Which Integrated?

I'm looking for a good quality, 'higher end', integrated amp. I am sick of using cheaper components (READ:nakamichi receiver) that make everything sound soooooo glaringly digital and fatiguing. High end separates are too expensive for me, but I would like to get into that type of higher end sound.

I will be spending about $1200 USD (give or take). So far, I have read about the Unison Research Unico (nice) and the Moon i-3.

I currently run nht 2.5i speakers (which i will be selling in order to downsize - I find they are too big for my room)

Any suggestions? Any comments from users of the aforementioned equipment?


Here are a couple to add to the list. I have not heard the Moon, but have heard good things. Plinius 8200, not the best looking, but supposedly can holds it's own with sound quality. Creek 5350SE. A strong little integrated. Very smooth sounding I think. Musical Fidelity A300. Stereophile seems to love the Musical Fidelity pieces, this one is on my audition list if I can find a dealer near me. Pathos Classic One. It's a new integrated, and being a wood worker, I love the look of this one. I like the idea of tubed pre amp with a solid state amp section. Arcam Diva A85 or maybe it's just the A85, I'm not sure since I haven't heard one or seen one, but reviewers like this amp. A couple I have mentioned are above your price range, but can be had for your price if bought used. Also, I can't forget the Audio Refinement Complete integrated. I own this one, so I had to throw it in the list. Hope this helps.
you will not believe how good the aronov 65watt intergrated is---they are going used for about 1500.oo or so if you get one--they will hold their value--i am using it to run vandersteen 3 sig for now these speakers need power and this runs it fine---i will soon be bringing this into bedroom as second system later--
Right this moment there is a YBA Integre DT for $895 on the 'gon. Grab it. You will not do better. I just sold mine after 7 glorious years. There is nothing that comes close for the $. Creek? Forgedda 'bout it. Get that Integre and you're off to sonic heaven. You'll probably, after you purchase this baby, want to change your other stuff too.
good luck,
You are ready for tubes. VTL integrated or the Aronov suggested will do just fine.
I just got a Musical Fidelity A308 Integrated and I could not be happier. It took the last bit of grain out of my Monitor Audio Silver 8i's and it unlocked details that I had not previously heard on some of my recordings. I bought a new one from Underwoodwally (Walter, who has 635 positives so far without a single negative), and he is wonderful guy to deal with. If you are looking for a more cost effective solution, I have heard that the Adcom GFP-750 can beat many pre-amps costing up to $5k and is rated Stereophile A. It can be had used for $700 to $800 on the Audiogon board. My $$$ went to a new Musical Fidelity with a 5 year warranty. Best of luck.
I agree with the YBA DT. If you insist on a brand new amplifier, then look at the Blue Circle CS.
Thanks tons guys...

So far, I've looked into some of your suggestions...

I had already looked at the Blue Circle CS, but the Unison Research blew it away. As far as YBA is concerned, I'm not sure that it is what I'm looking for (although admittedly, I have not tried it out).

I would prefer to stay new (or demo), but not used as I have had bad experiences with used equipment.

Any more help would be greatly appreciated.

I have the Creek 5350SE and have been very happy with it. You should be able to pick one up used for under a grand.

I can second the above recommendation for Aronov integrated selling used in the $1500 range. The dual mono volume controls confound non-tweaky family members within my household, but the sound quality is just so natural with amazing sense of power when called for. There is no phono section which seems to keep the price out of the stratosphere.
Stephen, that YBA on the 'gon!--It's a killer. Better than Creek and MF. Don't know anything 'bout Unison Research, but I would take book, it sounds better. I, for one, do not like to mess around with demos. They are used and abused. Demo=used,big time. That YBA is built to perfection. Extraordinary workmanship. It's used. Buy it and try it. If it's not happening for you, you can put it back on the 'gon and get your money back. Put it on the aucton block and you'll probably make a profit. That YBA is one gloriously sounding integreated.
I read up on the Aronov integrated and one thing that has me concerned is the fact that it is all tube. If I'm going to include tubes at all, I simply want them in the preamp stage.

