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In earlier posts, my amp has been identified as the weak link in my setup, so I'm looking to buy an integrated amp to upgrade from my Onkyo A-9030.

 

My current setup (slightly different from linked post above):

 

  • Turntable: Technics SL1200MK2
  • Phono preamp: Graham Slee Reflex M
  • Amp: Onkyo A-9030 
  • CD Player:  Marantz CD-5004
  • DAC: Cambridge Audio DAC Magic
  • Speakers:  Whatmough P25 

 

I'm happy to spend ~$1500 on a new amp - but can be convinced to stretch. It needs to have 2 x Optical In and Bluetooth. Even better if I can use it to play files from my NAS (I can do this via Bluetooth or the Apple TV if needed).

I have tried to obtain some amp feedback in another post in the amp section but to no avail.

 

The two key questions I have are:

1) What models new/used should I be looking out for given my budget and requirements?

2) Is anything at this budget likely to have an equal/better DAC than the DACMAGIC. (Would be nice to have one less component if possible.)

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Shortlist of some options to consider https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/

 

Used under 10 years old options would be better such as Yamaha AS1100 or 2100 that retail $2.5-4K and other similar brands. Edit: Yamaha AS1000 in Gumtree for $975 twice the amp build see specs.

 

Edited by Al.M
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15 hours ago, mud_shark said:

 I have tried to obtain some amp feedback in another post in the amp section but to no avail.

 

Because it's hard to find amp with all those features and significant improvement over your Onkyo under $1.5. 

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Something like the one Bill sold recently might have been nice.

 

 

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On 21/01/2021 at 11:31 AM, anandpkumar said:

If you are open to buying used, the one below may be a good fit

Missed your post. Damn. Thanks all the same.

On 21/01/2021 at 12:37 PM, Tim D said:

Something like the one Bill sold recently might have been nice.

 

 

That LEAK is gorgeous!

On 21/01/2021 at 11:42 AM, Irek said:

Because it's hard to find amp with all those features and significant improvement over your Onkyo under $1.5. 

Fair enough @Irek. What's the $$ threshold to take the next step?

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On 21/01/2021 at 1:09 AM, Al.M said:

Used under 10 years old options would be better such as Yamaha AS1100 or 2100 that retail $2.5-4K and other similar brands. Edit: Yamaha AS1000 in Gumtree for $975 twice the amp build see specs.

Thanks..  The Yamaha looks lovely, and that's without the specs.. 

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15 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

Fair enough @Irek. What's the $$ threshold to take the next step?

Well, if you can live with 2 boxes, something like the Rega or Yamaha suggested above + second box to cover all extra features.  

Edited by Irek
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I'd do this slightly differently and look at something like the Vincent SV237, lovely amp, and has a tube pre amp section.  Some bias in that suggestion but my experience with it has been fantastic.  They pop up here for approx $1500 every so often.

 

I am also a big wrap for Marantz and the 6006 or similar would slot in nicely IMO

 

To add the other requirements I'd suggest a BlueSound Node 2i.  This will cover all your streaming and NAS needs as well as any bluetooth and WiFi needs, it also has a great DAC in it that plays MQA and HiRes and will allow you to use the BluOs app from your phone or tablet.  Small footprint and very flexible.

 

As an all in one the CA CX80 or CX60 can pop up here too.  Discontinued now to my knowledge but I reckon either would be a good buy.  The CX80 will meet all your needs digitally as well as it has multiple inputs and can have a wifi dongle added to it....

The newever CXA81 might be all you need too, sell the DacMagic and see if you can get a deal on this...?  Its a bit of a step above budget but if you can sell the DacMagic and get a bit of a deal on this it might be your one box solution.  I have no experience with this model but did audition the previous model and liked what I heard but CA can tend to lean a bit to the brighter side so bare that in mind when considering a match to your speakers.

https://www.audiotrends.com.au/cambridge-audio-cxa81-stereo-amplifier.html

https://www.vinylrevival.com.au/products/cambridge-audio-cxa-81-integrated-amplifier

 

I had the AS1100 and felt it a pretty thin in my setup though others have had good experiences with it.  Lovely looking piece of kit with its VU meters etc but seems polarising in its fanbase.

 

 

Just found a review on the CXA81... there are many but I like this guys reviews it might provide you some further insight.

 

Edited by 08Boss302
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59 minutes ago, 08Boss302 said:

I'd do this slightly differently and look at something like the Vincent SV237, lovely amp, and has a tube pre amp section.  Some bias in that suggestion but my experience with it has been fantastic.  They pop up here for approx $1500 every so often.

 

To add the other requirements I'd suggest a BlueSound Node 2i. 

 

Good suggestions those. If the OP can sell of his current DAC to recoup some funds, something like the Node 2i along with a capable integrated amplifier will be a good option to look at and will cover all bases (if buying used + funds from selling existing DAC)

 

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1 hour ago, 08Boss302 said:

The newever CXA81 might be all you need too, sell the DacMagic and see if you can get a deal on this...?  Its a bit of a step above budget but if you can sell the DacMagic and get a bit of a deal on this it might be your one box solution

The CXA81 does look good.    

 

It's definitely a rabbit hole... just spend that "little" but more...   and the options become very interesting indeed.

This NAD C388 looks very nice(especially with the option for the BluOS module), as does this Marantz PM7000N,

Edited by mud_shark
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19 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

The CXA81 does look good.    

 

It's definitely a rabbit hole... just spend that "little" but more...   and the options become very interesting indeed.

