Receiver vs Separates Part Deux Newbie edition

I'm looking to put together a budget "audiophile" system and was wondering about amps/int.amps vs receivers... (if I end up with an amp and not an int.amp, I plan to connect it directly to source for the time being) I'm looking at amps like:

1. Adcom GFA-535 (used)
2. B&K ST140 (used)
3. NAD 902 (used)
4. Rotel RA-01 or -02 (used)
5. NAD C320BEE (used)
6. AudioSource AMP TWO (new)

Nothing over $300.

The receivers I'm looking at are:
1. Denons (an Audiogoner gave a great review to the Denon DRA395)
2. Yamahas
3. Harmon Kardons

I hear good things about these and that they are really pretty good even when compared to separates. I've only read a somewhat in-depth review of the Denon DRA395 (at and based on the review it sounds pretty good, especially for the price. But I'd like more feedback about separates vs receivers for $400 or under. Is there really a significant difference going with one of the separates above vs a good receiver?

I'm planning to hook this up to an HTPC, and would eventually want to switch from analog connections from my soundcard to the optical-out from my soundcard.

I'm looking at speakers like Paradigm Atoms, Polk RT-25i (used), Epos ELS 3, PSB Image 2B, and JM Lab Chorus 705.

Thanks in advance for feedback.
you have brought up a number of interesting topics here.

1. If you go seperates, you will also have to shell out $ for IC's and with a $300-400 budget, that will use up @10% at a minimum.

2. I may be wrong, but if you just have a source and an amplifier, what will you use for volume control...I am a newbie myself, but from whay I understand, most cd players with volume controls are very expensive such as Audio Aero, Wadia (I think) and some others...I myself have wished for a combi player with volume control that fell within my price range.

I myself would recommend an integrated amplifier and try to stretch the budget just a'll be glad you did. Some of the budget integrateds that have received good reviews here are Creek (all models, but the 4330 is more in your range) Classe integrateds can be had for fairly cheap...they were recommended to me when I asked for advice (I was using a NAD 7220PE receiver at the time)...however...I wanted peace of mind after my used purchase and not have to shell out $$ for repairs of an out of warranty/non transferrable warranty so I went with the Bryston B60 that has a 20 year transferrable warranty...these can be had without remote in the 700 range...a couple hundred more for the remote versions...and with probably 15 years or so of warranty remaining...that beats most new products.'ll always want to upgrade, so I think that getting something just a bit better at a bottomed out used price, you will lose fewer $ in the long haul.

just my 2c

For your proposed configuration, you have another option, and that is going with a "digital" amp. Considering your desire to ultimately go with the optical output of your soundcard, you might want to look into the Panasonic Digital receivers like the SA-XR45 or its replacement. The street price is under $300 and it really sounds fantastic, especially when feed a direct digital source where it does not need to perform an analog to digital conversion. I've owned one and it does sound very good, especially for the price. If you intend to use the Panny in a 2-channel only setup, get speakers that are bi-wire capable (4 connectors) and you can bi-amp them using the Panny's "party mode". Very nice!

Another much cheaper choice is a Griffin Powerwave. It is a 20 watt/channel digital amp that accepts either rca analog input or USB input directly from your computer. It can be had for $100 and it sounds pretty good. It is tiny (the size of 2 decks of playing cards), but will play plenty loud with efficient speakers. I would suggest speakers of 90-92db eff or greater.

For lots of information on both of these "new age" products, check out and search through the "digital" forum and the manufactures forum for BoulderCable. Both of these units are modification candidates and Wayne at Boulder has worked with both.

Just another way to potentially go...........