Higher-End Class A/B vs. Class A Integrateds

I’ve been thinking about downsizing from separates to an integrated amp. I’ve noticed that some companies have both class A and class A/B amps that are both pretty expensive such as Luxman for example. Hegel seems to be well received and they’re not true class A as far as I know.

I was kind of under the impression that class A was better than class A/B due to lower distortion yet again, there are some well reviewed class A/B amps that are as pricey as some class A amps.

To be clear, it’s really not the price I’m concerned about. It’s the fact that some integrated amps $5000 and up are still only Class AB.

How do these higher priced class AB amps sound in comparison to true class A amps?

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Ok, as far as my friend’s PBN power amp. I asked him and he couldn’t find out much other than it’s the PBN Olympia Mini ( he thinks). I think he’s a little fried from his days of playing in bands in the 80’s and 90’s. From what I’ve been able to find, it is not a class A amp. It’s class AB. It weighs close to 100lbs.

It did sound good to me but was that because I was convinced it was class A at the time or was it that it has more power than what I’ve been using? IDK.

You folks gave me much more to consider as far as an integrated amps go. I feel now, that I can find one that does not have to be Class A and hopefully will be just as satisfying.

+ 1 for the Krell 300i, it’s class A up to 90 watts which I would guess you will rarely if ever eclipse.  I had the opportunity to demo the Krell, I owned a Coda CSiB, Primaluna Evo 400 integrated and at the same time demo’d the Krell 300xd Duo Amp (not an integrated unit).  I landed on buying the 300xd Duo but that was purely because I wanted the flexibility of separates.  The Krell XD line is incredible in my opinion, the drive, control is amazing but it has a touch of warmth, tubiness that is amazing as well.  The 300i integrated, best integrated I have heard, hands down.  Now the Coda, that was a close second but didn’t quite have that last bit of magic, but that is subjective.  Luxman, Acuphase, Pass would be great choices as well.  If you like a warmer presentation from your amps, less solid state out of your solid state but also like some of the benefits of tubes, you likely won’t find a better match than the Krell XD gear.

If you are aren’t dialed in specifically to the Class A’s sound signature, Hegel and Michi are outstanding SS pres’s.  Mac’s should also make the list, some of their integrated will drive just about any separates.  

I would ughly, highly recommend Coda as well and if you give them a call, they might Bias an integrated to pump out more Class A if you wanted.  Their CSiB integrated is available with 3 different amplification options, higher class A but less overall top end or lower class A with higher overall output in class A/B.  Coda might be the best engineered and quality parts brand that slides under the radar.  Their equipment will stand against stuff costing many multiples, it isn’t cheap but the value is off the charts. 

Happy Hunting!  

You have gotten some great advise on the integrated amps.  Krell, Coda and Boulder are the three I would focus on.  I bought a Boulder 866 and it's listed as a AB class but I know it's lower wattage is class A.  Very neutral but very musical.  It is above your budget new but there are always used on the market.