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need help choosing integrated amp

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Posted on January 11, 2017 at 04:41:04
LennyF
Audiophile

Posts: 132
Location: NYC
Joined: May 13, 2001
Times have changed and I'm looking to simplify my system. Currently running Welbourne DRD 300b amps w a Wright Sound tube preamp, Metrum Octave dac, cardas golden cross cables.

I would like some power, say 60-100+ watts to open up future speaker choices, and would even like a built-in dac. I just don't listen the way I used to (damned amazing headphones killed my speaker system) and would like to get rid of the clutter of boxes and cables etc.

Price limit is 4k, and I'd be happy to come in well under that. So far, it looks like a Hegel h80. All suggestions welcome...




Lenny

 

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RE: need help choosing integrated amp, posted on January 11, 2017 at 06:20:04
classfolkphile
Audiophile

Posts: 394
Location: Florida
Joined: December 17, 2002
Have you heard the Hegel?

Going from tube pre-amp and amps (300Bs, no less) to a $2000 SS amp/DAC? Seems like a set up for disappointment.

I'd recommend a Rogue Cronus Magnum II (100 tube wpc, $2495 list) and keeping the Metrum Octave. To me it sounds best with KT66s (55 wpc) but you can use EL34s, 6L6GCs KT77s, 6550s, KT88s, KT90s, or KT120s at various power levels up to 100 wpc.

Edited for additional tubes.

 

Good suggestions and recommendations, posted on January 11, 2017 at 07:02:24
airtime
Audiophile

Posts: 8514
Location: Arizona
Joined: February 4, 2003
I echo the above post. Going from that setup to a full SS integrated isn't going to be a smooth transition. The Cronus would be the one to beat.

Heck, if I was going that route I would be buying one.

Just one point. I would highly recommend NEVER mixing your source, especially digital, with an amp. Things can change quickly in the digital world. And don't say they can't because who knew 10 years ago we would be streaming audio from iphones, bluetooth devices and internet players.

Just makes good sense to keep your amplification separate from your ever changing source.

 

good advice, posted on January 11, 2017 at 07:42:40
LennyF
Audiophile

Posts: 132
Location: NYC
Joined: May 13, 2001
The Rogue looks good and would probably satisfy me. As would a Line Magnetic or other good tube integrated. I feel no need for a phono section or headphone amp, and would like to unclutter as much as possible, so a builtin dac is desirable. Something like a LIO, but less expensive.
Lenny

 

good point, but..., posted on January 11, 2017 at 07:52:42
LennyF
Audiophile

Posts: 132
Location: NYC
Joined: May 13, 2001
From an audiophile perspective I absolutely agree with keeping the source separate. But since I just want a simple integrated, I'd like to go all the way. Some modern integrateds seem to be 'roon ready' (whatever that means), bt compatible, etc.

In truth, I know it will be a downgrade, from SET etc. to an int amp. I just want something that will not annoy me -- it doesn't have to entrance me.


Lenny

 

+1 Agree - keep the DAC separate, posted on January 11, 2017 at 08:09:09
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 27694
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
DAC technology continues to evolve. We had FireWire, adaptive then async USB, support for "CD quality" PCM, high resolution PCM, DSD64, higher resolution DSD, and now MQA in a small handful of DACs. Outstanding and very capable DACs are available at very reasonable prices and as DAC technology evolves we can simply buy a new DAC. I would not buy an integrated amp setup with the DAC built-in UNLESS I were very very space constrained. I -might- consider something like this in my home office but not for my primary system.

I owned some pretty decent separates over the years including a pair of 250wpc Manley Neo-Classic 250 monoblocks (10 EL34's per amp), Bryston 7BSST2 monoblocks, AES/Cary SixPac monoblocks (6 EL34's per amp), Wyred4Sound SX-500 Class D monoblocks, Spread Spectrum Technologies Ampzilla 2000 2nd Edition monoblocks, and several stereo amps and various preamps.

When I downsized I needed a fair amount of power for my Thiel CS2.4 speakers. 50wpc won't cut it but 100wpc from the Rogue Cronus Magnum (using KT120 tubes) does a great job. This same amp outfitted with EL34's was under powered in my setup but with KT120's or KT90's it sounds wonderful.

I have the 100wpc Rogue Cronus Magnum tube integrated in the basement system on the Thiels and the 60wpc Ayre AX-7e SS integrated in my home office driving my Tannoys.


