Which Intergrated amp for starter??

Category: Amplifiers

Hello all just wondering if anyone can give me some advice on a good intergrated amp. As of now I will be using my computer as a source until I can afford better eq. For speakers I will either be getting B & W's 602 s3 or Sonus concertino if I can find them or maybe some totem mites.

I mostly listen to classical (Brass quintents, Mahler, Bruckner, Piano) and Jazz (clark terry, mingus, clifford brown).

I figured that getting a good amp that is flexible would be a better bet than speakers which can be changed more often than not. What intergrated amp out there is a good all around perfomer for various music.

PrimaLuna-Prologue II:40W via 2 pair of KT-88s.Great sound especially considering the price ($1345).
What kind of budget are you looking in? If it is the same budget as your speakers thread, here are my suggestions:

Audio Refinement Complete
Musical Fidelity A3
Rotel RA1062
Riga Mira

Also give a listen to the NAD line and see if you like the sound of their products.
I second the Complete. It will serve as a solid foundation to build from as you venture into the maddening array of choices when it comes to cables, sources etc, and they're dirt cheap these days. If you'd like to spend more money and are willing to do a bit more tinkering get something with tubes.
I would also include:

Plinius 8100 - if you don't need MC/MM capability 100w/ch
Plinius 8200 - if you do need MC/MM capability 175w/ch

Great reviews on these integrated amps

Another vote for the Audio Refinement Complete. If you can't spend $500, any of the Rotel integrateds are a great value.
I have a Dared MP7 SE amp for sale 500.00. I sold all my SS equipment after I heard this amp. I just recently upgraded to a pair of ASL 845 SET amps and this amp is a extra. It is in Excellent shape with Original tubes and Extra 6l6 tubes. Thanks

Look into the SQ-88 from Quest for Sound, a dealer on AGO and store located in PA area. Nice tube based system with remote volume control. It uses the KT 88 tube and is very musical.
Well I plan to use 500 on speakers and 500 on an good amp. Is that a good budget? What would be good speakers to match these?
It's a good budget if that is what you can spend. I say blow the entire thing on good speakers and save up for a decent amplifier. However, if that is your budget, I'd still go with the Complete, and add a pair of B&W CDM 1NT's or some Green Mountain Audio Europas. You might want to jump on either pair though, they usually sell quick. B&W's listed for 700, Europas listed at 650 when I saw them. Both are an awesome match for the audio refinment.

You can find good speakers for $500. The suggestions you've received are good ones and others I'd add would be Meadowlark Kestrels (or anything else by Meadowlark) or Soliloquy 5.0's.
I would recommend the Rega integrateds... great sound on a budget
Rotel makes great integrated amps if you truly mean "budget", not "budget according to high end money".
I suggest you decide on your speakers first.
Based on your music likes, I would suggest a used pair of Vandersteen 2cis for a near full range sound at that price point. Audio Refinement might be a bit polite for them; however, it is a very nice piece for teh current used price.
Well I finally gotten my speakers. I got a good deal on a pair of Totem Acoustic rainmakers. Decided to spend most of my dough on these. Now I still missing two components. I good integrated amp and speaker wires and interconnections. What are a few good integrated amps for I say 2-400 dollar used that would pair well with the rainmakers.

Thanks guys for all the help.
Try the NAD 320BEE. Pretty hard to beat in the $300 range.

Good luck.
$249 from Audio Advisor...40wpc, two sets of speaker connections, aluminum remote control, great fit and finish and nice British sound for a song. The best value in the world if you're really pinching pennies. Had one for a few months and loved it. No onboard phono stage, though...you can have AA install the board for $60 or so, or buy an outboard if you need one.
A truly underated and often ignored integrated is the Yamaha RX777. It's in your budget, and has a surprising amount of juice for a basic integrated. Plus (at least to me), it is built like a tank, and is totally without frills or pointless extras.
If the budget permits the Classe integrateds are perhaps the biggest bang for the dollar in contemporary products.

If not in the budget, have a PS Audio Elite on auction now that will more than fill your requirements and will drive all but the most inefficient speakers around. Great sound at a very good price.


