For classical, vocals and instrumentals I think a Jadis Orchestra Reference (or a DA60, if you can find one, afford it and have the space for it) would be a nice choice.
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Cayin TA-30. Amazing performance for very little $$$$. Recently purchased one and my jaw still drops at how good this thing is. With a small/medium sized room this integrated will even drive a difficult low efficiency speaker. On top of it's solid musical performance it is built very nicely and looks great. I bought mine for an office system, however it sounds so good in my main system it hasn't made it to the office !
I have a Jadis DA30 in my second system for many years and Boy! I can tell you that it sounds absolutely fabulous. It's just 30 watts and has loads of power for most speakers. I have used it to drive my Apogee Duettas Sigs with not much problems except at high volumes.
Recently AB'd the preamp section to a Sonic Frontiers Line 2 preamp and yes, it blew the SFI Line 2 away...no kidding.
I can only imagine how a DA60 would sound like. If you have the $$ to spend, get the DA60 if not the DA30 would just be fine unless you need the extra power.
If you can suffer the hassle and pain of biasing the unit, the Jadis Orchestra Reference just blows away anything else in its price range (used about $1500-$1800)for pure musicality, tonal and timbral correctness, midrange mellowness and sweetness of highs. (With JJ EL34s)It is a stupendous amp, and, as it is a "regular" push-pull design, the secret must and has to be in the winding of the transformers, which are massive. When my new speakers (Merlin TSM-Mx) have a few hundred hours on them, I will compare my Bel Canto SET40 to the Jadis. As I improve any ancillaries, such as the source, cabling and speakers, the amp just keeps rising to the demands and sounds sweeter and sweeter as the ancillary quality ascends. It is great at low volumes, particularly with voices, instruments, chamber pieces and country and even jazz. It is clear, nuanced and qualitatively comparable at even low volumes, articulated and smooth and very detailed. I thought I would have a second tier system to my big, really top-end home rig that would leave me wanting during the 12 daily hours I spend at work, at low volumes, but I dont come home wanting for any sonic succor - I had it at work...........when you have Kharma 3.2s, AS Mk 2.2 monoblocs modified with Jena cabling inside and 2 7th driver NOS tubes, EMM combo, Indra and PAD Dominus cable, AS M-P 1 MkII preamp and EG MK and UK Rev 2 PCs,at home, it would be hard to convince anyone that an office system on a much smaller budget, could match the audionut level of expectation to such an extent on such a lower scale - but - this office system - this collection of electronics, with the Jadis at the heart, have made a spine-tingling musical event take place daily at low volumes
that have absolutely floored me - and those who hear it.
(System: APL 3910, Jadis OR, Cardas GR I/C, Electraglide MK+ PC, Signal magic PC, Merlin TSM-Mx - replacing Proac 1s and Totem 1 Sigs, S/Cs currently under trial)
I'll let you know how the Bel canto SET40 compares to the Jadis in a few weeks. (But more expensive than the Jadis)
To Springbok10 : I am a previous owner of a Jadis Orchestra reference. Absolutely, positively NO WAY THAT the Jadis ''blows away'' everything in this price range. It's a nice amp mind you, but let's not get carried away here.Given the price, you can do much better. As for your comment to the effect that ''If you can suffer the hassle and pain of biasing the unit''...well, most of us cannot suffer this hassle, meaning that you will have to enjoy your Orchestra with improper biasing most of the time, shortened tube life and short-changed musicality. I did bias my unit once, what a pain, to say nothing of the nearby lethal electricity inside once you get to it.
Regarding the future of Audio, the Orchestra will actually give reason to the no-longer-valid idea that owning tube gear is a pain. Sonically speaking, it is a fine amplifier - but has been outpaced by more recent, efficient, and mostly more user-friendly design such as the TA-30 from Cayin. Of course, Jadis owner would never admit to this. Image, a chinese-made product for a fraction of the price that competes with the Cayin? Well it's true of course and the consumer can get at last, his money's worth and more. If only on the tube-rolling potential ( upwards of 10 different tube types can be used on the Cayin with the extended bias option), the TA-30 opens-up many possibility for experiencing and enjoying tube types. Sonically speaking, the small Cayin is right up there with the Jadis with the standard EL34 tubes, - and smokes it when you start to tube roll. Sorry, no contest, especially considering the price. If Jadis were smart, they would at least respect their owners by providing some for of safe, external bias. No longer can you expect people to pay high prices for a ''Name'' where the performance does not stack up. I am in NO WAY associated with Cayin, I am not a dealer, or a ''reseller'', but I do own this TA-30 gem. I felt that I just had to respond to this somewhat free comment about the Jadis being the end-all, it simple is not so.
Audiokicks, I am also a Jadis Orchestra Reference owner. I should also say that I was the previous owner of Denis' (Springbok10) amplifier.
When I got the amplifier together with the JJ EL34 tubes, I began burning it in on a Friday evening, and by Sunday, with my Coincident Digital Master/Troubass subwoofers, I have never had better sound in my system. And, I have some pretty well respected, not to mention much more expensive, amplifiers. The JOR not only outclassed them, but flat out outclassed them.
If it was true that at its price, you could do much better, I would run out in a heartbeat and pay every cent of the retail price to have that sound in my system again.
A lot of what you say is correct about it being a pain in the teeth to bias, but after getting comfortable with it, I can perform the "biasing" part of the procedure in about three minutes. Having two meters makes things easier, but I can manage with one if I needed to. The task I loath is reassembling it. Still, I can think of no other tube amp that requires nearly as much effort.
If I still owned the amp, I would have holes in the bottom plate so that I would not have to disassemble the JOR when I biased it, and it would be a no muss, no fuss three minute job.
And, if the six years I got out of my Ei KT90s (averaging between 10 - 20 hours/week) is shortened tube life, then I wish all of the tube amplifiers I have owned over the years had this kind of shortened tube life. After six years, one of the KT90s was shorted with no damage to the amp (didn't know it until I measured the tubes one day), and the other three were still in the "GOOD" range by about 25%.
Now, I am personally a fan of the Cayin products, but the JOR is 3 - 4 steps up the ladder on my own personal scale.
Answering the real question of the thread, based on what I see, my vote for best tube integrated would probably be the Jadis DA50.
The Eastern Electric is a real winner! Very toneful and tuneful, inner details with excellent bass. Put the unit through its paces with a pair of Altec model 18 604-8H speakers. These speakers are merciless for the correct tonation, balance and details. No sibulance, but pure musical tones, depth and structure. The M520 is extremely well built, great output trannies, can use another preamp of choice. I liked the zero feeback mode, in pentode class A operation 24 watts per channel, will put many SET amps to shame. Extremely low noise, great PP dynamics and tone.