Best sounding "budget" integrated amp for Vandersteen 2C.

Looking for the best sounding "budget" integrated amp for use with an Vandersteen 2C (1980’s version) speakers. CD source alternates between a Sony PS1 and Cal Audio Icon II Power Boss. Budget is roughly $300, maybe up to $400. I’ve been thinking something from NAD, but with all the different models out there, I have no idea which models are the best sounding--regardless of power. It will also need to have a phono stage. I’d like to have a remote too, but it’s not a deal breaker. My system is in a second bedroom, so even though I like to crank every once in a while, most of the time I'm listening at reasonable levels. My listening tastes consists of stuff like Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Tangerine Dream, etc.
The Cambridge integrated referenced above is rated at 35w/ch. I would be concerned that might not be enough power. I also have the Vandy 2Cs and have used a Krell S300i (150w/ch/8ohms, 300w/ch/4ohms) and am now using a Vincent hybrid amp (150w/ch/8 ohms, 300w/ch/4 ohms). I think I recall Richard recommends a minimum of 40w/ch. I don't listen to anything above 90 dB, and I would suggest the OP look for something at least 75w/ch, preferably more. Just my 2cents...

Also, I would get in contact with Johnny Rutan (Vandy guru and dealer) at 973-809-4467. He knows his stuff and will shoot straight. 
$450 + shipping.
Sansui 8080dB fully functional like new. Looks beautiful and all knobs lights present. It will CRANK your Vandys.

PM me.

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Don't laugh at this. Or do...I don't care. But I put a little Onkyo 9110 into a budget system for my wife. That thing sounds crazy good!
does it have to be an integrated ?
the 2 imo craves a great power amp, a Hafler DH220/110 would be superb

You know I’ve owned almost all the model 2s af the Vandersteen speakers and found out that they are amp friendly meaning regardless of what amp you use, they make the vandies sound real good.
A used Rega Mira should have enough juice at 60 WPC to power the speakers in a moderately-sized room and would be, IMO, a step up from the Cambridge Audio or Yamaha.  Should fit your budget.
There are many good suggestions here. The OP mentioned a budget and possible interest in a NAD amp. Many posters have suggested possible reliability issues with NAD stuff. Maybe some have had them but mine has performed flawlessly for 3 years. The NAD model numbers have changed recently. Don't know if the performance has changed but as I look at their current integrated amps the current model specs line up to previous model numbers when it comes to power and features.When researching NAD amps I went to a dealer that had all models on display.I went with the C375BEE which is 150W (approx. $1500). But going down the power chain the 356 (80W) didn't sound as good. Then lower was the C326BEE (50W). It sounded so much more musical than the 356. Online reviews and posts from others agreed. Interesting that NAD didn't change that model number designation but did on all the other amps. Perhaps NAD recognized that maybe they had achieved something special like their renowned 3020. NAD amps are high current ones and a 50W amp can drive even difficult speakers. Probably not to stadium levels.
 A new 326 sells for around $500. A bit above your budget and it doesn't have a phono stage. You may be able to find a used or refurb closer to your budget and add a phono stage. A new integrated with a built in phono stage for $400 will not sound nearly as good. I only offer my opinions as they pertain to your interest in NAD. I'm sure others will have input of their own.

Rotel RA 870BX, not too shabby....(possibly re-capped)

Dual mono 80wpc integrated. Well, dual caps and transformer windings, at least. Premium parts throughout. Old school punch.
Belles Aria.  When you hear it, you won’t consider it budget.  I’ve seen them listed as low as $1050.00.  @ it’s retail of $1995.00, it’s a steal.  Best...
I know that’s above your budget, but if you save a little and are patient, you’ll have a great integrated for a very long time.  Best...

