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  1. #1
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Integrated amp recommendations

    I need a cheap ($300ish) integrated that will mate well with Mission 780 Argonauts. They are 4 ohm speaks that dip to <3 ohms so the amp will need to be rated for this. They are rated at 95db's and most listening will be at low-moderate levels as it's for my office. 50 watts (or even less) should be more than enough. I need a warmer sounding ss integrated that's good at low listening levels as the speakers can have an agressive top end if not matched right. New or used, do you have any suggestions? The 4 ohm gig has kind of got me stuck.

    Thanks for all your suggestions.

  2. #2
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    I need a cheap ($300ish) integrated that will mate well with Mission 780 Argonauts. They are 4 ohm speaks that dip to <3 ohms so the amp will need to be rated for this. They are rated at 95db's and most listening will be at low-moderate levels as it's for my office. 50 watts (or even less) should be more than enough. I need a warmer sounding ss integrated that's good at low listening levels as the speakers can have an agressive top end if not matched right. New or used, do you have any suggestions? The 4 ohm gig has kind of got me stuck.

    Thanks for all your suggestions.
    I don't think your stuck at all. I kinda envy you a bit. with 95db speakers you should be able to use just about any low powered amp you choose.

    My advise is to "Go vintage!"

    There's my old Pioneer SX-1250 on ebay right now. Price is still good too. I managed to blow one of these up, but that was in my fuse melting days of rock & mayhem.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=50596

    Here's a slick looking Sasui intergrated

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...&category=3280

    Or you could go the other way with a low powered tube set. Most have 4 ohm taps.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...&category=3280
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  3. #3
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    nad 320bee.....
    nothing better in your budget.

  4. #4
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    I agree with manek. I really like the NAD.
    Remember, different isn't always better, but it is different.
    Keep things as simple as possible, but not too simple.
    Let your ears decide for you!

  5. #5
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    NAD's at the top

    I've got the NAD at the top of my list right now so thanks for the reinforcement, guys.

    Geoff,
    That Sansui sold for MORE than its retail in '77! That must have been one helluva integrated! I dunno about the Jolida...I really like the idea of tubes but in my office it's more of a "set it and forget it" scenario and I really don't want to mess with biasing, 4 ohm pots, or anything else for that matter. All it would do is make me play with my stereo instead of earning money to pay for more toys .

    My biggest concern with vintage is how will they hold up to the load. If it's not really going to be a problem (I'm asking you guys), I'll probably just get another vintage Marantz like the one I have because I love their sound.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    can you solder? How about a kit? or project?


    WHat about the Norh se9...the Jolida could be nice too...if it stays within your budget.


    have fun!
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    enjoy the music!

  7. #7
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonefishin
    can you solder? How about a kit? or project?


    WHat about the Norh se9...the Jolida could be nice too...if it stays within your budget.


    have fun!
    I'm fairly handy but simply don't have the time to invest in a kit. Sorry, no tubes for this application unless they have self biasing, 4 ohm pots, and are pretty much self sufficient. I just think a ss is the better way to go for this app.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  8. #8
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    As another suggestion, how about the Cambridge Audio Azur 540A? It runs $349 on Audio Advisor. 50 wpc into 8 ohms, 80 wpc into 4 ohms. Wireless remote, defeatable tone controls, two sets of binding posts, detachable IEC. Sonically, I don't know how it would compare against the NAD. The build quality looks better.

  9. #9
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I just got a Cambridge Audio A500 integrated. It was replaced by the Azur series. You may be able to find a demo w/full warranty for under $300. Mine is a demo from audioadvisor. So far, it seems like a little power house. 65wpc at 8 ohms, higher for 4 (I don't have the specs in front of me.) I got it for my son who has a pair of Polk RTi25s. The Cambridge does a good job of offsetting the compromises in cheaper bookshelf speakers. It's detailed at low levels and the highs don't run you out of the room at higher levels. I have 2 NAD integrateds - C340 and C350. If I was going to spend a little more I probably would have checked out the C320BEE from NAD. The Cambridge's remote only controls volume. The NAD's controls input selection and volume. I'm not sure if the 320BEE's controls power. I know the NAD integrateds work well with both NHT (power hungry) and Acoustic Energy bookshelf speakers. Neither Cambridge nor NAD comes with a phono section, but Cambridge offers a "phono module" for around $50. The Cambridge A series integrateds do not have headphone jacks (I'm not sure about the Azur series). The NADs do.

