High quality stereo amplifier and network streamer >200W <$5000 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 16 Old 12-07-2018, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
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High quality stereo amplifier and network streamer >200W <$5000

Here's a puzzle for you, Hi-Fi gear experts.

I would like an integrated amplifier or a power amplifier + network player combo that..

has the following:
- is a 2-channel Class AB amplifier
- delivers at least 100W into 8 ohms at THD+N < 0.05%
- preferably delivers at least 200W into 8 ohms at THD+N < 0.01%
- can dive down to 2 ohms for musical transients (my Canton Reference 5K speakers go down to 3 ohms)
- can play 192k FLAC files from a DLNA server or USB Hard Drive (DSD and MQA playback are a plus)
- can be controlled via a remote and a mobile app
- MSRP is below $5000 (the less, the better - I am also open to buy used)
- no need to mention I am looking for the best sound quality I can get

doesn't necessarly need to have the following:
- tone controls
- Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Napster, etc.
- FM Radio
- internet radio
- a ton of digital and analogue inputs and outputs
- subwoofer out
- Headphones amplifier
- multiroom
- Bluetooth
- other extra features besides the ones listed above

Here are some candidates I already identified in the marketplace - with their downsides:
- The combo Cambridge Audio Azur 851N+851W: no real downsides, but I am convinced I can get better amp performance in this price range
- Yamaha R-N803D: has a lot of extra features I don't need and only delivers 100W at 0.019% THD; but is quite cheap @ $800
- Hegel H360: not very clear if the DLNA functionality works only with a network storage - seems that it needs an uPnP-capable media player. Price is quite high (around $6000 new; however on the used market dives down to $3000)
- Rotel RT-1570 + RB-1582 MKII: streamer is entry-level, amp doesn't have very good reviews
- NAD M32 + BluOS v2: is a class D amplifier
- Musical Fidelity M6 Encore 225: has a lot of extra features I don't need (CD Player, ripper)

Notes:
- I use Canton Reference 5K speakers and I mostly listen to Jazz and Classical music with a dash of Pop from time to time.
- I would, of course, preffer a one-box solution to my puzzle

If you have other recommendations, please enlighten me!

Thank you very much in advance!
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post #2 of 16 Old 12-07-2018, 07:31 AM
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Parasound A21+ P6 + Bluesound node 2i. I have Canton A45 and use the Parasound combo.
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post #3 of 16 Old 12-07-2018, 06:55 PM
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Suggestion: keep your digital section (streamer/DAC) out of your analog section.

1) It will sound better for a number of reasons.
2) Digital is ever-evolving and you don’t want your entire system tied to a dinosaur 5 years from now.
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post #4 of 16 Old 12-07-2018, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcdade View Post
Suggestion: keep your digital section (streamer/DAC) out of your analog section.

1) It will sound better for a number of reasons.
2) Digital is ever-evolving and you don’t want your entire system tied to a dinosaur 5 years from now.

Yep, digital section is like fashion, in today and out tomorrow. You buy a nice amp with the digital section built in, few years later, you have to buy the whole thing all over again, and what you have is not going to worth anything.


As a fact, I bought two OPPO DVD players OPDV971H used for $70 each including shipping and everything. The price 10 years ago was over $500. They are pre-Blu-Ray. But I use them for CD only. They have the sweetest sound, very high quality audio. People are dumping these out dirt cheap. Both are in perfect working conditions.


Power amps don't change. The high end ones from the late 80s ( after the new generation faster power transistors were available) are as good as any comparable power amps today. You buy a good one, it's going to last you a life time. There is NO new designs on high end power amps since the 70s. And there is no better transistors since the mid/late 80s.




EDIT: As an example, I bought a Nakamichi PA-7 power amp as a fixer upper for $700 two years ago. That was a steal, a working one can be close to $1000. It's made in the late 80s, it was $1800MSRP those days. Worth like 1/2 price 30 years later.
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Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.

Last edited by alan0354; 12-07-2018 at 10:01 PM.
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post #5 of 16 Old 12-08-2018, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcdade View Post
Suggestion: keep your digital section (streamer/DAC) out of your analog section.

1) It will sound better for a number of reasons.
2) Digital is ever-evolving and you don’t want your entire system tied to a dinosaur 5 years from now.
^^^^^^^^^^ THIS * 1000 ^^^^^^^^^^^

A quality separate integrated amp will never be outdated and will never need to be upgraded.

The Digital tuner will be outdated in a handful of years.

Any "combination unit" that has obsolete digital tuner, even if it has an amazingly high quality amp inside of it, will be worth almost nothing when you go to resell it. A great amp will last forever and have great resale if you decide to replace it with something else. All of the all-in-one systems I have ever seen, even high-end ones, go to penny-on-the-dollar valuations once the "front end" is obsolete.

