Imo the MacBook is the weakest link in the system, not the amp.
Suggestions for an integrated upgrade please
I am looking to upgrade my integrated here is my system
FLAC on mac book pro — Singxer Su6—Lampizator level4+ Gen5—jolida jd1000a
with gold lions preamp tubes and Mullard tubes— NHT 3.3 speakers
Before the Jolida I had an Hegel H100.
I like the midrange of the Jolida, it has a nice presence, nice timbres but the problem is when raise the volume, I don’t go deeper inside the music, it just gets louder but the sound doesn’t get bigger, soundstage is small. Also there’s no air with this amp. Bass is very weak.
The Hegel was technically nicer but I could never emotionally with the music on this amp. It just sounded fake.
I listen to 65-85dbs level, my room is small, 12’x18’
I want to stay with an integrated as my wife wont allow multiple components ans cables in the room
The NHT 3.3 are rates 87db @ 6ohm
I listened to a Kora 400, which sounded amazing but at 12k usd it is out my budget
It is hard to organize listening session because of covid
so I am looking for suggestions to narrow down the numbers of sessions needed.
I don’t mind if it is tube or transistor as long as it has beautiful midrange, timbres, deep soundstage and air.
budget is 3 to 5K usd, I don’t mind buying used or new.
any suggestions are welcome!
Integrateds are the way to go, I've run them for years. The Raven Nighthawk or Blackhawk will give you everything you are looking for. I have The Blackhawk, it is an excellent amp with excellent imaging and bass. Its best feature though is after running about 90 minutes it takes on a captivating air that is just plain magical. I mean it sounds good right away, but then after an hour or so, wow.
Mine is used with the 98dB Tekton Moab and will go loud, very loud, in my 17x24x9 room. Your NHT are only 87dB, we ran it with some speakers that were also 87dB and it wouldn't play as loud of course but it filled my room with a lot more volume than the 65-85 you're talking. Volume will not be a problem, certainly not in your room. Beautiful midrange, timbre, soundstage and air, it has in spades.
Check out their web page, search around and read reviews. Very highly regarded amps for the money. You will notice they have a number of tube options. There are also a number of tube options not listed on the site. Dave Thompson is a bona fide tube guru with a massive hoard of NOS that he shares only within the Raven family. You don't just "tube roll", it is more like consulting with the sommelier as to the wine to have with dinner in a fine French restaurant. Call and talk with James or Dave. Especially Dave. He set me up with a combination he knows works well with my Moabs. They sure do! They can also help with which amp might be better with your system. I know The Blackhawk is exceptional, but never heard in comparison with the Nighthawk.
I'm not sure why you would consider comments pointing out an obvious weakness in your system as "off-topic". People are trying to help you.
Definitely give some thought to getting a good streaming device so you have a high quality source.
I've been very happy with my Moon 600i which is in your budget. If I were looking, some others I would consider would be Line Magnetic or Audio Research if you like tubes, Modwright if you like solid state.
With the lower efficiency of those speakers I feel that while tubes may sound good they will not give you that bass articulation that a good high current ss would provide. Of the ones I have heard an Octave may do it. I heard a V110se on some Dynaudio Contour 60s and it was impressive!
Maybe a hybrid with tube preamp ss power might be a good option if you want to keep some of the tube tone in the circuit and still have the power those speakers crave. Never heard it but the Odyssey Kismet integrated always looked very interesting to me. Odyssey’s can handle that kind of load no problem.
A No brainer made in USA Coda CSIB integrated biggest podded 3 kva transformer over 120 amps short term on tap ,3 power choices ,10 year warranty
lowest power 18 wpc pure class A 1st watts then 150,300, 600 Nelson pass engineering team from Waay back. 2020:stereotimes best of
great BurrBrown electronic volume pure class A preamp section
I bought mine from Mike AudioArchon for around $5500 will compete with anything at 2x the price .
You might consider these 5 -
Marantz PM10S1 (Refurb) $4,999 200/400 w/Ch, all analog, 2-Balanced in
Luxman 505 UXII $4995 100W/Ch all analog, 1 set Bal inputs
Cary Audio SLI-80HS $4995 80 W/Ch, no Phono
McIntosh MA-252 Hybrid $3495 100/160W/Ch, 1 set Bal, Phono, Sub Out
Mark Levison 5805 (B-Stock) $6495 125/250 W/Ch Digital/MQA/Phono Stereophile Class A
2 Japanese, 3 American; 3 Solid-state, 1 Tube, 1 Hybrid, Technology wise, this covers the scope. I would hold out for the Mark Levinson myself, or go with the McIntosh because it is not only competent, it is sculpture. The high-end Marantz amps don't get much coverage in the US, but when they do, people are shocked at how good they are. The Luxman is also very, very good, and has lots of flexibility. Cary is a veteran tube amp shop, and they don't often put a foot wrong.Switchable beween Triode and Ultralinear modes might be enlightening.
Kinki Audio INT EX-M1 $2,395 215wpc @ 8ohms , Class A/B,3 year Warranty. China
Exposure 3510 INT 110wpc @ 8ohm Class A/B $3,000 3 year Warranty. UK
You're getting excellent suggestions on the integrated amps.
Once you figure that out. Here are some additional suggestions:
1) as mentioned the 87db speakers may be veiling some of the timbre and detail. Think about getting something in the 91db+ range.
