Opinions on these budget integrateds?


Searching to replace a NAD C352 with a new/used integrated that will provide a meaningful sonic upgrade.  Looking at options around $2,000 or below, and I don't want it to be a sideways move.

I'm keeping my old Allison One speakers, at least for now, as they work very well with my particular room conditions. 

Would love to get opinions on the options below.  I'm looking for ease and musicality, but the ability to articulate dense music is also important. No internal DAC required.

-Belles Aria - very intrigued

-Quicksilver Integrated - have never had tubes before but am open to them

-Primaluna Prologue or Dialogue - might be over my budget

-Audio Note OTO SE - one day!  but probably cannot power the Allisons

-Sugden a21 SE

-Yamaha A-S2100 

-Parasound Halo

-Unison Research Unico Integrated

-Exposure 2010 S2

-Primare i22

Any thoughts at all are welcome, and I haven't heard ANY of these!  Thanks in advance. 


sforrey
I’ve owned those speakers many moon ago. Don’t bother with any low powered tube amps with them. Those acoustic suspension woofers need as many watts as you can afford to give ’em
If you can stretch the budget,  look at the kinki ex-m1 integrated at $2200. Read the threads here on audiogon. 
Thanks Yogiboy, I was afraid of that.  On the other hand someone in the Eico HF-81 thread remembers that little amp doing well with AR-2s back in the day.  Maybe they were more efficient though. 

mdoldda1 - I did read through the Kinki thread with interest.  I'm a little wary of "new" brands, but it does sound like a great amp.
Another option is use the Nad as a preamp and get a nice power amp. This Van Alstine would drive those Allisons real nice!
https://avahifi.com/collections/solid-state-power-amplifiers/products/vision-set-400-amplifier
Or this Odyssey!
www.odysseyaudio.com/products-stratos-stereo.html

Of the ones in your list the Belles Aria but a third recommendation for the Kinki. 
Thanks all.  A lot of strong votes for the Kinki. 
Any love for the Unico hybrid?  

i have a unison Nuovo and the kinki destroys it.
You might put Pathos Classic One MKIII on your short list.
I have experience with both the Unison Research Unico(original) and the Belles Aria.  I've used the Unico for 15 trouble free years, and still use it in a second system.  I recently switched to the Aria when I found a good deal on a used one.  I would consider them co-equals with slightly different presentations.  The Aria has a slightly more forward presentation and is a bit livelier than the Unico.  Of course, you can roll the tubes in the Unico to achieve a different sound.  Obviously, I like them both.  The Aria is in your budget new, and both should be within you budget used.
I have an older Unison Unico (1st generation from 2003) that I love so much, rather than replacing it I recently had it modded by Underwood HiFi. It is still going strong!  Never heard the Kinki, but hard to believe it destroyed the Nuovo.  See the StereoMoJo review of the Nuovo: http://www.stereomojo.com/Unison%20Research%20Unico%20Nuovo%20Review/UnisonResearchUnicoNuovoReview.... 

Because of the tubed front end, I suggest doing some tube rolling.  I get fantastic sound using Seimens 12au7 tubes.  Incredibly musical!!  Some reviews of the Unico:

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue61/unison.htm
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/unisonresearch/unico.html
https://www.stereophile.com/content/unison-research-unico-primo-integrated-amplifier-page-2

Used they seem to run in the $900 - $1,400 range.

Best wishes for whatever you select.
Parasound Halo Integrated.  160wpc, 45 amps of current. 
I wrote the review on the nuovo for stereo mojo - Marvin Bolden
Writing a review on the kinki where I compare it to the unison, mastersound compact 845, and the Ayre 6v-xe/demail land ultraververve 3 combo.
Kinki EX-M1, for sure.
As much as I loved my Marantz Reference PM-15S2b, the Kinki bettered it in every aspect.

Also, nice to know who you are, @mboldda1.👍

All the best,
Nonoise
Vote early and often: I vote for the Kinki but only if the U.S. seller will give you return privileges. 
Post removed 
I guess that settles it. 🙀. Just call me Brent. 👀
Thanks everyone, lots of food for thought.

