Looking for advice/experiences with integrated amplifiers


Hegel H160. Does everything very well.

(Michael Fanning) #23

@Tim_Rhodes Tim, check out this review http://hifiknights.com/reviews/amplifiers/kinki-studio-ex-m1/ as well. In the U.S. it’s sold and serviced by a local dealer. Not sure about the U.K. I have no financial interest in this kit; just fascinated by something that appears to punch well above its weight.

(Martin Webster) #24

This is the replacement to a FMJ A19 and provides 50W into 8Ω. If it’s like the A19, which I have, it may require careful matching of source and speakers. I spent the best part of two days auditioning before settling on DALI speakers.

A certain hi-fi magazine has stated that the Rega Elex-R is a good match for your speakers.

(Tim Rhodes) #25

There is a distributor in the UK, I’ll give them a call and ask about warranty. It can be bought direct from Vinshine Audio as well, which may well be cheaper but again there is a warranty question.

Thanks for pointing this amp out to me!

(Tim Rhodes) #26

I think the SA20 its actually the replacement for the A29 and its 80wpc?

I am quite familiar with the A29 as a good friend has one driving his KEF LS50 speakers. They are a good combination. But I think you are right about the Rega and the B&Ws being a better match, I have seen that combination recommended before. That’s partly how the Rega ended up on my list. The Rega Elicit-R is also supposed to be excellent, but again it is another £1500+ amp!

(Martin Webster) #27

Yes, you are correct. The SA10 replaced the A19. The Elicit-R would definitely be on my shortlist, but my first priority is speakers.

(Tim Rhodes) #28

Agree re speakers first but I have those already and I’m really happy with them.

The problem is I started out thinking I’d get an amp of similar value to the speakers ~£800… But now I’m getting swayed by pricier options!

(Larry) #29

I am all in now on all-in-one boxes. Sold all my separates a few years ago and went simple (my interconnect sale of the old equipment totally funded the entirety of my new purchase ha ha). To that end, I would suggest you give the Yamaha R-N803 a try. Not only is it a great integrated but includes a full compliment of streaming apps already built in, plus it has room correction capabilities. Reviewed in “Stereophile” a month or so ago. Another options is the PS Audio Sprout, but the Sprout does not include the streaming or Net Radio options. Cost in the US for either of these boxes is under $800 as a guideline to cost elsewhere in the world.

PS: Roon sees it as an output device via AirPlay on either a wired or a wireless network.

(Martin Webster) #30

I think you need to decide whether or not you want a DAC (digital input) in the amp. You may do better spending around £1,000 on integrated amp only–continue using the Pi-DAC an upgrade that later with a similarly price discrete DAC.

BTW, I found the Rega Brio-R a tad bright and the same has been said of the Elicit-R. So do audition. Also, another two for your list are the Roksan K3 or Roksan Caspian M2. Again these are pushing the budget up. :slight_smile:

(Tim Rhodes) #31

Thank you all for the suggestions and comments.

That Yamaha amp is a bit of a bargain really, its under £600 in the UK. I will try and get an audition as the plethora of inputs is quite appealing.

Regarding the Rega amps I was also told by a friend that they sounded bright. I think the Elex-R would be a good fit for me bar the lack of a digital input really. Again I’ll need an audition.

So what I really need is a hifi shop that stocks all these myriad amplifier options! :laughing:


I’ve found that, with a 'phone call, a number of places have been very accommodating about posting kit to test at home - you just pay the delivery fees or, at worst, buy it on a sale or return basis. Of course, if you have a good local shop that’s much easier!

(Larry) #33

Good luck finding somewhere for a demo of the Yamaha. I have been quite pleased with it. I had the 602 model before this one, but upgraded when the 803 came out due to a bit more power, I think the DAC was upgraded and then the room correction. I have it hooked up with a reel-to-reel in one of the tape inputs, an old cassette deck in the other, a turntable in the phono input and then of course the various network functions.

