The merry go round. $700 seperates or integrated?


  If I have $700 to $800  to spend at most  am I better off with a used integrated say Marantz PM 15S1 or Anthem 225 as examples or do I go for the NAD/ Rotel/Adcom/Parasound  used preamp power combos.  I want phono remote and a headphone jack.   I am taking about sound quality here and not  power but would like to stay above 80w/ch  I have always preferred an  integrated amp has there is less screwing around with power cord and IC choices which just are more variables but for less then the amount listed above one came up with some nice combo pre power set ups. The speakers are Infinity RS 2.5s.   FYI I worked in the audio biz and helped countless people do this but I think I am in mid life crisis and have heard/ compared  to much gear in the last few years.  I  can hear differences pretty easily  and find much mid gear today to be thin, over detailed and unmusical.  I even tried one integrated I swear screwed up the timing of the music. I find most older gear swings but no remotes. Something like an old Luxman R117 receiver which I had last year was sure fun  Not perfect but very enjoyable.  it have had remote.   Just want to get off the merry go round.Thanks
geph0007

If I remember these speakers correctly, they are 4 ohm and drop down to somewhere more like 3 ohms....

With that.... Audio Refinement Complete  50 watts to 8 and 90 watts to 4 ohms.

Coda Unison 3.1, 3.2 or 3.3,   all will drive this speaker.  this is a great sounding unit and extreme value.  Probably $1000

Krell  300,  should find one of these in the $1000 range.

If, I think of others, I'll reply,  These are all that come to mind

Tim

I owned a Cambridge 840A V2 integrated for a few years. You should be able to find one for $700 or less. Owned a lot of separate components over the years that were great bang for the buck pieces, but nothing competes for the money against a CA 840A. It’s a great unit for the money with a nice remote and has a balance input and a headphone input. Pick up a Pro-Ject or Cambridge phono preamp and you’re set. The 840A will easily drive your speakers. I used my 840A on Apogee Centaurs and it sounded great on a very revealing speaker. The 840A is a rock solid performer and not at all bright or thin sounding. Has plenty of drive but finesse. Even at it’s retail price of $1800 it was a solid performer.

I took home a Marantz PM 11S1 to compare against the 840C and I preferred the Cambridge hands down. The Marantz was a beutiful built machine but was too laid back and boring against the Cambridge. Rotel, Anthem and Adcom, not even close for the money. NAD is always a strong contender. Parasound Halo yes, but not in this budget.
My ancient Adcom 555 still sounds pretty good after 35 years and it compared favorably with my McCormack DNA-1.
The Adcom can be had for half of you budget.
If you could spring for more, I would get a McCormack amp.
You should take a look at a used Rogue Audio Sphinx. It has all the features that you want. They pop up here every now and then  and are within your budget!
I agree with yogiboy, go for the Sphinx. I've owned 2 and they are the best I heard at that price point. If you had to drop an extra $100.00, well worth it. Made in the USA as well!
Thanks guys.  I thought about the Rogue also but here is the issue  Lets say  the Rogue used runs $800.  For less then that  I can pick up a MOS FET Adcom GFA 5500 for $300 and then find say a Adcom GFP 710 or 715 for $200-$250  Same could be said of NAD or even some Parasound stuff.  That is the issue.
Here’s another option. 60 day money back if you don't like it!

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-257924-yamaha-a-s501-integrated-amp.aspx?gclid=CM7CuMbe8s0CFU5ZhgodmVsJ...
I am familiar with the RS 2.5 and other Infinity speakers from that time, and I think it needs a very powerful amp. Infinity recommended a minimum of 100 watts, and that should be a very high current amp. Being a 4 ohm speaker dropping much lower and the type of drivers used means this speaker will be a very demanding load on the amp. It would be best for the amp to double power into 4 ohms or at least get somewhat close to a double. I seriously doubt that many of the amps listed in this discussion could adequately drive that speaker. Not meaning that anything is wrong with those amps, they just don’t have enough power. Like putting a Toyota Tacoma 4 cylinder engine in a Hummer H2 resulting in much less overall  performance of the Hummer and it being capable of more.

The issue is not integrated or separates, but making sure the amp has adequate power to drive and control the speaker.

An Adcom 555 puts out 200wpc at 8 ohms. I would hope that would be enough.
I second the Audio Refinement integrated with a dedicated headphone amp. Both can be had for a total of $700. 
"I second the Audio Refinement integrated"

I'm sure the Audio Refinement is a nice integrated amp, however it would be a very bad choice for the OP speakers, Infinity RS 2.5. Excerpt from Stereophile review,

"the amplifier was current-limited into lower loads"

As I previously stated, the speaker is 4 ohms dropping much lower, and a very demanding load. It needs high current that is not limited.


Pretty sure a Cambridge 840A V2 will drive your speakers no problem. If you have a Cambridge dealer near you, see if they will let you drag home the newer 850A; if you like it then find a 840A.