This might sound odd, but I have a strong preference for very simple user interfaces (not least because a non-technical spouse uses the system as well).  I like knobs and buttons that only do one thing, and I’m slightly worried about the Kinki’s multi function knobs... is this silly?

If I narrow down to Belles, Unison, or Parasound, would any of these three be a noticeable upgrade from my NAD?  
As far as multi-function knobs, you may never use them as there is the remote.  The only time I might use the knob on the amp is when I first turn on all my equipment.   In today's world you may be hard pressed to find equipment with dedicated knobs for each function. 
Why would you let your spouse touch the system???  No good can come of that.  Plus, you have to deal with her interface and that's about as complicated as it gets.  What goes around...
@sforrey

You mentioned that you’re looking for an analog integrated amp (no DAC) but on your lists above you included the Parasound Halo Integrated and the Parasound Halo has DAC.
I will add the Rega Elicit-R analog integrated amp to your list but have no idea how it will sound on your Allison One speakers as I’ve never heard your speakers before. However I have heard the Rega Elicit-R on couple different speakers before and it was very musical especially considering its modest asking price of $3k brand new. I’m aware that your budget is only $2k but the Rega Elicit-R can be had around $2k used if you can find one in an after market like here on Audiogon.
I had a Parasound Hint paired with magnepan 1.7 and the sound was magical. You get everything you need even mm and mc phono pre built in with lots of power.
Moon integrated in your price point. Very good product. 
I question someone saying the halo can deliver 45amps. At 160w that's a voltage of only 3.5volts not to mention the only way to draw that is on extremely short durations (think mili seconds) Basically what the power supply caps can deliver.  your power line to the wall socket is only good for 15amps at 115v (really less as the breakers will pop before 15amp as they have a built in safety factor) so that's really not a useful spec and somewhat misleading. 
He is looking for an integrated amp not a power amp.
Rogue Sphinx, only half your budget
I moved from Parasound Halo P7/A21 to Nad C375/Bee(long story), then back to Parasound.  Nad makes nice gear for the price, but the Parasound Halo stuff is superior.  But if one has PSB speakers, Nad may be all you need as they are designed for each other by the owner group of companies.

Don't get hung up on the max current spec, or any spec for that matter.  Sound trumps all and you simply can't tell how a certain piece of gear will sound in your system and in your room.  


Thanks again all.

Rethinking this a bit and am eliminating full tube integrateds as an option, at least with this setup and these speakers. 

Shortlist now is new Belles Aria, or used or refurb Yamaha A-S2100.  

Having a decent headphone out is appealing, and both of these get good marks.  

The 6moons review of the Yamaha is hugely intriguing... might have to pull the trigger on this one!
stereo52,227 posts09-25-2018 1:26amParasound Halo Integrated.  160wpc, 45 amps of current.
+1 for this, and when you get a new pair of speakers, even if they are very hard to drive this will do the job better that any of the others, and you get a bonus dac in it as well.

Cheers George
...sorry to see you've left out the rig I have and luv: a JOB INT. AMP

BUY DIRECT BRAND NEW for about $1700 and if you've got extra $$$ , buy the SWEETCORD POWER CORD for it.

Break it in for 300 hours continuous, and be amazed as the sound matures. Plenty of power, options to go with interconnects or flip a switch and use an optical cord to access the DAC in the INT.

Great value in a well-designed product.

