I’ve had both the Rega and the MF; they’re both wonderful, just slightly different sounds. The MF is more clear; the Rega more punchy. But they’re both excellent integrateds.
With your Tekton’s 98db sensitivity, you could also try the tube route as well. There’s a Rogue Audio Sphinx on Agon right now that’ll serve you nicely. Also, Sophia and Yaquin are also good places to start.
And never, ever, feel like you have to defend your price range. Audio's an enjoyment, not a status!
I've run the Rega model just before the newest one and it's great for the money. Simao is correct in that a look at the Rogue is not a bad idea. And then you can join the insanity of tube rolling the preamp. Oh yeah!! What fun!!
Not alot of these around and they are getting a bit old, but the Audio Refinement Complete is a very nice integrated.... 50 watts to 8 and 90 watts to 4.
I think the Hegel H90 would be a nice upgrade and offer the characteristics you're looking for. There's one available used a little above your price target, but I think you can get him down closer to $1100, and frankly it's worth the stretch if you can swing it.
There's a Soundstage review of the H90 where the reviewer compares it to an NAD C356BEEE so thought it would be particularly useful for your frame of reference. Here's the comparison section...
In comparisons with my NAD C 356BEE integrated amplifier ($900) with classical music, the H90 generally opened up the sound to something more like the enveloping acoustic of a concert hall. The soundstage was given greater dimensionality. When I switched to the H90 from the NAD while listening to Mahler’s Symphony No.7, with Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (CD, Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 623-2), I felt as if my seat had been upgraded. The brasses packed more punch; the bass and low midrange exhibited greater dynamic control. Where the NAD provided more raw power, the Hegel did it with finesse, pushing forward details in the first movement’s march for full orchestra. At the same time, isolated mallet strokes on timpani and bells decayed naturally, and were imaged distinctly. The Hegel’s key advantages were in dynamics and details.
I thought it interesting that the improvements were similar to what you're looking to improve in your system. Anyway, here's the whole review FYI...https://soundstageaccess.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/859-hegel-music-systems-h90-integrated-ampl...
Hope this helps, and best of luck.
Check out the OUTLAW AUDIO RR2160!
Thank you all for these really generous and informative responses!...
That’s a great comparison, and really answers to the difference in nuance I’m seeking. Thank you 🙏🏼
i had looked at Hegel, but always thought it slightly above our cost justification. But should save more and reconsider!
That Outlaw is bangin’, but huge! Don’t know if the wifey would like the immensity of it.
i saw that rogue audio...now thinking that would be very cool. Would LOVE a tube option! Was originally thinking maybe using pre-out of an integrated into a tube amp eventually. We’re in a bungalow, so stereo and entertainment area are one in the same (no man cave).
im definitely going to look into those 🙏🏼
Rogue is also known for its excellent customer service.
And I was going to mention Hegel, but thought it would be out of the $1K ceiling. Hegel's are beautifully made and convincing amplifiers.
ThatvRogue really is nice! I’ve also been curious about the Creek Evolution a50. I see one here that looks very nice. Didn’t know if anyone here might have insight or direct experience with that one? As compared to some of the amps mentioned here...
Vincent Audio makes a Tube Hybrid integrated, the SV500, which sells for just under $1000. Sold by Audio Advisor. 4 analog inputs, Coax and optical digital inputs (said to be specifically for CD playback). You might wish to look into it.
I once owned the Vincent SV-226 that I wish I never sold. It was a very smooth sounding amp with great soundstage.
I’ve seen that one. Your impressions on it only validates my curiosity on it as well. I guess I’m torn between solid state or hybrid at this point. Am still leaning in the direction of consistent solid state, as my system also serves as the tv room.
But a nice hybrid with only a couple of tubes might still be a decent compromise. Or a solid state pre-out into a tube amp to move cables over for dedicated listening days (whenever that might actually occur!).
+1 for Vincent also would look at the Denon pma 800ne and the new Integrated's from Iota. There is a newly listed Hegel H80 on here within your budget which is a solid performer if looking to buy used.
@riccitone, just curious, what did you end up replacing your NAD c316bee with?
Long time since this discussion! But I appreciate your asking. I ended up with that Creek Evolution 50A that I was considering at that time. Seller gave me a great deal on it, and it was absolutely pristine.
I still have it and love it, and have changed speakers to Totem Arros. They work much better with our small living room, and I feel are more refined and flexible overall.
Running a cool and cheap Airist audio R2r dac with everything...totally under reported and great sounding dac. Just wish it were balanced to go with the balanced input option on that Creek. Sorry, more info than you asked, but digging the setup (so far).
@riccitone, Very cool - thanks for the update. Always glad to see how things turned out on these older threads! Nice to hear you're enjoying the Creek.
I've owned a NAD c315bee for 10-15 years and still love it, despite some shortcomings. Since upgrading speakers last year to Focal Aria 926, I've been daydreaming what I could be missing out on with a more robust amp... especially since I know the Focal's have a bit of an impedance dip and tough to drive. I have a Bel Canto c5i integrated as well, but it isn't a great fit (lacking depth and headroom), and I still always seem to come back to the NAD for this combo...
Those Focals seem really great! Hindsight 20/20, I kind of wish I’d kept my NAD for comparison and a different sound, as it can really drive way above its purported wattage. Dynamic! Just promised I’d sell any major equipment redundancies. I bet it sounds great with those speakers of yours.
I don’t think it was the right amp for the Tektons I had at the time. My Arros seem better suited for a wider variety of amps. Trying to decide if I eventually want to go with separates ie. tube pre with class D amp (or monos). But trying to fight the urge to change anything too quickly. This can become such a rabbit hole If unchecked!