Tired of boring, polite, laid-back sound.....

Looking for a very lively, open, pulsating intergrated for less than 1k used...considering Arcam, MF, and Creek...basically leaning towards the Brits...am I in the right direction? Could sacrfice some refinement for energized, focused soundstaging....thanks...
Trying to hear "pulsating" from such a refined corner of the audio universe may not be possible when you compare to the brash upstarts here in the colonies (...er, United States).
At last year's Stereophile NYC spring audio show, Naim did provide energized, focused soundstage, along with sounds of real life, through their entry level electronics, and speakers, which might be in your stated budget. This year their website states their amps are "built to swing for another 25 years" so they seem compatible with your taste for action.
The NAIT 5i seems to be their current entry in the same range that impressed me at that show.
The "Brits" as you call them, are generally noted for their polite, laid back sound. If what you want is "lively, open, and energized", I suggest you consider something else (Adcom separates, Denon, Sony, or Onkyo receivers, Hafler separates, et. al.) See what some others might say. Good luck in your quest and happy listening.
Perhaps you have boring, polite, laid back speakers or other components. Why are you focused on the integrated? What is the rest of your system?
In my experience, the speakers have more to do with laid-back vs. forward presentations than any component does. I have two pairs of speakers and three amps in my room that prove this point extremely effectively. I suggest you try some Triangle speakers. Arthur
I agree with Aball's and Listener57's choices. Naim and Triangle may be the most dynamic you can get at the $1K used level.
As an admittedly broad generalization, my experience is that a "lively, energized" sound is most reliably achieved in your price range using very efficient (93dB+ sens, MINIMUM impedance dip 6-7 ohms)loudspeakers with tube amplification of modest power (30-50W/ch). Omega Grande 6s powered by a 30W/ch 6L6GC-based amp cranks out beautiful, energetic music in my basement system at volumes that'll piss off even the most understanding spouse.

What I've learned is that amplification and loudspeakers cannot each be considered in isolation - it's as if they are a single component.
If you're not wedded to very deep bass (the aspect of reproduction I'd personally compromise on in your stated price range), loudspeakers in the range of -3dB at 50Hz, augmented by proper in-room placement, will give you a very satisfying low end leaving out very little musical content for most genres. Also, there are a number of nice integrated tube amp choices for $500-$1000 used, such as the Consonance Ella (I've owned one). If you've no experience with tube amps, know that bisaing is really easy for most and that their "extra maintenance" versus solid state is, IMHO, generally overstated.

Just a bit more grist for the mill, FWIW...

Good luck,

Besides Naim, Arcam could be your ticket. What is your planned budget again?
JB..."amplification and loudspeakers cannot each be considered in isolation...it's as if they are a single componet"...wow how true!...I have never heard someone phrase it that(or that well)...maybe i just overlooked it...but that is exactly my feelings as well...great suggestions as well...thanks...
I agree with jb on all counts. I have a 38 watt tube integrated and 101 db speakers. It's enough to bring the house down, and how they boogie!
If you can find a good high-efficiency speaker and a decent tube integrated amp for under $1K, that would certainly be an interesting possibility. The most dynamic setup I have ever heard was a horn speaker (about 103 dB efficient) and a hand-built tube amp rated at about 6 watts. I have never heard better reproduced piano... a key test for dynamics (sorry).

