NAD 3020 is legendary.........for 1978. Still a good piece for the MET 7s. You need more and better power. Not the Denon. Here is a list of integrated amps that will bring life to the Vandersteens:
Audio Refinement Alpha
You did not give a price range, so I'm all over the board. Good luck.
Thanks so much for the response.
I listen mostly to streamed digital.
Pandora and iTunes and ripped cd's on a media server.
I listen to all types of music but my favorites are
jazz. My favorites are Nora Jones and Linda Ronstadt.
My budget is as low as I can go to get good sound.
Ideally I'd like to get an integrated amp or a receiver.
I don't mind buying used or older equipment.
I will be using the Vandys with a subwoofer.
I know that the NAD is a warm sounding amp and together with the 1C (which I think is warm sounding as well), I am getting a boxy sound that I am right now disappointed with.
What if I use the NAD as a preamp and just get a power amp?
If you are on a tight budget look for a higher powered integrated from the late 1980s to early 1990s. A Denon in the 100 watt range is a good choice. Before you purchase make sure the amp has never needed repairs and that it has never been modified. You can expect to pay between $200-$300 for a nice one.
Dosen't sound like much of an upgrade. If your on a very tight budget you might be better off waiting till a better time.
Thanks for all of your comments.
@Tmsorosk - What do you think I need to drive the 1c's properly?
It's clear that I don't have the equipment do drive them properly now. Do I need to put in another $1000 or so?
..of the 2 I vote for NAD
I would look for a higher powered NAD integrated....I have tried the high end Denons and Onkyos.....very thin/clean sound...preamp section doesn't touch robust NAD sound. Oh just a thought..if the 3020 has the preamp out jacks.....do what ever it takes to get a Hafler power amp..later models...with jfet driver stage...like XL280. Problem solved.
I would agree that you need more and better power. I had a pair of the Vandersteen 1b and they weren't happy with the NAD 7125. The Harman Kardon 655vxi or the Luxman Rx 103 drove them very nicely. The 655vxi was 90 watts and the Luxman was 70 or 90 watts. Much better all around over the NAD. A McIntosh 4100 would also work well, another option would be to run a power amp using the NAD as a pre-amp (if it has pre-amp outs).
@Ths364 - so how did the sound change when you changed amps?
I am toying with the idea of using the preamp of the NAD and just getting a quality 100 WPC amp of some type.
i really like that 3020, too--assuming you don't want to spend big bucks on a major upgrade, i think your idea to add a power amp is sound. maybe something like an 80s hk or nad, which you can find for a couple hundo. i'd also look at adding a dac to your server; lots of recs on these pages for whatever your budget. good luck.
If you like the sound of your NAD, get an updated, higher output version. NAD has very nice amps that can easily drive your Vandies.
I have some experience with Vandersteens, although not any of their Ones. Still, I have a few suggestions.
First I would contact Vandersteen and ask them for minimum recommended amp size based on your room, music, and typical listening levels. Mention your intention to utilize a subwoofer since that can lower the power need from your primary amp. Keep in mind you can usually get by with a lower rated tube amp than SS.
Second, your budget of "as low as I can go to get good sound" is not terribly helpful. Possibly the best you could do for the least money would be to keep your 3020 as a preamp and add an amp such as a Dyna ST-70. That might need new tubes and caps but should cost less than $500. If you are lucky you might find one someone already updated and save on that.
For good sound with Vandy speakers there are some traditional recommendations - Audio Research, c-j, MusicReference, and Quicksilver. Smaller versions of these amps will still cost more than a ST-70 but should be more rewarding.
I'm focusing on tube amps since you mentioned wanting spacious sound.
Thx all! I would love to have a tubed amp but I am thinking it's not practical for me. I have small kids and I can imagine missing tubes.
Any recommendations on a solid state amp?
Regarding budget: $500 max
I friend owns an Exposure 2010S , paid $1400 new, don't think I've heard anything as good under five large, tube or solid state.
I used to like Nad, but there last few generations of gear seem a bit lifeless.
