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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Question Looking for an integrated amp <= $900


    I'm in the process of planning the replacement for my aging 1980's stereo set which consists of a 10 year old CD player, a really old Pioneer SX-6 receiver and blown Infinity RS-2001 speakers. I am definitely interested in upping the audio listening experience and I have a budget of about $2000 max to spend.

    Firstly I guess I am planning to get the Marantz CC4300 5 disc CD changer as a good base CD player then my next step is to get a integrated amp.

    Looking for recommendations for my listening style which is mainly classical piano, violin, jazz (all styles) and occasional rock and metal.

    I have heard good things about NAD but otherwise have no clue what to look for. Are optical/coaxial digital inputs worthwhile? I ask as both my DVD player and planned CD player have these outputs.

    Thanks in advance for anu suggestions, advice.


  2. #2
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I could be wrong but I believe that most integrated amps don't take digital inputs, so one really needs a quality CD player for the internal DAC or buy (used market probably) a good external DAC to bridge a so-so CD player to a good integrated amp. As for integrateds you can also check out the offerings of Arcam, Rotel, Cambrige Audio and others, as well. If I had your budget, I'd lean toward the Arcam line. But there are many others out there as well. You can check out what they have on and and go from there.

  3. #3
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    I can only offer a biased list of products because I know what I like in good audio reproduction, but if you listen to a lot of classical, violin, and jazz, give tubes a try. Tube integrated amps offer that "you're there" simulation about the music being played, giving each instrument an airy quality, with typically more laid back vocals, but also create a superb soundstage. I got my Jolida for $750.
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Central Ohio
    I continue to be impressed by my Cambridge Audio Azur 640A. It certainly deserves consideration. The Absolute Sound magazine recently reviewed the less expensive 540A along with matching cd player and was impressed with the sound quality. I would also like to suggest the Marantz cd5001 as an excellent for the money cd player. It is a single disc machine but with amazing sonic quality.
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Monitor Audio RS6
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  5. #5
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Paul_pci steered you in the right direction, IMO...Unde $900 you should consider Rotel, Arcam, and Cambridge Audio, definitely.
    I've owned Arcam in the past - I liked it, but it wasn't quite to my preference. Very good quality. Cambridge Audio I've never owned, just played with in stores - good value there. I have a Rotel RA-1070 integrated now which has just the amount of top end detail and bass control that I like. Compared to my NAD 3140 or 3020, it's a bit brighter sounding (NAD's a bit warmer) but definitley has a bit better resolution. The Rotel was the right mix of sound, power, and price for me.

    Nothing wrong with NAD per se. If you're total budget is $2000 or so, I can't help but wonder if you'd be better spending less than $900 on the integrated to allow more money for the speakers, that's where MOST of the sound quality will be determined. I would budget no less than 50% on speakers, and the rest for the integrated and CD player.

    For CD players, well, I don't really hear very much difference in a lot of players anymore, I think they all sound pretty good now, and extremely similar...but in the analog realm, Arcam seems to be the best to me below $1000. I'll admit I don't demo cd players often and it's been 3 years since my last purchase in that area. But Arcam might be worth considering if you can find a good deal somewhere. Cambridge supposedly makes decent players, but I haven't heard any of their players yet.

    Consider buying used gear, your money goes a lot further this way - ebay and are your friends. Electronics tend to last years, especially above the entry point level. Speakers are a bit riskier, but people tend to take care of things they spend $1000 or more on.

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