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  1. #1
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    Good Solid State Integrated Amp.

    I use a Cary CD player, CD 308 to be exact, two Jas Audio ORSA speakers with ribbon tweeters and an SVS subwoofer (SB 12 Plus). My integrated amplifer is an NAD C370. While I believe my system sounds great, I often think of that little extra 'edge' we classical music lovers like. We tend to want 'musicality' or 'sweetness' and in large orchestra presentations, we like separation of instruments - a large sound stage both wide and deep etc. I come close to these things, but realize that perhaps there are systems that can give the extra special sounds we all seek. I have heard that tubes can give the kinds of sounds I strive for...but I have some strong reasons that makes me want to stick with a solid state amplifier. I did audition a Bryston integrated amp - and even though that amp did offer 'some' improvement in my sound, it was not enough of a difference to jusitfy the difference in cost, in my estimation. So this 'thread' a bait to try and catch someone who has discovered a solid state integrated amplifier that does a better job than my NAD C370....so that they might tell me about it. We all know that there are so many variables in good stereo that this will be difficult....but perhaps not impossilbe. Even after all of the individual parts from the recording through the components in any system are taken into account, we still have the 'subjective' part where an individual passes judgement...and that judgement might be as different as day and night. Oh well..I just talked myself into and out of a pure dilemma. But have a go, if you are brave!

    Bingo

  2. #2
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    have you tried listening to something like primare?
    you might just like them...

    they are different than your nad though, maybe the nad will have a warmer sound (the primare isn't bright though, I tend to rate it between warm and neutral...) but the primare haves a very large resolution which might be good for classical music...

    what's you budget actually? primare has 2 integrated amps, one costing about $1200 and the other one will cost you more, dunno exactly I think it was somewhere about $2500
    If your budget is bigger, you could try Mcintosh too...

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  3. #3
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bingo
    I use a Cary CD player, CD 308 to be exact, two Jas Audio ORSA speakers with ribbon tweeters and an SVS subwoofer (SB 12 Plus). My integrated amplifer is an NAD C370. While I believe my system sounds great, I often think of that little extra 'edge' we classical music lovers like. We tend to want 'musicality' or 'sweetness' and in large orchestra presentations, we like separation of instruments - a large sound stage both wide and deep etc. I come close to these things, but realize that perhaps there are systems that can give the extra special sounds we all seek. I have heard that tubes can give the kinds of sounds I strive for...but I have some strong reasons that makes me want to stick with a solid state amplifier. I did audition a Bryston integrated amp - and even though that amp did offer 'some' improvement in my sound, it was not enough of a difference to jusitfy the difference in cost, in my estimation. So this 'thread' a bait to try and catch someone who has discovered a solid state integrated amplifier that does a better job than my NAD C370....so that they might tell me about it. We all know that there are so many variables in good stereo that this will be difficult....but perhaps not impossilbe. Even after all of the individual parts from the recording through the components in any system are taken into account, we still have the 'subjective' part where an individual passes judgement...and that judgement might be as different as day and night. Oh well..I just talked myself into and out of a pure dilemma. But have a go, if you are brave!

    Bingo
    ...I've been looking and not finding too much out there for the dinosoaur that is 2ch stereo (Oh Lord how I do hate HT!)...At least for an integrated that fits my requirements which are: Phono inputs...pre-in/power out jacks...facilities for two tape decks w/dubbing capability...tape mon facilities and tone controls to tweak lesser program material...I want to use it as a pre-amp to feed my vintage HK Citation 19 actually...The Marantz PM-7001 comes close...How this unit would compare to your NAD isn't something I'd venture a guess at...

    Have you given consideration to using your NAD as a preamp and simply going for a separate power amp...if you have pre-out/pwr-in jacks, that would be the way I'd go...You would then even have the power amp section of your NAD available for rear channel amplification should you decide to get into multichannel...Of course going for full separates is also a good choice...

    jimHJJ(...FWIW...)
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    If you repeat a lie often enough, some will believe it to be the truth...

