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-   -   Integrated Amp ~$1000 budget (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/audio/59846-integrated-amp-1000-budget.html)

Jonesy February 23, 2013 04:54 PM

Integrated Amp ~$1000 budget
Hi Guys,
Not computer audio, however with my stereo being connected to my computer I guess it fits :bleh:

I am in the market for a new Integrated amp for my stereo. I will have around $1000 to spend +- $250

I am stuck between both the Rotel RA-1520 (60w PC, but since it is Rotel, I imagine it is much more capable - $1150 List) and the Cambridge Audio Azur 651A (75w PC - $880 List)
I will be driving Paradigm Mini Monitors - Series 7 with them, which are 15-100w Amp range, 80W max input. After the Amp purchase I will be buying a dedicated DAC, so the DAC in the Cambridge Audio 651a isn't a factor for me.

Has anyone had the opportunity to audition these 2 units? If so, how did you find the sound stage, where they warm or cold sounding,

My city has only 1 high end audio store, and they don't have stock of either unit. They are more then willing to take a return on either unit if I am not satisfied (I have 1-2 months to audition them at home before they wont take a return of the unit) They actually gave me a CA DAC magic 100 for a month to see how it worked with my current setup :punk:...my current amp didn't get enough of a gain to make it worth it.
Also, has anyone heard something in the same price range that is worth me taking a look at? I have also been looking at the offerings from NAD, but I haven't had a chance to hear anything from them as my local stereo shop doesn't stock them.


3.0charlie February 23, 2013 04:56 PM

The second my own Rotel 930Ax bites the dust, I'm jumping on these guys: Emotiva Audio Corporation | Rethink High-End

Arinoth bought from them, he'll probably chime in if he sees your post.

Jonesy February 23, 2013 05:16 PM


Originally Posted by 3.0charlie (Post 692480)
The second my own Rotel 930Ax bites the dust, I'm jumping on these guys: Emotiva Audio Corporation | Rethink High-End

Arinoth bought from them, he'll probably chime in if he sees your post.

Unless I am missing something on their website, they don't have any Integrated Amps. They have a lot of pre-amps, sound processors and amps, but 0 integrated Amplifiers.

3.0charlie February 23, 2013 05:30 PM

You are quite correct, and I forgot to ask in my reply; why integrated?

With that budget, you could find a home for a USP-1 pre-amp and a UPA-200 amp.

Nodscene February 23, 2013 06:24 PM

Exactly. Why would you want an integrated when you can go with separates for the same price and getter performance.

I'm the one that turned Arinoth on the Emotiva because there is no better price/performance option in the stereo world right now. Plus you can always ask them if they have any B stock which will save a few more bucks. So not only will you get a system that is better than Rotel (IMO) but you also have more options later on if you want a bigger amp etc you don't have to replace the whole thing. Emotiva also sells a great DAC as well. At the current prices you can get the USP-1, XPA-200, and the XDA-2 DAC for $1267. Obviously there is taxes and shipping but with the opportunity for B-stock you wouldn't be too much over your $1250 and possibly below.

Jonesy February 23, 2013 10:14 PM


To be honest, I just have an overall lack of overall knowledge in the Hi-Fi scene. I would be transitioning from a Stereo Receiver (Studio Standard by Fisher - still makes my speakers weep despite being over 20yrs old) My plan was to start with a current tech amp to get my feet wet and then figure out the rest from there.

Main thing is I really just never looked into a more complex system as I everything I have auditioned / read about is the less components from source to speakers the better the sound is as there are less nuances from components. I suppose I should look deeper into this.

Nodscene, the $1267 isn't far enough above my price point to make me look elsewhere. My price is more or less based on the fact that I know there are very capable systems at that mark. It isn't based on not being able to afford more, just means 1 or 2 less steak dinners on my annual bike trip:thumb:

I will take a good hard look at what you laid out for sure, I appreciate it.

Have you had the chance to listen to a Cambridge Audio Integrate Amp, Rotel, Bryston, MCintosh, Yamaha, Marantz? I am looking for a comparison quality wise to better judge the quality of Emotiva. I have auditioned all of the brands listed above, while not all are in my price point, all brands have a fairly consistent sound. All other Hi-Fi brands are either not available in my city or are a Sony, Onkyo, HK, etc. (Including the HK 990, it just doesn't work with my Paradigms / ears)

Without hearing Emotiva I have a hard time thinking about purchasing the system. There really doesn't seem to be a lot of info on them. Looking at what they offer they almost seem like an "Energy Speakers" kind of company. Emotiva's parent company, J. Design, is headquartered in Guangzhou, China, if I could find info on the parent company I might have a outlook on their quality.

