How to shop for an integrated?

I live in the NY metro area, and I’m looking for an integrated. I’ve been researching and reading about audio equipment for years, and now I’m ready to buy.

The problem is, most stores don’t seem to have much inventory or carry about 2 manufacturers (leaving one in my budget). They say things like “we only carry this manufacturer because they’re the best”, or “we stopped carrying that other manufacturer because of...”. Even if it’s an amp I like, I’ll hear “but the next one up is so much better, unfortunately I don’t have it to demo” or “I only have the higher end model, but the one you want pretty much sounds the same “.

And of course you’ll find similar with the speakers, making it nearly impossible to get an idea of how different amps sound with different speakers. Some don’t even have a turntable to use to demo.

It seems like I’ll need to heavily rely on reviews because it’s very difficult to sit down and really compare in person.

Conversely, I used to live in Singapore, and that was so much better. There’s basically a multi level shipping mall filled with high end audio stores who each carry a significant amount of inventory.

I’m hoping for some good suggestions.

concur with leftears on belles - it is very good

not much marketing fluff, but david belles has designed many great sounding amps over the years, always transparent yet musical, never harsh

naim is another to pursue, it has it’s sound, but it can be very nice sounding

hegel is another great one

Just an FYI, the “highly reviewed” Parasound Integrated is NOT Class D, it is Class AB.  
John Rutan/Audio Connection played the Belles Aria for me with some Vandersteens and what I heard, to my ears, was pure bliss. He and his staff are great to deal with and he's authentic. Audio Connection is a must visit for anyone who's serious about audio and hearing music in all its glory!
Ugh...I’ve spent the last several months agonizing over the same. I’m not going to tell you what I think you should get. I’ll tell you what I got and that I’m pleased as hell. I ended up buying an Arcam SA20 integrated amp paired with B&W CM5’s and an SVS SB1000 sub. I knew from experience Arcam and B&W have good synergy.

If you buy from a place like Crutchfield, if they have an amp youre interested in, you can try it out and if it’s not working out you can send it back. You can do this as much as you want. I know you would probably like to hit the jackpot on the first shot, and you may, but the important thing is to get it into your house and listen with your speakers, your room.

They have a great staff and they aim to please. Use their website compare tool. Email them. Call them. Ask a lot of questions. Good luck. Can’t wait to hear what you end up with.