Which integrated amp?

Hi all,

I need help. I am trying to decide between the following integrated amps:

Exposure 2010s
Unison Research - Unico Primo
Vincent SV 236MK II
Musical Fidelity M3i

I have included below a list of my current gear. Any suggestions and/or advice would be most welcomed as I am having trouble making up my mind. I was trying to keep things under a grand, but have since upped my budget to around $2000. Please check out my list to match an amp to my current gear, and get back to me with any thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, etc.

Thanks so much!

I currently run the turntable through a phono amp connected to the auxiliary 1 input and a USB DAC connects to the auxiliary 2 input. I am also running a line out from the aux 1 that I connect to my laptop with an RCA to mini so I can record/rip vinyl. Any new amp I purchase would need to have a line out that I could use to rip vinyl. So, keep that in mind. I mostly listen to Rock music and a bit of Jazz with occasional Funk and Soul thrown into the mix at times. I also would need a line (or pre?) out to connect a headphone amp, as my current amp has a headphone jack, and the amps listed above do not.

Also, I am using basic thick black rubber encased RCA interconnect cables. Not sure what brand they are. They are a step (or a few steps above) the basic cheap RCA cables, anyway. I know that cables can make a difference in sound quality, but my budget will not allow for expensive cabling (at this time). Any suggestions on relatively inexpensive but high quality cables would also be appreciated.

Thanks again for your time!
- G

My Gear List:

Speakers: B&W CM4s
21/2-way floorstanding front L/R speaker Drivers: 1" aluminum-alloy
dome tweeter, 6.5" woven Kevlar-cone bass-midrange, 6.5" aluminum-cone
Frequency response: 38Hz-20kHz, ±3dB
Impedance: 8ohms nominal, 4.4ohms minimum
Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m
Recommended amplification: 50-150W

The Amp I am replacing - > Integrated Amp: ROTEL RA-02

Phono Amp: ClearAudio Nano
MM / MC mode
switched by jumpers on the bottom of the unit
54 to 69 dB (MC – Mode)
34 dB to 49 dB (MM – Mode)
Input load:
47 kΩ / 220pF / MM
Individual / User / MC
MM / MC – input:
switchable (at bottom)
75μs / 318μs / 3180μs
RIAA accuracy:
± 0,4 dB
0,04 %
S/N ratio:
67 dB (A) (MC – Mode)
84 dB (A) (MM – Mode)
Channel separation:
> 80 db (1 kHz)
Max. output voltage:
10 V eff. (1 kHz)
Power supply:
16 V AC (< 500 mA)
In/ Outputs:
asymmetrical (RCA)

Turntable: REGA RP3 W/ELYS 2 CART & Groovetracer Reference subplatter

CD Player: ROTEL RCD-02
Specifications: Burr Brown PCM 1732 D/A Converter, HDCD decoding,
coaxial digital output, 12v trigger input


* Amplifier Structure: Low pass filter with 2Vrms output
* Power Structure: High frequency switching DC-DC regulator
* USB Support: 44.1/ 48/ 88.2/ 96/ 176.4/ 192 kHz - 16 or 24 bit
rates (176.4 and 192 kHz asynchronous mode only)
* Operation Mode: Supports adaptive and asynchronous mode
* Digital Interface: Direct I2S data format transmission
* Circuit Protection: Output Short/over current protect
* DAC Chip: WOLFSON WM8740
* USB Chip: TENOR TE8802
* LPF Opamp: National Semiconductor LM4562
* Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
* Noise Level: (1kHz, A-weighted) -106.7dB
* Dynamic Range: (1kHz, A-weighted) -106.9dB
* THD%: 0.012%
* Crosstalk: -102.7dB

24VDC ± 5%; 300mA max. output
With the type of music you prefer and with the aggressive treble of the B&W CM series the Vincent appears to be the best fit. I think the Unison could be to soft for rock/funk, MF could accentuate the B&W flaws, and the Exposure might be underpowered.
Other "used" options...
Quad 909/99
AVI-Laboratory Series Intergrated
Electrocompient-ECI 5
If you ever consider upgrading to the CM 8/9 you won't have to upgrade your amp with the Vincent or the suggested used amps.
I have owned the Vincent and the Exposure. The Vincent is very nice but in my system with my chair, beer, cable, speakers and so on I found it ever so slightly thin sounding but pretty good overall. The Exposure is something else. it is stunning what comes out of that little box. I had a Creek Destiny here one on one and the Creek was very clean and detailed but the expousre just plain sounds like music and makes everything else sound mechanical. I had an Anthem 225 here and the Exposure
sounded more powerfull and more musical
Now I have heard many things and am picky but not rich. I also worked in the audio biz but I still had a hard time believing what I was hearing so I called a dealer out of state who carried both the Creek and Exposure and told him what I heard. He laughed and said they see that all the time with customers. He used the term organic to describe the 2010S. It reminds me of an NAD 3020 upgraded.