Good Luck in your search...
... Another option, which I have in my 2nd system with JBL L25 PRIMA speakers, is a MONOPRICE INTERGRATED AMP for about $150 or so (go with the 50 watt unit), use a good power cord ( I'm using a PS AUDIO SC STATEMENT) and use the $$$ for more music...
I had a PrimaLuna for a while and it is a fantstic piece of equipment. Great performance at a reasonable price.
@justvintagesfuff, with respect, Monoprice is terrible, low quality junk and would be a large step backwards for the OP. Their products don’t belong in any true hifi system. 
I have heard the Parasound Halo many times paired with all sorts of different speakers (at a local High-End store;Quest For Sound), It has always sounded very good! The Prima Luna integrateds have "blown me away" when paired with newer Maggies (.7i and 1.7i).
I have heard the Parasound Halo many times paired with all sorts of different speakers (at a local High-End store;Quest For Sound), It has always sounded very good! The Prima Luna integrateds have "blown me away" when paired with newer Maggies (.7i and 1.7i). I also second the Rogue Sphinx recommendation!
I have the Yamaha AS2100 if you can deal with all the rhetoric from people who have never heard it, but are stuck on the Brand, it is an excellent integrated amp.
I’ve recently added the Parasound halo hint 6 to my secondary system and have been very happy with it. It’s a bit over your budget and has a DAC. But, it’s been mentioned a couple times  so I figured I give my impression. One of the big reasons I purchased it, is because of the integrated analog subwoofer (via XLR connection) option. 
I can only comment on the Primare i22 that I have had for about 6 years. It was a pretty good amp maybe lacking a little 
On the low end. Main issue I had was it just stopped working. And I could find no one that would even look at it. The only sources for repair is on the west coast. I eventually decided to pony up and buy new making sure first that repairs were available within a reasonable distance. I did audition the Halo and think it was better than the Primare. Speakers were Focal Aria 948
Forgot about JOB, thanks for the reminder.  

@chasda - any QC issues with your Yamaha?  

Ok, new shortlist, focusing on power, a decent headphone stage, warmth, and ease of servicing should the need arise (ie, steering away from boutique makers):

-Parasound Halo
-Yamaha a-s2100
-Vincent SV237 (or used 236)

Lots of love for the Parasound our there!  I know this is shallow, but I wish it weren’t so ugly!  It looks like my NAD, not a piece that’s four times the price.  Ah well, you can’t have it all on a budget. 

I don't know these other amps, but I will say this.  Don't write off the Primaluna Amps as "low power tubes".  They have superb transformers, and they deliver the goods.  I used my Dialogue to run B&W 803s, which are notoriously power hungry, and have a wide range of impedance.  The Dialogue handled them easily.   Now I'm running Revel F228 with a Dialogue and they sound fantastic.

You could get a used Dialogue in your price range... although they are rarely for sale.  There's a reason they are hard to find.  People buy them and keep them.
Not sure why the Hegel H160 hasn't been mentioned here yet, but I believe it ticks all your boxes and gets stellar reviews.  Here's one in your price range...

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649455519-hegel-h160-integrated-amplifierdac/

Since you're considering the Halo, you may find this review interesting as it compares it directly to the H160...

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0915/Hegel_H160_Review.htm

There are also reviews from Stereophile and The Absolute Sound if you're interested in other opinions.  Sorry if I'm just making this harder, but best of luck in whatever you decide. 
I've only heard the Belles Aria and, briefly, the PL Dialogue. The Dialogue impressed me; but I don't recall the speakers. I would have bought the Aria if it had balance control. My ears are not equal. I listened extensively with Vandersteen Treo CTs and ProAc monitors. It was really nice. I wound up with the Primare I32 and couldn't be happier. Sounds better to me than the Aria or it's big sister, the Soloist. 
Quality is probably the least issue with the Yamaha. The headphone stage is excellent. It is a rock, but if there is an issue it would be power. It's 90 wpc @ 8ohm can make your speaker choice an issue. My current speakers are inadequate, and I'm shopping for what will give me the best performance at that power level. 
There have been threads on here about Yamaha integrated's needing to be sent back straight out of the box.  Fortunately, bought through a real store rather than a dubious website.  Personally, I would have thought "boutique" manufacturers were a better bet for back-up.  Would you rather deal with a caring person in Pittsford, New York or a large, multi-national, Japan-based corporation?
@twoleftears You’ve got a point there.  I’ve just been burned in my other life as a musician by highly-regarded craftsmen who flake out on orders... I’m still owed some custom mouthpiece work (I’m a trumpet player) by a brilliant craftsman who’s equally a genius at avoiding phone calls and emails.  I think even a behemoth like Yamaha would be easier to deal with.  But who knows?  

@chasda - thanks for the data point.  My current amp has less power so I think the Yam would be ok on that front. 


@sforrey David Belles is definitely not like the craftsman you mention.  Talk to Johnny Rutan at Audio Connection if you need more of a recommendation.
I hate to see people pay more than they have to and for stuff that's not as good as what can be had cheaper. But it's not my $.
@secretguy -  do tell!  I hate overspending too, so what do you recommend?