Possible Amp (or integrated) upgrade from Creek Evolution 100A


I’m looking for some opinions here. It’s so difficult to start a search by auditioning alone....so here goes.

I’m using a Creek Evolution 100A (Sequel Phono board and Ruby DAC) driving PSB Imagine T2 loudspeakers. I primarily listen to vinyl, but the remaining 30% is through a Bluesound Node 2 streamer using Tidal.

My turntable sounds fantastic to me. It’s a Roksan Radius MKII with a Ortofon 2M Black cartridge. When I put it up against Tidal hifi streaming, 44.1khz, files, it wins hands down. And, the Bluesound to the Creek DAC is no slouch. I think Stereophile’s review noted that the Creek Ruby DAC was super great for $600.

So all this leads me to think that I’d benefit most by putting more juice and watt stability during transient stuff to the PSBs Imagine T2s. I’m pretty happy with my current sound; I’d like to get more engaging listening at low levels. If I push the Creek, things sound more engaging and fun.  

My thoughts were:

1. Buy a power amp and use the Creek as a preamplifier for now, saving me from having to immediately get a pre and potentially a phono pre.

2. Buy another integrated amplifier and sell the Creek. I really do like the functionality, size, and most everything about the unit. I’ve upgraded it by popping in the DAC and phono board so I’d probably lose a bit of dough on it.
Under option 1, I was thinking of (a) NAD Masters Series M22, Musical Fidelity, Parasound Halo, Red Dragon Audio, or something else.

Under option 2, a Hegel H360 immediately came to mind.

Note: I also have a Creek 5350SE in restored condition that has a passive preamp. I could use that as well under option 1 above. And, the Bluesound does have a nice internal DAC that NAD uses in its nicer stuff, from what I recall.

Curious as to your thoughts! Thanks much!
jbhiller
A few thoughts:

1.  More power does not necessarily mean better sound at low volumes.  The issue might be caused more by the speakers than the amp.  Even the phono amp could be partly to blame.

2.  Using the Creek as a pre will probably do a disservice to the power amp that you buy and not let you really hear what it can do.  Generally the preamp of an integrated is not in the same league as a stand-alone preamp of a similar price.  Perhaps the Creek is an exception, though.

3.  There are a lot of good integrated amps in the range that you are looking, so it's difficult to give a recommendation without knowing a bit more about the size of your room and the measurements (as opposed to the published specs) of your speakers.

Just my two cents,Scott

I may be interested in your 100A if you do decide to sell.
Room size is 13'w by 23' l by 9'3" high.  I have wood floors and an area rug covering 11 x 19 of the room.