Shopping for an integrated, advice s'il vous plait.


Some time ago I decided to upgrade my stereo and spent virtually my entire budget on speakers (no regrets), tacking on a Harman HK3490 as an afterthought. Well, it recently bit the dust for no apparent reason. It was only $260 and gave me 5 years of almost daily service, so I'm not too mad. Unfortunately there's nothing comparable on the market at that price, adjusted for inflation. The closest thing I could find was the Yamaha A-S801, but it appears to have the same build quality as my previous receiver. I'm not sure I'm comfortable spending close to $1k on something with disposable quality, so I've been assessing my options within my budget ($1500 max). Looking for an analog integrated with quality components and construction that will last me at least 10 years. So far I've narrowed my options down to:

Yamaha a-s1000 (new)
or
Vintage i.e. Yamaha ca-2010, Sansui au-717, Pioneer sa-9500 ii etc. 

My only problem with vintage is that it seems to take many months of waiting before a deal comes up on the model you want. I see a fully recapped and restored au-717 recently went on eBay for less than $700. Probably not gonna find a deal like that in the next year, if ever. 

TL;DR Would like thy esteemed opinions to vet my purchase of a Yamaha a-s1000. 


unknoahble
What a coincidence, I was just listening to some Steely Dan on my Yamaha A-S1000/CD-S1000 combo.  Each time I fire up this rig I become more and more amazed how it just let's the music flow.  Dead quiet, punchy, very detailed.  Did I mention the build quality?  A hefty 48.5lbs of solid chunk.  

As much as I love the A-S1000, for $1500.00 you should be able to pick up an A-S2000.

Are you in the US?

Accessories4less has one left that's refurbished for $1399.99.

http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/yamas2000bl/yamaha-a-s2000-natural-sound-stereo-in...

Bill
Another option under $1500 new!
http://www.rogueaudio.com/Products_sphinx.htm
There are so many options for modern integrated amplifiers in your price range, why would you want a 40 year old Mass produced Japanese receiver?
Look here on Audiogon - within your price range currently for sale:
  • Canary Audio 608
  • Wyerd 4 Sound STI-1000
  • Jolida Fusion 3502S
  • Creek destiny
  • Krell KAV400ix
  • Anthem 225
  • Arcam A39
"There are so many options for modern integrated amplifiers in your price range, why would you want a 40 year old Mass produced Japanese receiver?
Look here on Audiogon - within your price range currently for sale:
Canary Audio 608
Wyerd 4 Sound STI-1000
Jolida Fusion 3502S
Creek destiny
Krell KAV400ix
Anthem 225
Arcam A39"

Are you kidding?

@donjr - why would I be kidding?
Any of these integrated amps will sound far better than the Sansui (or similar), and will most likely be far more reliable.
I've heard the most highly regarded vintage receivers, including TOTL Marantz, Sansui, Yamaha, Sony, and others.
Some of them sound very nice, they do have a distinct 'color', which you may like, but none of them I would consider as high-end.
I even owned a much treasured Sony VFet TAN-8550 which sounded really nice, but I never even considered using it in my main system.

-> All in my humble opinion of course. <-


How about this Marantz PM-15SI for $895? No affiliation with the seller, it looks like a great deal on an amp that's probably better than the Yamaha you're considering.
 https://www.audiogon.com/listings/solid-state-marantz-pm-15s1-reference-series-stereo-interated-ampl...
You might also consider the NAD C375BEE  or NAD C356BEE integrated amps

http://nadelectronics.com/products/hifi-amplifiers/C-375BEE-Integrated-Amplifier
Seek out a used Vincent sv 236 mk.
" How about this Marantz PM-15SI for $895? No affiliation with the seller, it looks like a great deal on an amp that's probably better than the Yamaha you're considering."

In no way downing that fine Marantz integrated amp you mentioned, but what makes it probably "better" than the Yamaha A-S1000/2000?

I am asking for multiple reasons including considering it for myself for another rig.

Bill

@ami
Ditto!!
I also agree with ami. The OP is looking for an integrated that will prove reliable for 10 years. Many good suggestions here. 

