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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Best amp for a new audiophile

    Hello there.

    New comer to the world of hi-fi, it's time for me to get decent equipment.

    The story (you don't have to read this)
    Until now I was playing MP3 from itunes through my Sanyo amp and speakers that I bought 10 years ago. They were part of a small stereo system that included mini disc player, CD player, amp and speakers. CD player is dead and I no longer use MDs (who does?) but the amp and speakers are still well alive and vigorous. They kept me very happy during all time.
    Sanyo is not known as a high quality consumers electronic maker but this audio systems sound quality was one of the best ones on the shelves at the time. ~450 was a huge investment for a kid at the time but it kept me extremely happy since then.
    Now it's time for the real thing.

    What I am looking for
    - CLEAR/sharp and WARM sound, with a flat bandwidth as I listen to various genres of music and I like to listen music the way it was meant to be listened
    - phono input
    - powerful. ~80Wpc (100Wpc or more would be good)
    - design should be simple (austere?) and build quality should be good. Exotism welcome, uniqueness preferred (I am more than ok with vintage).
    - price wise, I don't want to spend more than 500 and I am generally looking for an excellent value-for-money ratio
    - equalizer is very welcome but not required
    - other features like vue meters (LOVE them but not really usefull), remote, ipod connection or baked beans can compactor can be a real +

    So far, these are the ones which retained my attention. They are not sorted by rank but it looks like Accuphase are my favourite ones, design wise at least.
    I'd like to have your opinion on these amps. If you think of a good one that is not listed here, please tell me.
    Click the names to see details.


    Accuphase E-202


    Accuphase E-206



    Marantz PM7200



    Yamaha A-S700


    Yamaha AX-430


    Harman Kardon HK 980


    Rotel RA-04


    Rotel RA-985BX


    NAD 3130


    Pioneer A-A6

  2. #2
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    I was also considering having an apmlifier + phono pre amp but I'd less prefer as I want to avoid multiplying component and cable mess.
    The following ones don't have a phono input but if you tell me one is excellent then I might make the effort.

    Cambridge Audio Azur 650A


    Rega Brio 3


    NAD C326BEE


    Naim Nait 5i



    I also want to go to a hi-fi store to ask. Do you know good ones in London?
    Thank you all for your answers.

  3. #3
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    That Cambridge 650A is a real beast. You can get a decent phono stage for cheap. The buzz brand for budget around here right now is Emotiva. They are having a HUGE sale right now. If you are truly serious, your timing couldn't be better. There are plenty of owners on this site, and they can tell you directly about this products excellence. Have a look...

    http://www.emotiva.com/

    For your budget, I would suggest UPA-2 Power Amplifier (125W @ 8 Ohms!!) on sale for $250 USD and the USP-1 Pre-Amplifier ( Phono for MM and MC, bass management for subwoofer, etc, etc) on sale for $350 USD.

    At the current rate this would cost you 370 pounds. I would assume the difference to 500 would be used for shipping and connects/accessories.

    That's my 0.02

    The USP-1 Pre-Amp



    The UPA-2 Power Amp


  4. #4
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Reptkeu I assume lives in England. Emotiva is based in the US, and there are no distributors in the UK for Emotiva. 500GBP is about 800$, but chances are if a product in the US costs 800$ it will be more than 500GBP in the UK.
    Reptkeu, your money will go further if you buy used.
    The new cambridge audio amps look pretty sweet. The picture you posted is that of the 340A, not the new 650A. Here is the 650A:
    This is the 650A:


    Looks like it packs a punch and is full of good features. i can't give too much input right now but the others will certainly chip in

  5. #5
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reptkeu
    Best amp for a new audiophile?
    I suggest you approach the question differently. Speakers impart a far bigger difference and they also differ greatly in required power and other characteristics. The best amp for one speaker is not necessarily the best amp for a different set. What speaker will you be driving?

    rw

  6. #6
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Of all the gear reptkeu posted pictures of, Accuphase would be my choice. with the budget he's mentioned that would mean used. The up side is, Accuphase is "high end". The only Accuphase gear I have ever owned is my tuner. Frankly, it walks, no stomps everything else I've heard that was priced for mere mortals. I gotta admit I've heard really good things about Magnum Dynalab's FT-101 tuner though.
    Accuphase stuff is big, heavy, absolutely gorgeous and built like a tank. It's usually quite expensive even used.
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  7. #7
    Sophisticated Red Neck manlystanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    For your budget, I would suggest UPA-2 Power Amplifier (125W @ 8 Ohms!!) on sale for $250 USD and the USP-1 Pre-Amplifier ( Phono for MM and MC, bass management for subwoofer, etc, etc) on sale for $350 USD.

    At the current rate this would cost you 370 pounds. I would assume the difference to 500 would be used for shipping and connects/accessories.

    Good suggestion. After I've gotten my system setup I like my new UPA-2. One last test, when I work at home next time, I'll listen to it for 12 hours straight. If I don't get ear fatigue, then it's a keeper.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
    Last edited by manlystanley; 12-13-2009 at 06:13 PM.
    Listening/Movie Room: ADCOM GTP-500, XPA-2, Denon 3930ci, Front: Jamo C809; Surround: Klipsch R-5650-S; Back: R-5650-S; Denon AVR-687,. Projector: Sharp XR-32X.

    Family Room: Denon avr-687, Denon CD player, Klipsch RB-5II

  8. #8
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I suggest you approach the question differently. Speakers impart a far bigger difference and they also differ greatly in required power and other characteristics. The best amp for one speaker is not necessarily the best amp for a different set. What speaker will you be driving?

    rw
    Seconded... I think you should start your search by determining what Speakers you want and then finding appropriate amplification to drive them...

  9. #9
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    I'm with JoeE here, my first choice off the list would be Accuphase and then the Naim. Everything else is a distant second. The Rotel or NAD would be second choice. The rest wouldn't even be on my list. Yamaha or Pioneer, you might as well keep the Sanyo.

  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    I don't think it's necessarily reasonable to dismiss the Pioneer because of the name. It's not the same old Pioneer junk you'd see at the big box store. As for the Nait...I've never gotten it. I must be missing something. Maybe I have the wrong ears.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    The rega is supposed to be quite good, but it's not the most powerfull with about 40w channel.
    The Yammie As700 is also supposed to be very good. As for the Marantz, I believe that's the model you can run on full class A, but power goes down to 25w/channel. I've heard good things about it.
    I've heard different Naim gear but have never been able to A/B. I do like their simplistic design.

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    reptkeu,

    Of the amps you've listed I would say the Naim Nait 5i is a clear leader based on the extremely consistent reiviews this model has received.



    A somewhat distant second to the Naim would be Rega Brio 3 and -- a sentimental favourite of mine -- the Accuphase C-206. For a warmer sound than most, consider the NAD. Of course there are other good amps on your list, virtually all which would be a significant improvement over your Sanyo.
    Last edited by Feanor; 12-14-2009 at 09:04 AM.

  13. #13
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    I know others have their choice of amps if they had to choose, and I would certainly choose either of the Accuphase's first and the Marantz second because of my love for their sound, but I don't think you could go wrong with any of those amps if you have the right setup and fair amount of tweaks. In the end of the day its using what you have and improving the sound as best as you can.

    frenchmon
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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  14. #14
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    reptkeu

    I have a Rega Brio 3 and its okay but very picky with the type of speaker to match with it. Given my frustrating experiences in trying to find a speaker match as it was afterthought to the Brio purchase...you may want to go audition those amps you listed an interest in and have the audio dealer put on different type of speakers so you can determine if the match works for you.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    For a beginner trying to get into the higher end of things in the world of audio and don't want to have to spend more than a good vehicle to do it I would look at Emotiva like the Poppa Chub said earlier. Their prices are low as hell and everything that I have heard about them is that they are some of the best out there for under 1000 bucks a component. Now If I was looking into 1000 dollars and over stuff I would probably look else where but for someone who has not figured out which stuff he likes and doesn't through trial and error and time in the hobby I would not think Emotiva would be a bad start. I have been in this hobby for many years and I have given thought to Emotiva's two channel preamp because of the low price and the reviews it has gotten. I think emotiva is overlooked many times because some audiophiles think that they are not going to get good quality because of the price being so low but I think people like Mr. Peabody and others have proven the quality of their components for the money and while they might not be up to the level of krell or Mr. Peabody's Conrad johnson stuff they are in a whole different price class and such should not be directly compared without that price difference being taken into account.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
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    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
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  16. #16
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Harley, I just explained that Emotiva probably isn't the best option for him given that he doesn't live in the US.

  17. #17
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    I have a Yamaha A-S700.
    likes : easy to the ears, smooth, clarity and balanced sound
    dislikes : lack of punch and speed
    I listened to the Rega Brio 3 with Rega RS3 speakers and didn't like the bass.
    But this is just my point of view.

  18. #18
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Harley, I just explained that Emotiva probably isn't the best option for him given that he doesn't live in the US.
    Why can't he have it shipped AA? Unless the cost is grossly high, I think Emotiva is a fantastic option for this "newbie". Cambridge is great too, don't get me wrong, but the cost bracket is much higher.

    BTW, how you doin? Haven't chatted in a while Tony-ony. I got that TDA 1543 dac. It's quite impressive for such a small unit. The power supply is most impressive. It's no Dac-09 but it'll do for the moment. I have too much on my plate to worry about the Grant right now. I have to get the Golden Tube functioning and then I still have to get some efficient speakers. My JBL's will do in the meantime...

    Hope to chat soon mate. Friday I am home in the day..

  19. #19
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Why can't he have it shipped AA? Unless the cost is grossly high......
    Yep, shipping overseas usually inflates the cost substantially... So while Emotiva is very affordably priced in the US, if I was to order one It'd cost me around double what you'd pay... in which case it would likely be better to buy a product locally for near the MSRP...

  20. #20
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I actually seen that you said that Emotiva would cost more where he lives after I posted so my bad. But otherwise this brand would be a great choice otherwise. Another option since you can find their stuff used everywhere and it is cheap as hell for the quality is Adcom. I am not sure what he thinks of used gear but if he shops around and chooses well taken care of gear then Adcom would be a great choice and a great way to get into this hobby without breaking the bank and if he lives in England I have seen British publications rate and talk about Adcom stuff in the past so I pretty sure it is sold there.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S Mains Speakers
    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
    Dell I660 music server running fidelizer windows 8 audio optimizer
    PS Audio Quintet power center



  21. #21
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Ajani I don't think it would be anywhere near double price but still you'd have to pay quite a bit for shipping, and maybe taxes not sure how that works but Emotiva does offer worldwide shipping. Could still be a bargain actually...
    But it would be much easier to buy British.
    Problem is, our OP hasn't replied once... I think we're too nice around here. That, or we don't have anything better to do

  22. #22
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Ajani I don't think it would be anywhere near double price but still you'd have to pay quite a bit for shipping, and maybe taxes not sure how that works but Emotiva does offer worldwide shipping. Could still be a bargain actually...
    But it would be much easier to buy British.
    Problem is, our OP hasn't replied once... I think we're too nice around here. That, or we don't have anything better to do
    It may not be double for him, but for me it would be very near double (after shipping costs and all the wicked import duties)...

  23. #23
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Ajani I don't think it would be anywhere near double price but still you'd have to pay quite a bit for shipping, and maybe taxes not sure how that works but Emotiva does offer worldwide shipping. Could still be a bargain actually...
    But it would be much easier to buy British.
    I'm with you. The jury is still out on long term reliability from Emotiva and I would prefer having access to a dealer that isn't across the pond.

    rw

  24. #24
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    Hello,
    I finally chose the Accuphase E-206. Maybe not the best choice but it sounded like it was mine from the begining. You know, just like a first love.
    So, I just received it! It's here at the office, right behind me, and I can't wait to be home tonight.
    The Emotiva or anything that would have needed high shipping rate + custom clearance was out of question for me.
    Next post will be tonight ;-)

  25. #25
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    I haven't personally heard the Accuphase but those who have it or have heard it report them sounding very good. Congrads and let us know how it worked out.

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