Integrated amp under £1000 (UK)

benjamin8732

Novice Member
I just picked up a pair of open box Revel Concerta2 M16 bookshelf speakers from Ebay for a bargain price of £525 and I am looking for recommendations for an integrated hifi amp at or under £1000 to pair with these speakers.

I was about to pull the trigger on a Cambridge audio CXA81 but have been thinking perhaps I can get something better for the same money if I go second hand or refurbished. I also saw for bit over my budget the Denon PMA-1600NE which looks interesting but it seems that maybe the DAC is not so good based on some reviews.

Ideally I would like an amp with an good integrated DAC as the sources will be predominately a computer for listening to music and some limited TV/ movies . However, if there is a bargain to be had for an analog amp then I can consider also getting a good external DAC.

Given the current situation in the UK demoing first is not possible so perhaps buying secondhand is lower risk as I can most likely resell for a similar price if not happy with it.

Anyway, which integrated amp would you recommend at this price point to go with the Revel M16 speakers considering all options of new, refurbished or secondhand?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
There are lots of amps with DACs, but they are Optical/Coaxial DACs. There are amps with PC-USB DACs but they are more rare.

Here are a couple of Integrated Amp with PC-USB DACs for under £1000 -

Rotel A14 Integrated, 80w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/PC-USB DAC - £899 -




Yamaha AS-801 Integrated, 100w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/PC-USB, Network Streaming, etc... - £579 -



While you can still find them listed, the Yamaha AS801 is a bit hard to come by now because of the whole COVID-19 thing. And it is the only Yamaha Integrated Amp that has a substantially upgraded DAC plus USB-PC.

Now I assume when you say you are connecting your computer, you are connecting via USB. If not, the how?

I have both Yamaha and Rotel, and they sound very similar, and the Yamaha AS801 is the TOP of the line of Yamaha's Consumer Amps.

If you would like extra features, like Streaming, Bass Management, and Room-EQ, then consider the still reasonably priced

Yamaha RN803 Network Receiver, DAB/DAB+, 100w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/USB - £589 -



The Amps listed here probably represent Best Value.

Thoughts?

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Nico72

Active Member
The arcam SR-250 is a little over budget but offers the advantage of Dirac live to tune the response of your speakers in your room
 
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Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The arcam SR-250 is a little over budget but offers the advantage of Dirac live to tune the response of your speakers in your room
Keep an eye on this - in London and under two days to run. I would expect it to go for less than your budget.

 
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Kapkirk

Active Member
I just picked up a pair of open box Revel Concerta2 M16 bookshelf speakers from Ebay for a bargain price of £525 and I am looking for recommendations for an integrated hifi amp at or under £1000 to pair with these speakers.

I was about to pull the trigger on a Cambridge audio CXA81 but have been thinking perhaps I can get something better for the same money if I go second hand or refurbished. I also saw for bit over my budget the Denon PMA-1600NE which looks interesting but it seems that maybe the DAC is not so good based on some reviews.

Ideally I would like an amp with an good integrated DAC as the sources will be predominately a computer for listening to music and some limited TV/ movies . However, if there is a bargain to be had for an analog amp then I can consider also getting a good external DAC.

Given the current situation in the UK demoing first is not possible so perhaps buying secondhand is lower risk as I can most likely resell for a similar price if not happy with it.

Anyway, which integrated amp would you recommend at this price point to go with the Revel M16 speakers considering all options of new, refurbished or secondhand?
I can assure you (as an owner) that the DAC in the Denon PMA 1600ne is in fact very good, there are reports that the version sold in the USA is of a slightly different spec which may be what you have been reading. It betters the DAC in the Audiolab 6000 and Cambridge (I've had both) It's a great amp with very high resolution and smooth delivery typical of Japanese sounding equipment and similar to the Marantz/Yamaha sound. It can sound a little laid back at low volume but sounds superb when the volume dial is pushed up to medium and high levels. What I love most about this amp is that it remains completely composed as you increase the volume, no nasty treble or loose bass, it just sounds tight clean & smooth no matter how loud you go, it also has great sound staging and being the japanese made variant I know it's going to be reliable for many years. Only niggle with this amp is the volume control is very sensitive when using the remote control (gets loud very quickly in large increments)
I heard the Revel speakers when they were released on a Cyrus one HD they sounded very dynamic but I didn't like the treble very much, sounded a little smeared and edgy, I don't think they would work well on a Cambridge CX81 personally. If you didn't want to spend too much then the cheaper Audiolab 6000 is also a very good little amp for the money but it doesn't have the scale and dynamics of the PMA1600ne.
Of course the other plus point with the Denon is that it has an asynchronous USB input to the DAC with jitter correction so giving more accurate sound from a computer, however you must use the Denon USB driver to completely bypass the sound card on the computer to give the best results. More information about this is in the Denon user Manual which you can download and read before buying. Personally I think the PMA1600NE is a gem of an amp (Damn heavy as well) and unfortunately goes under many people's radar which is a shame.
 
