I am very happy with my Audio Space ref. 3.1 KT88 integrated. I came from a Llano Designs A200 and Thor Audio T1000MkII preamp. Can't go rock concert loud, but detail, soundstage, visceral musicality in spades. Bought mine from Albert Von Schweikert on his recommendation. Caps were upgraded by Albert prior to shipping to me. Upgraded to Gold Lion tubes and have no desire to upgrade at this time. Your speakers will be a factor so YMMV.
I suspect that a number of integrated amps have the sonic of separates, or may even be 'better' than the corresponding separates. This is because sometimes integrated are designed by. . . integrating existing separate components into a single box. . . and sometimes with some additional goodies not available on the separates thrown in for good measure. You mention a few brands, including my personal fav brand Rowland. . . but you do not mention budget, power requirements, the rest of your system, nor your sonic taste or musical preferences.
save money, and keep what you got...stay off the merry-go-round.
In the higher price range MF is very good. There is an MF NuVista M3 listed at $2195. This is an excellent amp with enough power to drive anything, up to 800 watts at 2 Ohms with one channel driven. It has only a MM input but committed LOMC users will probably have their own phono stage. Separate power supply, both together weigh over 100 lbs... Workmanship is very good, uses 4 readily available nuvistors in preamp section. Exposure 2010 has an excellent reputation at a lower price point. If what you have is at all suitable I would agree with Jaybo. Believe it on not in my more active dealer days I spent a good part of my time trying to talk my customers out of needless changes. VERY FEW audiophiles [I include myself] ever get the maximum out of their present system. At least 50% of the sound of a system is due to careful tuning or the lack of it. The most important thing is to decide what kind of sound you want and then figure out how to achieve it.
auditioned a pass labs int-150 and was very impressed. as good, and even better than some separates i've heard. worth a look at the very least; give yourself the benefit of the doubt. i only hope i beat you to the one currently listed.
I own the Ayre AX-7e Integrated amp and it is excellent. I suggest you give it a listen. see http://www.ayre.com/
These Are amongst the best intergrated;often times bettered seperates that cost 2-3 times the price;I personally have heard every single one of them;
1.NEODIO-150.I own this in my 3rd system.Absolutely sublime .Has to be heard to believe.
2.Lavardin IT.Sound a lot like Neodio with less power .Needs careful matching with speakers.
3.Karan Acoustics -Not as sweet as the 2 Frenchies above but wow,what an amp.
4.ASR emitter v.2.-As good as it Gets?
There are others that could consistently bettered seperates but the 4 above needs to be heard;they are the benchmarks in the quality of Intergrated amps IMHO.
Guidocorona, I'm looking for 150 w. or more. I have so far preferred preamps with tubes, finding transistor preamps flatter and having less body and air. No tube amps for me. I listen to a variety of music inc. jazz, vocals, classical and like to be able to crank up the sound when I want. Price? Anywhere from $1500 to $3500.
If you tell us what speakers you have and the size of your room, that would be very helpful in further recommendations of an integrated amp. Until then...
A used ASR Emitter 1 with battery if you can find one, it wont be the more recent gold board, but it will still give the sound you may be after. It can also generate plenty of current and work with difficult speakers (not knowing what you have). Look at the ASR website for info on the history of the development of the amp.. Good Luck..
Audiosoul Quote: "I have so far preferred preamps with tubes, finding transistor preamps flatter and having less body and air. No tube amps for me."
I too like a SS Amp coupled with a Tubed Preamp, sort of the best of both worlds.
Maybe you would like an Integrated "Hybrid"; a SS Amp with a Tubed Preamp built in. The BAT VK-300X may be a good choice. I'm sure their are others here that can recommend other high-end hybrids.
I'm pretty happy with my mbl 7008, which I have owned for four years. It is designed to drive the inefficient mbl 121 & 116, so it provides plenty of power and current, at least in small to medium size rooms. But nowadays I would say it is quite overpriced. If I was in the market I would buy the Burmester 32 that's currently listed here. But it mostly has balanced inputs. So does the Boulder integrated amp. This might be a consideration either yay or nay, depending on your components. What I especially like about the mbl and the Burmester is that they have a headphone jack. It's something I need for late-night listening in my apartment.
Here are some nice photos of cool integrateds. The Chinese Xindak is intriguing as it is massive and not that expensive. (scroll down) http://www.highendpalace.com/HEP%20Integrated%20Amps.htm
BAT integrated, and right in your price range.
