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Integrated Amp suggestions


Owlbass
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Hello,

 

I'm new to the audiophile world and I was hoping to get some help choosing an integrated amp and CD player. A bit about myself, I'm a professional orchestra musician, so although I don't know much about speakers and amps my ears are pretty well trained. I'm looking for a set of 2 speakers for my living room (12'x'20). Right now I'm leaning towards the Herseys. Not sure if I want I, II, or III. I think I'm going to find some used II's (I'd like to keep the whole system under $1500. I would mostly be listening to Opera and classical music. There would be the occasional pop music but I don't like a lot of bass. Listening levels would low to mid volume(max), I never turn it up that loud. Do you think the Hersey would be a good fit for my listening tastes?

 

For the amp I was thinking about the Cambridge Audio CXA60 or Marantz Pm6006, with a matching CD player. I've been reading a lot about tube amps but still don't seem to know anything about them. My brother recommended I look into Jolida, the 301BRC looks good. I like the idea of having a warm sound but I don't want to sacrifice clarity. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I've learned so much from this site in the last 72 hrs.

 

Thanks,

 

I forgot to mention, I will most likely only be using a CD player and my computer to  play music. 

Edited by Owlbass
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Welcome to the forum.  Seeing that you are starting from the ground up, I would also consider the Forte, LaScala and Chorus speaker.  These will take-up a bit more room, not much but, will give you a bit more authority and balance coverage of the audio spectrum(Chorus/Forte).  Why the LaScala's, they are just a musician's friend.  Great midrange performance.

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44 minutes ago, derrickdj1 said:

Welcome to the forum.  Seeing that you are starting from the ground up, I would also consider the Forte, LaScala and Chorus speaker.  These will take-up a bit more room, not much but, will give you a bit more authority and balance coverage of the audio spectrum(Chorus/Forte).  Why the LaScala's, they are just a musician's friend.  Great midrange performance.

 

Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, aesthetics is a big concern. The Heresy blend in a bit better, at least in my opinion.

 

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@Owlbass,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

1 hour ago, Owlbass said:

For the amp I was thinking about the Cambridge Audio CXA60, with a matching CD player

 

Just moved my Cambridge Audio 640A v2.0 integrated amp and 840C CD player/DAC combo into my master bedroom with my Heresy II's and the sound is magical.  You considering the newer CA CXA60 and matching CD player(CXC CD transport) would be a wonderful choice.

 

Cambridge CXA60 Integrated AmplifierCambridge CXC CD Transport

Bill

 

 

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Used Heresy 3's should be around $1K-ish depending on age, finish and condition.  Very nice highs and mids with taught bass down to 50-60hz depending on room placement.  Spend the rest on a nice 2-channel amp and cd player.

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12 minutes ago, willland said:

IMO, they just lack deep bass but what they do produce is clean and punchy.

 

Bill

 

Thank you for the reply, I think I prefer a clean and punchy bass. I'm a double bass player and I think this type of bass would be better for orchestral music. I'm in the Denver area and I'm not sure if the local Klipsch dealer has any of the heritage models (they do have the Cambridge and Marantz I was interested in). I'm going to take in some Cd's and test them out.

 

Tubes amps sound nice but I don't want to think too much about maintenance. Which is why I'm leaning towards buying the amp and Cd player new.

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If you don't want to spend much and you don't mind used gear, this would be a good match to your HI, HII, or HIII's.

https://denver.craigslist.org/ele/6096155519.html

 

00R0R_641pWoRkpDl_600x450.jpg

 

PRICE: 
PSB Image B6 Speakers: $250 ($550/pair new)
NAD C 326BEE Integrated Amplifier: $250 ($550 new)
NAD C 515BEE CD Player: $50 ($300 new)
All three items: $450 (paid $1500); includes ~30' AudioQuest speaker cable (~$90), heavy-gauge Monster component cables

 

Sell the PSB speakers if you don't need them and recoupe some $$$.

 

Bill

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4 hours ago, pbphoto said:

Used Heresy 3's should be around $1K-ish depending on age, finish and condition.  Very nice highs and mids with taught bass down to 50-60hz depending on room placement.  Spend the rest on a nice 2-channel amp and cd player.