Also the integrateds from Audio Analog are nothing short of spectacular. True Italian craftsmanship. Hard to find in this country, but worth the effort.
I have a Rotel RA820BX3 that has served me well since 1990.
When I purchase a new amp, it will most likely be a Rotel (great sound and great value)
I agree with the advice that suggests you settle on the speakers you want first. This is the real foundation of system in my opinion, as well as saving a lot of work down the line. Figure out your room and your speakers and move on from there. As well, I would suggest giving the investmant of time to your query. The wrong environment for your system is bound to degrade the sound of your system, leading to much second guessing and perceived buyers remorse. divorce, ill health, a bad reputation, etc. good luck!
a used $300+$400 NAD integrated amp is a solid bet as are others above. when you have about $800 consider tube amps, given your tastes you may prefer that sound over solid state. imo unless you spend more than a couple grand on an integrated solid state amp there will not be a helluva sound difference between quality SS amps. do get a quality cd player (NAD is affordable) and audition new formats of hi def cd's on market. they blow regular cd's away! nice speaker choice btw, you are off to good start!
the nad
I just purchased the Qinpu A-1.0x and think it's one of the best integrated amps I've heard in this price catagory.
A good choice for the Totem Rainmakers would be the Musical Fidelity A2. If you can find one,price should be in your comfort zone. Class A output 25 WRMS into 8 ohms and 50 into 4 ohms. Speakers you have are indeed 4 ohms.

A2 also has a phono section on board as well. Great liquid signature as only Class A output can deliver. Hard to find the A2 in secondary market, most folks just don't give them up. But worth the search.
Would suggest you review NAD, Rotel and Music hall as these are units I have had good luck with. The NAD tends to have a little less detail, The Rotel amps are very good but don't sound well with lower quality inputs and the Music Hall and Creek are excellent but a bit more expensive, but if you can afford it well worth the price. There are a lot of great used speakers out there. Go to a dealer who is recommended to you for his knowledge and listen to a variety of speakers. I have Sonabs which have been greened up and a pair of Aura's (a.k.a.Lineaum) which have also been reworked. The tweeter on the latter is fantastic but is easily blown in the basic model (two way). I have compared these against the vandersteens for one and find them much better to my taste. I should mention that I like the "point source" or surround type speakers (usually bipolar tweeters) for better sound staging, particularly with small groups. However, you may find you don't like these. Point is, speakers in particular are a very personal purchase and the best way to find a pair that will suit you is to review as many as you can before you commit your money. I probably looked at over 50 different speakers before buying my last pair. Also take a few CD's with you, that you are very familiar with to test the speakers. Last but not least, try to audition the speaker, amp combination you want to buy if you can.
Cambridge Audio makes high value int amps. Azure 540A v2 is a great place to start a "budget" system. About $250 or so used. I have one as for second system and its surprisingly good.
Read my krell 400xi review if you can..maybe it would be a fit for you..it is for me and my tastes are comparable!
Good question. I agree that flexibity is huge in a first amp, as your tastes will surely change in gear, so it is best to have a basic amp/preamp setup that can drive most speakers. I am a huge Tube guy now, but I would suggest a solid state integrated for your purposes.

I did this very thing when I set up my first "real system" -- I messed with various Rotel, Adcom and NAD (mainly used) SS amps and integrateds. My first decent amp was an NAD 320BEE which is outstanding-- it sounds pretty darn good, is quiet, reliable, cheap, has a remote and tone controls, plays well with others, and can drive most anything. Its musicality is not a little better, its a quantum leap above any (more expensive) mass market receiver or home theater stuff.

I still have the NAD. I will never sell it. It's an integrated, BUT has separable pre and power amp sections,
I use it for a second kids' system; AND I can use it as a backup when my tube amp and OR preamp are getting fixed, or for sale, getting upgraded, etc.(which is often). (Kind of like having an old pickup truck.) Also, you can experiment with the NAD pre/power in jacks, trying out or upgrading with maybe a tube preamp, different pre-power amp combos, etc... (flexible, as you said).

After buying it, I later wished the NAD had a preamp out so I could have used it with a subwoofer, or tried biamping, however. Still, the 320BEE is my single greatest audio purchase, (and the cheapest).

I think you are on the right track. I would humbly suggest getting a good SS "starter" amp; good small speakers like the ones you mentioned, and then make your next upgrade a decent CD player or DAC for your computer, preferably Tubed. Only AFTER getting a complete starter system set up in my room, did I start to find out what kind of equipment sounded good to me in that room.

Once I had some listening tools in my own home (starter system), I learned that I liked metal dome tweeters over silk, Mosfets over BiPolar, Tubes over solid state and op amps, copper over silver, low power over high power, etc. Everyone is different. Audio is like martial arts, you work up one belt at a time to the black belt as you grow in wisdom and self-control (to 3w per channel SET, and a flowing white beard.)