I recommend the BAT VK-300x SE integrated amplifier. 150 watt/channel, vacuum tube preamp section with 6H30 supertbues.
I want to get off the $$$ bandwagon. I'm tired of spending money, and then in a year, the equipment has dropped in used value substantially, since the fickle audiophile community has moved on to new favorites.
First of all, if the 'fickle audiophile community' can intimidate you with seperates, then they can do the same with integrateds. You have to learn to enjoy the music, ignore the glossy rags and silly threads that state the new emporer's clothe's are better.
That being said, I have 3 recommendations. All SS- Pass INT-150. Hybrid, BAT VK-300x. Tube, VAC Avatar Super.
I have heard many, and these are amongst my favorite in your price range. In fact, I have sold my ARC Ref 3 and BAT VK-75SE amp and am currently living happily with the VAC Avatar Super integrated. Is it the best I've ever heard? No, but it gets me 95% of the way there (especially rolling some NOS tubes) for a hell of a lot less $$$.
Now I just do my best to enjoy music, and ignore the latest "king to the throne" reviews, whether in glossy rags or in cyber-space.
For the audio equipment, I think speakers are probably the most important one. You need to decide if your current speakers are good enough for you. Then you can decide the rest of electronics.
I have rotated 5 sets of speakers for my main system in the last 4 years. I came to the conclusion that a set of full range speakers without extra external subwoofer is what I need. This helped me decide the rest of equipment.
The PASS INT-150, SimAudio I-7 and BAT VK-300xse are all nice sounding and moderately powerful Integrated Amplfiers that are reasonably priced at around $7K (msrp), with that said none will get you off the "amplfier merry-go-round" as mid-level seperates will. The excitment of these Integrateds wears-off rather quickly, and you soon start hearing, and overly-focusing on their sonic-compromises and power limitations. The main problem is that they are simply not powerful enough to cleanly/sufficiently drive most modern full-range loudspeakers in today's Home's over-sized Living Rooms.
What I've found in this hobby, is that it is best to wait and save, and then buy once and buy right - you'll save a lot of money and aggrevation in the long run.
You could easily get a decade's worth of listening enjoyment out of a near-reference (mid-level) Preamp. & Amp. vs swapping-out Int. Amps twice-a-year, as many people do. When you amortize the cost of buying quailty seperates, over 10-yrs of ownership, the cost becomes very reasonable, plus the happiness that comes with getting what you really want (virtually uncompromised sonics).
for example: I don't know of any Int. Amp. that sounds as good and is as powerful as a PASS X1 Preamp. and X250.5 Amp., and these 2 components can be had used (1-2-yrs old) for around $6K - that's just 50% more than a used PASS INT-150, even at only 5 short years of ownership - the difference is only $400 a year, and only $200 a year over a reasonable 10-yrs of ownership.
Mid-level (near-reference) seperates will get you a lot closer to the sonic performance of cost-no-object Amplifiers, than nearly any top-of-the-line Int. Amp. would...
note: The above opinion is based soley on my personal experiences in this hobby over the years, and is a non-scientific observation.
Lihifi, thanks for your input; food for thought for me, since I really personally do want to go with separates, even tho' I was very impressed with the Pass Int-150. However it just may not be powerful enough for my tastes, which is why I am holding off. I've narrowed down to Pass Labs or Classe' separates to drive B&W. What do you think?
I can vouch for the MF Trivista or Nuvista amps as being highly satisfying and fully resolving. Heavenly sound, great dynamics, lots of watts etc. My old Nuvista would still be in my system if it had HT bypass. I bet the ASR or Dartzeel integrated can compete with the best as well.
Integrated amps can match or surpass the sound quality of separates depending on system matching and listening preference. If done right, you can do a lot better with less money. The only advantage of separates that I can think of is the ability to provide huge current to power-hungry and inefficient speakers. Other than that I will give the nod to good integrateds. You've got some excellent recommendations for starters.
Manufacturers seem to be taking integrated amps more seriously these days. For lower powered tube amps, there are countless choices, VAC, Jadis, Viva, Mastersound, Almarro, Ayon etc etc. Higher power seems more limited, I can think of the VAC Phi Beta, I am sure there are others.
Looking at solid state/hybrid there are more higher power choices. The best I had in my system was the Lavardin IT, but only 50watts, The Karan K180 was very nice too. Then there is LSA, Vincent, all the Musical fidelity amps.
