I have had good luck with Rega and Mcintosh on my Merlins and Missions.Good luck,Bob
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Former Amati Homage owner. I like tubes on Amati, so I will look for at least some tubes in the pre amp section of your next integrated. Musical Fidelity Trivista, BAT VK-300SE, and larger Pathos come to mind. my all time favorite amp on the Amati is BAT 75SE with 6H30 tubes, so you should seriously consider BAT integrated if it retains most of the BAT sound.
There are so many great integrateds now that it will come down to what makes the Amatis sound their best to you. Home auditions are next to impossible in the used market but that would be the ideal situation. Your recommendations are all over the place. With $5k+ I would have to at least consider companies that specialize in integrateds like Accuphase, and Luxman.
I did an extensive search to find a best integrated so I could build a system that was minimal in footprint but no compromise in sound. I did audition the ASR 4 box, and more, but bought the APL-Hifi UA-S1 which is the best amp I have heard including many more expensive pre/amp combos.
Its dead quiet and very musical. It just presents the music in a very effortless and natural way. My search for amps has come to an end.
Luxman! I own the L590A that runs Class A but you can get into the lowest priced Luxman new at $3500. Everyone that has laid their hands on these integrateds to review them has just loved them. The latest Stereophile has a brief mention of the $3500 model and the reviewer just sings the praises. And the meters...just love having meters again.
For your budget, there are some great options. CJ CA200...I have heard the 350amp and it was a musical amp (not quite the purity of tone of a good tube) but good. Depends on your front-end and your own ears.
If you are persistent, Gryphon have some pretty incredible integrateds that you might in your range. I currently run my strads with the Gryphon Antileon and am very pleased. It replaced a CJ tube amp which was a wonderful amp for 9 years. The gryphon just bettered its purity of tone and added an unbelievable level of dynamics and power, the true limit of which, I have not yet found. Hope this helps. Good luck and enjoy the search!
There are so many to choose from. You will have to analyze your style of listening and what additional touchpoints you need for your choice.
More power can drive difficult speaker loads. Sometimes you want to be able to crank up the volume and still have a relaxed, open sound. Do you want the Int. amp to be a visual centerpiece in your room? Do you want it to be noticeable? Will you need a remote (I couldn't live without one). Does heat need to be considered (tubes are hot).
For my ears I have heard great sound from the Pass integrated amp and the BAT int. amp. I don't know the sound of the Accuphase or the MBL but I know their other products and would consider those. I owned a Plinius int. amp and it did nothing for me; the sound was clinical, almost dead. I also curently am listening to a KRell EVO 402 amp and loving it but the Krell 400xi int. amp I owned for work was also not musical to my ears.
just my two cents.
I'm not sure you could get one for the kind of budget allocated here but if you could it would certainly be a great contender. I recently auditioned the Gryphon and i really liked it. See http://www.audioenz.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?t=7956
for my experience.
Thank you so much for this variety of suggestions. Nothing is ever easy, is it? But that is part of the fun here.
BTW, that was SOME review Kiwi! Well done.
The Pass and Luxman recos have me most interested. I'm "nervous" about Class D (despite some strong protestations from the Rowland folk) and have to try and go audition them soon.
I'll end by again thanking you all for your suggestions. I will follow up once I've made a purchase and listened to it some.
My search is over. I bought an amp that was not recommended on this thread but was in a different thread. (Thanks Frankpiet). I bought a Vitus SS-010 "integrated" (it can also be used as a power amp) and I remain absolutely stunned by it. I have been listening for about 10 days and I have never heard better, more involving, music in my home.
True. I did not manage to stay under that target! :)
I listened to the Pass (which was very good) but not the Jeff Rowland. I also listened to Rega (just ok) but I was not able to listen to the Luxman or the Gryphon. But this Vitus - my vocabulary is not good enough to describe it. All I'll say is that I'm really happy.
I concur with the positive feedback on Vitus. I know very, very experienced people whose ears i trust and can calibrate to my own having shared listening and auditioning sessions with them. Vitus is one pretty incredible amp. Built like a supertank with off the charts specs and (owning a Gryphon myself, another Danish design), i am confident based on my friends opinion of Vitus it is a pretty incredible sound.
I own the SF strads and have a Zanden DAC, so our sounds are probably fairly similar in that respect, having heard the Electrocompaniet which is an excellent and natural player. congrats...must be incredible sound! enjoy!
I recently auditioned Verity Audio Finn speakers driven by a Luxman 20 wpc pure class A amplifier. Very musically satisfying indeed! Even at 20wpc, the amplifier was barely breaking a sweat.
The fit and finish and interior construction of these Luxman components is impecable.
Luxman makes 4 different SS integrated amps, 2 of which are pure Class A:
Luxman L-550AII (20 wpc)
Luxman L-590AII (30 wpc).