 

Ideally I'll find the Heresy 3's for that much but the 2's seem to be much more readily available, and for significantly less.  People seem to think that upgrading the 2's with Bob Crites stuff brings them almost up to the 3's.

 

I've been looking at the forum section on tube amps but it is bit overwhelming. What are some reliable tube amp brands and models for under $700?  I've read that tube amps require more maintenance. Another option would be to buy the Cambridge Audio CXU blu-ray player (which I could also connect my computer to) and pair it with a vintage tube amp. I'm still leaning towards the Cambridge Integrated amp and Cd set up but I'm open to all ideas.

 

3 hours ago, willland said:

If you don't want to spend much and you don't mind used gear, this would be a good match to your HI, HII, or HIII's.

https://denver.craigslist.org/ele/6096155519.html

 

00R0R_641pWoRkpDl_600x450.jpg

 

PRICE: 
PSB Image B6 Speakers: $250 ($550/pair new)
NAD C 326BEE Integrated Amplifier: $250 ($550 new)
NAD C 515BEE CD Player: $50 ($300 new)
All three items: $450 (paid $1500); includes ~30' AudioQuest speaker cable (~$90), heavy-gauge Monster component cables

 

Sell the PSB speakers if you don't need them and recoupe some $$$.

 

Bill

 

I'll look into this. I could always use it to get started and then flip when I want to upgrade.

 

Thanks again for everyones help, and sorry if I'm completely misinformed on certain topics.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Owlbass said:

 I've read that tube amps require more maintenance

I would say "some maintenance". Tubes have a finite life and some have noise if you get a bad actor. I have been in and out of tubes for about 8-10 years and have had exactly one fail (a rectifier) in about 10 hours or so and one small signal that had noise when I put it in service. Buy reasonably priced tubes from a well known source (the guy I bought mine from stood behind them and replaced immediately). If you are into cable lifts, crystal pellets and other nonsense then you WILL be spending mega bucks on the rare 1932 to May 1933 NOS whatnot otherwise you are safe assuming that you get an amp that is well designed.

Well, I did forget the one (new)  Jolida tube integrated amp that I traded for and it just sucked. Sold it off to a forum member with the caveat that either it was bad or the tubes were bad. He's experience was that the factory tubes were bad and for a minor hit he replaced them and loved it.

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15 minutes ago, Owlbass said:

 

 

Ideally I'll find the Heresy 3's for that much but the 2's seem to be much more readily available, and for significantly less.  People seem to think that upgrading the 2's with Bob Crites stuff brings them almost up to the 3's.

 

 

 

 

That makes sense if you already have the 2's but I'd get the III's.   Or if you find a great deal on 2's you could upgrade them to III's!  

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45 minutes ago, Owlbass said:

 

 

Ideally I'll find the Heresy 3's for that much but the 2's seem to be much more readily available, and for significantly less.  

 

For a reason.  If you are worried about amp tube maintenance then I wouldn't go down the path of getting cheap H1's or H2's and trying to upgrade them.  Hold out for a nice set of gently used H3's and all the work has been done for you.  my .02

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Owlbass,

 

I listen to classical music and opera almost exclusively.  (Except for occasional big band music.)  The issues IMO are natural timbre, and the ability to handle the dynamics of large-scale orchestral music. 

 

Can you accommodate speakers that are more than 12 inches wide?  If not, tower speakers are indicated, and I’ll offer a different recommendation than most Klipsch forum members:   Klipsch RF-7II speakers.  

 

For a vintage integrated tube amp, I recommend a Scott 299C, or perhaps a 299B or 222C.   There are also several vintage tube receivers that are very good:  Fisher 500C, 800B, and Scott 399.  Another option is a single-ended-pentode amp like an Inspire amp, driven by the variable output of a CD/SACD player like the Oppo DV-980H.  (I own all of these.)   However- candidly - it is somewhat of a challenge for a vintage tube amp to be included in a total $1,500 budget.