I went integrated 5 years ago and have used my Viva Solista for that time. I have'nt felt the need to chop and change. It does limit my next choice of speakers at only 22 watts, but it's worth it.
Thanks for responses. Now some comments on recommendations given.
Many of these integrated units have much, much smaller power supplies and no. of output devices. I know the BAT 300 is a perfect example. Looking at its internal layout, it is not very impressive for the price. But BAT's price increases have become so extreme, I don't even look at their things anymore.
In general, on Musical Fidelity, I've heard mixed positive and negative comments. A real concern is the volume controls going bad on NuVista and TriVista units. Also, the nu-tri-vistors are soldered in, so changing them is probably a nightmare unless you are a techie type person.
Some of the names I never heard of, and companies that may be here today, gone next year, are not comforting. Who are: Viva, Mastersound, Almarro, Ayon, Lavardin, Karan, Audio Space, Neodio, ASR ?
And the Overseas companies undoubtedly have importers who often do a poor job at servicing or take forever. Then you see brands go fro one importer to the next, apparently because of problems. With the US dollar so weak, prices for European stuff has become ridiculous and just isn't worth it. In speakers, look at the outrageous price increases from Spendor, Harbeth, etc. over the last couple of years. Who'd want to buy the stuff?
Asian made equipment is often made with inferior steel, stainless steel, etc.. After the passage of some time, you'll find rusting and deterioration of the metals. Their quality control and some of the parts are very mediocre or worse.
I'm sure VAC is good, but it's all tubes, and I'm not sure I want the maintenance and noise and impedance drive limitations tube power sections have. I didn't like the damped and flat sound of the Pass X1 preamp, though their power amps are very good, so I don't know if I'd like the integrated.
Don't mean to sound negative, but I don't think it's so easy to find quality and sonics. Perhaps the Rowland stuff is more in that category, but then you're talking digital amps, which I'm not so sure I want.
More suggestions, comments appreciated.
I have heard the audio note meishu at a dealers and it is very nice if you have efficient speakers. It is not cheap . There is a blue circle bmph listed now that is not very much and had some very nice reviews that are listed in the ad. (I have a blue circle dac which i think is very good but have not listened to the bmph). It is a hybrid so maybe it will not raise the "all tube" issue for you.
It sounds like you really know what you don't want, but I'm not sure what is left for you to listen to :)
I can say, having lived with a Pass Labs XP-10 for a while, their new preamps are not really damped and flat. They do, however, take a week to warm up. Still, I don't consider the current breed of Pass preamps to be tube like, however, the Pass B1 buffer has a lot of presence similat to tube preamps.
One of the heavy posters on Audio Asylum, who has a lot of tube equipment, wrote that the Pass Int-150 sounds very good. The quality of Pass gear is excellent, although it is costly. If Pass uses anything like their B1 buffer as the front end to the Int-150, then I bet it sounds quite good. Still, most of the lushness in the Pass sound seems to come from their amps.
I've never heard the Vincent stuff, but from what I've read they are a quality product.
What kind of speakers are you trying to drive? What do you have now and why don't you like it?
Audiosoul, class D amplifiers like the Rowlands or the latest Bel Cantos are not even faintly digital. They use ICEpower analog power conversion modules.
The only cavieat with ICEpower based amplifiers is that they need to be very well broken in, or they sound dry and the treble response may be foreshortened. 500 to 700 hours is a good breakin for the Bel Canto products and the JRDG Continuum 500. The JRDG Continuum 250 and the JRDG Concerto integrated may require over 1,000 hours to shine.
One of the good news is that they draw almost no power at idle. . . e.g. 25W for the JRDG Continuum 250 integrated (and probably the same for the Bel Canto integrated). . . 35W for the JRDG Continuum Integrated. . This means that you can leave these amps powered up continuously so they always give you peak performance whenever you listen to music.
Do not exclude class D products a priori, they are just like any other technology. . . They all sound different. . . some of them you may like, and others you may not enjoy. G.
Just pick up a used NuVista M3 and be done with it. It's already been mentioned a couple of times in this thread, but it bears repeating. I've had mine for years now and will continue to have it for more. For the used prices today, it's a screaming bargain. And I have to say that the phono section is no slouch--it is BOTH MM and MC. There's dip switch inside the amp that ajusts for MM and MC. It won't have enough gain for the lowest output MCs but for my medium output Benz M2 woody, it's plenty (volume knob never goes past 10 o'clock and is most often at 9.) Its only real quirk is that the speaker binding posts are ridiculous and are too big to accomodate any spade lugs I know of.