Know Adcom amps well, especially the older units and their preamps. Unless you're going to spend some money to mod one, such as with Musical Concepts or if you know how to mod yourself a CA 840A V2 is a much more refined amp. 

If you're going to drift off to separates as some are suggestion I really don't think you're going to outclass a newer / used integrated. There's a lot of really nice older amps out there that are under your budget but it's now finding a decent preamp for what you have left for funds. If you don't get the best preamp you can for the money, you're wasting your time and money on an amp. 

If you can double your budget I agree you can likely build a better system with separates. 

The CA 840A V2 is not overly polite, laid back unit; so if you're wanting that look on. It is lively and has PRAT. Not bright or edgy but is revealing . Use decent cables, and PC and it will reward you. Very well built. When I had mine, I had B&K, Counterpoint separate amps as well and the 840A was much better. My speakers at the time were Apogee Centaurs which are fairly revealing speakers with their ribbon tweeters. 

Eventually I did replace my 840A but it took a ModWright 9.0 SWL and an Audio Research 100.2 to do it. I dragged home a lot of gear to outdo it; I'm lucky I have two great stores nearby that let me take stuff home. Best advice any of us can give you is try before you buy.
Go for an Adcom GFA555 or equivalent with a GFP 555 or 565 (preferred) preamp.

Alternatively, a Rotel RB980 or similar with a RC990. 
Those Infinity speakers most people probably aren't familiar with.  I only heard of them when researching an amp I was interested in that could do 250 wpc.  I kept reading about how this amp would go into protect and shut down when paired with Infinity speakers of the same variety.  

I'd be careful on the amp you select, those speakers go down to 2 ohms or so apparently.  You need an amp that can handle low impedance.  The Cambridge 840 V2 indicates on the back that it will accept 4 ohm speakers, but I can't find if it's okay with occasional 2 ohm loads.

I would stay away from Nad unless you check with the manufacturer first.  They do have a slightly warm sound, which would be a good match with ribbon tweeters, but I'm not sure their BEE integrated amps would handle ohm drops to 2 ohm.
My friend....ADCOM! used if your not worried about DAC capability...another winner is used ACURUS I have both and cant be beat for the $....with both is the much needed headroom and high current needed for low impedance loads!
For the money, a used Adcom 555 that can be updated by Musical Concepts for a few hundred buck in the future, would be a solid choice that should run you speakers cleanly. If you got a small McCormack micro line drive(which can also be updated by SMc), you would be set.

The 3 amps that I recommended earlier are all integrateds...I haven't seen curves on the Infinity's,  but I've heard the old Audio Refinement drive for ohms in the past with very good authority... Unless the Infinity's are straying into 2 ohm territory it should be good. Id the speaker stays in lower impedences below 4 ohms over any real frequency range, then no,  I would not use it.  

The Coda and the Krell both however would drive these speakers to any level that you would care to listen. I can't speak for others, but I wouldn't compare the Adcom with either of these integrateds.

When John at Musical Concepts Modifies an Adcom,  he replaces the boards,  they really are not Adcoms anymore.  He adds a substantial cost to the 555 and you would still need a preamp.... All 3 integrateds that I recommended also have a remote.

Just trying to stress the points of why I suggested these...
if you want to go the power amp route.  The 555 or 5500 will work fine,  you could add a Sumo Andromeda II or III.  Any of the Sumo or Adcom  amps should run $400 to $600, but again, you'll need a preamp.

For your $700 budget an integrated amp that can drive your speakers would be my suggestion. Need one that doubles wpc into 4 ohm loads.
Thanks for all the thoughts.  I will respond to them soon.  On a different note anyone have any sonic impressi9ons of how a NAD C160 preamp would compare to a Parasound 2100? Thanks
A pre owned Usher R1.5 is what I think is better sounding than all Amps mentioned here. I liked the sound of it and hoping to buy it but waiting for others to confirm my views too.
For $700, an integrated amp is the practical solution. In my opinion you will need at least $2,000 to get into a decent pre/power, used prices.

Looking at the power amps mentioned.... An old Parasound could be decent as well as one of the 200 watt B&K models.  The Sumo and Adcoms will also work.  And an old Muse would be great. The Usher is newer, great bass, a little edgy on top and you won't fine one under $1500.  The Audio Research mentioned really is a phenomenal choice, but finding one would be tough.

Overall trying to keep a budget,  If possible, I would still look the integrated route.  Of course a great buy on anything could change it all.

This minute, there is a Musical Fidelity A3.5 on Ebay for $900 or best offer.  The is a possibility.  Good Luck,  Tim

Here you go, not mentioned above and I didn't think of it either,  but it fits the bill of everything on your checklist..

It is a tubed preamp with a solid state power amp,  200 watts into 8 ohms and has a remote, PLUS its in your price range. 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Shanling-A3000-Integrated-Stereo-Hybrid-Amplifier-Vaccum-Tube-Solid-State-/232020350833?hash=item36057d9771:g:Hd8AAOSwsTxXj3O5


I hope this helps,  Tim