Looking for a ‘’No braine’r Integrated amplifier under 7500 or so

hello all!

I’m looking for ideas on a ‘slam dunk’ flexible high value solidly performing INTEGRATED amp for an office system, but one that for a while can be my ‘go to’ or primary unit and is a bit above entry level.

preference is to buy new, but preowned in the right scenario works for me as well.

Pesently I’m starting all over in amassing gear and felt to initiate the project by wading into the water slowly.

I have on hannd remnants of my former   efforts in a then very good line stage preamp and DAC, though the DA age is showing and well behind current popular trends  and support for new formats.

also on hand are some ‘so so’ amps, and several pairs of speakers and I just added a Blue Sound Noede 2I.

ultimately I see nearly everything being replaced but felt starting with a very nice Integrated seems as good a starting point as any.

topology is as such, not too too imoportant. decent power however is key as speakers being paired here are as yet unknown. likelyhood here is a pair of monitors and a sub.

the music playback will likely be streaming from providers and NAS files.

Aesthewtix Mimas has peaked my interest currently. and having owned bAT their INT is interesting too. apart from these two I’m wide open to suggestions on current one box amp solutions..

glass or sand power here makes little difference apart from thereafter mating speakers to the INT power constraints..

your thoughts, and expieriences here are vastly appreciated. THX
I have to throw in the Musical Fidelity M6si and the Mcintosh MA7900.  Both are absolutely stellar.. The MF being better for the money but the Mc being a Mc.
If you can live without an integrated phono input and a used one, nothing will even come close to a Pass Labs INT250.

sorry I'm late getting back to this post...


Features matter here as well as power and sound quality for a slam dunk.
There are other Bel Canto options worth a look at but can get pricey.

I would strongly consider McIntosh as well. Get the one that meets your needs best. I particularly like the two hybrid models. As I do the hybrid offerings from Rogue.

if smaller speakers are ok look at Vanatoo active speakers. These cost a pittance, sound great, are very adjustable and have a lot of modern technology baked in to enable that. Fabulous product. Add a sub and you are on the big leagues for sound and good to go. The latest similar active speakers from KEF another excellent option.

I own and can also vouch for Vanatoo and kef ls50s though my KEFs are passive version. Currently run the latest meta version but own originals also.

blindjim> thanks much. that’s a lot of input and it is all is very welcome.

I vaguely recall the NAD house sound. I am familiar with BC fairly well and own their BC DAC 3 still. friends have owned more recent dACs and a complete set of BC power, albeit with various spkrs.

I’ve not been disappointed with the sonic results BC has delivewred regardless the spkrs, Jamo, Canton, ML, etc.

i know nothing much of Rogue but am interested in hybrid power, be it Class d or more trtditional topologies.

McIntosh never has been an attention getter IMO with the exception of what I’ve heard from their 600 series and 500wpc monos… and that sort of investment here is far too much.

I went with BAT some years back and enjoyed that presentation although the prefference was bAT tube pre and BAT sS amp. thereafter I went all tubes monos and silverwlines.

the KEF monitors interest me, as do joeseph, pulsars; Harbeth 7s, and the newer Silverline modest towers selling for $2K retail. preludes I think.

in all I enjoy a punchy natural sound with great imaging and presence. i’ve no issue adding a sub if needs be

I’m in flux now with a likely move just aahead, and some refurbishing on this house so it will sell quickly and these irons in the fire preclude my pursuit of the real goal of assembling another primary system for some time yet, sadly.

I do feel however having a nice INT and naturally revealing rig will enable me to do some checcking out of other elements of what’s out there now, wires, PLC, DAs, amps, spkrs, racks, stands, etc.