I buy the best amp I can and the cheapest digital media server that meets my needs because I consider the latter disposable. In some cases I use an iPad or Tablet as the media front-end because the easy OS and app updates means that nothing becomes obsolete. Also, if you connect the tablet to the amp with Chromecast -- it will have very good sound quality and you can use the tablet as a portable remote. Chromecast "groups" would allow you to do multi-room to feed other amps with same content.
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Last edited by pjp; 12-08-2018 at 11:21 AM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 12-08-2018, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
^^^^^^^^^^ THIS * 1000 ^^^^^^^^^^^

A quality separate integrated amp will never be outdated and will never need to be upgraded.

The Digital tuner will be outdated in a handful of years.

Any "combination unit" that has obsolete digital tuner, even if it has an amazingly high quality amp inside of it, will be worth almost nothing when you go to resell it. A great amp will last forever and have great resale if you decide to replace it with something else. All of the all-in-one systems I have ever seen, even high-end ones, go to penny-on-the-dollar valuations once the "front end" is obsolete.

I buy the best amp I can and the cheapest digital media server that meets my needs because I consider the latter disposable. In some cases I use an iPad or Tablet as the media front-end because the easy OS and app updates means that nothing becomes obsolete. Also, if you connect the tablet to the amp with Chromecast -- it will have very good sound quality and you can use the tablet as a portable remote. Chromecast "groups" would allow you to do multi-room to feed other amps with same content.

Ha ha, their mistake might be my gain. If it's an Anthem or something good that is selling for cheap, I might be interested!!!


I can't get over I paid $70 for each of the OPPO player just because it's not blu-ray. They a definitely a big step up in sound quality than any of my other players.


I wonder how much you can sell the first generation Apple watch that people paid $1000 just two years ago. I remember people paid $6000 in 1972 for a LED digital watch!!!
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Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-08-2019, 12:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Hegel H590 + Canton Reference 3K

Just as a follow-up, for anyone interested:

My answer to the puzzle is Hegel H590 (ex-demo a bit above the 5000 price-point) + Canton Reference 3K speakers.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 02:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Hegel H590 + Canton Reference 3K

To whom landed here from Google searches and might have a simmilar dillema - some explanations below.

First, my rationale: I wanted clear, articluate, punchy bass. Therefore, I went for a floor-stander that goes down to 20Hz. Or at least to 25Hz. And I don't mean the 25Hz written in the spec sheet (-10dB/1m), but the one in tests, with room response at -6dB/2.5m.

Further on, I looked for an amp that can sustain and control that bass. That is - at least 200W into 8 ohms which must double into 4 ohms.

Also, for crystal-clear vocals and sparklinkg instruments (piano, violin, guitar), one must go for the best mid-range there is (usually only found in the reference series of speakers).

Therefore, for top-notch sound in the bass and mid-range, you'd want a "flagship", "higher-end", "signature", "reference", "top of the line" amplifier and speakers, plus cabling, room treatment and good speaker positioning.

Here are the finalists - partially extracted from StereoPlay's latest rank (June 2019) combined with my personal research.

Reference class A/B amps with DAC and at least 200W/8 ohm which doubles into 4 ohms (approximate MSRP prices):
- Gryphon Diablo 300 (18k with DAC)
- Mark Levinson Nº 585 (14k)
- McIntosh MA9000 (13k)
- Hegel H590 (10k)
- Maranz PM10 (Class D, 10k)
- Audionet DNA (10k)
- Perreaux 255i (8k)
- Krell Digital Vanguard (7.8k)
- Anthem STR (6k)
- Hegel H390 (6k)

Reference Speakers that in-room go below 30Hz at -6dB/2.5m (approximate MSRP prices):
- KEF Blade Two (25k)
- Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 (22k)
- Canton Reference 1K (20k)
- Monitor Audio Platinum PL500 II (20k)
- Focal Sopra No. 3 (20k)
- Audio Physic Avantera III (20k)
- Dynaudio Confidence 30 (20k)
- KEF Reference 5 (19k)
- Sonus Faber Amati Tradition (18k)
- Bowers & Wilkins 803 D3 (17k)
- Wilson Audio Sabrina (16k)
- Focal Sopra No. 2 (14k)
- Focal Kanta No. 3 (13k)
- Canton Reference 3K (10k)
- Dynaudio Contour 60 (10k)
- Nubert nuVero 170 (9k)
- Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3 (9k)


I got (May 2019) a Hegel H590 + Canton Reference 3K combo for ~9k euro (MSRP 20k) and they sound heavenly

The Canton Reference 3K in-room goes just a bit below 30Hz - but for lower bass I had to spend more - much more

The Hegel H590 best matched what I was searching for because of its detailed, neutral, crystal-clear DAC/amp and bass control. Also the lack of phono amp, headphone amp, tone controls, fancy/gloomy aesthetics and other features that I don't use/need - instead, the H590 focuses only on the things that matter to me the most: detailed sound, musicality, bass control, dynamics (it can deliver up to 2.2kW per channel into 1 ohm!), noise floor, quality DAC, basic streamer, minimal design etc.

