Integrated amplifier recommendation for the first time buyer

R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
Hi, I am planning to buy my first integrated amplifier for music playing. My budget is max. $500. Currently I have a pair of Ascend Acoustics CBM-170, and a subwoofer, Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5. I am wondering if there is any recommendations for me? I came up with short list based on the reviews on youtube etc. I am still studying the specs, and leaning towards Denon or Emotiva. Thanks again for the suggestions.

Denon PMA 600NE ($400), 45 Watts per channel
Emotiva TA100 ($400), 50 Watts per channel.
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier ($350), 35 Watts per channel
NAD C316BEE V2 ($450), 40 Watts
Onkyo TX 8270 stereo receiver ($499), 100Watts per channel.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Why spend more on amp than your speakers? What are your feature requirements do you have for an integrated amp and what are you using now? Youtube reviews are mostly useless IMO.
 
R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
Why spend more on amp than your speakers? What are your feature requirements do you have for an integrated amp and what are you using now? Youtube reviews are mostly useless IMO.
I connect them to Yamaha RS201 or RX-v675. I need a new amp for different room. New amp should able to run 4 ohm speakers such as Magnepan LRS as I plan to buy new floor standing speaker to connect to this new amp.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Hi, I am planning to buy my first integrated amplifier for music playing. My budget is max. $500. Currently I have a pair of Ascend Acoustics CBM-170, and a subwoofer, Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5. I am wondering if there is any recommendations for me? I came up with short list based on the reviews on youtube etc. I am still studying the specs, and leaning towards Denon or Emotiva. Thanks again for the suggestions.

Denon PMA 600NE ($400), 45 Watts per channel
Emotiva TA100 ($400), 50 Watts per channel.
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier ($350), 35 Watts per channel
NAD C316BEE V2 ($450), 40 Watts
Onkyo TX 8270 stereo receiver ($499), 100Watts per channel.
Money aside, there is no way a $500 50 W integrated amp can power 4 ohm speakers any do better than your AVR. So why spend money on any of those you listed, that cannot even come close to what you have already in terms of power output?

I suggest you take the first step, to find out how much power you actually need, using an online calculator. Or if you are serious about this, I can calculate it for you but would need:

a) your seating distance from the CBM-170
b) how loud do you listen to movies, music, in terms of SPL?

For reference, if you are not familiar with SPL (you likely are, but just case) as loud as sitting in a movie cinema would be in the neighborhood of 85 dB average. 85 dB average is very loud, and probably too loud for most home theater users.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Why spend more on amp than your speakers? What are your feature requirements do you have for an integrated amp and what are you using now? Youtube reviews are mostly useless IMO.
As I mentioned before, it always amaze me that every other week we would get questions from someone wanting to add, or upgrade to an integrated amp. Where's the myth about integrated amp is an answer to the quest for better sound quality? I can see "separates", for audiophiles, but integrated??:rolleyes: Even well informed guys like @ematthews, wouldn't go the "real separate" route. I mean, who the heck started such a myth, hearsay?

This gets even more weird, now that we seem to be getting so called integrated amps that share at least some vital organs with AVRs, even with the $250 RX-V367 (in some extreme cases I guess..) that Dr. Rich discovered.:D
 
R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
Money aside, there is no way a $500 50 W integrated amp can power 4 ohm speakers any do better than your AVR. So why spend money on any of those you listed, that cannot even come close to what you have already in terms of power output?

I suggest you take the first step, to find out how much power you actually need, using an online calculator. Or if you are serious about this, I can calculate it for you but would need:

a) your seating distance from the CBM-170
b) how loud do you listen to movies, music, in terms of SPL?

For reference, if you are not familiar with SPL (you likely are, but just case) as loud as sitting in a movie cinema would be in the neighborhood of 85 dB average. 85 dB average is very loud, and probably too loud for most home theater users.
Hi PENG,
First of all, I much appreciate your kind offer to do the calculations for me. I will ponder on what you said. You have a good point. I think the number one problem I need to solve is that I need to convince my wife what room I can put my new stereo system:) Maybe I do not need a new system, but continue using my basement instead, which is a decent space. I could just stick to my Yamaha RX-V675 and continue using basement.

I will have to tell more. And my question changes: I currently use Polk S55 towers as a front L/R speakers and CBM-170s serve as surround L/R. If I want to move CBM-170s to the front (next to my Polk towers) and listen to music through CBM-170s, would you recommend I use a speaker selector switch to switch between Polks and CBM170s. My current AVR does not allow me to connect both to front channels and switch between them. I already have some cheap Sony speakers that I can use for surrounds.
 
R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
As I mentioned before, it always amaze me that every other week we would get questions from someone wanting to add, or upgrade to an integrated amp. Where's the myth about integrated amp is an answer to the quest for better sound quality? I can see "separates", for audiophiles, but integrated??:rolleyes: Even well informed guys like @ematthews, wouldn't go the "real separate" route. I mean, who the heck started such a myth, hearsay?