The "Rave" Reviews about their systems can be found all over the web, but does it have to do with price. You can find the same reviews for "Energy" the Best buy brand speakers coming out of Montreal, but I dare you to compare them to a B&W, Paradigm, Klipsch (if horns are your thing) etc. Sure for their price points both sound amazing, but can the $880 cambridge audio 651A out perform the $1267 setup you listed? the 651A is one of, if not the highest rated sub $1500 Integrated amp. I heard the CA 851A integrated amp ~2.5k (above my price point / needs) drive a pair of B&W 802 Diamonds (also heard them on the proper full McIntosh setup, they just sold the setup for ~$100k)...It will take A LOT to make my look away from an integrated amp.

Nodscene February 23, 2013 11:57 PM

I don't blame you, I was a bit unsure myself before I took the plunge. I can easily say that I don't regret it one bit and was the smartest audio purchase decision I have made. You can see reviews about their stuff at this site... Emotiva XPA-3 Three-Channel Power Amplifier - Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
That is for the XPA-3 but will give you a good idea about the company and their products. If it means anything, one of their amps in now part of their reference setup.

Yes, I've heard most of the companies you've referenced (Rotel, Bryston, McIntosh, Yamaha, Marantz) plus NAD, Parasound. Onkyo, etc etc. I've been interested in audio for about 25 years now, just never had the budget for what I wanted haha. That being said if I did have unlimited resources I would still stick to Emotiva with maybe an exception for the McIntosh tube amp for two channel listening.

You probably won't find too much info on J Design. They make the products for the name brands you mention :) Actually Emotiva just bought out Sherwood (whom I believe J Design was producing their hardware but don't hold me to that).

I know what you mean about the Energy reference but it doesn't apply in this instance. Emotiva is direct to internet so there is no overhead or middle men like the other companies, hence the price. Personally I think that they can easily compete with products costing 3 or more times as much. Obviously sound can be subjective but they make solid products with an attention to detail and a love for audio. They are just damn good at a cost the normal distribution channels can't compete with.

With the Emotiva setup you are getting more power, more flexibility, better price, and it wouldn't surprise me if it sounded better also. I haven't heard the Cambridge so I won't make any definitive statements regarding that.

Arinoth February 24, 2013 08:27 AM

Sigh, looks like my original post got ate and never made it.

Yep, nodscene turned me onto Emotiva and I've never regretted it. I have a UPA-500 Five-Channel Power Amplifier | Emotiva Audio | High-end audio components for audiophiles and videophiles, spanning 2-channel music systems, as well as 5.1 and 7.1 home theaters. Products include multichannel amplifiers, stereo amplifiers, and and man does that amp kick ass against similarly priced and more expensive receivers. It delivers a lot better sound and range then a lot of receivers/amps I've heard before. Another nice thing that it can do is that their amps deliver the posted wattage to each channel guaranteed. There are A LOT of receivers/amps that the posted wattage is when 2 or 4, etc speakers are connected and never reach the posted wattage when you are using 5 or 7 speakers in the mix.

Once I have a job (done school) I plan to pick up a DAC/pre-amp from them and throw it into my eventually planned (and approved by the fiancee) home theatre system and room and perhaps even pick up a less powerful system (or buy a more powerful amp for the home theatre) and allow my pc to use it again. Currently I have the amp hooked up to my PC via the onboard sound card and it beats the pants off of any receiver I've heard plugged in via optical (goes to show it it amplifies better sound with lower quality signal).

Their customer service is also great. I emailed them inquiring about a bunch of information before purchasing and they gladly responded back (none of this 1+ week to hear back like some online companies). Also when you do purchase from them it's from a person so your order doesn't take forever to get processed like most online companies.

In the end, the more I use Emotiva (more of their products) the more I'll be talking about them as really they have great products at rather good pricing with customer support who aren't morons.

3.0charlie February 24, 2013 08:43 AM

I must mention that I never listened to an Emotiva setup. But I have listened to / owned the various companies you listed (never owned any McIntosh, but listened to a 250k$ system) and reading the various reviews of Emotiva convinces me of their level of quality.

Indeed, the CA integrated amp will deliver. But you will never find an integrated amp that will outperform a pre-amp / amp combo.

And unfortunately, sound is very personal, intimate... difficult to discuss without actually listening to the components.

Jonesy February 24, 2013 12:05 PM

I keep finding a lot of people mentioning how small the soundstage of the USP-1 is, not to mention the number of issues and parts failing. Their service is apparently amazing and all of problems seem to get resolved rather fast. I just wish I knew someone with some of their gear that I could audition with my speakers. I mean, I know it will be a huge step up quality wise from what I am using. I just want to make sure I am getting the most bang for my buck, in a system that will last me for many years without regretting the choice.

Edit: Getting closer to pulling the pin and getting the Emotiva setup you listed Nodscene. I may hold off on the DAC for now, as the DAC in my Essence STX is decent, it wont be nearly as good by any stretch of the imagination, but spacing out costs is always a good thing to do.

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