 

RE: need help choosing integrated amp, posted on January 11, 2017 at 11:57:08
mrdavis842
Audiophile

Posts: 243
Joined: February 22, 2013
The Hegel H80 is a good choice for an integrated amp. I would also look at Cambridge Audio CXA-80, NAD C 368, Parasound Halo and Rotel A14. These amps have Bluetooth, USB, WI-Fi and built-in DACs. As far as DACs evolving over time, if it gets to the point where you want a new DAC you can always buy a stand alone at that time. You would have to every time you want a new DAC anyway and you would always have an extra in the integrated amp for backup or another use.

 

Naim Supernait 2, posted on January 11, 2017 at 16:44:34
BenE
Audiophile

Posts: 350
Location: midwest
Joined: March 18, 2012
A bit above your price point...

 

If it were me, Parasound Halo Integrated, posted on January 11, 2017 at 19:11:58
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 34799
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - San Francisco
Joined: February 26, 2001

Under $3K and everything one needs including a decent DAC and gobs of power.

Assuming you will want to change speakers as you downsize as well?

Lots of great sounding speakers out there that sound great but are otherwise hard to drive and this rig should do the job. Heard one driving some KEF speakers and was amazed and I'm a 300B SET and horns guy.

Link below:



 

RE: need help choosing integrated amp, posted on January 11, 2017 at 21:37:41
russ69
Audiophile

Posts: 864
Joined: December 13, 2009
"(damned amazing headphones killed my speaker system)"

That is the clue you needed to upgrade your speaker system. Good headphones sound great but a good speaker system beats any headphone system. There are some good suggestions here but I would choose your loudspeaker first and then get the power to drive it.

 

RE: If it were me, Parasound Halo Integrated, posted on January 12, 2017 at 04:42:45
LennyF
Audiophile

Posts: 132
Location: NYC
Joined: May 13, 2001
"Assuming you will want to change speakers as you downsize as well?"

Yup -- looking for minimonitors - Audience, Kef, others.
Lenny

 

Retail is a little over your limit..., posted on January 12, 2017 at 07:24:04
dirtyvinyl
Audiophile

Posts: 1689
Joined: December 10, 2011



$4300.00. But who pays retail? You shouldn't have a problem negotiating a compromise under $4K.

Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP. Headphone jack, but no built in DAC. Should drive most speakers according to Stereophile tests.
Positive reviewer and end user comments.

 

I've heard the KEF LS50 on one of the Parasound Halo amps..., posted on January 12, 2017 at 09:10:27
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 34799
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - San Francisco
Joined: February 26, 2001
just not sure which one.

If and when the ship me out to the assisted living center, I thing that combo would do me.





 

RE: If it were me, Parasound Halo Integrated, posted on January 12, 2017 at 14:29:27
mrdavis842
Audiophile

Posts: 243
Joined: February 22, 2013

If you really want to downsize have I got a deal for you! You get your monitors, and fine ones too I might add, plus you do not even have to buy an integrated amp. Two DACs per channel and DSP active crossovers.

http://www.avsforum.com/kef-introduces-ls50-wireless-active-speakers/

http://www.avsforum.com/kef-ls50-wireless-speakers-and-demo-at-ces-2017/

 

RE: If it were me, Parasound Halo Integrated, posted on January 12, 2017 at 17:32:00
russ69
Audiophile

Posts: 864
Joined: December 13, 2009
Wireless...except for the power cord, lol. I own LS-50s, I can't say I would class them in the same category as Stereophile does, total lack of air.

 

What do you use to drive them?, posted on January 12, 2017 at 18:10:23
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 34799
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - San Francisco
Joined: February 26, 2001
I've heard them with just about everything including Parasound JC-1's, which admittedly is a bit of overkill, but I suppose justified in a room that also included the 'Blades' which I suppose deserve amps of the JC-1's price and power.







 

Waiting for my Cronus Magnum II . . . , posted on January 12, 2017 at 20:47:57
JoshT
Audiophile

Posts: 5646
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
I ordered one from a local brick and mortar shop down here in Daytona Beach where we escape the snow for the winter months and hope to have it in a week or so. I must say that your descriptions over the past few years have contributed to my decision, but I also really liked what I heard when I auditioned it.

Aside from power, how do you like the KT120 tube compared to the KT88 or EL34? I like the the KT88 and EL34, but not the 6550 all that much. I've heard that the KT120 sounds closer to the KT88 than the KT90, which I've heard described as thin and aggressive. Which is NOT what I want! ;-)
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

a very interesting option! - nt, posted on January 13, 2017 at 06:39:49
LennyF
Audiophile

Posts: 132
Location: NYC
Joined: May 13, 2001
.
Lenny

 

RE: Waiting for my Cronus Magnum II . . . , posted on January 13, 2017 at 08:07:09
SpotcheckBilly12345
Audiophile

Posts: 304
Joined: February 16, 2016
Contributor
  Since:
January 5, 2017
I've heard the Cronus Magnum with KT88's and KT90's. The KT88's sounded fine, I didn't much care for the sound of this amp with the KT90's.