What speakers do you have? 


Another endorsement for ami and yogiboy. But I love my Rotel RX-1052, so maybe add the RA-1570 to the list? Also, the Musical Fidelity M3i. 

If I were in the market the first three I'd audition would be the Rogue, the Wyred4sound, and the Musical Fidelity because my budget is limited. I also heard a Prma Luna that sounded divine. I'd probably shop so long the gear would go out of production before I decided. But what fun! Like dating.

If you need a quick fix while you shop, there's a RX-1052 on eBay USA for $300. If you were happy with the HK, it will be a modest upgrade.


AU-717 if has enough power requirements for your room is great piece of gear and serviceable. It's tough to service and repair, but it's serviceable and often makes much more sense than modern units.
A Yamaha will definitely have a different house sound than the Harman, and will sound brighter.  I'd go with a Marantz or Nad integrated, since they are to the slightly warm side of neutral as is/was the Harman 3490.  The Marantz PM8005 has a phono section, and the Nad C356 or C375BEE can have either a dac or phono section installed.
I didn't realize this would be a referendum on Yamaha I have no particular issues with the brand nor have I heard the AS-1000.  I just think Marantz makes great high quality amps and that looks like a very good deal a $2100 integrated for $895 and less than the OP's stated budget.
No issues with your statement a few posts back.  I was just curious and no doubt $895 for that Marantz is a great deal.  

Bill
How about this Marantz PM-15SI for $895?
As a Marantz PM15S2 owner, the above is an outstanding deal.  There are very few vintage receivers/amps that could compete with this unit - built at Marantz' reference factory in Japan, 80 wpc continuous into 8 ohms/120 wpc continuous into 4 ohms, nealy 40 lbs.  This is not the disposable amplifier that you fear.  It is more of an heirloom amp that will be with you a long time.

Whichever way you go, make sure the amp you buy is 4 ohm continuously rated across the entire frequency spectrum.  You never know what speakers you may end up with and a 4 ohm rated amp will be ready to drive many out there.  4 Ohm ratings across the entire frequency range  is something that most vintage amps were not.   Most speakers back in the day were a more easier 8 ohm load to drive.  Good luck!
A second recommendation for the Rogue audio Sphinx version 2. I am a dealer and would be very happy to help you if you have nobody local. The Sphinx v2  will operate and give you excellent sound for a long long time to come.
It seems that the vintage stuff fans are quick to mention their favorite unit's:
  1. Weight, which seems to be somehow related to build quality (?)
  2. Maximal power output
  3. How low of an impedance it can drive
Funny - these parameters never influenced my choice of audio gear.
** See an interesting, (partly) related story: https://goo.gl/5Lqk7f **
..... Beats me.....  :-)
I own the Anthem 225i, and like it but have not listened to a lot of the competition.

Bought it to simplify my setup. Not all the latest bells and whistles, but I listen with the balance centered and tone controls bypassed. The phono stage sounds fine to me, too. Plenty of power for any speakers I'll be driving.

May be worth a listen if it's convenient-

Best
gary

Thank you all for the advice, it is greatly appreciated. I will take all that has been said into consideration. 
@donjr - why would I be kidding?
Any of these integrated amps will sound far better than the Sansui (or similar), and will most likely be far more reliable.
I've heard the most highly regarded vintage receivers, including TOTL Marantz, Sansui, Yamaha, Sony, and others.
Some of them sound very nice, they do have a distinct 'color', which you may like, but none of them I would consider as high-end.
I even owned a much treasured Sony VFet TAN-8550 which sounded really nice, but I never even considered using it in my main system.

-> All in my humble opinion of course.

I'm sorry Ami, I was referring to the new Yamaha. I do agree with what you said about the vintage gear. 
@willland understood and apologies if I sounded defensive :)
Top-class vintage, which can be had within the OP's price range, can sound extremely good. I would recommend considering either an Accuphase E-303 or E-303x. Worth having them recapped, but they both look and sound superb.
@jond 

No harm done.

Enjoy the music.