 

I’d buy a used pair of Klipsch RF-7II or RF-7, and a used Oppo DV-980H CD/SACD player (there are numerous classical SACDs), and whatever used integrated amp that you can afford for now (preferably one with tone controls).  IME, NAD is not a bad option for a solid-state amp.  You can upgrade to a vintage tube amp later.

 

Hope this helps …

 

 

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14 hours ago, USNRET said:

I would say "some maintenance". Tubes have a finite life and some have noise if you get a bad actor. I have been in and out of tubes for about 8-10 years and have had exactly one fail (a rectifier) in about 10 hours or so and one small signal that had noise when I put it in service. Buy reasonably priced tubes from a well known source (the guy I bought mine from stood behind them and replaced immediately). If you are into cable lifts, crystal pellets and other nonsense then you WILL be spending mega bucks on the rare 1932 to May 1933 NOS whatnot otherwise you are safe assuming that you get an amp that is well designed.

Well, I did forget the one (new)  Jolida tube integrated amp that I traded for and it just sucked. Sold it off to a forum member with the caveat that either it was bad or the tubes were bad. He's experience was that the factory tubes were bad and for a minor hit he replaced them and loved it.

 

Thank you, like I said all my knowledge has been gained in the last 72 hrs from the internet. I'll look more into tube amps. It seems like for the sound I'm looking for tube amps are the way to go. I know there's a dealer in Indiana that sells Jolida and will upgrade them before sending them out.

 

13 hours ago, pbphoto said:

For a reason.  If you are worried about amp tube maintenance then I wouldn't go down the path of getting cheap H1's or H2's and trying to upgrade them.  Hold out for a nice set of gently used H3's and all the work has been done for you.  my .02

 

I guess it will be a one time upgrade and then I wouldn't think about it, unless I messed it up. I had this idea that I would tinkering with a tube amp all the time, which was misguided.

 

12 hours ago, robert_kc said:

Owlbass,

 

I listen to classical music and opera almost exclusively.  (Except for occasional big band music.)  The issues IMO are natural timbre, and the ability to handle the dynamics of large-scale orchestral music. 

 

Can you accommodate speakers that are more than 12 inches wide?  If not, tower speakers are indicated, and I’ll offer a different recommendation than most Klipsch forum members:   Klipsch RF-7II speakers.  

 

For a vintage integrated tube amp, I recommend a Scott 299C, or perhaps a 299B or 222C.   There are also several vintage tube receivers that are very good:  Fisher 500C, 800B, and Scott 399.  Another option is a single-ended-pentode amp like an Inspire amp, driven by the variable output of a CD/SACD player like the Oppo DV-980H.  (I own all of these.)   However- candidly - it is somewhat of a challenge for a vintage tube amp to be included in a total $1,500 budget.

 

I’d buy a used pair of Klipsch RF-7II or RF-7, and a used Oppo DV-980H CD/SACD player (there are numerous classical SACDs), and whatever used integrated amp that you can afford for now (preferably one with tone controls).  IME, NAD is not a bad option for a solid-state amp.  You can upgrade to a vintage tube amp later.

 

Hope this helps …

 

 

 

Thank you very much for all the info. Regarding the speakers, The RF-7 II look very tall. The reason I had decided on the Hersey was reputation and aesthetics. I think that the Chorus or Forte's would look nice in my living room. Do you think they would be large enough to accommodate the large dynamic range of orchestral music? I need the wife to approve all of this too. She's the one that wanted the stereo system in the first place, but now I'm obsessing over what is the best value.

 

I'll look into those tube amp suggestions. If I'm patient I'm sure I could find something and not go too over budget. Although the more I read the more my budget is increasing.

 

Thanks again for everyone's help,

 

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14 hours ago, Owlbass said:

 

She's the one that wanted the stereo system in the first place, but now I'm obsessing over what is the best value...

 

She will like the H3s. It's a very neutral speaker. I'd pass on the tube amp (I'm a big tube guy) but it's for someone that wants to make audio a full time hobby. Your choices and most of the recommendations for a solid state integrated amp are nice picks, you'll be happy for a long time. 

 

For someone that wants audio as a hobby it would be RF7s and tube amps for me.

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