This gets even more weird, now that we seem to be getting so called integrated amps that share at least some vital organs with AVRs, even with the $250 RX-V367 (in some extreme cases I guess..) that Dr. Rich discovered.:D
I can only speak for myself as a beginner, and I am guessing that there might be many like me out there. I have gotten an impression that dedicated stereo amplifier may increase the quality of music you listen. Given that notion, for someone on a tight budget, going for integrated is more economical choice than buying separates. If I could afford (and know that it's worth), I could go with separates. Again, I think many people look for integrated because it's not better than separates, but it's cheaper. My two cents.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I can only speak for myself as a beginner, and I am guessing that there might be many like me out there. I have gotten an impression that dedicated stereo amplifier may increase the quality of music you listen. Given that notion, for someone on a tight budget, going for integrated is more economical choice than buying separates. If I could afford (and know that it's worth), I could go with separates. Again, I think many people look for integrated because it's not better than separates, but it's cheaper. My two cents.
What you are missing is an AVR is soooo much cheaper that you would have to spend much more for equivalent electronics.
Peng is better informed and can speak to this in more specifics, but I can tell you that in the $500 range, any integrated amp is based on the same electronics as an AVR. You generally need to need to spend $1000 or better to get an integrated amp that performs better. Even then, you generally do better to use an AVR as a pre-amp and buy a separate dedicated power amp!
You have lots of room for improvement from your sub or your speakers! Put your money there where it will really make a significant difference!
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I can only speak for myself as a beginner, and I am guessing that there might be many like me out there. I have gotten an impression that dedicated stereo amplifier may increase the quality of music you listen. Given that notion, for someone on a tight budget, going for integrated is more economical choice than buying separates. If I could afford (and know that it's worth), I could go with separates. Again, I think many people look for integrated because it's not better than separates, but it's cheaper. My two cents.
Thank you, sorry about the way I said it, and I was just expressing my concern of hearsay from the long past that has been made worse by the internet. What you cited obvious was exactly what I thought was the reason, except there is little truth (always true to a point..) to such claims that, as I alluded to originated from long time ago when a) it was more true in those days and b) such claims didn't get challenged as much because there weren't much (there were some) elaborated bench tests to rely on, so print magazine reviews could say a lot of things without being challenged or even questioned.

I'll show you my calculations when its done, but I need your seating distance and your target spl. Those are two main factors.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I connect them to Yamaha RS201 or RX-v675. I need a new amp for different room. New amp should able to run 4 ohm speakers such as Magnepan LRS as I plan to buy new floor standing speaker to connect to this new amp.
What will you hook up to the amp besides the new speakers? No need for a display/tv?
 
R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
What will you hook up to the amp besides the new speakers? No need for a display/tv?
The new amp would be dedicated to music; I will not hookup any display/TV. I listen to streaming music or from CD. I have an external DAC Modi 3 in hand.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Hi, I am planning to buy my first integrated amplifier for music playing. My budget is max. $500. Currently I have a pair of Ascend Acoustics CBM-170, and a subwoofer, Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5. I am wondering if there is any recommendations for me? I came up with short list based on the reviews on youtube etc. I am still studying the specs, and leaning towards Denon or Emotiva. Thanks again for the suggestions.

Denon PMA 600NE ($400), 45 Watts per channel
Emotiva TA100 ($400), 50 Watts per channel.
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier ($350), 35 Watts per channel
NAD C316BEE V2 ($450), 40 Watts
Onkyo TX 8270 stereo receiver ($499), 100Watts per channel.
We get your request with regularity. Unfortunately there is no good solution. The solution to the problem founders on bass management. I can well understand how someone like yourself would want a music only system, with a neat integrated amp, some bookshelf speaker and a sub. You want it to play analog and digital sources. Simple, and reasonable, but not possible due to the vagaries of the industry.

Yamaha have an integrated amp, with sub output, but the main speakers are still full range. Speaker designers now I think assume their bookshelf speakers will be used with a sub. Your speakers start rolling off at 100 Hz making sub use mandatory. However they really need protection from the deep bass of a lot of digital sources to prevent over excursion.

So that means your cheapest option is a receiver. That sounds ridiculous and it is. That is the way it is though. Your other option is a preamp that handles digital and analog source, and then an electronic crossover between the pre, and a two channel power amp. That is a good solution but more expensive than a receiver.

Even if you go vintage with decent gear you will not come out ahead, unless you buy a good vintage receiver. However often times receivers are not known for longevity

I would not buy that Onkyo receiver. Cheap receivers are just real trouble. So either way you have to up the budget.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
So that means your cheapest option is a receiver. That sounds ridiculous and it is. That is the way it is though. Your other option is a preamp that handles digital and analog source, and then an electronic crossover between the pre, and a two channel power amp. That is a good solution but more expensive than a receiver.
So funny, and you made by day by finally agreeing under the conditions that yes it sounds ridiculous, and it is the "cheapest option", simply because a one year old (by model year)AVRs typically would go on blow out sales a couple times a year after the launch of a new model year products.