Bill

It seems that the vintage stuff fans are quick to mention their favorite unit’s:
Weight, which seems to be somehow related to build quality (?)
Maximal power output
How low of an impedance it can drive

@ami...I am curious. Who are the vintage fans that advocated the above parameters for vintage equipment? I seen no vintage advocate mention these in their posts.

There was only one true vintage unit recommended by model in this thread - the Sansui AU-717.  And while it is a fine example of a good vintage amp, none of the above mentioned parameters was specified about it.

Seems that most, if not nearly all, participants in this thread advocate modern gear.
new yamaha integrated amps very good and loaded-phono/dac. Moon also makes very good products. you could find a good used model or one of the new ones.The one big NAD integrated at your price point is also highly regarded.
@paraneer 

"true vintage"? What, exactly, are you talking about? I mentioned two Accuphase models from the '70s and early '80s.

Their specs are plenty good, as is the sound that they produce.

@whipsaw 

Sorry, I missed your post.  I should have included the two Accuphase models you mentioned along with the AU-717 that was previously recommended as true vintage.

I agree with you whipsaw, "true vintage" means units from the 70's and early 80's. 
But my question was to ami where he said...
It seems that the vintage stuff fans are quick to mention their favorite unit’s:
Weight, which seems to be somehow related to build quality (?)
Maximal power output
How low of an impedance it can drive
I was just wondering which poster in this thread advocating vintage gear said that.


Ah, sorry. No problem.

BTW, I am not claiming that vintage gear is objectively as good or better than current technology, but simply that some very pleasing sound can be produced by good vintage gear.

I owned a Jeff Rowland Concentra for a number of years, but downgraded to the vintage Accuphase in a new home in Europe. The Rowland was better, but I can't say that I feel deprived!
I really wish I could justify an Accuphase, vintage or new, as their offerings are the apple of my eye. My speakers are the Monitor Audio RX6, and they serve me well. No speakers I've auditioned have struck me as a worthwhile upgrade without going up in price an order of magnitude, but I digress. In my mind I can't justify spending more on an amp than the cost of the speakers it's paired with. How long will I be waiting to score an Accuphase for $1500? Probably forever, right? 

Of all the suggestions made so far, the Marantz PM-15SI looked the most promising, but alas it sold before I could make up my mind. The NAD suggestions look good on paper, but I can't get over their aesthetics (my amp is the focal point of the whole room, next to my record player). The Rogue Audio Sphinx looks intriguing; does anyone know if its tone controls can be bypassed? 
@unknoahble

Actually, the E-303 can be found for $800-1000, and I just recently upgraded to an E-303x for around $1300.

Note, however, that I am in Europe, and that is where these models are typically found (outside of Japan). Also, recapping is always a good idea, and that obviously would add to the cost. But these amps are not out of your range.
Pourquoi pas Marantz ? I have had yamaha (18 years old still alive), arcam alpha 8 amp + integrated (dead after a few years), adcom (dead after a couple years), NAD (dead after 6 years), and finally marantz pm8004, as good or better than anything else, up and running 24/7 for the past 6 years, bought $750 delivered Therefore, in my view, nothing touches japanese electronics.  Conseil d'ami.
@unkoahble what about this Accuphase listing for $1250?

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/solid-state-accuphase-e-302b-integrated-amplifier-2016-09-14-integ...

I would say if you really want it act fast before it's gone too!
YBA Passion Integre or DT Integre. This old Japanese stuff will not please you.
"The Rogue Audio Sphinx looks intriguing; does anyone know if its tone controls can be bypassed? "

Surely you jest !!!!

"Pourquoi pas Marantz ? I have had yamaha (18 years old still alive), arcam alpha 8 amp + integrated (dead after a few years), adcom (dead after a couple years), NAD (dead after 6 years), and finally marantz pm8004, as good or better than anything else, up and running 24/7 for the past 6 years, bought $750 delivered Therefore, in my view, nothing touches japanese"

Should have bought a Nakamichi in the first place.  :^)  Mine is still lovely after 25 years. Especially the MM phono section.