I was in your exact same position.  I got this.  A little more power than the Cambridge.  Should be fine in a bedroom. I love mine.  Much better sound than my old Audiosource stack.  Actually has a tuner, too, and if you want to add more power later, the 150wpc matching power amp is the same price.
A used NAD 7400 receiver has their 100 WPC “Power Envelope” which can peak to nearly 200 for sustained periods.  I own two: of all the mid vintage NAD amps I determined these sounded the best.  Read the on-line review by Ken Rockwell, he is an independent reviewer who knows his stuff and his review covers every molecule of this unit.  He rates it as one of the best he has reviewed.  It is dead quite and has extremely low distortion.  It has a descent phono section and selector for mm or Mc.  Its EQ section is of particular good quality not junk.  I’ve used this unit to drive a pair of Martin Logan SL3 electrostats and it does so with authority.  I’ve found clean units on e-bay for under $250 and they sound very good.
The power rating on the NAD amps, at least those that are newer with the more “traditional” toroidal transformer based on the original 3020’s, is really more of a conservative or nominal rating. I’ve got a simple C316BEE that NAD puts at 40w/channel that actually behaves like 90/channel! ESPECIALLY at the dynamic points in the music. Albeit, I’m running mine through some very efficient floorstanders (Tekton Lore)...but there are several reviews that indicate this little amp can drive speakers well into the 4ohm category while hardly breaking a sweat. And I can believe that as I never get over the 9 o’clock position without shaking the floors. Great little amp, and a much much sweeter soundstage than my previous Onkyo. Got mine for $250 at Dedicated Audio, but it’s the older version without the phono pre. The newer (version 2) with phono can still be had for about $380, with really the same architecture. And, an NAD phono stage is nothing to scoff at. 

Here’s an older review from Steve Guttenberg, still very pertinent. He’s great about reviewing good sounding equipment for those on a budget:

I used to own some DCM timewindows fromcthe ‘80’s that were around 6ohms. I know this little NAD would have done just fine with them!! 
Emotiva has some nice amps at budget prices. Decent power delivery too! IMO.

Back when this version was being sold,  the entry level recommendation was Rotel and for a bit more B&K and especially PSE.

I know it might be a bit of a budget stretch, but instead of a budget intergrated; I would recommend a used early generation McCormack power amp and an inexpensive passive pre for a rather large increase in sound quality. No phono/ no remote, but the high output CAL is great match for a passive, and  McCormack's / Vandy's are terrific match regardless of budget.

I used the 2cs years ago and they do need decent power.  I agree with the recommendations of a use NAD, Hafler stack, Rotel, or Emotiva.   I would suggest at a minimum 75w/ch for those.  
I think a good used AV receiver works nice with the 2Cs. Even higher end AV receivers tend to be pretty cheap on the used market because they may not have the latest decoders and HDMI connections. Be sure to get one that allows you to switch the surround channels to bi-amp. I biamped a pair of 2Cs with a Pioneer Elite receiver and got great results. Another bonus is that sometimes the room correction DSP can tame room acoustic problems and if it doesn’t you just bypass with no harm done. Since AV receivers are usually designed to power 7 or more channels they have a robust enough power supply to easily push only 4 channels - two to each speaker - to their full rated power.
I think it prudent for me to retract my earlier recommendation. It has recently come to my attention that the amps I previously suggested are beginning to demonstrate age related failures that might not be cost efffective to repair.
Find a used or factory refurbished Yamaha A-S501. It’s 90% as good as some $3K integrateds I’ve used. It’s no cheap, garbage switching-amp like many in this price range. Nope, over 20lbs of tried and true bipolar, class AB power.

Might be cheaper to find a closeout R-S700 or R-S500. They have built-in tuners but robust and extremely low-noise power. Rated at 100 and 75 RMS watts/Ch respectively - both channels driven. Independent measurements have verified that they actually produce that or greater power for the entire bandwidth.
If you can find one, I’d suggest an Acurus DIA 100mk2 of even the original DIA 100. It’s an amazing sounding amp for those on a very limited budget.
Onkyo A-9050 delivers 75 watt/channel, has a 4 Ohm selector that limits the output into 4 Ohm to 65 watt/channel. I’m using it to drive a Magnepan MMGi 4Ohm speaker plays loud and sounds great and barely warm to the touch. you can find it online fro less than $400.
Something that awakes them from their soporific daze. Forget anything remotely laid back.


good suggestions as above. Add Creek or Music Hall to your demo list.

Happy Listening!

Thank you all for the great recommendations! I have a lot of options to think about.

In my original post, I indicated NAD. But, I had been thinking about the Yamaha A-S models as well... 301, 500, 501, etc. I’m glad there were a lot of responses on those Yammy models, as I was curious as to what they really sounded like--compared to NAD, Rotel, as well as the British integrateds from Creek, Arcam and Rega.

Also, I may have some add’l funds to add to my budget as I just sold an extra CDP I had and was not really using it anymore. This might afford a new A-S501 or used A-S700. Or new NAD 326BEE or used Rega Brio R. 