  4. #4
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Musical Fidelity. kW, A5, and A3.5 series -- if you can afford the kW, you're a better man than I. I don't know if the X-series would be sufficient, but audition even those if you can.
    Eschew fascism.
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  5. #5
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Hey Bingo,
    Good to hear from you again. This is a hard question for me because I haven't heard the Orsas. IMO "synergy" is an underappreciated condition, and without hearing the matching side of the "sound equation" it's hard to say what would do the best for you. Of course, Musical Fidelity makes top notch gear and I'll second Basite's McIntosh rec. Hopefully you have an audio dealer that is amenable to in-home trials? Let us know how it goes...

  6. #6
    Forum Regular likeitloud's Avatar
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    The 2 intergrateds I've heard lately are the Jolida 1501 and Marantz PM7000, both
    around 100wpc.
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  7. #7
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Hi Bingo,

    My friend had this Rowland Concerto in his rig for awhile and I was very impressed. As beautiful to look at as it is to listen to, this is a supremely detailed integrated from one of the great names in audio.




    Another you might want to audition is the PS Audio GCC-100. This is supposedly as close as you can get to straight wire with gain. If you're looking for an integrated that doesn't add anything to the presentation, including warmth, but is ruthlessly transparent to the source, this is one of the best. In fact, they don't even call this an integrated; it's a control amplifier. You want sparkle? As long as your Cary has it, the GCC won't sugarcoat it.


  8. #8
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    Well, everything on your wish list...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bingo
    I use a Cary CD player, CD 308 to be exact, two Jas Audio ORSA speakers with ribbon tweeters and an SVS subwoofer (SB 12 Plus). My integrated amplifer is an NAD C370. While I believe my system sounds great, I often think of that little extra 'edge' we classical music lovers like. We tend to want 'musicality' or 'sweetness' and in large orchestra presentations, we like separation of instruments - a large sound stage both wide and deep etc. I come close to these things, but realize that perhaps there are systems that can give the extra special sounds we all seek. I have heard that tubes can give the kinds of sounds I strive for...but I have some strong reasons that makes me want to stick with a solid state amplifier. I did audition a Bryston integrated amp - and even though that amp did offer 'some' improvement in my sound, it was not enough of a difference to jusitfy the difference in cost, in my estimation. So this 'thread' a bait to try and catch someone who has discovered a solid state integrated amplifier that does a better job than my NAD C370....so that they might tell me about it. We all know that there are so many variables in good stereo that this will be difficult....but perhaps not impossilbe. Even after all of the individual parts from the recording through the components in any system are taken into account, we still have the 'subjective' part where an individual passes judgement...and that judgement might be as different as day and night. Oh well..I just talked myself into and out of a pure dilemma. But have a go, if you are brave!

    Bingo
    ...is EXACTLY what I gained by moving from my Rotel separates to the PrimaLuna. I understand Rotel isn't S.O.T.A., but the point is they're in the same price bracket.

    What is it about tubes you don't care for? The unit is auto-biasing, so there is no fussing to get optimum sound. Also, there is a "soft-start" circuit, extending tube life. I figure if I have to buy new glass every five or so years... big deal.

    Upon the first time I fired her up, I heard... well, not too much. It's not like anything "blew me away". Not sure if it was warm-up/break-in/getting to used to it, but after a few LPs and CDs, it became apparent I should have skipped The Rotel from the beginning. I could have even saved $150.

    Instrument delineation? Yes. Each voice/instrument had a better defined acoustic space.

    Resolution? Fer sure - amazing improvement in this area. I know it sounds like hyperbole, but I really COULD go through all of my recordings again and hear things that were previously obscured.

    And yes, there is a certain "coloring" infused. I can't say it sounds ultra-syrupy (like some speakers), I dunno... just the nature of the tubes I suppose.

    Despite going from 200 to 40 WPC, it doesn't really make much of a difference to me. Volume knob never really goes past 10:00. Plenty of juice. Hell, my speakers aren't even that sensitive - 86 dB. The important thing here is their impedence doesn't dip below 4 ohms - something to think about regarding your speakers.