In the "never have a doubt it will sound really good" category I'd put Luxman or Ayre.
My listening experience with Mc and Pass leads me to believe speaker matching is more important.

not a fan of Ayre though I can see where having a tube pre w/Ayreamps might be viable.
I heard several rig with Luxman $10K INT a yeear or two ago. many combos were indeed quyite nice. paired with Magico A3s and AQ wires was the best. another Lux rig w/Harbeth 7s was very nice. though I felt the ;’Lux sound’ too rounded or mello with less leading edge definition and or dynamic relief. the single hagel INT comprably priced had more distinction but the Dyne C60as   joined to it did not make an involving presentation. too detailed and not enough body. nearly the antithesis of the Lux/Magico affair.

the only Pass amps/sound I’ve experieced has been with hybrid panels, ala ML. XA and XS series. IMO the limiting issue therein was the panels. just never have warmed up to the lack of immediacy and impact of panels. I’m always agast at their ability to image though and yield such honesty.
Man, so many choices at that price point or less. I would recommend you start by deciding what features you want or need such

blindjim> agreed.
my needs are minimal. remote. on board DAC is likely one as well. no phono. can’t see any need for tone controls either. pre outs and a sub out should do me.

mapman's avatar
Ag insider logo xs@2xmapman18,412 posts
02-08-2021 2:12pm
Would add that many options for $7500. How much it actually costs will mostly depend on features and power requirements. If no brainer means going as loud and clear as you want with any speaker, for me that means 200w/ch or more. If you can live with spls that are not damaging to the ears (under 90db) then good sound with most any speaker can be had for much less.

Of course with high end audio, the sky is the limit in regards to how much it can cost but at some point you are paying mainly for build quality and/or aesthetics and the sonic benefits become more marginal and debatable as well unless you have heard the product before and had a chance to compare to others.

Then there are good quality high power tube amps which tend to be very expensive and lots of tubes to deal with and maintain .... Also inefficient and produce lots of heat.

you have written many sailient points an am grateful for your time and efforts.

a ‘slam dunk’ or ‘no brainer’ anything IMHO is something you hear (in this case) and imagine its value or costs at one price, then find out the item is well below what your presumptions were initially. naturally this supposed item has met or pushed all or most all of your audio nervosa buttons, of course.

or… once you’ve heard the thing, and heard the price, you almost break your arm getting your wallet out of your pocket to pay for it

its simply hearing that thing that butters your bread, is flexible in this scenario and is readily affordasble.

as for mating speakers that is why I’m considering those INTs with 150wpc give or take, into 8ohms as the base line for power.

heat as well leans me towards a hybrid arrangement, ala tube pre SS or ‘D’ power. rather than an all glass box.

I honestly can’t conceive of spending that much on an amp without knowing what speakers I’m going to use.

blindjim> thx
yeah I get that bit too. albeit with 100 to 150wpc @ 8, the choices are vast.

of lower powered INTs I did enjoy what raven offrered at the 2019 Fla Expo paired with their hybrid spkrs wherein the lower ranges were aided by on board amps. so there is that avenue and then we’re back into glass power completely and not a lot of it to boot

as for my target price I just felt in that arena the SQ should be delivered with more than a bit of integrity and present an involving toe tapping and grining emotive expewrience…

if mybrid, and the likely aim here, rolling the pre tubes allows for still more prefferential adjustments

in all, its simlply another begining… where things ultimately land may be somewhere else entirely. although I would care for the one box idea to be good enough one would want it to be a keeper and build quality often indicates such things as voice and reliability, hence once more, spending 7K more or less. ought to provide these attributes fairly well.
thanks so fr, I'll be back shortly and respond to the balance of your posts.
Linear Tube Audio - UltraLinear Integrated. You can get it with a built in phono stage if need be. 
I have the CODA CSiB and I think it is great. It is the 2018 version and is not even the best version of this unit. Though I imagine the 2021 version is only a bit better. (used 3.4K)

I am getting a Krell K-300i integrated hopefully this week. Have not heard it yet but it is got some amazing features. ($7K new with integrated DAC).

If my wife gives me a hard time about setting up my KEF LS50's in the family room with one of these 2 integrateds then I will sell one of them.