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Paul7777x

Member
I wouldn’t consider anything but this at your budget when they are available.


Tons of power and plenty of reserve current.

Arcams class G amplifiers.

And Dirac live.

Even if it was an average amp (and it certainly is not) Dirac would make it a worthy buy all by itself.

A bargain of huge proportions.

Review here...


Also, remember that the SR250 was reviewed as a £2500 amp and compared to that price range.

I don’t know of a better bargain.
 
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Paul7777x

Member
Ps, add one of these to convert your usb output to either an optical or coax digital output.


PPS, the Arcam will easily drive, very well indeed, any speaker upgrade you are likely to make in the future.
 
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Paul7777x

Member
PPS. Should you feel the need, especially for large scale music and films, adding a subwoofer to the SR250 is a very simple thing to do.

The excellent Dirac live makes doing so a doddle and integrates either one or two subs seamlessly, giving you a full range system for what is, given the ability of the Arcam, give away money.
 
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benjamin8732

Novice Member
Firstly, thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply, it is very helpful and it has given a lot to think about. I am taking the time to do some more research on each of the options recommended.

Here’s a starter for ten

H
Being Hegal's entry level model, how does this amp sound? My only concern is at 60W at 8Ohms it is a bit under powered at this price-point. I am sure they would drive the Revel's no problem but that might be an issue if I change speakers in the future.

There are lots of amps with DACs, but they are Optical/Coaxial DACs. There are amps with PC-USB DACs but they are more rare.

Here are a couple of Integrated Amp with PC-USB DACs for under £1000 -

Rotel A14 Integrated, 80w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/PC-USB DAC - £899 -




Yamaha AS-801 Integrated, 100w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/PC-USB, Network Streaming, etc... - £579 -



While you can still find them listed, the Yamaha AS801 is a bit hard to come by now because of the whole COVID-19 thing. And it is the only Yamaha Integrated Amp that has a substantially upgraded DAC plus USB-PC.

Now I assume when you say you are connecting your computer, you are connecting via USB. If not, the how?

I have both Yamaha and Rotel, and they sound very similar, and the Yamaha AS801 is the TOP of the line of Yamaha's Consumer Amps.

If you would like extra features, like Streaming, Bass Management, and Room-EQ, then consider the still reasonably priced

Yamaha RN803 Network Receiver, DAB/DAB+, 100w/ch, Optical/Coaxial/USB - £589 -



The Amps listed here probably represent Best Value.

Thoughts?

Steve/bluewizard
Thanks @BlueWizard for all these recommendations! Yes I would be connecting my computer via USB. However, I saw that Paul posted a USB to Toslink adaptor for around £50 so that seems like a viable solution!

The Yamaha AS-801 looks the most interesting out of these but not I don't see Yamaha coming up in reviews much in the UK, is there a reason for this? Also, how is this going to compare to some of the more expensive options being recommended?

I can assure you (as an owner) that the DAC in the Denon PMA 1600ne is in fact very good, there are reports that the version sold in the USA is of a slightly different spec which may be what you have been reading. It betters the DAC in the Audiolab 6000 and Cambridge (I've had both) It's a great amp with very high resolution and smooth delivery typical of Japanese sounding equipment and similar to the Marantz/Yamaha sound. It can sound a little laid back at low volume but sounds superb when the volume dial is pushed up to medium and high levels. What I love most about this amp is that it remains completely composed as you increase the volume, no nasty treble or loose bass, it just sounds tight clean & smooth no matter how loud you go, it also has great sound staging and being the japanese made variant I know it's going to be reliable for many years. Only niggle with this amp is the volume control is very sensitive when using the remote control (gets loud very quickly in large increments)
I heard the Revel speakers when they were released on a Cyrus one HD they sounded very dynamic but I didn't like the treble very much, sounded a little smeared and edgy, I don't think they would work well on a Cambridge CX81 personally. If you didn't want to spend too much then the cheaper Audiolab 6000 is also a very good little amp for the money but it doesn't have the scale and dynamics of the PMA1600ne.
Of course the other plus point with the Denon is that it has an asynchronous USB input to the DAC with jitter correction so giving more accurate sound from a computer, however you must use the Denon USB driver to completely bypass the sound card on the computer to give the best results. More information about this is in the Denon user Manual which you can download and read before buying. Personally I think the PMA1600NE is a gem of an amp (Damn heavy as well) and unfortunately goes under many people's radar which is a shame.
Thanks @Kapkirk , this is really helpful, I wonder if the treble was because the Cyrus did not pair well with these speakers - Some of the reviews of the Revel's mentioned you need to take care in pairing these to an amp.