I think it would be hard to get this kind of setup for a grand but go for it if you can.
if you want some immedicy with power look at music fidelity they are the best itegrateds in the world except for one other brand the pathos .the pathos classic one is better than some 15.000.00 seperates
Check into an Onix a120 mkII at av123.com. Very lively sound with excellent detail and solid bass. Only about $700 internet direct.
if you want some immedicy with power look at music fidelity they are the best itegrateds in the world except for one other brand the pathos .the pathos classic one is better than some 15.000.00 seperates
I just spit up my oatmeal.
Naim Nait 5i.
Exposure is British with PRAT like Naim but not as laid-back in H-F as Creek. More transparent than Naim.
Musical Fidelity is laid back, boring, polite - good for classical as designer plays that type of music.
I agree with aball. I had several speakers and several amps. The less than average amps, NAD and Rotel(brit design) made some pretty good music through my top line speakers, and very aweful sound through my B&W speakers.
Equally my JOR amp sounded pretty crummy passing through the B&W speaker.
So what i am saying, speakers are MORE than 50% of the setup.
But as phasecorrect points out, you need to consider your system a total intergration package.
I started with the JOR. I knew I wanted tubes, I knew I wanted a Jadis, barely made the purchase at $2100, I'll admit.
Then I moved on to upgradeing speakers, then to cdp.
Audition a subwoofer in your system. Some Velodyne products are making proper intigration with room and system very simple. And remember you can always turn it off.
Here's one out of left field. How about EQ? Yeah, I'm a philistine. But, I've gotta say, adding a Behringer DSP8024 digital EQ between my CD player and preamp has breathed amazing new life into my Martin Logan Aeriuses. It fixed some serious room resonances and suckouts in the bass, smoothed out the slightly warm vocals, and tipped up the Aeriuses' downward-sloping treble just enough to yield flat response up to 16Khz and really make cymbals and hi-hats present without becoming brittle or fatiguing. When I switch out the EQ, I can't believe I lived with such a warm, opaque sound before. Lest anyone jump to conclusions, I'm not a "thump & sizzle" guy. My previous speakers were Spica TC-60s. I let the auto-EQ set flat response, then reduced the midrange and treble corrections by 1db to restore a bit of the Aeriuses' warmth.

My preamp's an Adcom GFP-555, and power is from two GFA-5200s - generally considered "bright". The CD player's a Harman/Kardon 8550 changer, and the Behringer's DAC is certainly no worse. The unit adds absolutely no noise to the system (cranking the preamp all the way up with a CD paused produces no noise or hum at all). And, since EQ happens before the digital signal is converted to analog, there's (Behringer claims) no phase shift either. Maybe I've got a tin ear, but the Aeriuses just sound lots better to me with the EQ. Even imaging seems better focused, probably due to compensation for differing reflectivity on the left and rights sides of my room.

If I had known this would work so well, I'd have gone for a DEQ2496 for another $150 for its reportedly better DAC and higher resolution. But I'm cheap, I didn't know what to expect, and the DSP8024 with mic and AES/EBU digital input was just $150 on eBay. State of the art? Not. A bargain and a joy? Definitely.
hi phasecorrect, could you specify the components you feel are responsible for the type of sound which displeases you ?
One criteria you might want to keep in mind when looking at integrated amps is whether it will allow you to properly add a subwoofer later. In order to do this correctly you have to be able to high-pass the main speakers and that implies that you have to be able to separate the preamp section from the amp section of the integrated amp. The integrated amps that I'm aware of that allow this are: every NAD, the Creek 5350SE and the Bryston B-100. You can't go wrong with any of these.
EEK! I hate these myths about classical music.

FYI - "laid-back, boring and polite" is hardly good for classical music. For large scale, complex music, dynamics and timing are extremely important.

So are other things of course. Resolution, transparency, timbral accuracy, balance. And no, I don't want in-yer-face, bright, glassy massed strings, thank you very much.

But classical music needs dynamics (macro-micro), pace and rhythm as much as the other virtues if it is to be compelling and true. You can have tonal beauty and PRAT too y'know. No music is life-like without it.

I haven't heard any MF amps in a coon's age so I can't comment on their equipment. But yes, their designer plays chamber music (clarinet). Don't think that automatically makes his equipment one thing or the other.
Without taking into consideration the context of the rest of your system, please scratch Arcam off the list if you are looking for a lively and upfront presentation.

Having owned the Arcam Alpha 10 integrated amp, I just can say that this amp is somewhat of a cold fish with an uninvolving and laidback kind of sound, typical Arcam. I believe their recent iterations of amp more or less share the same sound signature. Have not heard of Creek so can't comment. Musical Fidelity is just okay.

If you want a Brit amp that will rock, try Naim.