Need a new Class AB SS integrated...$2-3k due to hurricane

Well the same hurricane induced windstorms that took out Lahaina, blew heavy against Oahu and caused crazy power fluctuations that flipped out my lights and appliances and over-surged my surge protectors. One of them went kinda crazy and something got thru and blew out one of my integrateds, the one in my home office. While not a super high end unit, it was these days the one I used the most on a daily basis. After multiple different attempts to reset and looking at the boards, I have concluded its toast and time to get a replacement. I had embarked on that quest a few years ago looking for a decent small footprint unit but Covid, the declining stock market and some house repair needs kind of depleted the discretionary fund. So, now its crunch time as working without music could call serious household strife...I am thinking I am going to move my 2nd system unit to the office, a Marantz PM8005 and get a replacement for it. This means a new SS unit than can drive Kef R300s with a remote. This is the wife’s most used system so it needs to be "easily operated". I was thinking about units like the Belles Aria (which I have heard and liked), maybe the AVA SET 120 which I have read about and was intrigued by, possibly a mid-range Rega unit above the Brio which I heard and liked a few years back,  maybe the Hint6 before I saw current pricing of $4k. I have not heard any Class D amps that I liked so far in my life (rejected, Rogue Sphinx, mINT from W4S, some others I cant remember). So, looking for some ideas, maybe some new stuff I have not heard of? I am getting off island for a bit in late September so I may be able to hear some if I am targeted in my search. No tubes as they are too hot. I want new because the odds of reliability are higher and shipping off island for repairs is a $300-400 round trip cost on top of the acquisition cost so Ill pay more to get new and a warranty. Probably need a minimum of 50 watts with good current. I think the price range is workable for entry level high end though it seems like everything has gone up as I am also looking for a new car and shocked at how little $40k buys you.

Appreciate all input and feedback. Mahalo.


The Belles Aria or the Exposure 2510 should fit the bill. This dealer sells both! BTW, the AVA is nice but the preamp section is passive and if you need a remote it does not have one!

I've traded for a few Belles Arias in the past and they always seem to sound quite nice.  The Rega Elex MK4 is also very good.  Both should be good with your KEFs.

My local KEF dealer pair them with NADs. 

The new NAD C 3050 is very good and I heard it drive Kef Reference 3 Meta beautifully (I've heard the LE edition but the Non LE edition is pretty much identical)

I've heard also NAD C700 with LS50 Meta. Also a good pairing. 

There are very good new class D amps that are not named Aavik at your price range. 

At your price range you could consider either Cabasse Abyss or Teac AX-505. 

Love my Simaudio Moon 340i D3PX . Great match with my newly purchased Salk Sound BePure 1 monitors. First 5 watts are class A.

@yogiboy I dont care about the passive preamp but the lack of a remote is a deal killer. I thought they had one but I will have to check with Frank. I already had my eye on Gene Rubin cause he has 2 or 3 amps I potentially liked.

@auroravengeance I read a decent review on that NAD 3050 and have to admit the faux retro look is appealing as a boomer. But, I would need to hear it to get past my Class D "concerns". But, its good to know they do well with Kefs. I can probably hear them fine in the PA/DE area next month.

@beatlebum I have heard good things about Simaudio Moon for years but never even seen them in the stores I have visited.I will check out their website and see if can find some place that sells them near where I travel.

@ goldprintaudio I heard Belles line a few years ago in NJ and was very impressed by the 2 Arias I heard...but then the line changed up some just as I was saving for a model that was replaced by the Dual Mono version. But thats why it is still back on the list now because it was so nice...even knowing it needs a very long break in period. I have never heard the Rega Elex but I heard the BRIO about 5 years ago n a shop in Memphis compared to a CJ tube integrated. The CJ tube integrated was better but I was amazed by the BRIO for only a $1000, especially as compared to a Marantz PM8005 I also heard. I ended up going with the 8005. The small shop owner was a very nice guy and gave me honest feedback that the reliability of the REGA was not as good as the Marantz and the sound was very close. That Marantz has been totally reliable for 5-6 years and despite the size issue, which is also what I liked about the BRIO, it will move to the office.

Appreciate all the feedback so far.

How about a Rotel RA-1572?  I have its predecessor, the 1570 in my office system and it’s fantastic for me.  I originally bought the 1570 as a stop-gap after I sold my McIntosh integrated and I actually love its sound more.  I now use it as a preamp while I’m evaluating some small tube amps and it’s been great. 

No advice here, just sorry to hear about your hurricane problems. Lived in Pensacola between 1990 and 2005 and experienced 3 major hurricanes plus countless lesser ones. Got the heck out of there. Beautiful but deadly.

Parasound makes a pretty decent one for under $3k 

perrotta consulting , gives decent pricing and Anthony is a very good dealer.

Another very good  option Schiit audio mono blocks and freya + preamp 

for around $4k well worth the extra ,and through PayPal you can buy in multiple payments if you don’t have it on your credit card.

+1 yogiboy

Big fan of the Belles Aria.  Moved up to Belles Aria Signature integrated with extra wattage (125 wpc) to drive Vandersteen VLR CT (84 dB/1 m).  With your KEFs, 75 wpc should be plenty. Haven’t heard Exposure, but it has a good reputation and if Gene Rubin carries it, I would visit with him about which would be his recommendation with your speakers (he also carries Rega). Sim Audio Moon 340i is another great integrated but I believe above your targeted price range. Good luck

I will add that I wanted to simplify my den system, and currently have AVA SET 120 control amplifier paired with Naim Uniti Atom HE preamp/DAC/streamer with Vandersteen VLR CT. System is handled with Naim remote. Now have Belles Aria Signature in main system with Focal 1007 Be standmounts. I suspect AVA has better current than Aria, because the Vandersteen speakers really came alive with its 60 wpc versus Aria 75 wpc in my opinion.