    I'm not saying this is the greatest amp on the planet or there aren't other choices, but due to your criteria, I wouldn't dismiss the archaic design. I've also heard the Brystons, MF, blah, blah... I know what you mean. It's a matter of preference.

    I don't even WANT to hear expensive tubes... my credit cards are just about paid off!

  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I dont know why but I prefer A3.2 over 3.5. How about a used A308?

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Refinement

    Quote Originally Posted by Bingo
    I use a Cary CD player, CD 308 to be exact, two Jas Audio ORSA speakers with ribbon tweeters and an SVS subwoofer (SB 12 Plus). My integrated amplifer is an NAD C370. While I believe my system sounds great, I often think of that little extra 'edge' we classical music lovers like. We tend to want 'musicality' or 'sweetness' and in large orchestra presentations, we like separation of instruments - a large sound stage both wide and deep etc. .... So this 'thread' a bait to try and catch someone who has discovered a solid state integrated amplifier that does a better job than my NAD C370....so that they might tell me about it. We all know that there are so many variables in good stereo that this will be difficult....but perhaps not impossilbe.
    ...
    Bingo
    I believe very strongly that there are better integrateds out there than the C370. I owned a C270 power amp and was surprised how mediocre it sounded after I heard better amps. I did own a Bel Canto eVo2i, (no longer manufactured but available used for about $1600); it was better in everyway, especially transparency, but wasn't forgiving of harsh-sounding recordings.

    Based on reputation, I would like to check out the Ayre AX-7e for a really refined sound. (But note that it is only 60 wt/ch.) ...
    http://www.ayre.com/products_detail.cfm?productid=12
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  11. #11
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    I'm about to sell my Pathos Acoustic Logos:

    http://www.pathosacoustics.com/indexeng.htm

    It has a tube pre-amp, which I have always liked in integrated amps.

    I also second the recommendation above for the ICEpower modules (used in the Jeff Rowland Concerto and the PS Audio). I use these now as monoblocks, and they kick ass for the money.
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  12. #12
    Demoted to Low-Fi Carl Reid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bingo
    I use a Cary CD player, CD 308 to be exact, two Jas Audio ORSA speakers with ribbon tweeters and an SVS subwoofer (SB 12 Plus). My integrated amplifer is an NAD C370. While I believe my system sounds great, I often think of that little extra 'edge' we classical music lovers like. We tend to want 'musicality' or 'sweetness' and in large orchestra presentations, we like separation of instruments - a large sound stage both wide and deep etc. I come close to these things, but realize that perhaps there are systems that can give the extra special sounds we all seek. I have heard that tubes can give the kinds of sounds I strive for...but I have some strong reasons that makes me want to stick with a solid state amplifier. I did audition a Bryston integrated amp - and even though that amp did offer 'some' improvement in my sound, it was not enough of a difference to jusitfy the difference in cost, in my estimation. So this 'thread' a bait to try and catch someone who has discovered a solid state integrated amplifier that does a better job than my NAD C370....so that they might tell me about it. We all know that there are so many variables in good stereo that this will be difficult....but perhaps not impossilbe. Even after all of the individual parts from the recording through the components in any system are taken into account, we still have the 'subjective' part where an individual passes judgement...and that judgement might be as different as day and night. Oh well..I just talked myself into and out of a pure dilemma. But have a go, if you are brave!

    Bingo
    What's your budget? Are you considering new or used products?

    Major competitors in the price range of the NAD C370 are

    1) The newer NAD C372
    2) Rotel RA-1062
    3) Marantz PM7001
    4) Cambridge Audio 640A V2

    All of the above can sound fantastic with the correct speakers and source...

    IF, you are looking for a 'different' sound to what you have now, then I'd sugggest trying out a competitor to the 370.... I found substantial improvement when I switched from Nad to Rotel (that was with Mission Speakers).... The Rotel provided substanially more high end detail and bass authority.... However, if I was using speakers such as the B&W 700 series or Klipsch Reference, I would have opted for the NAD over the Rotel.... System matching is key....