I do not discount the quality of this piece, but I do not want to have to worry about constant tube upkeep.

Keep 'em coming, people!!!

thanks again!
You aren't sure if YBA is what you are looking for?? It is a integrated amp just like rest of them, and excellent one too. Also, if you are serious about sound you cannot dismiss tube aplifiers, and would suggest Jadis Orchestra, but only if you replace NHT's.
Well if you feel the Unison "blew away" the Blue Circle CS, then you better get the Unison. The YBA probably won't be your cup of tea either. It is all a matter of taste. There is no one size fits all amplifier. You are far better off forming your own conclusions, than listening to us.
The Classe integrateds are worth consideration..esp at used prices here on AudiogoN.
If you're going to change speakers I think you are going about this wrong. Find the speakers you want and then find a suitable amp to drive them. Trying to do the opposite is more difficult and more likely to result in a mistake.
Actually, despite the fact that it is likely that i will sell my NHT 2.5i's , i still have a pair of NHT 1.3a's that i will use. They are enough for my room. I know their sound and i know their deficiencies. So, selecting an amp based on their sound should not be a problem.

I will use them as a reference and i will work from there. I only have funds right now for one toy at a time (READ: HQ integrated)

I am sick of using cheap Nakamichi a/v receiver... I want a good base piece.

If i buy the speakers first, I will be stuck in the same situation - my weak link will still be the Nakamichi.

Although some might disagree, NHT speakers can sound DAMN GOOD with the proper equipment.

I just don't want to go 'all tube'.

Thanks again everyone.

by the way...

I don't really want to buy anything from online...I'm VERY VERY skeptical when it comes to online purchase...i have heard horror stories.

Steve, I'm sure your reservations are well founded and to each is own. Having said that, I've bought tons of used gear on A'gon and haven't had a single bad experience. Nothing is completely safe, but for the used market this site is the best!
Ditto the Creek 5350SE
Holy Crap!!

I just checked out the Creek 5350se and HO-LY!!

That unit floored me. Seriously.

I also listened to the Naim Nait 5 and that was even better, but i don't think it has enough power for my mains (which i might just keep)

I'll get back to you with more of my audition reports asap.

sorry bout the short posting, but my gf is trying to sleep and 'I'm keeping her awake with my typing'

:) Stephen
Another vote for the Sim i-3. Greatly underrated company with superb products. (The problem is that they have a limited chain of distribution, so auditions are not easy to conduct unless you're willing to do some driving.) Beautifully built stuff and a 10 year warranty on new purchase. Give it some thought.
Why not the Portalaudio integrated? 60 day home trial. Good reviews to date. Joe Abrams is a long-time and highly respected industry player and I can only guess who designed the unit. Check out www.portalaudio.com and give Joe a call. If you do not want to go that route, I cast my vote for the Aronov.
I have not heard the Unico, but being a hybrid design I am very interested in it. Such a design should give you a, smoother, more relaxed sound than an all SS setup. I owned the Simaudio Moon I-5 and Electrocompaniet ECI-3 and feel neither could match the lush, open presentation of the Blue Circle BC21 tube preamp/BC22 solid state amp combo I'm using now.

Interesting that you didn't like the Blue Circle CS, but I don't know to what degree it's sound varies from the BC21/22 separates if at all. You seem to like the Unison, but I think the integrated you ultimately choose should be considered along with the speakers and cables you intend to match them with.

Oh, and my whole system was purchased through contacts I made on Audiogon. I always try to buy used. In the past when I've liked something I auditioned at a store, I bought it from them. But these days I do so much research and know many of the tendencies of the frequent posters here on the 'Gon, I feel confident in buying used gear without a listen.
You could try the Portal Audio "Panache":


a little over your budget but you can keep it for 60 days and if you don't like it you can return it - full refund no questions asked. Looks interesting!