FYI I moved us to the 2010S2. it is warmer with more bass but I think I may have liked the original better. Had to sell to pay the bills.
You really need to upgrade your cables. Google Blue Jeans Cable....very good and cheap.
A 3 ft. IC is about $35.00....Belden low capacitance
You need to check out the Harman Kardon HK990, it is one fantastic integrated and has all you would ever need on it.
Hi all,

Thanks for the input. I will take all your considerations into account.

Geph0007: do you agree with Dayglow, that the Exposure may not be enough power if I decide to upgrade my speakers in the future? Might the Anthem 225 be needed, and Asa a result a "better" choice, or...do I really also just need to listen to each of them? I am gonna try and do just that soon. There is shop by me that carries both of them, so at least I can do an in-store listen.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!
Power numbers are a funny thing. From an electrical point of view and then the there is the sonic reality. My experience was the Anthem was effortless but somewhat dry. The Expouse sounded like the more powerful of the two with great punch and dynamics HOWEVER at very very high levels I did notice the bass on the Vincent and the Anthem would hold up better then the Exposure but we are talking ear splitting levels. Some amps seems to sound like a much larger amp then they are. The NAD 3020/7020 always shocks me. The Exposre was the same way. The Anthem sounded like what it was. I reall wanted ther Anthem as it had everything I wanted feature wise. The only way to know for sure and the only way to do it is to get them together and compare side bi side. Can be very very educational. let your ears and emotions decide.
Hmmm. I just revisited the web site to the local store that I THOUGHT had both amps available to do a side by side, but I guess I was mistaken. They only carry the Anthem. So...not sure I can do a side by side comparison. Shoot! In any case, I was reading another thread in another forum:

One guy was talking about the Exposure clipping at high levels and getting so hot you could not even touch the volume knob. Others who owned it said they experienced no such thing. What is your take? Did you ever experience anything like that?

Finally, my Rotel is only 40W/channel and it gets pretty loud and mostly holds together, so...I am wondering/assuming the Exposure would be fine with my B&Ws. However, if I do go with the Exposure and I find it lacking, could I not just ad an amp using the pre-out at some point in the future? And if so, my only question then would be: would there still be some way to use a headphone amp or would I loose that option? My guess is I would loose it since I need the record out to rip vinyl and with the pre-out going to an amp...there would be no way to use/add a headphone. Am I correct in this?

And, one MORE thing: have you heard the Unico Primo? If so, do you also agree it might be too soft for Rock music? I am wondering as I saw a 3 year old demo online for sale in good condition from a dealer for almost $1000 less than a new one.

Get back to me and let me know. I truly appreciate all your help!
There is a nice combo on Audiogon now in your price range - a Rotel RC-1580 preamp and a RB-1582 amp. I use thie same to drive B&W N804 and ASW800 subwoofer to loud, clean levels.
Thanks for the suggestion, Miner42. It looks like I could buy that combo new from a sealer with a warranty, etc. for about the same price if I decided to do so, but...I think I want to try something different. That, and the fact that the amp is pretty large and I currently have limited space will keep me looking elsewhere. But, I do appreciate the heads-up!

Gizmology-The Exposure 2010-S2 will prefer a near steady 8ohm load over a speaker that dips into the 4ohm or less region. Rotel amps are fine value performers but still(IMO)have a SS harshness/stridency. The amps I have mentioned have a solid taste of true hi-end sound where a harsh/mechanical sound is nearly eliminated and they also have the ability to drive lower impedance speakers. Also add(all used <$2k) a Marantz 11s2, Roksan Caspian M2 and a Valve Audio Predator(own one) to your list.
Thanks Dayglow! I'll look into those and keep them in mind. Do you know of or have any experience with the Anthem 225?
No, I have not heard the Anthem but the build/parts quality are not on the same level as the amps I mentioned, that usually correlates to sound quality. The power rating is also a little suspect. My best advice is to look into the Quad 909/99 amp/pre or an AVI Lab-S21 both units have PRAT/power/current. Overture Audio in Ann Arbor MI(no affiliation)may still have a couple demo or used AVI S21 intergrateds in stock.
OK, so I checked out the Quad and AVI Lab and...here's the deal: my wife hates how they look! ; ) I am not exactly drooling over the aesthetics either, but...I could sacrifice style for sound. That said, I'm not the only one who has to stare at them everyday, so...unfortunately, those are no longer options. Someone in another forum just suggested TEAC AI-2000. Apparently, it is somewhat new and part of their Distinction series which is a line that attempts to bring some of the quality of their Esoteric brand stuff down to the masses at a more affordable price. Let me know. Other than that, I think I just need to go do some listening while keeping an eye out online for deals.
Plus 1 for the Harman Kardon HK990. Brilliant integrated.