.

@yogiboy 
"The Rogue Audio Sphinx looks intriguing; does anyone know if its tone controls can be bypassed? "

Surely you jest !!!!

Right after I posted that I realized that it simply doesn't have tone controls, hehe
Croft Integrated will see off all that other stuff.
Search eBay for a Teac AI-3000.

You won't find anything better at that price. $1,500 ish
Post removed 
You might want to consider a Lyndorf TDAI-2170.  It`s an amazing amp with excellent room conditioning software (Room Perfect) built in.  
Creek Evolution 50A
I would recommend a marantz integrated like this one. I would also advise against Class D options without hearing them first. They have a sound that is not for everybody. http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/marpm6005/marantz-pm6005-integrated-amplifier-w/d-...

Rogue  "Sphinx": hybrid integrated amp  Excellent phono stage and head phone amp  It is 100RMS

(I may be posting an ad for my Rogue Sphinx in a few week only because I am moving up to separates)   .       

I have a Rogue Sphinx V2 paired with MA Silver 8s (rx6 lineage) and I'm very pleased with its performance. It's very detailed, dynamic and neutral. 

I used to have a Yamaha AS-500 paired with my MA speakers, it was able to drive them well with most music. The nice feature of the Yamaha amps is that you can use both sets of speaker posts to bi wire the speakers, even 4 ohm speakers! It made a noticeable difference compared to using single runs. Yamahas are very neutral and quiet.

The Rogue is highly rated in many publications and reviews. Though it's better than the Yamaha, I'd quantify it as only 10% better, despite a $1k price gap.
For me, the difference is justified, but it might not be for someone on a really tight budget.

IMO, the hill of diminishing returns becomes very steep beyond the $1200 range.
@helomech
IMO, the hill of diminishing returns becomes very steep beyond the $1200 range.
I agree with you wholeheartedly on that point. My budget isn't tight per se, it's just that I know my speakers aren't going to resolve anything much beyond amps in the 1500 range. 

My hk3490 actually miraculously came back to life, after I paid $40 to have to assessed by a technician of course. It was going into protection mode and turning off every time I flipped the power switch. I confirmed it wasn't an outlet issue or short before taking it in, of course. No idea. Anyway, I'm not sure I trust it anymore so I'm still looking for a replacement, though not being under pressure to buy has given me time to step back and further assess my options.

I was looking at the a-s1000 simply because it seemed like the best bet for 'I need to order an integrated today,' but it's not necessarily an integrated I can see myself never wanting to upgrade from. That would be the a-s1100. I actually saw it on sale at Amazon for $2k when I first started shopping, but now it's back up to 2.5k, sigh. I've seen some a-s2100's go for roughly $1500 on eBay, so maybe if a deal like that comes up again I'd go for it. Now the waiting game begins. 

PS - I have nostalgia for the comforting, hypnotic glow of the vu meters on my grandfather's receiver in his den, where I spent many hours of my childhood. It was a Yamaha, which explains my proclivity. I was willing to go without vu meters if I had to, but now that I can be pickier I don't think I'd consider anything without them. I know this is a purely emotional decision, but that is part of the fun of the hobby for me.
I would second the Anthem 225i.  Powerful, exceptionally low noise floor, very versatile, solid build so it should last a long time, accurate but musical sound for a solid state amp.  The only flaw in the ointment is the remote control of the volume which is not very fine so it makes too large of jumps.  This may not be a problem with inefficient speakers but with the very efficient Spatial Holograms I run it is a pain.  For digital I end up using my DAC for fine volume control.  
Can't go wrong with the Yamaha IMO
Second the NAD 375 BEE. Although you said you're looking for an analog option, I would still research the new digital options.
I'm an an analog solid state guy myself but I would love to get my hands on these two digital integrated:

Nuprime IDA-8
NAD C388

The IDA-8 just received "product of the year" award by Sound Stage Magazine. The reviewer liked the piece so much that he actually bought the demo.

The C388 should be a great option if you like more power on tap. And given NAD great track record producing digital amplifiers should be a top choice as well.