The advice I've gotten here is, as usual, excellent. But TBH, I really am losing my mind. “Overthinking”? Well, yeah, maybe.
Priority #1 is giving my Harbeths whatever they need to shine, spending up to $10-12,000. There are constraints, but are dealbreakers if the sonics are there. The perfect choice would be an amp that:
i) my 70-year-old back can lift
ii) has an HT bypass
iii) will also work halfway decently powering the front speakers of a home theater (e.g., minimal warm-up time)
iv) has either a line- or speaker-level output for a sub
v) can be programmed to work automatically with a Logitech Harmony
I’ve considered several ARC & MF Nu-Vista models, as well as integrateds by Hegel, Levinson, HiFi Rose, and Ayre. Bottom line is that the best-fit ARC model is its entry-level I/50, which lacks most of the functionality I want, but at least is light & has a HT bypass. The Nu-Vista 800.2, which has just begun to ship, has an equally impressive reputation, but at 300/500 wpc and 90 pounds, it’s not perfect. A better fit would be the lower-powered, lighter 600.2, reportedly due Q1 2024, but so far that’s just a rumor.
So maybe I need to rethink this from Square One. I just started looking at a Pass Labs solution: the 20lb XP-12 preamp and 48lb XA25. Just not sure if a 25wpc class A has enough oomph for the Harbeths, but I think Stereophile gave the Pass a rave review based on listening through a larger Harbeth model than mine.
Still, the I/50 is tempting. It’s just hard to say whether I’d prefer the ARC or Pass “house sound”. It’s not even personal preference, since there’s no way for me to audition either one first-hand.
I guess this is all part of the fun of this hobby! Was it J. Gordon who defined “audiophile” as a person thinks more about stereo equipment than he does listening to it?