    On the other hand, if you really want to hear the slighest nuances and detail hidden within your recordings, then you need to upgrade and spend substanially more than any of NAD's competitors....

    You've already heard Brytson... which IMO is just a more detailed NAD... so I'm not suprised that you weren't overwhelmed by the differences between the two...

    If you do upgrade, then of the options suggested in this thread so far... you might want to check out Musical Fidelity.... They may have that tube like sound with solid state convenience that you are looking for....

    Good Luck with your search...

  13. #13
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    Going on what you are looking for, based only on here say, I'd second the PS Audio and also suggest Musicl Fidelity. It's expensive but I've heard Edge is one of the most incredible solid state amps out today. I've really wanted to hear one but never had the opportunity. Another expensive integrated, I can vouch for as having good sound is T+A. With T+A though, the sound matches the price.

    Amps like Krell, Bryston, Arcam, Primare, will all have good resolution, sound stage and fast transients but may not have the depth or romance, you are looking for. I have yet to hear an amp deliver the wallop of a Kettle drum like Krell. Conrad Johnson would be what you described. I have not heard their solid state gear. But it wasn't until I heard Conrad Johnson that I understood "depth" in relation to a sound stage. Not only does CJ give a large sound stage with left/right location queues but I also get a sense of placemen from front to back, and it's also like the back wall disappears. I have to confess, it was also CJ that made me realize there was more to enjoying music playback than receiving a good wallop.

  14. #14
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    Good Solid state integrated amplifier

    I'm mad! I wrote a fantastic, brilliant response to all of the generous souls who recommended integrated amps and gave me such great suggestions - and after I had written many words, I accidentally erased all of it. So now I am too frustrated to comment so brilliantly once more, so I will reserve my rewriting to another time. I do want to say that of those suggestions given me, I am interested in the Musical Fidelity, Ayre AX 7, the PS Audio GCC 100, The Bel Canto, Krell ....anyway, enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life just auditioning them IF I could get them to audition! I know I won't - so perhaps part of the fun of this two channel hobby is just wishing or hoping....I'll have more to say when I recover from having lost my first response.....it was so brilliant!!!!! HA!
    Bingo

  15. #15
    Pyrite Member Death2Jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have a laptop with no mouse....
    Good luck with your search. Also, are you still claiming to be 98 years old?

    D2JRA

  16. #16
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Keep your eyes open -- perhaps with the shifting time flux problems that we've been having, you'll go back in time to just when you had written it, and just before you had deleted it, and then you can copy it into a file for safekeeping.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
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    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    This is my Pathos Acoustics Logos for sale:

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1179441764

    That's a great price on a sweet, sweet amp. (I just needed more power for my 3.6Rs.)
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  18. #18
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Nice pics, Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    This is my Pathos Acoustics Logos for sale:

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1179441764

    That's a great price on a sweet, sweet amp. (I just needed more power for my 3.6Rs.)
    Someone on this forum once asked it pictures really help to sell equipment. Lemme think ... YES!

  19. #19
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    This is my Pathos Acoustics Logos for sale:

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1179441764

    That's a great price on a sweet, sweet amp. (I just needed more power for my 3.6Rs.)
    Why did you need more power?!?!? That seems to be a pretty powerful amp...what are you upgrading to, if I may ask?

    Damn, that's a gorgeous amp.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  20. #20
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    Bingo, I have a Krell 500i integrated for sale, if you think you would be interested, email me. It is fully balanced circuits with Class A preamp, 250x2 into 8 ohms. This is the amp I used until changing out to CJ. It also has a "Theater Through" bypass so it can be integrated into a HT set up to drive the mains.

    I used an Audio Note tube DAC on the front end of the Krell and it sounded very good. But it is definitely not solid states answer to tubes, Krell is solid state at it's best. Meaning unmatced iron grip control and powerful transcients.

