cords I tried on it.
I've had a Plinius 9200 for several years now. It replaced a $10K ARC/Levinson combo and smoked it! Can't comment on the comparison you asked about, but I noted that the phono on the Plinius was a tad noisy, so I inserted a Sutherland PhD. Not only is the PhD dead quiet, to much better harmonics, detail, etc. The improvement blew me away. Controlling noise inducement in the preamp of an integrated has got to be difficult and even more so for the phono stage...
I agree with Washline and Simon74... I owned the Nu-vista for few years and love it. Have it compare to many diff. int.amp like JRDG, Gryphon and ML383... Still like it better. I am now have the Trivista. The Nu-vista is lettle sweeter in the mid and a little rolled off at the high and the Trivista has all the controls for the bass and the high is extended. It was little bright when I match the Trivista with the Watt&Puppy but the Nu-vista was very good. They both worth the money, and you just have match it with the rest of your system. Sysnergy is still the key.
I haven't tried too much MFs but for me the X-150 does it pretty well for the money. Trivista & Nu-Vista are a superior category but I'm not sure if the upgrade in prices goes by the hand with upgrades in sound.
Jiegana, it does....in spades.
Too much slang for me
I have both the a5 and the v3 x150 with ps and I really thought the x150 sounded more musical...not powerful but musical...imho...also i have heard the 308 sounds pretty good for the money
I had the a3.2 and have since upgraded to the a308; significant difference. Has any body gone from an a308 integrated to the a308 pre and power separates? I am thinking about doing this next.