I Agree with @teo_audio; but I'd go with the RA-1070.

I had a Rotel RX-1052 much preferred it to a NAD 7250 PE (not a fair match), a Creek (forget the model, but I think it was 100 watts and had great reviews) and decided that the difference in price was not worth the difference in SQ when I took it to Johnny Rutan's to do a side by side with a Belles Aria through ProAcs ....although the Aria was like magic with Vandy Teo CTs.
Consider this a strong second on the reccy to call John Rutan at Audio Connection ... nobody makes Vandies sound as good as those guys do.

owned the VAND 2c for many years.  the bad news first.  it requires POWER with a good damping factor from the amp.  It is rather inefficient.  around 86-87db.
it CANNOT produce low bass, so if you want that,  choke it at around 50-60hz and use a decent sub.

In my original post, I indicated NAD. But, I had been thinking about the Yamaha A-S models as well... 301, 500, 501, etc. I’m glad there were a lot of responses on those Yammy models, as I was curious as to what they really sounded like--compared to NAD, Rotel, as well as the British integrateds from Creek, Arcam and Rega.

Fun fact: the Yamaha integrateds were voiced in Britain.

Did I already recommend an Arcam? I really really like the sound of those integrateds. 
Other than the addition of a DAC, are there any SONIC differences between the Yamaha A-S501 and A-S500? 
Other than the addition of a DAC, are there any SONIC differences between the Yamaha A-S501 and A-S500?
Nope, they have the same exact amp section. 
As a former McIntosh owner (amp, pre-amp, speakers) in the budget/mid range integrated I recommend The Yamaha AS-801.  I own one and have I've never looked back on my decision.
Think your better served waiting and saving more. $300 on an integrated amp is going to give you just that a $300 amp.
Have been running the Brio-R since last Friday. Sounds good, but seems a little soft. My current cables are Mogami. I swapped them out for a pair of Kimber 4tc (blue) I had stored away. The sound immediately opened up. However, I still do not have the punch I want. Of all the british integrateds I've owned (Creek 4330SE, 5350SE, Exposure 2010s, Naim Nait 5i, Roksan Kandy MKIII and now the Brio-R) the Creeks have had the bottom end punch. But, with using the british gear with the vandersteens, I've always had to use other cable other than the Mogamis. I recall when I had a Creek 4330SE with a Naim CD3.5, I was using DH Labs Q10 with Air Matrix interconnects. Again, the Mogamis were too soft with that combo. The mogamis are supposed to be a very neutral cable, and I wonder if they are telling me the gear is wrong when they cannot be used?  

My last power source before trying the Brio-r was an vintage Kenwood KR-5030. It was 60wpc, but it was one of those models that had the low end punch. It sounded good and I was using the Mogamis.

Curious now about low end punch in the Yammy A-S series? I'm sure NAD has the low end punch. I see another person had mentioned the Acurus DIA-100. Although, with that I would have to get a phono preamp, which isn't a big deal. 
Curious now about low end punch in the Yammy A-S series?

IME, more than the $2500 Parasound Halo and $3500 Rogue Pharaoh. Not sure how they do it but I suspect it has to do with their use of EI transformers instead of over-hyped toroids.
50 w/ch is not enough for those speakers and the lack of low end punch is the amp running out of power.  Until you put something behind them with some power, they will not give you that nice bottom end.  These are not efficient speakers, about 83db/w.  

I ran a set years ago and a Hafler DH-220 was just adequate. A pair of NAD 2100s run in mono 150w/ch continous, 600 peaks) woke them up.  By comparison, my Magnepan SMGa speakers were easier to drive.  
the Creek 4330SE/5350SE is very tough to beat at its price point.Happy Listening!

Interesting comments regarding the Yammy... 🤔

yeah, you may be right about that.

I found a yammy dealer somewhat near me who sells the A-S series. Gonna give them a call and inquire about a demo. Also, a local audio buddy of mine (who has been buying/selling audio gear for quite some time) has picked up a Kenwood KA-8050. This is apparently one of the more formidable vintage kennys, as it is a High Speed DC with 120wpc. He got it from the original owner and its in excellent condition. Any thoughts on this? That kind of power should wake up the vandys...
Any thoughts on the Yamaha A-S1000?  Looks like there is someone selling one "local" to me... in Virginia.  From my initial reading on Yamaha's website, the 1000 is a considerable leap from the A-S500?