Actually my "just listen to the Music" amp is the Mac 2275. Mine was purchased used for $3600.00 and it offers excellent "tube" sound, plenty of flexibility, reliability, and enough power to drive most speakers (currently it drives B&W 805's to satisfactory levels in a fairly large room). I did upgrade the tube complement but with the exception of the Sovetek 12AX7LPS's in the phono preamp it was not necessary. So when " Hi Fi Hypochondria " gets too severe I go back to the Mac system for recuperation. The sound is superb and the pain diminishes quickly :<}.
CODA CSI Limited Edition is a great choice, especially if you can use 220 Watts of power. You will see several comments previously in the Audiogon archives if you search, and I can highly recommend this product.
My Plinius 8200mk2 is making me very happy, doesn't have the hard SS sound, very transparent and detailed. I have seen Plinius 9200 used on sale, it's a step up from 8200. But if you only like heavy rock and electronic music, Plinius might be too slow for you. I mean I like rock(no death metal though), the sound is beautifully laid out, very balanced and neutral sound.
I have had great results with Audio Note Meishu, Jadis Da50S, Acoustic Plan Sitar and I am sure that the already named Rowlands, MBL or Boulder are great options as well.
Great integrated amps at the moment include McIntosh 6300 from America, Luxman (4 really great models)from Japan, and LFD out of the UK. All have build qualities like a tank, have some of the best parts sourced and assembled, and are not made in China. What more do you want? Oh, they all sound incredibly musical in a natural way.
I have owned several integrateds throught the years and the CJ CA200 I currently own conveys all the attributes of a well designed separates system. Plus, it's about as tube sounding as solid state in the mids and highs while remaining tight and controlled in the lower frequencies. Power wise it appears to lack nothing.
The Luxman integrateds are very nice and I've heard them often at my local dealer. If I was looking today, I'd seriously consider one.
I know you said you werent into tubes, b/c you "want to crank it up", but I would second and third the BAT 300SE integrated which I have in my own system. 6h30 tube preamp with SS amp = 150 powerfull watts. I am running 4 ohm Dali Helicon 400s with them to be giddily surprised. The bass is actually full and deep with very little if any distortion or roll off.
The new ones retail for $6-7 grand, but are used on Agon for $3000-3500. I would only advise the SE version with BAT PAK power back up and the 6h30 tubes which are more linear than, say, EL34s; such that rock and roll sounds quite good, and I listening to a broad musical spectrum. I cannot, however, suggest the pre-out performance of this unit to an auxillary amp. This seems to be one of the quirks of the system.
Its a bomb-ass integrated built with technological wizardry by BAT, but the extra options are limited. I believe this to be a quite natural consequence of integrateds; b/c, well, we cant have it all. That said, I am so satisfied with the 300SE, that I have no desire to go back to separates at this time. Good luck in your search. Gary
My first post. I have the following setup and am extremely pleased with the sound I have.
Ascendo system F loudspeakers
Perreaux 150i integrated amp
Weiss DAC 2 balanced connection to amp
Mac mini serving FLAC and high res FLAC through
Squeezebox duet ( bypassing onboard DAC) OR direct via
Using Mogami 3104 bi-wire
I am curious though to get feedback on what I might expect in terms of improvements if I were to consider a different/"better" amplifier configuration? I prefer to stay with solid state.
I'm very happy with my ATC SIA2-150. I went from tubes to this integrated and feel that I haven't missed a beat. There are some great reviews out there. Do a search and read for yourself. They are all true.
Yamaha A-S2000. Looks & sounds beautiful. Replaced a pair of tube
monos & tubed pre. The matching cd player is vastly overlooked. I luv 'em
both. Best money I've spent after 15 yrs in the hobby...
An old thread, so not sure why it has been exhumed?...but anyway resolution, gain are noise are usually the areas integrated amps fall down vs separates. With that in mind, the only integrated amps which have tempted me to go for a one box solution are the Dartzeel CTH-8550 and Vitus SIA-025. And drilling down further, if you had inefficient speakers and only a couple of sources, the Vitus would be a no brainer.
I suggest starting a new post and you will get more responses.
Nice looking system. The Ascendo seems to need power, though I didn't see any impedance spec's on website.