  21. #21
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Why did you need more power?!?!? That seems to be a pretty powerful amp...what are you upgrading to, if I may ask?

    Damn, that's a gorgeous amp.
    Yes, more power, absolutely. I upgraded to the 3.6R speakers, and I'm convinced that the absoutely best way to make these speakers sound their best (especially at high volume, getting loads of punchy bass) is to throw thousands of watts at them.

    People who say Magnepans can't do rock and roll, or do not have enough bass, have never heard 3.6Rs with thousands of watts of power, in a bi-amped configuration. Give em enough power, and these things will blow your doors off.

    Just ask my neighbors.

    I'm using ICEpower modules now (see the bi-amp thread). 1000ASP monoblocks on the bass panels (1000 watts per channel) and 500ASP modules on the mid/treble panels (500 watts per channel).
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  22. #22
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    Question Good solid state integrated amp

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Bingo, I have a Krell 500i integrated for sale, if you think you would be interested, email me. It is fully balanced circuits with Class A preamp, 250x2 into 8 ohms. This is the amp I used until changing out to CJ. It also has a "Theater Through" bypass so it can be integrated into a HT set up to drive the mains.

    I used an Audio Note tube DAC on the front end of the Krell and it sounded very good. But it is definitely not solid states answer to tubes, Krell is solid state at it's best. Meaning unmatced iron grip control and powerful transcients.
    A couple of things that you mention go way over my head because I am not verty good with the 'technical' part of two channel stereo...and I have absolutely NO interested in what you guys call HT (I call it Home Theater, I don't like abbreviations)...But you made a comment in two different places after my 'thread' which sort of confused me. It might be my 83 year old mind playing tricks on me....but who knows? I find describing the sound I like (for classical music) very difficult...I know what it is like when I hear it, but describing it is hard for me... I'd say I like CLEAN SOUND ...or sound with a BLOOM...AND making allowances for bad CDS, I would like clarity....depth....sweetness...and in the high end with violins etc...I like for them to be void of a kind of gurgling sound that Bill Baily knows all about...we talked about that before...Bill Baily is, I think, Feanor? But I may have that wrong too..(how am I doing?).... So I am going to try and find out how to email you (I don't even know that as I write this) and do so right after I finish this..Okay? Anything you can do to EDUCATE me will be appreciated. And...just in case you don't get it, I am enJOYing this...very much! It all helps me to learn! Bingo

  23. #23
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Hi Bingo,

    There are typically two vastly over-generalized descriptors used when analyzing the sound of amps:
    1) Tubey
    2) Solid State

    The former connotes a sweetness in the treble that is extended and airy, but not shimmery or sibilant. There is a certain "bloom" (to borrow your term) in the mids and bass is full, but not necessarily quick or exhibiting slam. "Warm" is a term often used to describe tubey sounding gear.

    The latter many times will refer to cold, clinical presentations with extended, albeit silvery and sibilent highs, smooth mids, and slamming, deep bass with a lot of grip and speed. Naturally, gear that exhibits too much of this is considered "cool" sounding.

    Now, understand that I'm not describing the topology of the gear, only the generalizations used to describe the sound characteristics. There is plenty of tube gear that sound clinical as well as ss gear that sounds tubey.

    Make sense? Now, to make life even more interesting, we have the new generation of switching/digital amps. These utilize either B&O's ICEpower topology or TI's Tripath design. Either way, they operate much differently than either ss or tubes and, when done correctly, offer an intriguing blend of tube's sweet mids and highs with solid state's bass slam and transient response. All this with practically no heat, no heatsinks, and 3 to 5 times the efficiency of Class A or Class A/B designs.

    Based on your description of the sound you like, it appears you're looking for neutrality through the mid-band with a touch of sweetness up top and a strong mid-bass. I'm unsure what "gurgling" means, I usually encounter that sound only on compressed MP3's, but perhaps you are referring to sibilance? I think you'd be best served by tubes or a switching amp if you don't want to screw around with tube rolling, biasing, etc. Stay away from tube designs that are designed around the "classic" tube sound of something like the Marantz 8b as the highs will be rolled off and the bass will be boomy and flabby.

