NAD C272 or Onkyo A-9555 or what? Please Help

I bought one of those Tivoli Radios for my kitchen a couple of years ago, and realized it sounded better than my 1980's A/V receiver and tower speakers. I realized I had to upgrade. My budget was very limited. I did a lot of research on the internet, and eventually purchased a Sonic Super T-Amp, and Oppo DVD player, and a pair of Infinity Primus 150's. I think the system totaled under $500. I was a huge improvement.

In the last six months, I've started getting into headphone audio. I bought a HeadRoom Micro DAC, a Musical Fidelity X-Can v3, and AKG K701's. Most of my music listening moved to headphones, and my loudspeakers were used mostly for movies. Shortly thereafter, for the utility of multiple inputs and a remote control, I bought a NAD C325bee. The Sonic T-Amp went into storage.

This week, after rearranging my living room (which is approximately 12' x 24') into a more listening-friendly configuration. I thought about buying new speakers, and I started really spending some time with the 325bee. I was not happy. The music sounded muddy, blurred, undetailed. I pulled the T-Amp out of storage, hooked it up with the NAD as a preamp, and things dramatically improved. Not sure I'm using the correct audiophile terminology, but the attack was faster, the silence blacker, and the music generally more toe-tapping.

So I'm in the market for a new amp and/or speakers. If I was to stick with the T-Amp, I would want to get much better speakers, but the selection of inexpensive (under $1000, preferably under $600) sensitive (T-Amp is only 15 Watts) looks very limited--especially considering what I can audition locally. Dealers near me (Detroit, Michigan suburbs) carry B&W, Monitor Audio, Totems, and Magnepans. None of those, as far as I know, are known as high-sensitivity speakers. I haven't been able to find any other high-end brands around here, and I'd rather listen to them before buying.

On the other hand, the local selection of inexpensive amps is even more limited. Local dealers carry mostly either A/V receivers, Yamaha, some Rotel, or stuff that's way above my budget.

Given that I like the sound of the digital T-Amp, I looked for a more powerful digital. I found the Onkyo A-9555. It's generally well reviewed, but I'm gun shy of buying based on reviews after my 325bee experience. Another option is to use the bee as a preamp, and buy a NAD C272, but I also can't listen to it before I buy. Would the combined NAD's give me the fast, detailed quality I hear with the T-Amp?

I found the C272 for $600, while the Onkyo is $450. If I'm also going to buy new speakers, $600 is a stretch for me. I listed mostly to jazz, classical, and some indie rock--no hip-hop or metal. Room size is about 12 by 24 feet. I live in an apartment, so I don't normally listen at very loud volume levels.

Please suggest speaker/amp combos. I a "WOW!" experience compared with the Primus 150's and T-Amp. Can it be done for around or under $1000? Sorry this was so long. Thanks for you advice.
I don't think the NAD C272/325bee combo will make things sound better. It will more than likely sound the same or very similar with more power.

I'd recommend ordering the Onkyo A-9555 and trying it out. Most vendors have a return policy if you don't like it. Everyone has great things to say about it. The PopPulse T70i looks interesting as well at $225. It will have more power than the Sonic and a remote. Not sure how it sounds, but they have a return policy. I just picked up a used Panasonic XR55 to pair with some Usher S-520 for a small bedroom system and am impressed with it so far.
Have you considered the Rega Brio3. Great sound if you don't need alot of power.
Thanks, Mike. I think I did look at the Rega Brio3 when I was originally shopping for the NAD bee, but I just couldn't find much info on it. Rega's website doesn't tell me if there are any local (Detroit) dealers, but I don't recall coming across any. Have you heard the T-Amp, and how would you characterize The Brio's sound in comparison?

I'm also starting to think whichever new amp I buy should probably be +80 Watts. Otherwise, I'm still going to be pretty restricted in my choice of speakers.
Well this may sound self serving, but I am selling an ARCAM A80 here on Audiogon for $550.00 that is quite a step up from the usual Stereophile Class C fare. I have had a Nait 5i and a Unison Unico and could(and have) lived with either of those or the Arcam A80.They really are all in the same class, though the Nait 5i will give just a little more wow. The A80 was better than the Arcam Alpha 9 I had years ago. As far as bang for the buck, there is nothing better in an integrad than the A80. Very musical too.
I have the Onkyo A-9555 and have been very pleased with it. I also have the NAD 720 BEE stereo receiver, which has the same amp section as the 320BEE, which, in turn, was the predecessor of your 325BEE. I think I can understand why you feel that the 325BEE sounds muddy and undetailed. The 325BEE has rolled-off highs and a strong bottom end which, taken together, can create that impression.

