I heard a nice setup at RMAF with Cayin amps, you may try those.
Other options could be Sim Audio or Prima Luna.
Other options could be Sim Audio or Prima Luna.
Don't let tubes put you off. I'm running Pathos Classic One MkII tube hybrid integrated (can be stereo or bridged mono) and they are incredible. Best move in amplification I have ever undertaken. Opened a whole new world of enjoyment! I absolutely adore the sound of the Pathos inegrateds in bridged mode! No issues with heat, adjusting, etc. Just plug and play pure sonic pleasure! Make sure you get a remote if important to you! Also, if expandability/upgrade is important make sure the amp can be set to bridged/mono mode. Then you can later ad second one and biamp. Another incredible leap in performance!
It is truly an economical way to achieve wonderful sound. To give an idea how lush the sound is, I also have a Naim Nait 5i integrated. No slouch of an integrated, and about the same price as the Pathos when I bought it. But when I put it into the main system I could only take it for about an hour. Had to remove it and put the Classic One's back in. I didn't expect the Naim to sound better than the tube hybrids, and it didn't. There is a richness (imho) in a good tube hybrid that an all ss integrated has trouble achieving, unless perhaps moving significantly higher in cost.
I'd highly recommend a Naim Nait - either a 3R, or a better-sounding 5. Both of those have internal phono capabilities. The newer 5i does not without the use of an outboard Stageline - which does sound fantastic, by the way.
Second choice would be an Arcam integrated. Very nice.
Third would be a Rega integrated. Also nice.
As you can see, I think your Harbeths would sound best with a British Integrated - it's a match made in Heaven.
Feel free to e-mail me to discuss any of the above combos.
The Portal Panache is solid state, 100 wpc, but no remote.
I also have a Plinius 9200 here. Early listening impressions are not favorable, but I'll be giving it another try. I heard Harbeth and Plinius together at CES a few years back and liked it very much.
I think a reasonable amount of power is a good idea with the Harbeths. Also, I have the impression that your Ayre CDP may be happier feeding a balanced design (not sure of that, however), so maybe the Ayre integrated is something you could take a look at.
If your already using the Ayre CX-7 the Ayre AX7e may be the ticket to get the most out of your CD's (used with balanced interconnects). I am using an Ayre C5xe with an Ayre AX7e in balanced mode. I'm using the integrated to power Dynaudio Special 25's (similar power requirements) and couldn't be happier. Lot's of favorable reviews, especially for the "e" evolution upgrade.
Listen and decide! I also hear great things about Lavardin integrateds but have not had a chance to listen to them.
Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming. My biggest hurdle in this whole adventure is the lack of dealers within 5-6 hours of where I choose to live. However, the US importer of Harbeth (Fidelis) also has a retail operation 6 hours drive from where I live and I'm headed there in 2 weeks. They carry Lavardin, Nuforce, Plinius, and a couple other brands of electronics. I've blocked out a half day to audition everything they have that's appropriate.
I know I asked for integrated amp suggestions, but has anyone heard the Nuforce 9s driving Harbeths? On paper they would look to be a great match, but then again, my ears aren't made out of paper!
I had a chance to hear the Harbeth Super HL5 speakers with the Nuforce Ref 9.02 at the Audiokarma fest in Southfield Michigan a couple of weekends ago. The Nuforce were used with an Artemis Labs tubed preamp. I liked what I heard enough to audition the Nuforce Ref 9.02 amps in my system which I am doing this week. The combo sounded excellent at the show.
In this age of instant gratification, you'll probably find it hard to believe that 6 months later I still haven''t purchased an integrated or separates. No one is more surprised than me - well, ok maybe my wife is! I did purchase the Ayre CX-7e two months ago here on A'gon. I have yet to find an opportunity to audition many of the integrateds I'm interested in with the Harbeths. The Harbeth importer's retail store that I was so anxious to get to in May, had made some line changes and didn't offer Nuforce any longer. They also only had one integrated that I could demo at that time. Big disappointment.
I did demo the Pathos Logos, and BAT integrateds while on a trip to NYC, but of course they didn't have Harbeths or anything in that genre of speakers. As a side note, I heard the Pathos driving the Sonics midsized floorstanders and was totally blown away by the soundstage and holographic presentation.
Bottom line is, I'm still listening to my 12 year old Onkyo integrated but out of frustration (and impatience) I'll probably 'pull the trigger' on something here on A'gon soon, even though I haven't auditioned it with my speakers.
Drubin - you are correct, I listened to the Lavardin IT. Actually, they also had the Cambridge integrated that sells for around $1,300. I thought the Cambridge was very good for the money but left me wanting more. It's been too many months for me to remember all the details of my opinion of the Lavardin IT, but overall it produced a very nice presentation of the music. The soundstage was a bit 'between the speakers' confined. Not as broad or deep as I'm hoping to find in an integrated I can afford. The big negative for me was that it was too expensive new, and Lavardin doesn't offer a remote. Sorry, but at 55 I've earned the right to sit on my arse and adjust the volume without jumpin' up and down out of my listening chair. Fidelis claims to have asked Lavardin for a remote for the US market but they refuse.
Choosing to live in a remote location has many benefits, but it sure makes it hard to buy audio gear. Impossible to demo the products I'm interested in in my system, and can't find a dealer who has the same product lines to demo. I'll probably buy something used here on A'gon knowing that I can always turn it around if I don't like it.
Have you run across the Sonics speakers? I demo'd them at Singers in NYC. Fairly new to the market from an established designer. Apparently they have very limited distribution at this time. I listened to the small floorstander pushed by the Pathos Logos and was blown away by the soundstage. A bit beyond my price range but very impressive.
Nolitan - I agree, but I've just not been able to find a dealer that had the Harbeth Super 5s AND an integrated in the $2.5 - $3K range in stock to demo. I listen to jazz/standards/blues and, most importantly, female vocals. I'll keep looking in my travels but will probably end up just buying something here, knowing that if I don't like the synergy I can turn around and resell for a relatively small loss.
You can purchase the SHL5 first & try to see if you can home audition some of your nearby dealers amps. Am sure some dealers will allow it while others wont. But one thing for sure, the Harbeths are forgiving enough that whatever you put in there it will have the Harbeth charm. Its really hard to make the Harbeths sound bad.
I heartily disagree. First, you will hear differences between amplifiers, albeit less so than with some other speakers. And if you are talking about the SHL5 model, you are not talking about a monitor and you probably won't feel a need for a subwoofer. But if you do, supplementing the bass with a REL will do the trick just fine. For that, you won't need pre out and amp in connections.