There is any point that you may not know is, the lower model Yamaha integrated amps such as the A-S701 and 801 do share a few AVR chips, such as the very outdated volume control chip and it is a LSI (large scale integrated) that has 80 pins, jammed packed, including even an ADC build in). They might have implemented them in a slightly better way, but that chip has been identified by Dr. Rich, the resident Ph.D engineer over at hometheaterhifi.com, as often the bottleneck of the audio signal chain, not the DAC. Dr. Rich called those things AVR chips. Denon and Marantz did switch to MSI chips with more specialized functions, since 2017 (might have been 2016).

If I remember right, you have quite a few Marantz AVP, so just fyi, your 7705, or even the 7702 MkII would have those new and improved MSI chips, but not the older models. You AV8003, like the newer but still old AV8801/8802 would have the AVR chip that offers higher distortions and noise.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Maybe think about the Outlaw RR-2160....

ps Oops forgot about the budget....
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I connect them to Yamaha RS201 or RX-v675. I need a new amp for different room. New amp should able to run 4 ohm speakers such as Magnepan LRS as I plan to buy new floor standing speaker to connect to this new amp.
I am not familiar with that particular model, but Magnepans generally push you to "need a better than AVR amplifier". You will not get what you need from a $500 integrated amp. If your RX-v675 has pre-amp outputs, then you should be looking at a dedicated power amp and use the AVR for your pre-amp!
If you own the DAC, you best move is to sell it to someone who is still drinking the Kool-Aid (there are plenty)!
Use the extra money to help pay for a power amp suitable for powering Magnepans!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
So funny, and you made by day by finally agreeing under the conditions that yes it sounds ridiculous, and it is the "cheapest option", simply because a one year old (by model year)AVRs typically would go on blow out sales a couple times a year after the launch of a new model year products.

There is any point that you may not know is, the lower model Yamaha integrated amps such as the A-S701 and 801 do share a few AVR chips, such as the very outdated volume control chip and it is a LSI (large scale integrated) that has 80 pins, jammed packed, including even an ADC build in). They might have implemented them in a slightly better way, but that chip has been identified by Dr. Rich, the resident Ph.D engineer over at hometheaterhifi.com, as often the bottleneck of the audio signal chain, not the DAC. Dr. Rich called those things AVR chips. Denon and Marantz did switch to MSI chips with more specialized functions, since 2017 (might have been 2016).

If I remember right, you have quite a few Marantz AVP, so just fyi, your 7705, or even the 7702 MkII would have those new and improved MSI chips, but not the older models. You AV8003, like the newer but still old AV8801/8802 would have the AVR chip that offers higher distortions and noise.
You have a fairly good memory. I have a couple of 7701s in use, one controlling a 2.2 system and the other a 3.1 system. I have no complaints. I think I bought them 2013, or sometime soon after they were released The pre/pro in my AV room is the AV 7705 controlling a 7.2.4 system. That was bought about 1 year ago, and put into service last October. To me they all sound fine. I still have my first HDMI pre/pro AV 8003 from about 2008 I think. That is in storage in case I need an emergency replacement. My first pre/pro was a Rotel, but it did not have HDMI. It was really not very good either. That was bought in 2006. There were no pre/pros with HDMI back then. How things have changed?

Only the AV 8003 failed early, a month or two after being put into service. It had a voltage regulator in the power supply replaced under warranty.

Getting back to the OP. He wants to drive Maggies. They are just under 4 ohm. However the load is almost entirely resistive. They are not very sensitive though. I'm not sure I could recommend driving those with a receiver. So really he needs a pre/pro or receiver with preouts and a power amp. That busts the budget big time.

I think this post really does highlight what is wrong with the industry. In my view things are wrong in a big way.

I blame all this in large art on DRM. The complexity and expense of HDMI has precluded a lot of small innovative companies opening up and standing a chance of success.

I certainly believe there is a potential market fro what the OP wants. It is a myriad of peripheral issues that prevent such products coming to market.

I suspect the OP has gone off in frustration by now and well he might!
 
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R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
There are a lot of knowledge in this thread. I enjoy reading it.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
If you use your 675 as a pre (I believe it has pre-outs), @Verdinut can likely suggest a QSC Class A/B pro-audio amp that will comfortably adapt to home audio (inputs and low/no fan noise) that fits your $500 budget. This is the "most likely to succeed" option I can imagine, but let's see what he suggests and how much power it is rated to supply!
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
If you are not in a rush, I have submitted one of these amps to Amir at Audiosciencereview.com for measurement.
However it will be another ~5 weeks before he gets to it, and I would want measurements before I could recommend it!
It is only rated 150W into 8 Ohms, but 270W into 4 Ohms, which leads me to think it may handle the resistive loads of Magnepans well. But I want measurements!

If you are interested, keep an eye on this link. I will be sure to post a link to the review when it is done!
 
R

rnaeye

Audioholic Intern
If you use your 675 as a pre (I believe it has pre-outs), @Verdinut can likely suggest a QSC Class A/B pro-audio amp that will comfortably adapt to home audio (inputs and low/no fan noise) that fits your $500 budget. This is the "most likely to succeed" option I can imagine, but let's see what he suggests and how much power it is rated to supply!
My 675 does not have a pre-outs. I think thread became very long and we digressed from my original question. Allow me to re-phrase the question: I have a pair CBM-170 speakers, and no amplifier. What amplifier would you recommend for this speakers.
 

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