    The A500 was delivered today. If you come across one and are interested in getting it, I could add a little more info on reliability and performance as we use it.

  10. #10
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Keep the info comin' Dean and the vodka martini's are on me!

    This is perfect because both the NAD and CA were considerations for me. If you could get into a more detailed description as to the voicing of each amp I'd be very appreciative. If either are clinical and cool sounding, I'm SOL because that combo will drive me crazy with the Missions. I'll have to buy Tylenol in bulk! Unfortunately, the nearest NAD dealer is 3 hours away so I'm going to have to listen vicariously thru you.

    Thanks.

    ts

  11. #11
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I'll take one...uhmm several of those martinis before I get started...

    First, each amp is in a different system. The NAD C340 is in my bedroom w/ a panasonic dvd player, Cambridge Audio D300 cd player and NHT SuperOneXU speakers. (The XU is designed for wall-mounting. My wife insisted on white, wall-mounted speakers for the bedroom. Since it's her bedroom too - at least until that addition is built - I agreed.)

    The NAD C350 is in our family room and is used for watching dvds mostly. It's partnered w/ a Pioneer Elite 5 disc dvd changer, NHT SuperOnes (high-gloss black instead of that sissy white) and a big Velodyne sub. The only time I noticed any shortcoming w/ the 350 is when we were watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies. My nephew who has a hearing deficit came over so we had to crank the amp pretty loud. During one of the loudest passages of the movie, I heard some swishing noises. This was a one-time occurrence and since then I've used NAD's soft-clipping feature. Some say that this feature degrades the sound, but I can't tell the difference when watching movies.

    Again, the CA amp is the A500 that was recently replaced by the Azur series. We just got it in the house yesterday. It's in my son's room who has a Pioneer dv354 dvd player pulling double duty and Polk RTi25 speakers. I read several on-line reviews of this amp which were mixed. One website said that it was "slow." So I tried it out with some big classical pieces - Mars, The Bringer of War and Night on Bald Mountain. I was impressed. It kept up with all the string and brass runs and handled the crescendoes without a problem. The tympanies, low brass and low strings were solid with decent punch. It didn't get congested or bogged down in loud passages. I then listened to these same tracks in my bedroom system. I don't know if it was a function of the CA D300 cd player, the NHTs, or the NAD amp but my conlusion was that this combination kind of blurred the section runs. In other words, with the CA system I could more easily identify each string or woodwind instrument in the section eventhough the whole section was playing the same thing. But, and this may seem contradictory, on the NAD system the cymbal crashes and notes at the end of passages seemed to linger or fade more naturally rather than stop abruptly. This may be better hall ambience or decay or both. Overall though, I thought the CA system was more exciting on these pieces.

    Next, I'm going to try some jazz. I've always liked my NAD bedroom system with jazz. It seems to do well with small acoustic instrument ensembles.

    A couple of more points on features - The CA does have a removable power cord, but the 340 and 350 don't. In my previous post I mentioned that if we had more money to spend I would have looked at the 320BEE, but as it is I don't know much about it. My son had saved up $300. The old NAD receiver I passed down to him finally gave up the ghost. The A500 came in just under his budget.

    The only thing that concerns me about the CA's reliability so far is that it makes a "pop" sound (not quite as deep as a "thump," but not high enough to hurt a tweeter) in the left channel at power on and in the right channel at power off. We have 30 days to evaluate so we will watch this closely. I read a review that mentioned this, but the reviewer said it wasn't a problem. It's perfectly quiet when nothing's playing - not even a hiss with the volume turned up.

    Topspeed - What is your source and what kind of music do you listen to? I MIGHT be able to listen to the NAD C340 and the CA in the same system this weekend. If not, I'll still post some comparisons with jazz, rock, alt. rock and maybe some softer classical (and maybe even some electronica, bluegrass and country). I think a comparison in the same system would better answer your questions on voice, e.g., warm, cold, sterile, analitycal, bright, etc. I can say that so far the CA seems very detailed without hurting my ears. My son listens to a lot of live performances by drum and bugle corps (he's a snare drummer) and mentioned that he can hear some softer passages now that he couldn't hear with his old 25wpc NAD receiver. So far he's running it in direct mode and not with the bass cranked up like teenagers tend to do. More to come as time allows.

  12. #12
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hmmm...Topspeed, I'm a big fan of NAD (having owned a few) but I went through this same dilemna about a year ago. I ended up increasing my budget for Rotel separates, but I did have the pleasure of borrowing a few ARCAM models that were discounted quite nicely, and very well within your price range. I don't know if my NAD was on its last legs or what, but for just about any music that wasn't a variation of rock, the Arcams had a warmer, more natural sound with far more detail. The Nad seem to go louder, but that point was moot. For hard rock/heavy metal etc, I couldn't really tell much difference at all between my Nad and the Arcams.
    I never did buy Arcam, and went separates instead on some advice from my Rotel fanatic brother, but those 2 weekends made a believer out of me. The models escape me, an Alpha and DIVA something or other...but I'm pretty sure those were the two Arcam lines I demoed.

    I don't think you can go wrong with NAD though, just thought I'd share..

  13. #13
    RGA
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    You know the usual suspects: Rotel, NAD, Arcam, Cambridge Audio. The 320Bee is one of the better low priced ones out as are the Cambridge units. All males are solid.

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    hey dean,
    i read about your "popping" problems on power on and power off. have you considered leaving it on permanently (of course having it pluged into some kind of surge protector).

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    oh, and tops, i could add a few different int amps, (like this onix http://www.av123.com/products_produc...ck&product=4.1) but why more confusion. i think that the nad would be equally as cool as the ca.

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    Hi Topper;

    Onkyo did have a 2 channel new for around your price. On the used market Arcam made an Alpha One integrated that was only about 30 wpc that had amazing drive. It sold new for around $499. Creek also had an integrated that sold new for around $499. but I can't remember the model#. Check out www.spearitsound.com and see what they have available under the "used/demos/close out" link. I think you would be pleased with the sound of one of the little Brits if you could find one.

    Regards

  17. #17
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    WOW! Thanks guys!

    Dean:
    Thanks for the insight as it's very helpful. The speaks are floorstanding 2 ways w/ two 8" drivers and an elipse quasi horn loaded soft dome tweet. The source will be just a plain 'ol cd player (probably Denon) that I haven't bought yet. I'll be playing mainly rock, jazz, and new wave (i.e. New Order, Depeche Mode, Yaz, etc.). You know, high tempo stuff to keep me groovin' during the working day.

    Kex:
    Thanks for the tip on Arcam. I honestly never even thought their stuff would be in this price range so I'll definitely try to find them. How did they sound next to the Rotel? I like Rotels warmer sound so if they are along the same lines they could be a good match.

    RGA:
    "All males are solid?" Ummm...OK. I'll just take the zero on that one . j/k

    Nusic:
    That's a sweet looking unit, but how does it sound? I'm not really into mail-order stuff with the exception of CSW and that was because of Kloss, however I'm not totally against it either. Have you heard it? What's your impressions?

    Mr. P:
    What's up brother? Good to see you active on the board these past few months. Thanks for the link. Have you ever dealt with SpiritSound before and are they stand up guys? I'd heard some Creek products and thought they were a little on the hard side. Did I hear an aberration? What's your impression?

    Many thanks for all the input guys.

  18. #18
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Topspeed..I'm on the road in Canada right now,and the local dealer here in Montreal has a few new Arcam's discounted 50%...One was $450 CDN (an A-65 integrated), the other was $700 CDN. There were several boxes of both models so i don't think they were floor demos or anything. I think with the currency, the cheap one is pretty close to $320 USD or so...they seem to be cheaper this side of the border after you do the dollar conversion...Looking on audiogon and ebay though, it's not looking to great to get within your price range. But if this guy can dump 50% maybe the dealers back home in the USA can too??
    I should warn you, the Arcam integrateds start at lower power ratings than many others...40watts for the A-65, but they'll go plenty loud.
    To be honest I bought my Rotel separates on advice from my brother and friend when I built my house, not really knowing why Rotel sounded better than my older Marantz or NAD integrateds...I liked the Rotel better, and wanted my brother to ooh and ahh when he came over, but I was leaning towards Arcam for awhile...ended up buying used Rotel gear instead. If memory serves though, they were a bit similar in terms of warmth.
    You might consider buying used gear, I think a lot of brands even allow for transferring warranty.
    Good luck.

  19. #19
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    I've got the NAD at the top of my list right now so thanks for the reinforcement, guys.

    Geoff,
    That Sansui sold for MORE than its retail in '77! That must have been one helluva integrated! I dunno about the Jolida...I really like the idea of tubes but in my office it's more of a "set it and forget it" scenario and I really don't want to mess with biasing, 4 ohm pots, or anything else for that matter. All it would do is make me play with my stereo instead of earning money to pay for more toys .

