Another "Best" amplifier Question.

Hope I'm not beating on the old horse too hard. I had originally intended to buy The now discontinued KEF r3s but ended up with the new Meta instead. Very pleased so far but still in burn-in mode on days wife not working from home. 

Given my age, I intend for this to be my end game system (yea right). As per my previous post, system is the new R3 Metas, Bluesond Node, Technics SL-1200 MK2 with Ortofon Red, Sony UBP-X800M2 Blueray/CD and a Sony 55" XBR. No home theater set-up just seeking better audio from TV. Also Have an HSU VT1 sub. All feeding from a Yamaha R-N500 Receiver. System is hooked up to gigabit internet sevice  and I listen mainly to Amazon Ultra HD music. All in all, not a high end system but somewhat better than box store IMHO.

I feel I need to replace the receiver as it not the best power choice for the KEFs. In researching, I've hit that deer in the headlights point where I'm frozen and overwhelmed by choices. Right up front I need to establish that my budget is around $2k. Only local dealer I consider audiophile carries Lyngdorf, Atoll, Marantz, NAD and Boulder. He is really pushing The Atoll IN-100 but says the Lyngforf doesn't have enough grunt. Did not even discuss Marantz or NAD and Boulder is in another universe. Atoll lacks phono but can be added at extra cost.

Online choices that intrigue me most: Emotive BASX A2/PT2 combo. Lots of features and power. Can be had (w/ first time buyer discount) for about $1100. Yamaha A-S1200 or Marantz 30 are available open box or refurb for my price range as is a JBLSA750. The JBL has a strong amp and interesting feature set including room correction. I'm probably missing many choices but I'm interested in a high currebt and from communicating with KEF, best to have something thats comfortable driving up to 150 watts into 4 ohms.

Lots of knowledge laden people so I'm looking forward to some solid advice. Thanks in advance.




nice 2 ch amp 300WPC / min.

good preamp.

keep checking the Gon! You can get a great amp and pre for just a smidge over your max, 

get a 2 ch,amp, you will be happier, receivers don’t have the hang bag or musicality   
 To power a good speaker pair. 
you can go receiver, but when you want some vol, and you will, a separate amp is miles ahead of any receiver. 
more with brand names will chime. 

one of my Best Buy’s was n Onkyo p-308 and a p-304 preamps, both silent, and add. Wee bit of depth in the lower frequencies, not much, but enough to take any high pitch glare away. 
sure a receiver will play fine, but in this collective, having the power and headroom available , is a look head must have, as sooner or later, upgrade will come lurking, be ready. A nice Sunfire amp will be great, send to Flannerys for update nd urged, returned perfect, sent my sig 600 to him, still flawless , will power Any speaker I can afford.

if your set on a receiver, then forget what you’ve read, and go shopping. 

At your price point the best option would be an integrated amplifier. 

The Music Fidelity M5si mentioned by russ69 would be one choice. 

Another would be the Rogue Sphinx V3 which delivers 100wpc into 8ohms and 200wpc into 40hms and has a good Phonostage based on the report in Stereophile. I own one however don't use a TT with it so can't say from personal experience on the phonostage.  They sell for $1700 or $1800 depending on remote. Audio Advisor sells them, sometimes have an open box one discounted.

No interest in a receiver. I am intrigued by the Emotiva combo. 160 into 8ohms and 250 into 4. The JBL is class G and pumps 200 watts into 4ohms. Don’t know about reliability. I am also strongly drawn to the Yamaha A-S1200. I have a long history with them going back to 1978 when I acquired my monster CR2020 receiver. The AS-1200 is only rated at 90@8 and 140@4 but it has a 624va transformer and built like a tank (48lbs). It also is Crutchfield’s pick when I talked to them. Priced at 3K but I can find it open box or refurbed for what I am willing to spend. I’m a little leery of used unless from a reputable dealer with return policy.

I hit the post button too soon. 

The Music Fidelity M5si also has a phonostage and USB DAC. 180wpc into 8 ohms. Audio Advisor caries it and has a silver one discounted as open box. 

I am not familiar with the Yamaha or Marantz units you are considering so can't say how they stack up against MF or Rouge units.

Good luck in your search.

To be clear, my BlueSound node will handle my digital needs. Only missing a phono amp. Streaming, Bluetooth, wi-fi and hdmi ARC so my only preference in an integrated is for a phono stage.