This NAD C388 looks very nice(especially with the option for the BluOS module), as does this Marantz PM7000N,

 

Yes, the NAD has a good price to performance ratio. You may also want to look at the 'all-in-one' offerings from Naim (Uniti series), Cyrus and Linn that get good reviews. They cost more than your budget, but maybe worth looking into if you are investing in a setup for the long term

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Most if not all will go down the upgrade path. So make sure the amp has pre-outs so you can hook it up to a power amp later on. Best in class power amp currently seems to be the purify hypex based class D. NAD has a nice one, the C298. Great match therefore with the NAD classic option already mentioned. This integrated NAD C388 amp is based on the older hypex units which also measure and sound very good. Multiple reviewers have stated the newer purify hypex based amps are end game amps. I have not heard them yet but they also measure best of class no matter what brand uses them. So maybe aim for the stars and do it right the first time around? Search a good pre-amp and hook up the C298 and you are set. Problem is the NAD preferred preamp, the C658, does not seem to be that good when measured (done here and on Audio Science Review site). So a different preamp might be preferable.

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I'm loving my Yamaha RN-602. Has all the features you need, just can't comment on how it stacks against your Onkyo

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It's interesting.  I paid something like $220 for my Onkyo A-9030 a couple of years ago. I honestly thought that it would be very easy to spend a little more and get something that would wipe the floor with it.   Seems a lot of comments across various platforms is that it's not so bad. (Hence my original post I suppose).

 

Am under no illusions though, there are of course many that are better.

 

Am giving a lot of thought to extending the budget to maybe $2000-2500... 

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4 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

Am giving a lot of thought to extending the budget to maybe $2000-2500... 

 

If buying new, try for a home audition from the retailer. The synergy between the amp and speakers in 'your' room makes all the difference. If home audition is not possible, try and listen to as many amplifier brands as possible to get an idea of the sound signature of the brand

 

From what I know of whatmough speakers, they need to be paired with a reasonably powerful amplifier that can drive 4 ohm speakers - I think your model (P25) are 4 ohm ones. So an amplifier that can comfortably drive difficult loads (4 ohm or less) is required.

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Just now, anandpkumar said:

 

If buying new, try for a home audition from the retailer. The synergy between the amp and speakers in 'your' room makes all the difference. If home audition is not possible, try and listen to as many amplifier brands as possible to get an idea of the sound signature of the brand

 

From what I know of whatmough speakers, they need to be paired with a reasonably powerful amplifier that can drive 4 ohm speakers - I think your model (P25) are 4 ohm ones. So an amplifier that can comfortably drive difficult loads (4 ohm or less) is required.

Agreed. Am planning to audition a few units over the next couple of weeks. I expect this will reveal way more than all of my online research...

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12 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

Agreed. Am planning to audition a few units over the next couple of weeks. I expect this will reveal way more than all of my online research...

......and may add to the 'confusion' too with all the choices available. But have fun while you are at it.

 

I do agree about your comment on the price factor. You can put together a decent system today for small $, but to get to the next step up requires a lot more $$, especially if buying new

 

Let us know how you fare with the auditions....

Edited by anandpkumar
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5 minutes ago, anandpkumar said:

......and may add to the 'confusion' too with all the choices available. But have fun while you are at it.

 

I do agree about your comment on the price factor. You can put together a decent system today for small $, but to get to the next step up requires a lot more $$, especially if buying new

 

Let us know how you fare with the auditions....

Thankfully this is not a stressful or rushed purchase for me. And yeah, am enjoying the process.

I expect that once I get the next amp, that will do me for quite some time. Having said that I have seen many similar posts on this forum that prove to be wishful thinking 😁😁

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12 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

Thankfully this is not a stressful or rushed purchase for me. And yeah, am enjoying the process.

I expect that once I get the next amp, that will do me for quite some time. Having said that I have seen many similar posts on this forum that prove to be wishful thinking 😁😁

Ya, it's a rabbit hole for sure!

 

My wife says that the most expensive piece of furniture that we have in our home is my 'hi-fi' - and she's not all that wrong 😁

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Your onkyo has a line out. That is an output without volume control if I am correct. Check that with the manufacturer.  A stand alone power amp can be attached, however that power amp should have a volume control. Or.. buy another second hand something with pre outs and add the power amp. 

Edited by JCvanJohnson
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This may be a silly question, but am I likely to be hearing the proverbial "night and day" difference between my current Onkyo A-9030 and the (presumably) new $2000-2500 amp?

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22 hours ago, mud_shark said:

This may be a silly question, but am I likely to be hearing the proverbial "night and day" difference between my current Onkyo A-9030 and the (presumably) new $2000-2500 amp?

That's difficult to say since I have never heard this unit. I have heard multiple entry level units, and they can sound good, expecially if they are only stereo. I recently hooked up my old Pioneer 7.2 receiver, a midrange VSX-2014i so I could compare it to the NAD C368 stereo unit. Both cost around the same. But after hearing the pioneer again I had to sell it. It was night and day and I did not like it anymore.

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2 minutes ago, JCvanJohnson said:

That's difficult to say since I have never heard this unit.

Totally appreciate that. 

Looking forward to auditioning so I can hear for myself.

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19 minutes ago, mud_shark said:

Totally appreciate that. 

Looking forward to auditioning so I can hear for myself.

Try some different songs you know and see what happens on higher volumes with your current and new amp. Cambridge Audio have some songs sorted out for different purposes. Google cambridge audio test tracks engineer. 

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