OK, so...I checked out the Anthem 225 (on better speakers and with more expensive cables than what I have at home) and...eh, I was a bit whatevs. It sounded ok, but not thrilling. I read a comparison of the Anthem and the HK990 that favored the Anthem. Now I am just as confused as ever! If the HK is similar to the Anthem, or according to two other people online, the lesser of the two...then I probably will not be thrilled with it either. I dunno. Still wondering if anyone has heard the TEAC AI-2000? I may try and make it out to demo an Exposure, but the place is a bit far from me, so not sure when I'll get there. Anyone have any other ideas, answers, suggestions, or comments to confuse me even further?! ; )
When I used to own B&W speakers I always had the best luck with NAD. If I were in your shoes I would be looking at the C375bee. Look into the Hegel H200 as well.
Yeah, that has been suggested but I owned a few NAD components in the early 1990s and they always had some sort of problem and wound up in the repair shop, so I am a bit leery of going there again. Although, that WAS a long time ago. I'll look into your suggestions in any case. Thanks!
There is a Denon PMA A100 listed on Audiogon now. It is very conservatively rated and provides a prodigious amount of current. At its price point you will find it hard to beat. Actually, youl'll find it hard to beat up to about $5k.
There is a MF A5.5 for sale here in the integrated amp section that fits your budget - get that and call it a day - it will match nicely with your B&Ws.

(no affiliation to the seller)

I use the older A5 with my B&W CDM1NTs - great synergy and match.
Hi Erikt,

I saw that, however my speakers limit is 150w. And, at this point unless I find an insanely good used deal, I am leaning on new or used from a store where I can get a warranty - which is doubled when I buy with AMEX. Plus, I can audition with my system, in my house, to be sure an amp is a good fit and that I really like it. If I decide I don't...I have 30 days to return or even...up to 90 days w/AMEX buyer protection, so...prob where I am headed at this point unless some insanely good deal materializes that is too good to pass up. Thanks for your tip, though! I appreciate it!
You should try Yamaha A-S1000 over Exposure, Musical Fidelity,NAD and more......
You will be surprise......
Thanks for all the advice everybody! My plan is to still go out and listen to some amps as soon as I can, which looks like not this weekend, but next. I value all your input and opinions and will take everything into consideration as I continue my search.

Thanks again,
That Harman integrated looks good, but how about the reliability?
Three possibles if you're willing to direct order:

1. Outlaw RR2150 receiver ($699) (I have and like very much);
2. Emotiva USP-1 Stereo Preamp plus XPA-200 amp (on sale until tomorrow for $369 and $499);
3. Odyssey Audio (never tried, but read good things).

All would have plenty of power, stable to at least 4 ohms, and good with rock. The Outlaw is well within your budget. The Odyssey might push your budget a bit. Emotiva preamp has lots of features, but amp may not meet the quality of some of the other suggestions.

good luck!
Thanks, Stinky5!
I did a lot of looking into the Outlaw and eventually decided against it. I can't remember the reason, but I have looked and re-looked at a lot of things and then crossed them off my list one by one for various reasons. Not really into the Emotiva line, and as far as I can tell (from their web site), the Odyssey has no line outs for headphone amp and recording, so that is not an option for me. I'll continue my search...

Check out the Marantz line from the PM8004 up, very much worth consideration. Great warranty as well.
I'm going to try and make it out to a place that carries a lot of the brands mentioned in this thread - hopefully within the next two weeks. Thx!
OK all,

Looks like I will most likely be going with the new (just announced yesterday!) Rogue Audio Sphinx (assuming I like what I hear!). According to the specs, It has everything I am looking for, and based on some of their other products I have heard, in-store and at my friend's house...I am fairly confidant this will be the one for me. The local store should have them in-stock in about three weeks.

I'll keep ya posted...

And...thanks to all of you for the help, comments, and advice!
Good choice I am gob smacked by how good the Sphinx is.