Add the Rogue Audio Sphinx V2 to your list. New for under $1500.
denman and twoleftears, thanks for the Belles suggestion. i will talk to Audio Connection about the matchup with my Vandys. Also, yogiboy thanks for Sphinx suggestion. I am a little worried that 100wpc may not be enough to bring out the full potential of the Vandersteens. Anyone have experience with these speakers and good amp pairings? I don't really listen loud (hardly ever up to 100db peaks) but am more interested in having them sound realy clean and unrestrained at normal listening levels in the 82-90 db range.
I just visited Audioconnection yesterday.
Johnny was playing the VLR’s with the Belles Integrated and a Sub 3 subwoofer.
It sounded mighty fine, to me.
I owned the 3a sigs before moving to the Treo’s. Though not necessary, adding the 2wq subs really fleshed them out-seamlessly.
Though the Belles is only 75wpc, I think it should work- though you may not get earth shattering volumes.
If you do go for the Belles, I would try to add some subs at a later date.
Using the Vandy subs will help your amp perform by removing all the power consuming lower frequency demands.
You should be able to get a used Parasound Integrated. 160wpc @8ohms, 240wpc @4ohms. Seeing as they now have a newer model out, you should be able to pick up a good one for $1500.00 or so. It also has a crossover built in, in case you want to get subs at some point. Built in DAC is the ESS 9018. Probably the best sound and features for the money.
... thinking outside the box because of my experience: Your origional list is amazing and all are possible BUT I'D RECOMMEND you purchase a VINTAGE MCINTOSH MA-2105 Power Amp: can run direct,without a preamp, has adequate power (105w/c), dual volume controls, dual meters/kool blue glow, and it is a piece of audio history (McIntosh's first SS amp). Made a bad judgement in selling the one I had - saving up for another (others have realized how good this piece is - going for almost double what I sold mine for 10 years ago...) ...
I would vote for the Musical Fidelity as I know it pairs well with Vandersteen speakers. If you can find an M6 at that price, excellent as they tend to sell used for a bit above that. The M5 at 150w would work and I am sure that you could get to your target price either via haggling or trade in on new gear.
Full disclosure, I am an MF dealer and am a bit biased. That being said, a user out on stereophile has had an MF M6PRX amp paired with the Treo's and has raved about it for years. MF and Vandersteen work very well together.
Thanks to everyone for the good advice. I will definitely consider finding a pair of 3a sigs as part of the upgrade path that will yield the highest impact. Also, will try and find a used Belles to consider. As background- I lost out on a bid for a Cronus Magnum to try and was considering a Mcintosh Mc2120 but decided i would rather find something newer in my price range. I borrowed a friends Bryston 2b to see how it compared to my NAD 2100 and couldn't really tell a difference. Also i do have a SVS SB-1000 hooked up which definitely enhances the base performance-so any suggestinos for integrateds that can take advantage of that are appreciated.
Lastly, does anyone think i should keep the adcom preamp in the system and just get a better amp? Or will it simply limit the performance of whatever amp i hook it up with?
I’ve used Belles amps with Vandy 1s through quatros, including 3a sigs and think they are a great match as others have stated. I have not heard the aria integrated but have read it is special with Vandersteens. They show up used in your price range. Belles are not flashy, but they sound right. I’ve also tried a number of preamps and they make a huge difference to the sound. I have not heard your adcom, but imagine a newer high quality integrated would outperform an amp mated with your preamp. Ayre and Aesthetix are the other matches you’ve likely read about, but they will be at a higher price point than you are targeting.
I've owned 2 of the integrateds you are looking at. First was the Vincent. I liked it but it had problems with the tubes. German design, chinese build. Sound was very pleasing. Laid back presentation. The music traveled to you it didn't attack. Had tone controls which is rare. So after that I traded to the MF 6si....not 6i. Overall I like the MF better. This thing is a beast and will handle anything you throw at it. As you raise the volume you feel it building power without loss off nuance. You can play a great classical piece and let flow and right after that smack on some hard rock and it will give you the meat and potatoes without sacrificing detail. Lastly, I've heard the rogue as well that is a fine choice too. good luck.
One reason the Belles matches up well with Vandersteens is because of the complementary “voicing” of the amp and speakers. It’s one key to any system’s success. Obviously this “match” is well known and well regarded in audio circles and should be at the top of your list. Used Arias go for around $1500 so be patient and pick one up when available. Good luck!
OP- if you don't do 3A sigs, then I would agree with others about getting Belles, Schiit, or MF. IMO you can't go wrong with any of them with Vandies. I also would recommend Vincent, because that's what I'm using with my 2Ce Sig IIs and it sounds wonderful, musical and relaxed. But, like the above stated, it is Chinese built...
I like just about everything David Belles has built (I believe he still hand assembles himself on at least some models). I used to use a Belles A (think he made less than 200 of those).
I would think that 100W would be fine to run your Vandies.(87 dB efficiency) unless you are a 'headbanger' that likes loud rock. And if you find the Belles for c. $1500 used (there aren't many for sale, people seem to hang onto them) you can try it and can always move it along if you find it doesn't suit you.
If you are interested in the Rogue Audio Sphinx, I am selling mine on Audiogon at this moment. It is the v1 model, but it might be a nice way to try it out with low risk. If you like it, then you spent about half your budget. If you don't like it, then you can resell for basically what you paid.