    A note on the PSA GCC-100; it will provide everything you are looking for (bloom, exceptional depth and slam, wicked transients, clarity in spades) except for the sweetness. The amp is neutral to a fault in this respect. If you want sweetness, your Cary is going to have to provide it, which it very well may if it's voiced like their tube gear. Remember, the GCC's design goal was "straightwire with gain." Therefore, it will not add or subtract anything to the signal. If you want to add sweetness, which is something a lot of us do, consider the Trio C-100 which is voiced with a bit more warmth. As a bonus, it's less expensive .

  24. #24
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Yep, I understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Bingo
    ... I find describing the sound I like (for classical music) very difficult...I know what it is like when I hear it, but describing it is hard for me... I'd say I like CLEAN SOUND ...or sound with a BLOOM...AND making allowances for bad CDS, I would like clarity....depth....sweetness...and in the high end with violins etc...I like for them to be void of a kind of gurgling sound that Bill Baily knows all about...we talked about that before...Bill Baily is, I think, Feanor? But I may have that wrong too..(how am I doing?).... So I am going to try and find out how to email you (I don't even know that as I write this) and do so right after I finish this..Okay? Anything you can do to EDUCATE me will be appreciated. And...just in case you don't get it, I am enJOYing this...very much! It all helps me to learn! Bingo
    You got it right: Bill B. is Feanor. Sad to say, but there aren't many around here who enjoy classical to the near exclusion of other forms -- you and I aren't the norm.

    As we've discussed before, the disagreeable sound one hears sometimes with massed strings or voices is largely a result of the recording process, however the effect is mitigated when the play back doesn't make it worse. What you want is a very transparent and slightly warm sound. (The ribbon tweeter of your Orsa ought deliver that transparency to your ears.)

    Do you listen at high sound volumes? Most classical listeners don't usually, although I suppose a minoriy who like try for concert hall symphonic levels. If you're one these your amplifier power requirements will be much greater than otherwise.

    Your NAD has plenty of power and is warm enough, (although maybe a bit flabby in the bass), but it is not as transparent as better, (albeit more expensive), options. I would recommend the Bel Canto I owned except for the fact that it doesn't cut any slack for bright recordings -- all too prevalent in classical as well as other genre. For the this reason I doubt your first choices would be among Bel Canto, Krell, PS Audio, or Bryston.

    So my (relatively) short list of marques for consideration would be:
    • Ayre
    • Edge
    • Pass, (except I don't think they have an intergrated)
    and possibly ...
    • McIntosh
    • Simaudio "Moon"
    • Pathos
    • Unison Research "Unico"
    Like I said above, I personally would look very carefully at the Ayre AX-7e integrated despite the fact that it produces only 60 watts into 8 ohms, (120 into 4 ohms). If you're not among the classical fans who want true concert hall volumes this will likely be enough given your ORSAs produce 88 dB per watt at 1 foot according to specifications.
    Last edited by Feanor; 03-20-2007 at 09:16 AM.

  25. #25
    Forum Regular
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    Sep 2006
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    88

    Wink Good sounding solid state integrated amp

    Well...I must say this has been great fun! I did learn a few things from all of the great responses I got...but I also learned how difficult it is to process all of the good advice. It takes time to make sure I don't overlook some pertinent fact given by one of the reponders. I'm thankful to you all. I find that the Ayre seems to pop up a bit more frequently than a lot of the others integrateds mentioned. I must also confess that I am taken in by LOOKS...while I want the best sound I can get for my meager money, I also want it to LOOK good! HA! Talk about the price of an old man's toy! After all is said and done, I think that one day soon I will make a decision, get another solid state integrated amplifier, and make up my mind to like it NO MATTER WHAT! I believe in enjoying the music, and have forgotten in all of these comments that I have been doing just that! Even with my less than perfect system. Bless you all!

    Nolan Fremin

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