If you move to the Onkyo, I think you'll be happier with the sound. Note, however, that the Onkyo also has rolled-off high frequencies, but I think it has more details than the NAD.

By the way, I read somewhere that what is holding the 325BEE back is the pre-amp section, not the power-amp section. If that is true, then you may want to try using a pre amp with your 325BEE.
NAD 325 BEE is a capable amp. However, its pre-amp section is not as good as its power amp section. Maybe you want to try a used NAD pre amp 160 or 162.

I have auditioned a pair of Monitor Audio RS 6 driven by a a NAD 315 BEE. They sound great together.

I am a fan of Class A/B amp. To my ears, the NAD sounds more organic and more believable.

If you get the B & W or Monitor Audio floorstanders, your NAD 325BEE will do fine.
I want to really thank everyone who has responded. I appreciate your advice.

I spent several hours tonight doing some careful listening and comparison. I now think that several factors conspired to show the NAD in its worst light.

At least one of the tracks I was using last night to test was *not* Apple lossless, it was a 256 kbps MP3. (Now I know that I really can hear the difference--its not just my imagination.) Even for the lossless files, I used the optical output from an Airport Express instead the optical out directly from the Mac Mini. Apple claims that the output of Airtunes and the Airport Express is bit-perfect, but I’m not so sure. It’s subtle, but I suspect that iTunes 8 and Airtunes may have some problems with network latency and buffer sizes. I tried two airport units, so it’s probably not my hardware. Tonight I used CD as the source for everything.

I spent some time using my AKG K701 headphones, switching between the NAD’s headphone port and my X-Can v3. While the X-Can is clearly better, the performance of the NAD is not so far off as the Infinity 150’s led me to believe. If the headphone output of the NAD is a accurate indication of what it could do with better speakers (and it’s a reasonable indicator as far as I understand) then I can live with this amp.

So, I took the day off work tomorrow, and I’m going to listen to some B&W’s, Monitor Audios, Totems, and Magnepans. The Magnepan dealer said I could take home his demo MMG’s to try with my gear. Are any of the sub-$1000 models of these brands going to get me close the the AKG phones?

I’m still curious about the A-9555. At some point in the future, I may break-down and order one. Now I can in good conscience push that speaker budget closer to the $1000 mark. That should be a good thing, even if I decide to change amps in the future.

I haven't heard the t-amp. The Rega Brio I felt had the best,balanced sound of any integrated under $1000. I would describe the sound as slightly warm, detailed, and most importantly...MUSICAL. If I ever downgrade from my Bryston, I will go back to Brio! I also own B&W 602S3 speakers and they are awesome!! P.S. the Maggies will need a ton of power!Good Luck
Thanks for the help. I’m now of the opinion that the NAD was simply revealing the shortcomings of the Infinity speakers. I went speaker shopping this weekend. I auditioned speakers from B&W, Monitor Audio, Magnepan, and Totem. I took home the Totem Rainmakers. They sound great with the C325bee, although I may look for a Creek of Naim integrated down the road.
Naim is better than Creek in terms of driving 4 ohm speakers as Dynaudio or Totem.
I've auditioned the Rega Brio 3. I own an Onkyo A-9555. I only heard one number through the Brio--"So What?" from Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," but it's a track I'm very familiar with. I felt that some of the detail I heard (it was an all-Rega rig) was exaggerated, and once the track got under way, the clarity started to suffer. I don't know if the amp was struggling to keep up, the Rega floorstanding speakers were too insensitive, or if the room was overloading, but as the track got louder with more instruments, the music became murkier.

OTOH, my experience with the Onkyo is very encouraging. it can produce up to 80 amps of current for instantaneous peaks, so the amp sounds clearer and louder than you would expect of a 100 wpc amp. I have it paired with some 91 dB efficient speakers located in a cathedral-ceilinged open architecture living room/hall/dining area, and it does the kinds of music you like very well. I also listen to a lot of acoustic jazz and classical and like the match very much.

I bought the amp specifically to flesh out an upgrade to an LP-based signal chain, but I've also found that this amp can bring a breathtaking element to digital sources as well. When I played "Steal Away," an acoustic collaboration of Hank Jones and Charlie Haden doing spirituals and hymns, I heard a realistic (not electronic or edgy-sounding) articulation I'd never heard before. The way this amp sorted out the bass from Jones' left-hand piano figures was mesmerizing. I also have an iPod Touch loaded with ALC-encoded albums and it pairs exceptionally well with the Onkyo for musicality and clarity.

The Onkyo brings frequency extension, dynamics, liquidity, speed, and clarity--without losing musicality--to a degree I'd never heard in a sub-$1.5K integrated before. After a 100-hour break-in, that is.