The Denon PMA-1600ne is definitely on my short list so far, it is reassuring to hear the DAC in the Europe version is good! Even though it is slightly above budget, I might be tempted if I can find one used or on sales.

I wouldn’t consider anything but this at your budget when they are available.


Tons of power and plenty of reserve current.

Arcams class G amplifiers.

And Dirac live.

Even if it was an average amp (and it certainly is not) Dirac would make it a worthy buy all by itself.

A bargain of huge proportions.

Review here...


Also, remember that the SR250 was reviewed as a £2500 amp and compared to that price range.

I don’t know of a better bargain.
Thanks @Nico72, @Ugg10 and @Paul7777x for the recommendation of the Arcam SR-250 it clearly is well regarded here! I am also shorting listing this amp. It is a shame because i am sure I have seen it on sale at Richer Sounds recently for sub £1000.

A couple of questions, it seems some of the forum threads talk about the software being quite buggy, is this really a concern? Also should there be any concerns about being a discontinued product? I am guess there won't be any future firmware updates etc.

I am based in London so the one that is currently being bid on Ebay could be an option but the buy it now for £849 is in York and collection only so not an option. Unless Richer Sounds decides to put it on sale again soon....

I don't feel like I am any closer to being able to make decision yet but appreciate all the valuable input!



.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
The Denon PMA-1600ne is definitely on my short list so far, it is reassuring to hear the DAC in the Europe version is good! Even though it is slightly above budget, I might be tempted if I can find one used or on sales.
The Denon has AL32+ processing and although I don't have a Denon amp it is the same processor onboard my DCD 2500 NE SACD player and I've been very impressed with it's performance. The Denon does all the decoding and processing as my stereo amp is pure analogue.
 
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Paul7777x

Member
Firstly, thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply, it is very helpful and it has given a lot to think about. I am taking the time to do some more research on each of the options recommended.


Being Hegal's entry level model, how does this amp sound? My only concern is at 60W at 8Ohms it is a bit under powered at this price-point. I am sure they would drive the Revel's no problem but that might be an issue if I change speakers in the future.


Thanks @BlueWizard for all these recommendations! Yes I would be connecting my computer via USB. However, I saw that Paul posted a USB to Toslink adaptor for around £50 so that seems like a viable solution!

The Yamaha AS-801 looks the most interesting out of these but not I don't see Yamaha coming up in reviews much in the UK, is there a reason for this? Also, how is this going to compare to some of the more expensive options being recommended?


Thanks @Kapkirk , this is really helpful, I wonder if the treble was because the Cyrus did not pair well with these speakers - Some of the reviews of the Revel's mentioned you need to take care in pairing these to an amp.

The Denon PMA-1600ne is definitely on my short list so far, it is reassuring to hear the DAC in the Europe version is good! Even though it is slightly above budget, I might be tempted if I can find one used or on sales.


Thanks @Nico72, @Ugg10 and @Paul7777x for the recommendation of the Arcam SR-250 it clearly is well regarded here! I am also shorting listing this amp. It is a shame because i am sure I have seen it on sale at Richer Sounds recently for sub £1000.

A couple of questions, it seems some of the forum threads talk about the software being quite buggy, is this really a concern? Also should there be any concerns about being a discontinued product? I am guess there won't be any future firmware updates etc.

I am based in London so the one that is currently being bid on Ebay could be an option but the buy it now for £849 is in York and collection only so not an option. Unless Richer Sounds decides to put it on sale again soon....

I don't feel like I am any closer to being able to make decision yet but appreciate all the valuable input!



.

It’s a huge pain that RS have increased the price of the Arcam. But I’m compelled to say I think it’s a bargain even at the increased price.

However it’s not within your budget so that’s that.