Note that I listen mostly to acoustic music - jazz, ambient, chill-out, piano, instrumental and classical in a 25 square meter room.

Cheers!
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 05:44 AM
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Long time ago I put my trust in this one: T+A
Never regret it...

You will need this, as pictured...




Last edited by RAART; 06-18-2019 at 05:58 AM.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
Ha ha, their mistake might be my gain. If it's an Anthem or something good that is selling for cheap, I might be interested!!!


I can't get over I paid $70 for each of the OPPO player just because it's not blu-ray. They a definitely a big step up in sound quality than any of my other players.


I wonder how much you can sell the first generation Apple watch that people paid $1000 just two years ago. I remember people paid $6000 in 1972 for a LED digital watch!!!


I just snagged an Oppo DV-980H on EBay for $80 shipped. Going to use it as my dedicated CD/SACD player in my stereo system. I got it last night and will get it set up this evening, seems like a pretty great option without spending a lot of coin.

5.1: Samsung PN60F5300 | Sony BDP-S1700 | Denon AVR-1713 | EMP E55Ti | EMP E56Ci | EMP E5Bi | Outlaw Ultra-X12

2.0: Oppo DV-980H | Apple Airport Express | Topping D30 | Parasound HCA-1500a | Chane A1.4
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post #11 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mihai0711 View Post
Here's a puzzle for you, Hi-Fi gear experts.

I would like an integrated amplifier or a power amplifier + network player combo that..

has the following:
- is a 2-channel Class AB amplifier
- delivers at least 100W into 8 ohms at THD+N < 0.05%
- preferably delivers at least 200W into 8 ohms at THD+N < 0.01%
- can dive down to 2 ohms for musical transients (my Canton Reference 5K speakers go down to 3 ohms)
- can play 192k FLAC files from a DLNA server or USB Hard Drive (DSD and MQA playback are a plus)
- can be controlled via a remote and a mobile app
- MSRP is below $5000 (the less, the better - I am also open to buy used)
- no need to mention I am looking for the best sound quality I can get

doesn't necessarly need to have the following:
- tone controls
- Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Napster, etc.
- FM Radio
- internet radio
- a ton of digital and analogue inputs and outputs
- subwoofer out
- Headphones amplifier
- multiroom
- Bluetooth
- other extra features besides the ones listed above

Here are some candidates I already identified in the marketplace - with their downsides:
- The combo Cambridge Audio Azur 851N+851W: no real downsides, but I am convinced I can get better amp performance in this price range
- Yamaha R-N803D: has a lot of extra features I don't need and only delivers 100W at 0.019% THD; but is quite cheap @ $800
- Hegel H360: not very clear if the DLNA functionality works only with a network storage - seems that it needs an uPnP-capable media player. Price is quite high (around $6000 new; however on the used market dives down to $3000)
- Rotel RT-1570 + RB-1582 MKII: streamer is entry-level, amp doesn't have very good reviews
- NAD M32 + BluOS v2: is a class D amplifier
- Musical Fidelity M6 Encore 225: has a lot of extra features I don't need (CD Player, ripper)

Notes:
- I use Canton Reference 5K speakers and I mostly listen to Jazz and Classical music with a dash of Pop from time to time.
- I would, of course, preffer a one-box solution to my puzzle

If you have other recommendations, please enlighten me!

Thank you very much in advance!
The 2 best units you will find will be the Naim Uniti Star or Uniti Nova. Both one box solutions that will drive nearly anything. I drive Dynaudio Contour 20s and have no issues with my Uniti Star.
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post #12 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RAART View Post
Long time ago I put my trust in this one: T+A
Never regret it...

You will need this, as pictured...
T+A makes some really great stuff. Majorly underrated in the US.
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post #13 of 16 Old 06-18-2019, 01:18 PM
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T+A makes some really great stuff. Majorly underrated in the US.
Very true, very little talk of it. I like their music players and R series gear. The HV is just stupid expensive. Speakers are good, but prefer my Dynaudios. I have a local guy that’s in love with T+A and had carried them for 10-12 yrs now.
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post #14 of 16 Old 06-19-2019, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RAART View Post
Long time ago I put my trust in this one: T+A
Never regret it...

You will need this, as pictured...

Why would someone go through the effort of staging a scene like that for a photo and then put a trash can right in the middle of it?
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-19-2019, 03:43 PM
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Why would someone go through the effort of staging a scene like that for a photo and then put a trash can right in the middle of it?
Trash can??? Where do you see one?
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post #16 of 16 Old 06-19-2019, 04:49 PM
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Trash can??? Where do you see one?
It is not a trash can, but that wire basket does seem to undermine the décor. Keep in mind that I am not an interior decorator, nor do I play one on TV.
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