What improvements are you looking for and what sound characteristics are most important to you?

Don't have golden ears. Far from it (I'm 75). My interest is getting the most I can from my new KEF R3 Metas. My Yamaha R-N500 will certainly play loud enough but in the interest of getting the best from them in terms of what many people here talk about, ie: Presence, bass control, sound stage, etc, I think I need a higher quality amp. The Yamaha is rated at 80 wpc at 8ohms and only 105@4. I feel that's on the low side and believe erring on the high side is better.

I believe separates are the way to go. For pre I like my Topping Pre90. Power amp I would get a Purifi based amp, from either March Audio or Audiophonics. Phono pre I would go Darlington MP-7, or whatever is left in the budget but their TOTL is quite affordable. I find balanced XLR connections are a great plus and the way to go.

@llg98ljk Wrote:

My interest is getting the most I can from my new KEF R3 Metas. My Yamaha R-N500 will certainly play loud enough but in the interest of getting the best from them in terms of what many people here talk about, ie: Presence, bass control, sound stage, etc, I think I need a higher quality amp. The Yamaha is rated at 80 wpc at 8ohms and only 105@4. I feel that’s on the low side and believe erring on the high side is better.

I get it!

Separates will give you better sound quality then any receiver. The Vidar 2 amp is 100 watts @ 8Ohm, 200 watts @ 4Ohm and the Tyr amp is 200 watts @ 8Ohm, 400 watts @ 4Ohm. The TYR are true monoblock amps. I prefer monoblock amps, they have even better sound quality then a stereo amp. Hope that helps.😎




I like crown and the xti 6002 is a great amp with loads of power and control, this amp can drive nearly any speaker as long as it’s not more than 6000 watts and 3000 watts a channel at 2 ohms and can only bridge in 4 ohms to put out 6000 watts 

At bare minimum $3k is a good Starting point ,for example a parasound A21+ 

there are many others how sensitive your speakers are is important ,and you want 

overhead for dynamics 

The Shiit combos Go over budget. Gotta ask, any love for Emotiva here? The Yamaha I was eying is gone. Emotiva BasX series looks really good from where I sit. X A2 amp is 160wpc @8 and 250@4. PT2 preamp has an awful nice feature set. All in for about half my budget. Would leave me some extra for accessories and interconnects. What think you?


Have you listened to a tube amp yet?  You seem hung up on watts, don't be, it's a very misleading stat, just get a quality integrated.  You've got a small 2 way bookshelf design.  It's not going to need anywhere near the power of a large tower speaker with a half dozen or so drivers.  Check out the Willsenton R8.  You can buy them through Amazon, get free shipping and a 30 day return period.  

Gold Note PA10 with Schitt Freya Plus. Plus have a little left over $1385 for Gold Note and $750 for the Freya used….

Not really hung up on watts. The Yamaha A-s1200 is only rated at 90wps @ 8ohm.However, it has a 624 v/a toroidal transformer and will happily drive 4ohm loads, Solid build at around 48 lbs. 

I've tossed around the idea of a tube amp. Most high-quality ones are far above my self imposed budget. in addition, I'm leery of tube amps because of maintenance and tube life. At this stage of my life, I favor set and forget. Thats one of the reasons I retired my Yamaha CR2020 to storage.


It seems like you like the Yamaha.  Not sure how often those come up used.  There are several good sounding amps at modest prices.  Schiit, Parasound, several Class D amps, Rogue, and more.  Emotive sound shrill.

Budget is $2k. Not hard line but not willing to go much higher. Too many other things in life and considering I've been retired for 11 years so need to watch the cash outflow.


Hi, if I was looking in that budget class, i would look at Rotel… for instance a Rotel RB-1582 or a NAD C298. These companies have a lot of experience at bringing high end sound to a budget.

can vouch for Nord Audio class D purifi out of the UK but Emotiva is good value if not the last word in SQ.

Those have all been on my radar. I've been obsessing and researching this for over a month now. The 1582 MK2 looks interesting. As far as NAD, I may be wrong here but I was bothered by the number of negative comments about their reliability and build quality. As far as Yamaha, despite my 44 year relationship with them, I'm not wedded to the idea of staying with them. Still wondering if anyone has experience or thoughts about the Emotiva route. For just over $1k I ca assemble a pre/power amp that checks all my boxes and more.

