Integrated Amps - Moving on up!

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ChuckyBuck, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. ChuckyBuck

    ChuckyBuck Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Albuquerque, NM
    Watt for watt (not dollar for dollar) what are the benefits of going with a pricier integrated amp brand (Rega, Arcam, Naim, Creek, etc.) rather than a more affordable brand (NAD, Marantz, Yamaha). I'm getting the itch to move from my 40w/ch NAD on to something around 75-80w/ch. I've read that the Rega Elex-R is very well thought of and I like the looks of the Arcam and Creek - but ignoring brand specifics is there really something to these fancy brands?
  2. lonelysea

    lonelysea pro Yoko

    At the very least you'll be able to brag about your "boutique" audio components.
    (no one bats an eye when I mention my Yamaha gear)
    SteelyTom, SandAndGlass, Shel and 9 others like this.
  3. Gramps Tom

    Gramps Tom Forum Resident

    SandAndGlass, Shel, Alan2 and 6 others like this.
  4. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    Ummm.....Marantz and Yamaha make some excellent integrated amps, which are a lot pricier than the other brands you mentioned.

    Anyway, yes there is something to the higher priced pieces such as better build quality and better components resulting in better sound.
  5. Clay B

    Clay B Forum Resident

    Personal preference would be Rega, Naim or Yamaha. Great sounding and good solid companies backing up their products. I think Yamaha are passed over because they haven't had cache lately but the As 2000 and 3000 get great reviews and you have to look at the build quality on the! Not familiar with the Marantz, Arcam and Creek.
  6. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Big Yamaha good. :cool:
  7. Thouston

    Thouston Forum Resident

    Mattoon, IL
  8. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    If the a-s2100 had the badge of one of the boutique brands on it there would be way more hype for the unit.
    I can't justify the cost myself so I'll likely buy one of the baby yamahas
  9. Thouston

    Thouston Forum Resident

    Mattoon, IL
    I know the price is high. I went ahead and bought one anyway. It is the best sounding amp that I have owned, and I have owned a lot. Right now I have a Rouge Sphinx V2 and a Yamaha A-S501. The A-S2100 blows them away. It puts the band right in front of you. The combination of the Mosfets and the balance circuit (Class A) is very good.
  10. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    No one " regula folk" bats an eye at anything I mention, much less boutique audio components.
  11. displayname

    displayname Well-Known Member

    I would hope it sounds better! More than double the cost of the Sphinx and 7 times the cost of the A-S501. If that didn't sound better I'd put it straight back in the box for return.
    Shel, 500Homeruns and bruce2 like this.
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    In this price range, I'm a big advocate for the Yamaha amps. Though you must consider how the amp will mate with your speakers, and possible future speaker upgrades. Regardless of opinions here, you should try to audition at least a few different brands.
    Isaac K. and Manimal like this.
  13. Guitarded

    Guitarded Forum Resident

    I would audition a Music Hall before I made my choice.
  14. davidb1

    davidb1 Forum Resident

    Atlanta, GA
    I had a similar itch about my NAD 120w/channel C370. Instead of a pretty integrated, I went for the same basic plain looks of the NAD and went to separates- Van Alstine. These are had built by 1 person, burned in and tested by Frank himself, and can be had for a reasonable price.
  15. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    Yamaha is a motorcycle company that happens to make pianos and amps I think. Really, really awesome amps.
  16. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    This thread got yamaha'd right in the A-SXXXX
  17. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Adelaide Australia
    This is an average amplifier with very average sound performance. Perhaps a modest entry into the world of hi-fi. Nothing more.
    Like most of the current Marantz lineage of amps, suffers from overly complex design instead of aiming for the cleanest signal path.
    Lack of detail, top end graininess and dark (house) sound characterise this amp. Old NAD C352 was running the circles around it.
    Please lets be real here. There's much better sound to be had elsewhere.

    Kind Regards

  18. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Adelaide Australia
    Better build quality and better components is good start but ultimately no guarantee for better sound. As with every other piece of complex design and engineering, the end to end execution is what ultimately brings the improvements in performance.

  19. Gramps Tom

    Gramps Tom Forum Resident

    As I stated, this is my humble opinion. Being real, I have owned NAD equipment prior and in general found it tinny sounding and of questionable build quality.

    I'd take MARANTZ 's "average" level of performance anyday.
    formu_la, DLD, live evil and 4 others like this.
  20. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member

    For very best sound Naim Supernait 2 is easily best but expensive
  21. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Adelaide Australia

    It certainly wasn't my intention to bash Marantz. I also didn't make an absolute comparison between Marantz and NAD gear. I only commented on my personal experience with both PM8005 and C352. I also think that PM-6XXX series is probably the only place where price and performance intersect quite nicely. Everything above, is where you can get much better sound for less money. Particularly here in Australia with grossly overpriced local distribution. I also understand that there's lot of folks who actually prefer Marantz house sound. I was one of them ;) . Marantz amps could hardly be accused for accurate reproduction of music. It still doesn't mean that they cannot be enjoyed.

  22. Mo-Jo

    Mo-Jo New Member

    Can you name some of them?
  23. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong

    Watts have nothing to do with quality. In fact you could make a more credible case that more watts equals worse sound not better sound. But this depends on the technology. But higher global negative feedback in an amplifier typically yields a worse sounding amplifier. Higher watts = more global negative feedback.

    Now yes a 40 watt amp from say Marantz at $299 will sound (likely) worse than a 100 Watt amp for $2000. But generally that's because of improved parts and noise suppression, beefier transformers etc.

    Brands are irrelevant - ignore the label on the front and pay attention to the guts inside. Amplifiers come in all sorts of designs. Solid State has pure Class A, Class A/B, Class B, Class A (Single Ended Topology) and Class T, D, and hybrids where the preamp stage is tube and the power amp stage is SS.

    IMO and IME Class A sounds the best from SS and it doesn't cost a ton but it does have limited power - this would be First Watt amps made by Pass Labs and Sugden which is famous for the Sugden A21. This amp is the longest selling Solid State amplifier in the world at 50 years. It first came out in 1967 and still sells today in obviously upgraded form.

    To me it is the doorway to much better sounding Solid State amplifiers. I would not waste time going from Marantz or NAD to the likes of Rega or Arcam. All of this at best is marginal moves - it costs too much for very small improvements. The First Watt and Sugden are the major steps up.

    Alternatively, you can look at tube amplifiers like the Line Magnetic 211IA for $1500. Musically I'd say they beat anything SS for $3000. It gives the Sugden A21a a serious run too.

    The 211IA is a superb amplifier - it is a great entry to the world of tube amplifiers.

    The only thing to consider really is to have a speaker that is 90+dB sensitive and has a reasonably easy load (doesn't drop below 3ohms over the frequency range).

    Plenty of speakers will fit the bill nicely.

    Manimal and SandAndGlass like this.
  24. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    And then down the line you can move up to my 219IA

    SandAndGlass likes this.
  25. Walter Koehler

    Walter Koehler Forum Resident

    Hamburg, Germany
    Try the big Pioneer Amps great sounding and affordable
    A-90D,A-09, A-90, A-27, SA-9900,SA-9500,M-25,M-22,M-4 and others
    Waxfreak likes this.

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