I ordered my Cronus Magnum immediately after hearing one with the KT120's. This was about three years ago and I have never regretted my decision. I say go for the KT120's, you won't be sorry.


Cheers,
SB

 

RE: +1 Agree - keep the DAC separate, posted on January 13, 2017 at 08:34:50
kiratobias
Audiophile

Posts: 26
Location: Pacific NW
Joined: February 11, 2004
Abe - like you I have Thiel 2.4s that have always been driven by solid state amps. Any other tube integrateds you can recommend besides the Rogue?

 

Awesome . . ., posted on January 13, 2017 at 08:58:43
JoshT
Audiophile

Posts: 5646
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
I loved the sound of it too with the KT120s, and that's what they ship with these days by default. Really eager for it to arrive!

Once it's all settled in and i've enjoyed it over time, I might try other power tubes for the fun of it, but I doubt that will be any time soon. I'm curious about the KT77 in particular. Love the EL34 in some amps - have not heard them in the Cronus, but heard some negative comments about that combo. Seems like the KT77 might be somewhere between the EL34 and KT88 tonally (from what i've read only)?
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

RE: good speaker...., posted on January 13, 2017 at 09:03:09
BigguyinATL
Manufacturer

Posts: 2981
Joined: April 10, 2002
in a decent room....
Headphone listening is an adjustment with the benefit of lower noise floor (better dynamics), unnatural presentation with most recordings - most were not mixed with headphone listening in mind. (Why don't producers put two mastering mixes together - one for headphones and one for speakers in a room? Ok Add a third mix for surround sound...)


"The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat" - Confucius

 

RE: +1 Agree - keep the DAC separate, posted on January 13, 2017 at 12:29:04
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 27694
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002

I normally don't care for the ARC sound but I once owned the ARC VT100mkII and it did a great job on my Thiels. The smaller VT50 didn't cut it.

Any of these Rogue amps sound great on the Thiels: Atlas, Stereo 90 / 100, Cronus Magnum, Cronus Magnum II, and probably their larger monoblocks. One caveat though. The stereo amps should be outfitted with the KT90 or KT120 tubes, preferably KT120. They will accommodate EL34 but this tube was marginal on the Thiels.

I suspect that many tube amps over 100wpc will likely do fine.


 

What SpotcheckBilly12345 said..., posted on January 13, 2017 at 12:37:05
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 27694
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
I really love the sound of EL34 tubes but not in the Rogue Cronus Magnum driving my Thiels. I had the Manley Neo-Classic 250 monoblocks with 10 EL34 per side and that was heavenly! Same for the budget AES/Cary SixPac monoblocks with 6 EL34 per side (on my Tannoys).

But.... two EL34s per channel in the Rogue didn't work out with the Thiels. The KT90 was powerful enough but the KT120 sounds much better to me.

I wouldn't describe the Cronus Magnum with KT120's as "rich, robust, and warm" like a good EL34 amp so I hope you don't find it to be lean or harsh.

We were in the Coco Beach / Merritt Island area last year for a wedding just before Hurricane Matthew caused mass evacuations. My wife's family out there didn't completely evacuate like many others but they moved inland several miles and hunkered down in a sturdy church where my brother in-law is the pastor. The church and their homes all survived.



 

Used Naim Supernait - they go for about $2k and have a built-in DAC. , posted on January 13, 2017 at 23:52:16
ppopp
Audiophile

Posts: 2588
Location: OR
Joined: October 10, 2002
Supernait 2 has no built-in DAC.

 

RE: need help choosing integrated amp, posted on January 15, 2017 at 02:41:21
triamp
Audiophile

Posts: 443
Location: USA
Joined: August 6, 2008
If you are going solid state, I second the "Cambridge Audio CXA-80, NAD C 368, Parasound Halo and Rotel A14" as suggested by mrdavis842.

Of these, my guess is that the Parasound Halo Integrated would offer the best sound and costs less than a house.

 

RE: I've heard the KEF LS50 on one of the Parasound Halo amps..., posted on January 20, 2017 at 11:41:15
pictureguy
Audiophile

Posts: 6968
Location: SoCal
Joined: October 19, 2008
At T.H.E Newport they showed KEF w/Parasound and had an A21 or maybe the A23 backing up the LS50s.
Too much is never enough

 

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