I think the Vandersteen coaxial VLR is underrated IMHO.  The negative is that it is pretty inefficient. 

Marantz Model 40 is a complete solution: 80 w/Ch, Streamer, DAC, FET phono stage, HEOS wireless, subwoofer manage ment impeccable build quality. I own it's little brother, the PM7000N, and it drives my LS-50s, Monitor Audio S300 7G, and Magnepan LRS all without issue. The Model 40 should provide another couple dB of headroom for you R300s. 

For context I also own various Luxman, McIntosh, APT, and Adcom pieces, a VPI Prime Scout w/a Hana SH cert, and Grado and HiFiman Sansara headphones. 

I also live on the Big Island half time, so I can empathize with your power issues. I strongly recommend a whole house surge protector ($200-300 installed) in addition to local power conditioning - I like full sinewave UPS. 

I would also be very hesitant to invest in otherwise great gear that requires off-island service. In addition to normal wear and tear failures, Hawaii's humidity, temperature, and temperature salt corrosion are brutal on electronics.  In 7 years in our new house, I've written off a refrigerator, a washing machine, and a 65" TV.  Boutique manufacturers simply don't have the resources to develop and test for environmentals as major manufacturers do.

Good luck in your search!

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Not sure where you see the Hint 6 for $4000.

Most places i see, sell it for $3100.

I downsized 2 years ago to the Parasound NewClassic 200 Integrated and found it to be very nice. Have driven Kef Q350's and also B&W 606 s2 Anniversary  edition speakers very well. It's class D, but it's worth a listen. You won't find a better, more fully featured, user friendly remote.

Audia Flight FL3S Integrated. Sounds much better than any NAD under $6000. Made by a great Italian company.

In Class D I recommend the PeachTree Nova 300. I got them recently and they power these not so well known speakers Volent 3.5 Paragon easily. It has a remote and also a built in MM phono stage if that matters.


in Class A/B would recommend the Quad Vena II/Play. Haven’t heard them but heard a lot about them. 

another good one is Lyngdorf. There is another one called the ASR Emitter 1- a beast and not sure about the remote. Currently one is available used from them directly for around €2.1k

I agree Belles Aria is the best for the money and is better thank Naim or Hegel stuff that is 2-3x the cost.

How about Margules ACRH3. 100wpc hybrid. Impressive dynamics, quiet, powerful.

For a basic amp, hard to beat a Schiit Vidar without big bucks. Anthem and Outlaw also good. Toss on a Schiit or Topping preamp and you pretty much beat most integrated and have enough left over for killer DAC or phone stage. 

In the integrated scene, really tough competition: Atoll, Hegel, Arcam, Marantz, MusicFidelity, Cambridge, IOTA, Audiolab, Rega, Rotel. Simm,  and others. Even the traditional old mid-fi like Yamaha and Denon are tipping their toes back into sound vs features.  Most are excellent so differences may be in features. Do you want their DAC? Need a phono board? How important are headphones?  Only listening in stores while speaker shopping, I thought the Atoll on the dry side, MusicFidelity a bit fuzzy. Hegel more musical ( a bit more distortion). Audiolab had the features I was looking for, Cambridge and Rotel used to be short on dynamics, but that may have improved.  None of these perceptions were careful in my system at home, Just quick shots. 

I am trying to overcome my bias against class D as they have improved immensely. Not sold yet but I want to hear something like a Buckeye or March.  I no longer "hate" the CiFi spec chasing sound from the likes of Topping or FOSI, but it does not serve my taste yet. You might listen to a better designed class D before staying on the A/B camp.  

First, sorry you got hit by the storm and hope everything’s ok with you and yours. I think you’ve identified an excellent option with the Belles Aria. Another very good amp in the same price range but with a little more power is the Yamaha A-S1200 from accessories4less…

Best of luck.

Thank God the storm didn’t cause you any life threatening injuries for starters!


I recommend a used Hegel H160 or H190.  I have an H160 paired with KEF LS50 speakers and it sounds really good in my setup.  I did add a Schiit Audio Bitfrost 2/64 DAC to the chain and it outperforms the internal DAC of the Hegel H160.

+1 on either a REGA or EXPOSURE integrated amp. 

I’ll add on a 3rd great Brit option that is a true contender and no pretender, with the added bonus of being a half-size footprint : CYRUS

Yamaha A-S2100.

I’ve owned Hegel, Parasound, Rogue, Cayin, Sony ES, other Yamahas, and various separates. I’ve heard nothing remotely near the price of a 2100 that performs better. It’s also superior to the newer 2200.

My thoughts go out to you and all your neighbors, such a terrible tragedy.


That is a real interesting comment on the AS2100 being better than the AS2200.

If you have any more comments on that, please share,

What about the Musical Fidelity M6si integrated amp priced at $2,999?

Their web site says “Internally, the M6si is configured as 2 independent monobloc power amps with a separate pre amp. It is, in fact, a pre amp with 2 monobloc power amps that just happen to share the same casework. The M6si has 220wpc. It has very low distortion, outstanding noise ratio and extremely flat frequency response. Its inputs are phono (MM/MC), 4 line level, 1 balanced XLR and 1 USB ‘B’ up to 24bit 96kHz asynchronous. The M6 combination of high power, high current and extraordinary stability means that it can drive any loudspeaker with ease”.

I own two Musical Fidelity M6si integrated amp. It both cases. I use the XLR input connections from my DAC.

See link to MF M6Si amp


My experience is that the 2100 is quieter, a little more resolving, and sounds more powerful than the 2200.