Old amp v New amp?


Novice Member
Hi I am a new visitor to your site and a fellow lover of hi-fi music. However, I am not very bright when it comes to understanding the technical specifications of the equipment itself. Please believe that I have tried but it's not what my brain is wired to comprehend I'm afraid. Therefore, I recognise that I need help from those with a level of expertise that I clearly lack.
The issue is that I have a friend who wants to upgrade his amp (Cambridge audio A2) and asked for my advice. He has £300-£350 to spend. I have recommended that he goes for an integrated amp and that it should have the button to go into power amp mode so that he has the option of adding a pre-amp to his set-up at a later date (when he's got more money). The issue is whether he will get more bang for his bucks getting an older amp or if he should get a newish one for the sake of longevity/reliability. As you can see my grasp of things is basic at best so please gear your response at the idiot level. Your assistance would really be appreciated. Many thanks.


Active Member
What is the rest of his system?
Vinyl, CD player speakers, streaming?


Novice Member
It's very basic. He has my old eltax floor standing speakers (£250 when new 20 years ago) and a basic Project turntable (sub £200 when new). He's recently added a DAB/internet radio tuner but not sure of make/model. It's bargain basement really. Sorry I can't be more specific.


Rega IO sounds like a winner but won't bypass to be a pre amp? (Happy to be wrong on that). New vs Old is always a tricky proposition at the best of times and some amps have held really strong value.

I would suggest your mate gets in touch with a local dealer and starts organising some home dems.

That way he gets something that works with his existing kit to his ears as it were.

Which is difficult to do via the Old kit route. And as a man who recently got all the caps replaced on an older bit of kit. Sometimes it's not worth the bother.


Novice Member
Thanks T1berious. Any further options would be appreciated. I've always preferred quality older hi-fi separates as I think you get great kit for reasonable price and this kind of equipment is not manufactured by those with a 'planned obsolescence' philosophy, just the opposite in fact. However, things can wear out. My Linn Kolektor recently stopped working inexplicably. Having said that if members can suggest older but reliable models I'm happy with that. Cheers.


Distinguished Member
Here’s a couple of second hand integrated and pre/power combo amps that might do the job. However finding one with a power amp in or HT Bypass function at that price may be difficult.

Rotel RA1520 - Rotel generally make strong amp that are fairly neutral sound so should go with other other equipment, has a mm input for the turntable.

Arcam FMJ A19, this one is £250 which looks a good price, most are around £300.

If he could extend a bit to £400 then this Nad pre/power monitor series duo is interesting, cracking preamp and has a very good mm input.

Or the consumer version

Or this rotel combo, the CD is almost worth it on its own!



Distinguished Member
This one I think ticks all of the boxes , MM phono input, pre ouut and power input (processor bypass) plus 125w into 8 ohms / 190w into 4 ohms showing strong power supply and get pretty good reviews

Roksan Kandy K2, £380 but on Facebook marketplace so worth a haggle or there is one on eBay for £180 but a few days left to go.

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Distinguished Member
Both the Kandy and the Rotel 1520 are unburstable amps that will drive just about anything. Certainly more than enough for the Eltax speakers.

I’d also suggest this if he wants to save cash.

And this is a great modern amp too.



Active Member
Just going back to the original post on this one, you mentioned an integrated that has power amp inputs so a preamp can be added later.

In my experience, integrateds tend to be the other way around i.e. they may have pre-outs which can be connected to a separate power amp, but rarely power amp inputs for a separate preamp.

The one exception to this that I have come across was the old Rega Mira integrated from 2000 or the Mira 3. This had power amp inputs which by-passed the volume and input selection controls so just the power section was being used.

Usually though, if you start out with an integrated, your upgrade path would be a new power amp if it has pre-outs.


Active Member
The a2 does not have power in

My old audiolab 8000s has power in


Active Member

I'd be very careful buying used "older" amps. Any number of things could be wrong with them (e.g. capacitors worn out), plus finding someone to repair them, even the manufacturer, may be tricky due to a shortage of parts. It might be tempting to buy an amp that was £1000 15 years ago and is available used for £300, but be warned, it may well turn out to be a £300 piece of junk.

As far as a new amplifier for £300-£350, it would be worth considering the Cambridge AXA35 or the AXR85. Both are decent budget amps for the money. The Rega Io is a good option if you don't mind a pretty simple amp. The Denon PMA600NE is £369 at Richer Sounds, a little over budget, but a nice amp for the money. Pairs well with a range of sources and speakers as it is very warm and forgiving. Don't let its watt/power ratings (etc) fool you...this amp has muscle! I owned it for a while and miss it now. You might not get the detail or refinement provided by the AXA35 or AXR85, but you get decent build quality. My experience with Cambridge Audio budget equipment is that it is a bit of a lottery, with a 20% change (my experience) of a dodgy item you need to exchange. They're great when they work though. Denon is more solid and reliable.


Active Member
I agree, my used power amps were discounted to £1100 from £2000 from retailer 1 year old.

Usual guide
1 year old 1/3 off
3 years old 50% off


Novice Member
Many thanks guys you have given me plenty of options to mull over with my friend. I really appreciate the time you've taken to guide me. Kind regards and best wishes to all.


Distinguished Member
TBH I would upgrade those old budget Eltax speakers.

The A2 is a fine basic amp and the £200-£350 would get more improvement with better speakers.

I doubt a £250 new amp would be much improvement in sound quality over the A2.

Nothing wrong with old amps if they are well looked after and still work.

I have 20+ year old arcam alpha amps (rrp or £500 all those years ago) which have stayed in my system.

Any good amp repairer can easily service any amp if spares are available.

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