Looking for... Integrated tube amp with phono

Looking for an integrated tube amp (or hybrid) in the $4-7k range. Preferably used. (Actually, there’s almost no way I’d get what I wanted new.)

Must haves:

            -PHONO built in (yes, I know I can do “better” with separates, but that’s not what I want this time).

            -At least 70WPC (my speakers are not too efficient at 88db).

            -REMOTE… doesn’t need to have 50 functions, but needs to control volume.

            -Tape Monitor or some way to connect an EQ (not needed if it has tone controls)


Nice to have:

            -Headphone jack. (I have no headphone amp atm.)

            -DAC (I have a Bluesound Node 2i; I never use it, but never I might.)

            -Tone Controls (I’m no purist, and at low listening levels I need to increase the bass)

            -MC cartridge capability


Current list:

            -Mcintiosh MA352 – tons of power (for future speakers?), but no MC option and the phono stage is transistor. Tone controls! Easy to re-sell.

            -VAC Sigma 170i – seems like a decent option and has a tube phono section.

            -Octave V80 – harder to find, and probably really tough to sell when I get tired of it. Phono is MM OR MC, not both.

            -Audio Research GSi75 – also hard to find, but this seems to have everything in one box.

            -Am I missing anything?


Backstory… I’m a mid-fi guy. I live in NYC (currently have neighbors below me and next to me) and will never have the luxury (or the money) to have a dedicated listening room. That means, no wall treatments, bass traps, or even a dedicated stereo rack. I rarely crank my stereo (although, I want to be able to since my main thing in life is seeing live bands… it’s pretty much the only thing I really enjoy, so I like loud music). My speakers are Ohm Walsh 3 (slightly modified) and I’ve had them much longer than anything else (10 years and 4 apartments). They aren’t perfect, but I like them (although they are a bit small for my current house). I haven’t been using my stereo much since we moved to this place but my wife has been listening to vinyl. She had a difficult time with my old TT (Music Hall MMF-7.1 with a Goldring 2400) and when the cantilever broke, I decided to get a TT that she would have an easier time with- a Denon DP-47F (from Japan). The cartridge is pretty cheap, and before I replace it, I may want to try an MC cart (probably Denon DL-301), otherwise, I’ll get a DL-110, knowing that it’s well beneath the Goldring I had.

My current amps are Conrad Johnson Classic 60SE  and PV10B (I’m using the onboard phono). I’ve had it a few years and like the sound, although I need to cheat with a Schiit Loki. I grew up with the bass and treble maxed out (‘70s and ‘80s), and I guess that’s how I like music to sound.

I’ve owned a hybrid, various tube amps, SS (Denon PMA-2500ne that I didn’t like at all) and have no issue with integrated amps. I’m also looking for convenience and simplicity.  


Full disclosure, I am going to recommend taking a look at a Margules ACRH3, that is for sale currently, on The Music Room's site, yes it is mine. It may have what you are looking for. I found it to have plenty of power 100wpc, an excellent phono stage for MM, MI or high output MC. The remote is functional, hefty and functional. The input stage is tubed. I really enjoyed my time with it. Very musical and easy to listen to. 

Thanks, I previously saw that Margules and had to look up the company. That’s the problem… resale. I don’t mind buying from a small company, but I worry about resale, especially non-domestic manufacturers.

Also, I question whether that would sound better than my Conrad Johnson separates.

Margules,Rouge, Audio Hungary, Octave, Prima Luna, all good choices. 

@ron325  Honestly that's a tough one. I have listened and sold some CJ gear when I worked in the hifi store. One of my favorites was the CJ MF200, that was a great amp for sure. I have never heard the 60, though I have read it's really good as most CJ is. 

I think the Margules would hold it's own. I found it to be pretty dynamic, it has some weight and dynamics for sure. Very musical, I never felt any fatigue while listening. Maybe an area where it edges out the CJ is that its a very easy to live with unit. Ease of use and all that. It's also pretty unique, if that's something that matters to you. 

I too had to do some research on the company. Turns out they are one of the oldest companies in home and pro audio in Mexico. I heard several other Margulese units at the recent Florida show in Feb. I was very impressed. 

So, the GSi75 is off my list (assuming I want an EQ option). I emailed ARC and asked if there was a way to connect one and they said “no” (other than between the source and the amp, which is not an option).

I looked closer at the Rogue and that is nicely upgraded from the one I owned. I asked them about adding an EQ and they can install a processor loop for $350. I think the lack of tone controls is why I sold my Tempest II years ago. Seems like a great amp for the money, but not sure it’s better than my CJ stuff. Especially the SS phono stage in the Rogue.