I'd say the Emotiva is the way to go, especially since it's under budget. If that was sold in a retail store it would be quite a bit more so you're getting a great amp at a reasonable price.

Schiit Vidar 2 amp ($799) and a Schiit Freya S preamp ($599).  I used the older model Vidar with a Schiit Freya+ preamp for my KEF LS50 Metas.  Sounded fantastic and is well within your budget.  If you want an integrated amp, the Schiit Ragnarok is $1499.  The other great option for a little more money is a Belles Aria Integrated.  Happy shopping!

The R8 doesn’t require much maintenance. Its super easy to adjust bias, fun even, and will hold its bias for months on end. I’ve been getting bored waiting for the tubes to burn out or fail. I have an entire replacement set collecting dust. The power tubes can last 2500+ hours and the pre tubes 2x that or more. If that seems too intimidating go with the Yamaha, it’s a solid unit. I use a Yamaha for movies/TV and love it but not for music. Their integrated amps are probably different though. Honestly it’s hard to recommend SS integrated amps at this price point, most lack character. The really good ones I like tend to be class A and much pricier. My favorite below 2k outside of tubes is the Linn Classik but that’s way below your budget. It’s a bouncy, spunky performer with a dollop a sparkle up top and very smooth. Lots of character.

Look to models of Symphonic Line from 🇩🇪 .

140W@8 fully sufficient.

Power amps or integrated with phono, but I advice separates.

Before you decide compare values per channel: VA and Farad.

You should have >700VA and >300mF, p. C.!

Then listening test.

Otherwise you risk unhappiness after some times.

Best of luck!

@OP, I second Mesch's recommendation for the Rogue Sphinx V3. To expand on his post, the phono stage is excellent and the amplifier is really very good value for money for its sound quality and power.

I own the KEF R3's and I have it paired to a Parasound A 23+(160 wpc) and it is fantastic match.

A Parasound Hint 6 intergrated will deliver everything you are seeking power,presence and the ohm range is there 2-8 Ohms. and you are correct the R3's are rated at 8 ohms but can dip into the 3 ohm range. very few amps in your price range can do a good job in that department.  I've tried several different amps Sonos Amp 125 wpc and a Buckeye Purifi 200 wpc with the R3's niether came close to the overall presentation of the Parasound, my system is in a large room about 600 Sq Ft and it fills the room effortlessly.When I paired the A 23+ with the R3's I knew I'd found what I was looking for.

Based on the budget you have you can buy a used Parasound Hint 6 for aprrox.$1,800 which has a very good phono stage all the features you want and the same 160 wpc amp as the A23+. Do a deep dive on the Parasound Hint 6, high quality at a sane price. 

OP, you mentioned your age. I too am getting up there and I have some physical limitations. I can’t be chucking around 50+ lb amps anymore. That’s why I recently went to class D monoblocks from PS Audio. Stellar M700. They are only about 13 lbs and sound fantastic. Great value on the used market. The Music Room has them all the time on their web site. Also, take a look at the Parasound P6. A pre-owned PS Audio Stellar Strata might be an option also.

Post removed 

I like the Parasound P6 / PS audio suggestion as I considered that for my own use.I went with the A 23+ because its no lightweight at 27 lbs but it is doable. I have not experienced the PS Audio Stellar but my understanding it is a "full bodied" class D amp. I had an oppurtunity to pick up a used Parasound A 21 for $950 locally but went with the A 23+ costing me more $$$.  The days of moving something like the A 21 around are behind me ...I still have the Sonos Amp; wieghs about 6 lbs and performs like a champ I use it in my office now. My back tells me all class D amps are in my future ;)

My suggestion to the OP, is to go find a highend Audio retail shop (not Magnolia!!) and see if what you have stacks up to some top notch gear! If so, keep what you have, if not, you have some decisions to make. 😉

I have Kef LS50's and have been on an amplification upgrade path since I have owned them. I originally had my vintage Nakamichi TA-3 driving them, but planned to upgrade. I tried a Rogue Sphinx v1, but it seemed a bit dry. Tried a Musical Fidelity MS3i, very musical, but underpowered. The M5Si is actually a pretty good suggestion. I finally settled on a NAD 375BEE integrated, nice warm sound, lots of power. Then I bypassed the preamp in the NAD with a Schiit Freya, this was a huge upgrade. Finally, for now, I upgraded to a Coda #8 power amp. Another major upgrade.

