Time to switch amps. Depending in your budget, think about integrateds that will suit your speaker efficiency. What is the budget? This is the most important question.
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I am definitely looking for a new amp. At the same time, I may consider a speaker change. I have two systems; one in the living room and one upstairs in the office. The living room consists of:
NAD 1600 pre
Adcom 700 CD
SAE 502 Amp
Infinity Overture 2
Office sytem was just built consisting of the following inherited components:
McIntosh 32 Pre
Denon 670 CD
McIntosh 2105 Amp
Infinity bookshelf speakers - unknown model
McIntosh 74 tuner - not yet connected as my source material is primarily CD
So, while I am addressing the malfunctioning SAE amp issue I am also considering moving the larger Infinitys up to the office. My wife is concerned about footprint size and overall appearance. She does not object to the notion of a set of Magnepans but we have not yet audtioned them.
I would like to keep the new amp between $750 and $1,000. No set budget for replacement speakers but probably $1,500 or less.
Further comments and suggestions are welcome
McCormack DNA 0.5.....less than 1K. Excellent drive and performance. In terms of integrated, there are very tempting choices at that price range, models from MF, Creek, but the perennial popular seems to be the Audio Refinement Complete for about $600 used or $1000 new. Another flat amp that is an old timer, but excellent nevertheless is the PA-7, the first version, which came out in 1988> a Nakamichi amp, heavy runs heavily into class A, about 200 watts based on a original Nelson Pass Design.
As the speaker is concern, what sort of set up are you looking for? If it is planar, you need a bear of an amp. If you can stretch it, you can get a DNA 225 for about 1.5 K used, world class sound and the power to drive almost anything. If you still want to keep the speakers around, I do not think they are necessarily dated. The SAE has never given the speaker much of a justice, in the way it can possibly sound. That is my take.
Another dynamic speaker recommendation would be a pair of Gershmans, a Canadian manufacturer that makes excellent cabinets. Their lowest priced monitor, the X-1, which by the way I imported from Canada when they were reviewed by Soundstage cost about $900 in Canada, if you buy in the US, about $1300-1400. Excellent sound, with a lovely fullness that does not mask detail. The X-1s have an accompanying subwoofer pair, that act as pedestals, they called the SW-1s....this cost USR about $1800? Both combined are outstanding for both music and HT duties. If you can import, they are sooo much more affordable.
Another great, I mean GREAT monitor speaker is the ProAc SC-1s that are small, cute, but the drivers are very well matched, high quality....will give you a full sound, around 1.2 K used, 2K new
Depending of how you approach it, whatever you decide to do will have repercussions for years to come.
I began with high power, high current, heavy amps, driving dynamic loudspeakers, I have both Gershman set up....very lovely the sound I got from them paired up with first the Nakamichi PA-7s (year 2000), then with Sonic Frontiers Power 2 amps (year 2001) then with the DNA 225 (year 2002-03) and also a pair of hybrid Blue Circle BC-2s in the meantime...but, back in September, I plugged my 300B amp (9 watts per channel) to run a pair of fullrange drivers in horn loaded cabinets. I loved this set up and the sound. Then, about 2 months ago, I got a 47 Labs Integrated Shigaraki amp with just 20 watts/channel. In my life swapping amps here and there, I have never heard such finesse and drive as from this integrated set up! I got limited to 3 source inputs, but it did not matter, the sound had all the power and volume of my previous set up in a compact package. To complete the lows, I bought a powered sub with a 15" driver and now, the sound is fullrange......
There are many ways of achieving the same sound, either by pairing inefficient speakers with large, powerful amps or pairing very efficient speakers with smaller, but more refined sounding amps. I still have my inefficient set up around, I love to keep that around to swap back and forth, when I feel like a change.
PS: Now, I replaced my integrated 47 Labs amp with a pair of battery powered preamp+amp combination from Final Laboratories. Now, I halved the power again....now just 10 watts, but what a glorious and grainfree 10 watts.
This amp had been uplugged for two weeks while the office was being completed and the Mac components moved from living room to office. The SAE amp sat nestled on the bed in the guest room unplugged and lonely.
That said, after being plugged in and on "stand-by" for a week, the static/buzzing heard in one channel seems to have gone away. The last two listening sessions have been pleasant. A bit clinical compared to the office system upstairs, but pleasant.
I have no idea what happened and if it is a temporary or permanent phenomenon. I am interested in your opinions.