I found a used Hafler SE120 and SE240.
Do those sound any good?
Absolutley!! If at all possible go for the SE240 120 watts per channel. This is a scaled down version of the XL280. Fewer mosfets in output stage (4 per channel) and simpler/small driver boards, but it has the same JFet input circuit. I have listened to hundreds of transitor and tube amps over the years and I can not think of a better amp for the dollar.....typical Hafler. And for some fun try to find an old Dynaco ST70 at a garage sale and have some fun compairing.... Larry
Larry, great minds think alike -- ST-70.
Hifibear, your objection to tubes isn't clear, "imagine missing tubes". You suspect your kids might steal them? Many Dyna ST-70s can be found with original cage which is screwed on to the chassis. If the little buggers are that persistent, nothing is likely to stop them from messing up something.
Nothing against the SE240, I never heard one. I just know that near magic can be found with a decent tube amp and Vandy speakers.
Pryso...I know. I'm a tube guy also... it is amazing how a good tube amp can "open up" speakers..especially with multiple drivers and complicated crossovers....and how a 30 watt tube amp can sound as "big" as a 200 watt transistor sometimes. FYI I just had a ARC ST70-C modified/updated per Bill Johnson's 2004 memo circulating on the internet. I was nervous about touching this amp because it sounded great anyway. But WOW! the magic in the midrange is more transparent and both the top end and bottom end have been extended. I own several expensive tube amps and I am looking at this little old box and wondering why would I hook anything else up?? This amp easily plays my DQ10s and Infinity RSIIbs . . . 30 watts are you kidding me??? I've had Threshold and Sumo class A amps die on these speakers?? go figure. I think I will go fire him up...again
Pryso and Hifibear, sorry getting long winded. FYI the last versions of the Hafler amps with Jfet driver/Mosfet output play (not sound) my hard to drive speakers like a tube amp. When the absolute sound reviewed the XL280 the reviewer loved it but as usual HP POO POOed it. I loved David Hafler's response..talk about speaking from authority about designs. He said his amp would compete with any $2000+ amp and I agree. The only transistor amp that I have heard that compares is the BAT amps...few more dollars. The Haflers do very in "whiteish" sound in the midrange that HP heard..but let them break in and warm up it goes away. One Tech told me that the class A point varied in the Haflers. If they run hot...good sound.
Thanks all. You have all been a great help. I'm gonna look for a garage sale st70. Wish me luck.
Hifibear, hopefully a good decision, but I must add some cautions.
Any ST-70 will be old. I built one from a kit in the late '60s as the foundation
for my first stereo system. It remained a current product up until the mid-
'70s I believe. Then a subsequent owner of Dynaco later offered a Mk 2
version for awhile. But they sold in huge numbers and a good many remain in
use. The first thing will be to check the tubes. Then, be sure the amp can be
biases correctly. If you suspect the amp you find is original it would be well
to at least replace the capacitors.
One reviewer suggested that ANY amp with EL-34 output tubes would likely
be pleasing and musical (assuming it was working properly). The ST-70
clearly stood the test of time since it remains popular 50 years later. But
while it may be one of the best amps for the money, no one should expect it
to be one of the best amps. Various brands mentioned in my first response
will outperform it, but they will all cost more.
Because the ST-70 was and remains so popular, many modifications are
available. The ARC ST70-C for example was a version designed by William Z.
Johnson, the man behind Audio Research. But those are not too common. I
think a clean, stock ST-70 example can be found for $200-400, depending
on your luck. One that has been modified by a reputable company/designer
may cost $500-800. Start with Audiogon ads.
If any of this sounds intimidating, you may be best to fall back on the Hafler
recommendation. If not, good luck to you.
I second the recommendation to try a used Hafler power amp - my choice would be the DH-220. I got mine on eBay for $150 about four years ago - they seem a bit more now, about $200, but still well worth it. I'm sure an ST-70 would sound very good, but it will be more money, and very possibly much more hassle. Same designer, btw.
My NAD 3020 is still going strong after 30 years, and powers my wife's kitchen system now.