My recommendation at a minimum, is to get a Freya S for a preamp, unless you want the tubes. I don't use my tubes often. The Freya is A (for sound/value) rated by one of the main hi-fi mags. Then choose your power amp. I have never heard Emotiva, but just a hunch you can do better. I really liked my NAD, maybe the 298 or Audio Advisor has an open box 275BEE that would work as well, though these are discontinued. Used Parasound or Hegel would be great, or even better, choices as well.

I do not play my music loud (any more), but my Kef's still need a lot of ready current, and the heft to drive 4 ohm speakers. 

Let us know what you decide.



Emotive at the price range is an excellent choice 300 watts.

Again about value (cost) vs output (performance)

I will probably make a decision by this weekend. Taking a bunch of stuff I've accumulated over the years to a place in Kansas City that repairs audio gear and also buys. None of it, except for my Yamaha CR2020, is worth trying to sell online as it doesn't rise up to audiophile level. Hopefully will be better than taking to recycling. Thanks everyone for the tips so far. 

Thinking about this, I do a reality check. I've always had a love for music but in my formative years, most of my listening was done on an old AM table radio until my father sprang for suitcase stereo record player, Also hung a little transistor AM radio from the mirror in my 1956 Mercury. No FM yet. Me and music have come a long way since them. Though far from affluent, I can afford more than I'm looking for, but. I also love my guitars, 2 Martin acoustics. So to me and my realistic needs, the range I'm in price wise will certainly make me happy. Not going down the rabbit hole of chasing the grail.

So. Still have a pining for that big Yammy. Also not ruled out the Marantz 30 (these would be at open box or refurb pricing. Still intriguing: Arcam SA20, the M5si or Rotel RA1572 MK2. Despite some of the naysayers, I may end up with the Emotiva BASX combo. XA2 amp and PT2 pre. Most features and one of the stoutest amps in this group for about $1200 all in.

Once again, thanks to everyone who took the time to respond. Great group!

I have Kef R300s which were the predecessor to the R3. I have driven them with a Marantz PM8005 very well for years in a large room. I auditioned the amp switching between the R300s and the LS50s and went with the former due to better bottom end. The new version of the amp is the PM8006 which is still available from some dealers and used for $900-1500. It outputs 75 -100 RMS and good current. I have also used it to drive Ohm Walsh 2s, JBL 110s and Spendor LS3/5s. It offers both tone conttrols for treble, mids and bass or a direct preamp tone bypass, is made in Japan and has a 3 year warranty and is a CLass AB amp. You can separate the pre from the amp and upgrade your power amp down the line if you want and also use in a HT system. It is all analog. It delivers above its price point. Lots of review out there on it.

I had great success pairing the Denon PMA-1600 with the prior R7’s. I’ve since upgraded to Kef Reference series, and many other components along my journey but also still have another system at home with the Denon PMA-A110 and Kef r700’s that’s a great match. Kef has great synergy with these particular Denon units.


Jay’s Iyagi on YouTube has posted some videos about these Denon units which is how I learned about them. 



Ok reality check...... First if it dose not have thermonic valves take it out of the listing room, save it for pool partying and such. 

If true high fi is the goal get an amplifier based on the 300b in single end triode configuration. 

If awesome sound but you have a little second harmonic distortion. Well get a push pull based on the 6l6 or a variant triode.  Some models will have a switch to put them in pure triode mode and they will then perform nearly on par with the 300b set. Just with a considerable increase in power. 

Bear in mind that the second harmonic distortion causes an illusion that makes the human brain think that the sound is bigger than it actually is.... or that you are magically experiencing the live performance. 

@stgjames there are quite a few random flaws with your post, perhaps you posted by mistake. The 300b tube, SET and variant amplifiers would be improper for the OP’s speakers. When he mentioned a desire for 150wpc into a 4 ohm load…that decidedly NOT a 300b amp. The 6L6 tube and variants aren’t triodes, maybe you meant to say pentodes. 

Having owned a few KEF speakers you definitely want a smoother than average amplifier to provide complimentary sound, along with enough power at 4 ohms to avoid any thinning of the low end. A $ 2k budget is slightly challenging but this one will meet the goals and give you smooth performance for your Metas.


Since you mentioned that class D may be in your future; and keeping in mind your budget then I would consider a  Buckeye 2 channel Purifi amp for around $1K

BTW: I'm 75 also