Thoughts on 2ch amplifiers around £1000/$1500

jBlue2

Novice Member
I currently have the following:
  • Rotel RA-971 Mk 2 amplifier
  • Rotel RCD-965BX cd player
  • Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100 DAC (mainly used for TV to amp)
  • Monitor Audio Silver RS8 speakers
To be honest I think the system sounds pretty good but I've always thought the speakers would benefit from a better amp. - and after all the Rotel is now 20 years old. (I also have an even older Arcam Alpha 6+ currently not being used)

So I'm considering the following:
  • Arcam Sa20
  • Audiolab 8300a (and will continue to use Dacmagic for digital sources)
  • Possibly IOTAVX Sa3 plus Pa3 power amp
The challenge in todays C-19 world is being able to audition.
I will be keeping my existing speakers for the time being.
I like the idea of a built in DAC. I also need enough reserve power to get the best from my MA's - which is why I'm not too sure about the Audiolab 6000a.

It would be great to hear peoples opinions/views
 
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Jester1066

Well-known Member
I like the idea of a built in DAC. I also need enough reserve power to get the best from my MA's - which is why I'm not too sure about the Audiolab 6000a.
Hi

I have the Audiolab 6000A - and think the onboard DAC (Sabre brand) is great. Currently have it connected to my TV via optical.

I have it paired with some Monitor Audio Silver 100's (6th Gen), for 2 channel stereo. (Here's a link to the speakers specs):


Despite it's seemingly small 50wpc output, the 6000A drives the 100's with ease and can go loud without without any distortion/clipping.

The 6000A has the additional advantage of having HT Bypass - meaning I also use it to power the same speakers as part of my home theatre system. Allowing me to have both a decent 2 channel & multichannel setup using 1 the same L&R speakers....

For reference my room is 4.5m long x 3m wide - and I sit around 3m from the speakers. The 6000A & Silver 100's fill the space easily with no issues.

If you felt you needed the extra power go for the 8300A and as you say re-use your Dac Magic for digital sources.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
If you are going to continue to use a standalone DAC you could add two Rega models to your list and pay for pure amplification. The Rega Elex-R £949 or the Elicit-R at £1679 (AudioT prices). The more powerful Elicit also has the benefit of HT by-pass and can easily be integrated into a surround sound system providing any AV amp has pre-outs.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Don't discount the Cambridge Audio CXA61 or 81 - very well-spec'd with lots of inputs (though no phono) and great features and superb sound quality.
 

jBlue2

Novice Member
Some interesting thoughts. I hadn't really considered the Rega Elex-R or the Musical Fidelity M2Si. I really need to audition so may have to wait a while.

I also have to decide on the merits of a built in DAC vs just going for pure amplification.

Decisions decisions!
 

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
Some interesting thoughts. I hadn't really considered the Rega Elex-R or the Musical Fidelity M2Si. I really need to audition so may have to wait a while.

I also have to decide on the merits of a built in DAC vs just going for pure amplification.

Decisions decisions!
In my experience, amps with built-in DACs have become a sales thing for manufacturers to outdo each other with bells and whistles. I'm not saying that built-in DACs in themselves are poor quality, it's just that the only time they're useful is if you want to plug a PC or your TV's optical out into your amp, and even then that job could be handled perfectly well by a stand alone streamer.

There are few digital sources that don't have a perfectly good DAC on board: it's hardly as if the market is overwhelmed with streamers and CD transports that don't feature their own DACs. The job of a DAC is to be as neutral/transparent as possible, so unless you want to go down the route of having a valve/tube DAC, say, you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference between DACs under £1k.

For me, amplification should simply be about just that: amplifying an analogue signal and putting it out to the speakers. Keeps things simple and a good amp will last years.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
If you want to do distal processing, e.g. Dirac, you need to digitize inputs and use a DAC on output. Similarly, if you want any any kind of streaming or PC input, it’s going to be digital, and it’s probably best to keep it that way until near the end.
 

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
Digital sound processing (DSP) requires a digital signal to work with, so either receives a digital feed or can receive analogue which is changed to digital via an ADC. It can then output digital or, via a DAC, analogue. This can all be handled onboard by a DSP, so no need to have digital connections on an amp.

My streamer contains an excellent DAC built around an ESS Sabre chip and outputs an analogue signal via RCA phono to my amp. It wouldn't be improved by feeding the digital signal to a DAC on board my amp.
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
My streamer contains an excellent DAC built around an ESS Sabre chip
@jBlue2 - Fwiw the DAC in the 6000A has an ESS Sabre chip. Sonically, the amp has a lovely warm sound and is extremely well built - is very heavy.
 

jBlue2

Novice Member
As with all decisions there are some compromises. Sound quality for me is definitely a priority followed I guess by longevity; ie I plan to keep the amp for years.

As we use the amp and speakers hooked up to the TV I am also looking for convenience or maybe I should say my other half is ;-) so that means ideally I also need a standby button on the remote - which the Rega doesn’t have!

I’m going to do some more thinking, short list then do some auditioning.

Thanks for all the replies so far!
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
Rega give a lifetime parts warranty.

 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
As we use the amp and speakers hooked up to the TV I am also looking for convenience or maybe I should say my other half is ;-) so that means ideally I also need a standby button on the remote - which the Rega doesn’t have!
Everything on the Audiolab I mentioned can be controlled by the remote. I currently have mine connected to my TV via optical and (after a firmware update - simple task via USB drive). It's great.

I’m going to do some more thinking, short list then do some auditioning.
This is definitely the way to go. Richersounds also offer home demos.
 

gava

Active Member
You could also have a look at Nord Acoustics.

Their entry-level integrated amp is quite nice looking.

 

daddy999

Active Member
Rega, Yamaha, Cyrus, Roksan, MF., all make great amps in that price bracket, but, all have their own sound signature too. Make sure you demo them all with your own speakers if possible.

To give you an idea of why a demo is so important, I started off wanting a Roksan amp, I tested loads including Sugden, luxman, YBA, Cyrus, 3 x Roksan, Rega, Naim, ended up with a Yamaha AS2100, which was exactly the sound I wanted and is built to an unbelievable standard for the price. Oh the Roksan was probably the worst of all I tested!

Good luck and enjoy the demo’s.
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
Make sure you demo them all with your own speakers if possible.
I second this and would further add that a home demo with your own speakers is even more desirable.
 

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