It may simply be because RS have to have it at the higher price for a while so they can then say it is reduced again. It’s a possibility. And for that reason I’d wait, if you can’t find a good used one, as I’m sure the price will drop to below £1000 again and it really is worth the wait.

The software bugs have been exaggerated, as faults always are on the internet, and in any case the very large majority of them were to do with the CEC and hdmi.

This is not at all restricted to Arcam, and has as much to do with any given tv than it is with any given CEC implementation.

Frankly it’s such a pain in the arse, the whole CEC debacle, that despite having had several (and still have a) CEC enabled machine, I won’t touch it with a pole and use the ever faithful optical out from the tv every time.

The power output, the class G amps and Dirac all make it a first choice in my opinion and worth the wait to get one either new when RS drop the price, or when a suitable used one arrives in either the classifieds here or on eBay.

Add to all that the excellent sub integration and the SR250 really is the only amp for me.

I only (very reluctantly) sold mine because I found some extra cash and was able to buy a Lyngdorf TDAi 1120.

Even then it was a non trivial choice, but RoomPerfect won me over after a while.

Pity really, as I could have used the extra cash on booze and hot chicks.
 
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Nico72

Active Member
One more point. If you go for the Arcam SR 250, you will need a mic and a laptop to run Dirac live. The Arcam may come with a mic, but a good calibrated one is recommended (such as the umik-1).
The good thing is that once you have taken a set of measurements, you do not need the mic any more and you can sell it on. But if you were to change speakers, positioning, or rearrange the furniture significantly, then. you would have to repeat the measurement.
 
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haltny

Active Member
PPS. Should you feel the need, especially for large scale music and films, adding a subwoofer to the SR250 is a very simple thing to do.

The excellent Dirac live makes doing so a doddle and integrates either one or two subs seamlessly, giving you a full range system for what is, given the ability of the Arcam, give away money.

I have just seen this thread. Interesting as I have literally just ordered an Arcam SR250 from Richer Sounds this afternoon. It was £1099 with discount code FLASH100. I know I could of got one cheaper on eBay but I wanted the 5 year warranty and the ability to send it back if I do not get on with it. I have also ordered a used Bluesound Node 2i off Ebay for streaming Quobuz wirelessly. At just over £1500 for what would have been £3000 worth of kit, with a five year warranty, sounds great in my book.

The reason I bought the SR250 is because I like 5.1, but my room arrangement simply does not work as a 5.1 set up (rear speakers too close to the couch). I could have kept the Denon and ran a 2.1 but as I am going back to a 2.1 I wanted as few boxes as possible. I am looking to sell my stereo amp also, and one amp that can do excellent stereo and proper 2.1 is ideal.

I therefore needed an amp that I can play my TV through, but still provide exceptional sound quality for when listening to 2 channel stereo. I thought about more expensive options like the Uniti Atom with HDMI but ultimately these, to my understanding, do not properly down mix the signal and hence you may get films where the sound effects mask the dialog or lip sync issues. They are not perfect, and very expensive.

I am a little concerned re some of the comments about bugs and HDMI issues with the SR250, however like I said if I do not get on with the unit then I will simply return it to RS and reevaluate my options.
 
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haltny

Active Member
It’s a huge pain that RS have increased the price of the Arcam. But I’m compelled to say I think it’s a bargain even at the increased price.

However it’s not within your budget so that’s that.

It may simply be because RS have to have it at the higher price for a while so they can then say it is reduced again. It’s a possibility. And for that reason I’d wait, if you can’t find a good used one, as I’m sure the price will drop to below £1000 again and it really is worth the wait.

The software bugs have been exaggerated, as faults always are on the internet, and in any case the very large majority of them were to do with the CEC and hdmi.

This is not at all restricted to Arcam, and has as much to do with any given tv than it is with any given CEC implementation.

Frankly it’s such a pain in the arse, the whole CEC debacle, that despite having had several (and still have a) CEC enabled machine, I won’t touch it with a pole and use the ever faithful optical out from the tv every time.

The power output, the class G amps and Dirac all make it a first choice in my opinion and worth the wait to get one either new when RS drop the price, or when a suitable used one arrives in either the classifieds here or on eBay.

Add to all that the excellent sub integration and the SR250 really is the only amp for me.

I only (very reluctantly) sold mine because I found some extra cash and was able to buy a Lyngdorf TDAi 1120.

Even then it was a non trivial choice, but RoomPerfect won me over after a while.

Pity really, as I could have used the extra cash on booze and hot chicks.
how is the Lyngdorf TDAi 1120?
 
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