I had been using Roon via AirPlay over wired Ethernet to use it as an endpoint, but, just recently installed a new computer as the core which is now located closer to the receiver and have been able to run an optical out from the sound card on the computer (the optical bypasses all sound card functions and just sends the raw signal) to the input on the unit and now I get upgraded bitrates to the 803 (and it then uses the DAC in the 803 to decode the files) vs the AirPlay protocol. If you have any questions about the operation of the device let me know and good luck with your search!

PS: The money I saved from going with a very expensive new set of separates funded a much better pair of speakers than I probably would have done otherwise! I’m one of those guys that believes heavily in the output side, no matter what equipment you have it’s only going to sound as good as the ultimate reproduction part of the chain allows it to, which is the speakers (of course there are many that feel the reverse of this that the source is more important but that is a debate for another thread).

(Tim Rhodes) #34

Thank you Larry… I have not yet managed to find somewhere to demo the Yamaha but I am trying to line up a few demos at my local hifi shop of some of the other amps mentioned in this thread. They are doing their best to source as many as possible!

I see Yamaha are doing a cashback offer on MusicCast devices at the moment… but typically this R-N803 model is not amongst them!

(Tim Rhodes) #35

Does anyone have any experience of the Marantz PM8006? It is currently reduced in the UK from £1099 to £879. There are lots of great reviews of its smaller sibling the PM6006 but I cant find anything authoratitive on the PM8006 itself.

The only downside on paper is that it does not have any digital inputs/a DAC, but as @Martin_Webster said maybe that is an opportunity rather than a drawback?

(James Mellor) #36

I’ve never heard one but a NAD 368 with a bluesound card fitted can be had for £899 open box from 7oaks. I haven’t read a bad review of it, its a roon end point and MQA with the card.


(Tim Rhodes) #37

Yes I have been looking at that deal too! The BluOS module is tempting because of the Roon/MQA support.

Its even tempting without the module since they are selling the amp alone for £599 which is a real bargain and I can still use my RPi as a Roon Ready end point with optical output.

(Larry) #38

Happy New Year! So…did you end up buying anything yet?

(Tim Rhodes) #39

Happy New Year to you as well!

I havent bought anything yet, I’m still really tempted by the Kinki Studio amp… but I havent had the nerve to bring it up with SWMBO yet! :smile:

More likely is that I’ll get the Arcam SA20. I had the chance to listen to one with my speakers and it sounded really good.

Having said all that, if anyone has any other suggestions I’m all ears!

(Tim Rhodes) #40

Well I thought I should report back on my purchase just to round this thread off.

So after coveting the Kinki Studio amp for some time reality bit and I had to re-assess my financial position and my real needs! SWBO may have had a hand in that to be honest :grinning:

So I auditioned the following amps;

Arcam SA10
Arcam SA20
Audiolab 6000A
Rega Brio
NAD C368
Yamaha R-N803

They ranged in price from £599 to £1000 but to be totally honest I was going to have to buy ex-demo for the ones nearer to £1k.

Anyway I never had to deal with that because the best amp to my ears was near enough the cheapest! Result!

So I am the proud owner of an Audiolab 6000A. It is only 50w and that was a concern, but it neednt have been as its plenty muscular enough for my speakers and my room. It sounds glorious and really deserves all the plaudits it has been receiving in the music press recently. It has four digital inputs, bluetooth and a MM phono-stage so it ticks every conceivable box for me. I’m running Ropieee + IQAudIO Digi+ HAT into the optical input as my Roon end point. During my listening I felt it left both the Arcams for dead and though others may disagree, to me through my speakers, it sounded better even than the Brio which is spoken about in hushed tones. Plus it has the digital inputs that the Brio lacks.

Anyone in the market for a relatively inexpensive integrated amplifier with digital music in mind should really take the time out to have a listen to this little gem. I am bowled over by how good it is at the price point.

Finally I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this thread, I really appreciate your input!

(Ged) #41

The Audiolab amongst others are tested in this month’s hifi choice. Audiolab is the winner.:grinning: