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If you had $1000-$1500 for an Integrated Amp and Speakers.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cosmicott, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Cosmicott

    Cosmicott Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Friends, you know how it is. I think of a reasonable $700+ upgrade I can make to my system and three weeks later the component I initially wanted is long forgotten and I am now looking at a vast array of options and I am more confused.

    I have a decent turntable... an Rega Planar 2 with upgraded tonearm and cables and cartridge.

    I have a Cambridge Audio Topaz SR10 and some Paradigm Atom 5's.
    It sounds pretty good, but it's about 10+ years old and when I turn the volume up, the sound deteriorates considerably.

    I'd also like a warmer and wider soundstage.

    For $1000-$1500 what AMP/Speaker combo would you consider?

    My needs... I primarily listen to vinyl, though bluetooth would be a tremendous plus.

    While I don't need a ton of volume and power to satisfy me, I do want excellent sound and enough volume to fill my moderately sized living room.

    Thanks, G
  2. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Mid South
    Unfortunately it's all part of the master plan to keep you as neurotic as possible while emptying your pockets at the same time.
    Rick58, Melvin, Archguy and 5 others like this.
  3. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Music is in my soul

    Memphis, TN
    Wharfedale Denton 80th + Yamaha A-S801/Rega Brio/Audiolab 6000a
    irender, Stanton56, Daring and 6 others like this.
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum member

  5. SMc

    SMc Forum Resident

    Austin TX
    Start with the speakers. 85 watts should be enough for a small room so save that upgrade for later. I like the NHT C3 but there a lots of good choices: ELACs DBR62, various Harman brands (Revel, JBL, Infinity) etc. Warm? Wharfedale Denton?
  6. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "The greatest love of all is unconditional"

    Northwest, USA
    size of the listening space and do you prefer bookshelves of floor monitor?
    you can get a tower speaker that you may not need a subwoofer, doesn't require much power great sound and will not break your bank. it all depends on the size of the room.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  7. saturdayboy

    saturdayboy Forum Resident

    I would get some used Omega speakers, and spend the rest on a EL34 or EL84 tube integrated
    beowulf likes this.
  8. Cosmicott

    Cosmicott Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Lots of cool advice! We have one actual store in my city that sells decent audio equipment. I have no idea why the guy showed me a several hundred thousand dollar McIntosh system, but it was really cool to hear it. Now I know what a System that costs what my house, car and loans from going to Yale looks like;-)

    After we negotiated my budget a little bit... he showed me the ($1000) Rega Brio and some ($650) Magnepan LRS Speakers.

    The difference between that particular set up and what I currently have set up was significant. Of course, I am going to continue to shop around because the Magnepans aren't quite the shape I was looking for and I'd have to likely add a streamer to the BRIO... but I am very happy that I ventured out because it motivated me more to acquire new equipment.

    He also showed me a Rogue Sphinx V3... very nice.
    He couldn't show me any other speakers because the next pair up the price latter were a $2500 pair of B and W.

    I have looked up all of the suggestions posted here and bookmarked them.
    George P likes this.
  9. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Frenchtown NJ USA
    This. :edthumbs:
    irender, Daring and Dr. J. like this.
  10. eltigreferoz

    eltigreferoz Forum Resident

    Used Rega Brio-R & KEF LS50s
    GyroT and ls35a like this.
  11. jtw

    jtw Forum Resident

    Where is your volume knob when your sound starts to deteriorate? Do you have the bass turned up? Do you get the same deterioration with all media types, or just with the turntable?
  12. Cosmicott

    Cosmicott Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    All media types...I'd say the deterioration starts at about 50-60%...

    Now that I have heard a far superior system, I am aware of even more my set up lacks sonically.

    I'm all over the place looking at this upgrade...

    Months ago, I bought, tried and returned the Kanto 6's and they were not better than my current set up. They seemed higher pitched and aggressive. Not very warm.

    I'm looking closely at those Wharfedale Denton 80th, Elac Uni-fi ub5's and a number the AMPs suggested. It looks closer to a 1700-$2000 upgrade... I loved that BRIO that I heard today (of course it was on a pair of expensive B+W's and then the Magnepan's...

    Now, I have come across the PS Sprout 100 in my searches. For the money, it looks too good to be true. I might even be able to put more into the speakers.
    I'm having a hard time finding any negative reviews on it - even here on this site. Does it offer similar quality as the other AMPs mentioned in this thread or is it significantly limited compared to them? Seems like most people like it in their office which gives me pause.

    The room I'm using is about 10 feet wide and 25 feet long. A longer, narrower room. I'm not looking to shake the house by any means, but I would like to turn it up past 50% and still have it sounding great.
  13. jtw

    jtw Forum Resident

    Yeah. I'm wondering if it is the room. It would be really disappointing to buy nicer gear and have the same problem. I think there are some apps that may be able to help you determine if the room is the problem. I'm sure someone here can help.

    I'll get some grief for saying this, but here it goes. Speakers sound radically different from each other. But for some folks, amps can be difficult to hear differences. Whether good or bad, I really can't walk into a demo room and tell which amp is on. But the speakers are obvious. Most of us could listen to 2 sets of speakers, leave the room, walk back in , and identify which speakers were playing without seeing them. If you find amp differences to be subtle, that would leave $ in your budget for the universal big difference makers such as even pricier speakers, or a sub, or room treatments.
    dreamingtree1855 likes this.
  14. jwoverho

    jwoverho Licensed Drug Dealer

    Mobile, AL USA
    I had the Dentons paired with an A-S501 until I upgraded to the A-S2100. Still using the Dentons with the 2100. I’m loving the combo.
  15. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    At your budget, you should look at the Linton Heritage. Those sounded really really nice throughout Audio Elements' shop (unlike the narrow-sweet-spot EVO 4.4). With the the clever matching stands, $1500 and worth every penny. Nicer than the DALI next to them as well, nicer than similar KEF and Dynaudio and such though YMMV.

    Keep the amp for now; @jtw is right that many people cannot hear differences between amps. I don't believe they all sound the same, but the differences are not so night and day. Now speakers let me say as a loudspeaker engineer that they are all horribly inaccurate compared to electronics and they make by far the hugest difference. So leave your amp alone, get new speakers, try with your amp. Then consider if you need a new amp or are fine.

    One key with speakers is a reasonable return policy, since you personally might not like even very fine speakers, due to your tastes and/or your ROOM as mentioned. IIRC Crutchfield charges like $20 for a return.
    Cosmicott and Archguy like this.
  16. Cosmicott

    Cosmicott Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I worry about my Cambridge AMP being able to drive certain speakers... I had a pair of like-new vintage Allison CD 9's - which were great... they worked wonders with a vintage early 70's Kenwood Amp I used to have... but then it broke and I got this Cambridge... and it couldn't drive the speakers at all. I ended up selling the Allisons... and switched to these Paradigms.

    Those Linton Heritage speakers do look amazing though.
    Rick58 likes this.
  17. Helom

    Helom Forum member


    The Yamaha 801 amp I linked is much better than the Rogue Sphinx and at a lower price. The bass is so much better it’s laughable. The Yamaha actually produces more power than its specs claim, unlike the Sphinx which doesn’t meet its claimed 4 ohm power spec. The 801 will easily drive nearly any pair of speakers with ease. If you can find a pair of New Large Advents (vintage ~$300) in good shape, the ones with the bullnose cabinets, they’ll knock your socks off when paired with an amp like the 801. I’ve pitted such Advents against some popular $3K tower speakers and the towers were back on a Fed Ex truck the next day.
    zboski and The Pinhead like this.
  18. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

  19. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    I think your amp is the main issue from your description of the sound falling apart at loud volumes. An underpowered amp is likely to damage speakers while a very powerful amp will not before the sound becomes too loud to cause ear damage. Either get more efficient speakers or more powerful amp. The musical Fidelity M2Si gives you almost 140W into 4 ohms for around $700. Pair with something like the new Wharfedale Evo 4.2 at $900 much larger than most stand mounts at this price. You should get loud smooth undistorted sound from a combo like this.
    bgiliberti likes this.
  20. JohnQVD

    JohnQVD is adjusting to having a fully manual turntable

    Buffalo, NY
    I’ll echo Helom. I was running a Marantz 2250B through a pair of Advent /1s. I replaced the Marantz with a Yamaha A-S801 a few weeks ago because the Marantz is getting quirky. My thought was I would get new speakers for it soon, but I kind of can’t believe how good (and different) the system sounds with the same speakers. I want to spend more time with the setup before I go auditioning new speakers. If it’s your amp that’s the problems (which it seems like it is), it might be worth it to replace the amp and then see if it will work well with the speakers you have in the room it’s in.
    zboski and Helom like this.
  21. RockAddict

    RockAddict Forum Resident

    A few years ago (2015), I demoed a Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20. It sounded muddy and lacking in almost every respect. At the time, I ended up going for the now discontinued CXA60 which I enjoyed until a couple of years ago.

    In short, I definitely think a change of amp will make a significant difference at that level. Some of the usual suspects have already been suggested so I won't add to what could rapidly become a very confusing set of options.

    Good luck!
  22. allied333

    allied333 Audiophile

    I think KEF Q-100 would outperform the speakers mentioned above. Due to your budget, ebay has the Q-100 used for $430 BIN. Outlaw RR 2160 will outperform your present amp at $899 new.
  23. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Brisbane Australia
    Spend $500 on amp and $1000 on speakers. Or. Spend $1500 on speakers and save up $500 for an amp.
    GyroT likes this.
  24. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    Go used...KEF LS50 (used or new on sale) and Rega Brio (used).

    The LS50s are keepers as you eventually upgrade the rest of your system. I have run them with an integrated amp costing $3K.
    Ro-Go and Helom like this.
  25. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Athens, Tennessee
    You know also that there is McIntosh you can afford if you liked that. An MA 6100 or MA 6200 from Audio Classics or from www.mcintoshaudio.com can be had for about $1000 in very excellent condition, refurbished and 1 year warranty. I use a MA 6100 every day, and I love mine. A thought.
    Echoes Myron likes this.

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