    My biggest concern with vintage is how will they hold up to the load. If it's not really going to be a problem (I'm asking you guys), I'll probably just get another vintage Marantz like the one I have because I love their sound.

    I still say; VINTAGE! See if this floats your boat;

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...090697554&rd=1

    This ones built like a brick ****house. No problem with driving any load in my view.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  20. #20
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    I dunno Geoff...

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    I still say; VINTAGE! See if this floats your boat;

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...090697554&rd=1

    This ones built like a brick ****house. No problem with driving any load in my view.
    ...it just doesn't have enought buttons on the front plate for me! LOL! That baby makes my 2230 look plain for Pete's sake. You know I love Marantz but I have to admit I'm wary of their notorious problems with the pots. I just spent $120 on the 2230 and don't really want to do it again. As much as I enjoy their sound, I'm going to take a pass unless it's already been reconditioned (and I've been watching ebay for exactly that).

    Thanks for the link.
    ts

  21. #21
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    ...it just doesn't have enought buttons on the front plate for me! LOL! That baby makes my 2230 look plain for Pete's sake. You know I love Marantz but I have to admit I'm wary of their notorious problems with the pots. I just spent $120 on the 2230 and don't really want to do it again. As much as I enjoy their sound, I'm going to take a pass unless it's already been reconditioned (and I've been watching ebay for exactly that).

    Thanks for the link.
    ts
    That's just great, now I have to buy it!
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  22. #22
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    Nusic:
    That's a sweet looking unit, but how does it sound? I'm not really into mail-order stuff with the exception of CSW and that was because of Kloss, however I'm not totally against it either. Have you heard it? What's your impressions?


    i havent heard it either, so i cant comment. i did see it and figured to at least add it to your list. the more options the more fun, right? i do think that the arcam in canada would be pretty sweet though.have you thought about rotel used? you seem to like their sound.
    btw,that vintage marantz looks like it has enough buttons to fly if you put wings on it.

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    Alert!!!

    Rotel and Arcam do NOT sound the same. Arcam and Creek are similar in that they are both very fast and detailed. I would not say they were warm but to me warm is almost a negative, I think of rolled off highs and fat bass. Rotel makes the music sound like the band is on Valuim or playing with a bad hang over in comparison. Honestly if you like Rotel then I would not recommend the Arcam or Creek however the few Creek's I've heard did give an empression they are slightly warmer.. Rotel had a pleasant delivery but made my cd's sound sluggish and lacked dynamics. I'm used to the slam of Krell and Arcam, some people aren't into that and that's fine, I just didn't want you to go on my recommendation and not be happy. NAD has gone through many phases over the years so you really have to know their product, one year may be a good run where the next they are under different management or ownership and the gear will be different. I always thought NAD presented a very thin sound. I really don't know of anything to recommend that would be a cheaper alternative to Rotel since I really don't gravitate in that direction. Maybe the Marantz you mentioned or a Yamaha. Adcom may work but I think would be out of your price range. Adcom would be somewhere between Rotel and Arcam, they are still fast but give a big bass sound.

    I have emailed spearitsound on some things and they seem very knowledgeable. They have almost every high end line you can imagine. They do a lot of Ebay sales and have good standing. Although I haven't bought from them yet, I wouldn't be afraid to deal with them.

    Even though your speakers are 4 ohm, I'd think they would still be easy to drive with such a high efficiency rating.

  24. #24
    RGA
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    Mr. Peabody hears it the EXACT same way I do. Rotel is laid back even bland. Arcam Is fast and tight and Creek is a bit warm. It's the Rotel Preamp section I'm not a fan of - though I have not heard the new RA-2.

    The 320Bee has a huge following from NAD and may be one of the class leaders.

    Thi might help you find some demo models... http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_l...category=INTGR

  25. #25
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    Thanks for the heads up guys! I wouldn't necessarily characterize "warm" as rolled off highs and flabby bass; that sounds more like how people generalize tubes. "Warm" to me is detailed but not at the expense of musicality. It's hard to explain. Some systems have so much detail that they aren't particularily enjoyable to listen to anymore. I'm not talking about bright, etched, or overly aggressive highs, simply a loss of the cohesiveness of music. Like I said, it's hard to explain.

    Thanks for the link RGA. Interestingly enough, it does seem that they like Rotel more often than not.

    The search goes on!

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