2) flac files are still compressed files. Try to transition to full-size wav files. Storage is cheap these days. If you use iTunes, set it so it doesn't 'manage' your files. For some reason iTunes kept making my wav files lossless so I had to transition off iTunes for my music. They sound much better for it.
check our a Parasound Hint 6
Solid stuff and brimming with plenty of headroom, dynamics and power.
What's that tag line from Porsche, "There is no substitute"
Once you un-leash the 200W potential, play with the EQ if you want, connect to MM phono port or just use the outstanding headphone port; you won't find a better hybrid IA. If the day should ever come, you can sell it for what you paid for it.
I agree with the two other guys I would definitely change your Source because that is the most important, I think you're integrated is very good and I think your weakness is your MacBook pro.If you don't have a good source nothing else matters in front of it cuz it won't sound good even if you have the most expensive components.
I may be off topic, but I just love love love that you mention WAF in the same post as NHT 3.3’s. I had 3.3’a for almost 20 years, and man they visually take over a room. At my house, the acceptance factor was exactly “zero”, or whatever score corresponds to “anywhere but the living room”.
Best of luck!
"Jadis Orchestra Black integrated amplifier | Stereophile.com" https://www.stereophile.com/content/jadis-orchestra-black-integrated-amplifier
Wired 4 Sound STI1000v2. At 460W per channel will have plenty of power to drive your speakers (or just about any speaker) with authority and delicacy. Currently, out of stock at factory but available used. A great audio bargain and you’ll have plenty of $ left to upgrade your source. Try to find unit with binding post and wiring upgrades.
When you ask for input for an upgraded integrated to match your speakers, you would hope that you would get feedback on what amps would work with your speakers, not just amp feedback. I had your speakers over 20 years ago and not just any amp will work with them, it doesn’t matter much about the efficiency of the speaker to some degree.
With your nht’s you have 2 parts of the speaker that I treated differently, the speakers on the front and the 12” woofer.
The NHT tweeter is a metal dome type and you need a warm sounding amp to tone it down. If you look at most smaller tube amps, they will be fine for the front panel speakers but will not control your woofer, your will get more sloppy bass and the volume won’t be inline with the other speakers.
My suggestion (I actually did both ways) is to get a good quality tube amp or warm sounding SS amp for the 3 speakers on the front baffle (maybe the rouge Cronus magnum with the kt120 tubes or a McIntosh 6500 type integrated) and then get the nht’s sa-3 amps for the woofers with the volume control to match woofer output to the other 3 speakers. In a small room, it’s tough to get the woofer output to match the output of the other 3 drivers if you go with a under powered amp, which brings me to my other recommendation:
Get a large warm sounding amp that will control the woofer and tame the tweeter. The McIntosh 6900 was a good fit back when I had the speakers. I also went the separates route with the odyssey monoblocks with a classe preamp.
” AH any of the Qualiton Integrated but that will be a stretch with you budget.
With those innefficant speaker I would stay away from any Raven and look at Rouge even PrimaLuna.”
” Audio Research VSI75 if you can find a used one. Or they just released the i50. That should be enough power if you don’t go for really loud rock. Incredibly natural musical equipment. “
For price point, I've always liked the Quick Silver stuff. Clear, with presence and able to transfer a lot of the dynamics and timbre of instruments and voice.
They only recently came out with an integrated below 2K and I would be intrigued to hear if it approaches the ability and verisimilitude of their separates.
If it does, it would be quite the catch.
As rbstehno said, the NHT 3.3's do not work well with all amps. I owned a pair for 7 years and experimented with a few different amps and eventually settled on separates. An Audio Research SP-10 and a Counterpoint NPS 400, both of which had tubes. It was the only way I could listen to the speakers for more than an hour at a time. The tweeter was way too hot otherwise. That was the combination that was demoed to me when I bought them. My Audible Illusions preamp and Aragon amplifier were close but ultimately I decided that I needed something a bit mellower sounding.
I would second Tomic601's recommendation of the Aesthetix Mimas which I currently own. I sold the 3.3's many years ago but since you like them the hybrid Mimas would be a great choice. Good Luck!
I just bought a Technics SU-G700. Superb sonics with a kind of retro vu meters look. It really brought out a lot crisp detail that I had not previously heard. I'm running Zu Audio Omen MK.I with the Technics SU-G700. You may want to read the reviews for yourself. I would not have considered Technics until very recently, but am ecstatic with its performance.
All of his suggestions can also easily be serviced if there is ever an issue
One idea could be a new Benchmark AHB2 + Benchmark DAC3 HGC - form factor would be same size as one integrated amp, and you hit both amplification and DAC in one go - fits your budget & simplifies your chain. I actually would be pretty curious about those
If you are looking at used McIntosh, I’ve worked with the folks at Audio Classics several times and the experience was good
BTW, I run Roon/Tidal off my MacBook Pro - I enjoy it just fine and very convenient
Good luck! Fun decision - let us know what you chose, when the new piece has arrived
@mbolek I purchased the original SU-G700 (of which the reviews are based on). I believe the M2 is available in Europe, but has not been offered for sale in the US. I purchased my unit (in silver) from Galen Carol Audio in San Antonio (although I'm in Denver). If you get a chance to listen to the SU-G700, I think you'll find the detail and depth of soundstage to be absolutely top shelf, as well as the fit and finish of the unit. Really worth a listen! Good luck in your quest.