I believe that you cannot figure out at all how anything sounds-- even in a store demonstration, or especially from a magazine review-- until it's in your own listening room, unfortunately. As I was broke, clueless, and cheap, I adopted the strategy to buy and sell cheap, well-made, popular Used gear until I educated myself. I found that I could sell my used stuff for near what it cost me used; and get to play with it for free basically. Building a kick ass $1,500 audio system is very rewarding, a lot more so than spending big cash on better gear. Getting your first good audiophile system is like drilling for oil I suppose, and that big gusher finally comes out!

I am not trying to sell you on NAD by any means. I just am familiar with it. Rotel makes an integrated which sounds good, and looks good, and has preamp outs, and tone controls. Parasound is good, also Adcom, etc. If budget permits, there is a Jolida hybrid integrated which is probably vastly superior (yet more minimalist) with its tube front end.

You didn't mention your busget, but if you want to spend more, why trade up a Hyundai for a Kia? I would spend a LOT more and get a used (one of the newer newer series) McIntosh SS integrated, called I believe the 6850- 6500 series. Man its great with B&W spakers. And talk about flexible! And beautiful, with killer resale value to boot).

That's not necessary however. (I guess none of this hifi stuff is really 'Necessary'....) My 50 watt NAD will drive my giant Revel 3 way towers easily, as has more bass than my old Classe behemoth amp. In your position, I would probably buy something pretty cheap; and work on the source component next. When I first tried to go from crummy stereo to decent high end sound, I found that I had to lift each of the elements of my system up to a MINIMUM HIFI level to start making music (If the "weak link" was crappy, it ruined the ENTIRE system.) (Thus "system").

For example, my starter system was a used Rotel amp and preamp, Paradigm bookshelf speakers, decent stands, and MIT cables. For CD I used an older Pioneer player which I thought sounded good (and was the "best" part of my system) as it was heavy and expensive in its day. (besides, how could I live without "shuffle"?). But my new system sounded much worse than my burnt up dorm room 70's stuff! Only when I desperately took a flyer on a mail order audiophile Cambridge CD player, (with decent parts quality) and thus brought up the weak link in my system, did I realize how important fixing the bad link was.

It's like having a leaking pipe flooding your house, you can't just say: "well the rest of the pipe is all upgraded 6 nines continuous cast cyrogenetic treated copper that cost a fortune, so it will make up for the leaky section." Plug that leak!

Moral: So I got finally a cheap but decent CD, integrated, and speakers, and I was in heaven. (for a while).

Whoa --this post is getting out of hand. I realize this is too much information. I am not really trying to give you advice, just sharing my experiences. Good luck!

If you believe you can get by with 30-45W/ch,you might look at the Winsome Mouse.I picked one up and really wasn't expecting much.I have been suprised at the quality of sound that it produces.It is a single input unit with the Alps Blue-velet pot.I understand that when the pot is opened up,it is essentially out-of-the-system.
Not a bad deal for $410 delivered,and has areturn policy.
For speaker cable,you can't go terribly wrong with the Home-Depot orange/black extension cord<$15-18/80-100'.
Alot of good ideas from the above responses. I'll talk my book - I own the Sim Audio i-1 integrated amp. $1500/ 50 watts/ch into 8 ohms. Very happy with sound. Prefer it to NAD, Creek.

good luck
Great recommendations listed above; despite the age of the question- it is probably asked daily by budding audio purists...

Not so long ago... I started with a Rotel RA-1062; moved into Rotel separates; and traded up into a McIntosh MA-6500 Integrated Amplifier; and have never looked back or regretted it ever since.

The Rotel sound is clean and detailed (analytical); the McIntosh being warm and powerful. Depending on speakers- can provide the best of both detail and warm-sounding elements of most musical genres.

Rega Mira at about 1395 it is a steal. Warm, rich and very musical, it also has p-lenty of power
Check out an older (80's) Denon PMA Integrated Amp. Denon made some really good equipment then. The Real Time Audio Series is excellent bang for the buck. Best thing is that you can usually pick one up for a super low price now!
You can find a demo yamaha a-s2000 for $1200...one of the BEST bargains on the market! Someone compared the yamaha a-s2000 amp to his Very HIGH priced Goldmund integrated amp and the yamaha BEAT IT in midrange fidelity!...