View Full Version : Switching from integrateds to separates.


beppe61
11-28-2005, 04:31 AM
Dear Sirs,

I have recently purchase a Kenwood KA-801 that I am presently using.
All considered I like its sound but ... I have decided to switch to separates.
And this for various reasons.
The first being that IMHO the preamp section of integrateds is usually not up to the standards set by their power amp section.
Usually they have a plethora of controls (balance, loudness, tone controls, CONTOURS EVEN !) that I dislike profoundly and that can go bad as well (scratching, unbalances, etc, etc).
So I am here for gathering suggestion on a very good sounding vintage POWER AMP to hunt around.
A high power is not mandatory as the quality of sound.
Up to now I have selected on the basis of the very valuable opinions from you experts here the following models:

ACCUPHASE P-300
SANSUI BA-F1

but of course I would like to enlarge the list very good sounding models because vintage amps of this caliber are not so common here in Italy.
Thank you very much indeed.

Kind regards,

beppe61

bolly
11-28-2005, 04:42 AM
I'm not sure how hard a Bryston amplifier would be to find in Italy beppe61... I have a 2B Pro, and a 3B. My favorite sounding amps sofar.

gyusher
11-28-2005, 05:24 AM
Rotel RB-981 135x2(360x1) built 1998-2000 retail 600.00 todays prices 150-300
Prior to the 981 was the TOTL RB-980 (1996-98) higher msrp but cheaper in todays money (150-200)

Absolutly best sounding amp going and for the price very hard to beat. Should be very easy to find overseas. I think the current model is called a RB-1070 , more expensive for the same amp plus it has triggers that the 981 does not have.

Another easy to find overseas amp = Adcom GFA-535 or 545 much better sound than their TOTL 555 or 565 mono block. (1990 era)

Just one man's opinion. . . :thmbsp:

beppe61
11-28-2005, 05:38 AM
I'm not sure how hard a Bryston amplifier would be to find in Italy beppe61... I have a 2B Pro, and a 3B.
My favorite sounding amps sofar.

Dear Mr. Bolly,

thank you so much for your very kind and valuable suggestion.
I do not know if Bryston is still distributed in Italy.
It was in the past and I own a .4b line preamp myself.
I rate very highly the brand.
I would like to ask you:
1) which are the precise model of 3B that you own (I mean ST, SST, etc.)
2) which difference do you find between the two amps? I understand that the 2B should be more refined in sound (it should have just a single output pair, a mania of mine. I like single output pair per channel topologies. And Sankens to booth).

Thank you so much for your extremely valuable advice.
Kind regards,

beppe61

beppe61
11-28-2005, 05:46 AM
Rotel RB-981 135x2(360x1) built 1998-2000 retail 600.00 todays prices 150-300
Prior to the 981 was the TOTL RB-980 (1996-98) higher msrp but cheaper in todays money (150-200)
Absolutly best sounding amp going and for the price very hard to beat. Should be very easy to find overseas. I think the current model is called a RB-1070 , more expensive for the same amp plus it has triggers that the 981 does not have.
Another easy to find overseas amp = Adcom GFA-535 or 545 much better sound than their TOTL 555 or 565 mono block. (1990 era)
Just one man's opinion. . . :thmbsp:

Dear Sir,

thank you greatly for your extremely kind and precious reply.
Rotel are quite more comon than Adcom in the www.ebay.it.
The Rotel is a nice company that maybe deserves more esteem.
I think that if one takes a Rotel amp guts and put them in a Krell case (for instance) the perception of its quality could be higher.
I have the habit to judge the sound of a rig in the complete darkness.
So I am not distracted by the visual appearance of things ( not only in audio).

Thank you very much for your extremely kind, friendly and valuable suggestions.
Kind regards,

beppe61

bolly
11-28-2005, 05:50 AM
the 3B I own is the old version, with chrome handles. As far as sound between the 2B Pro, and the 3B is concerned... I do find the 2B Pro to be the better sounding of the two. I will try newer Brystons in the future though, my only wish is that the future will not be too distant.

beppe61
11-28-2005, 06:13 AM
> the 3B I own is the old version, with chrome handles.
As far as sound between the 2B Pro, and the 3B is concerned... I do find the 2B Pro to be the better sounding of the two.

Dear Mr. Bolly,
this is very interesting indeed.
And I also understand your choice (if I am not wrong) of the biamplification for the bass section and the mid-high section.
I think that if one has to stick with a full range situation (like me for practical reason) has to choose between power (3B) or finesse (2B).
It is not an easy choice because playing with my old/new Kenwood KA-801 (a 100 W/channel integrated) I have started to appreciated the impact of powerful amps.

> I will try newer Brystons in the future though, my only wish is that the future will not be too distant.

If I were you I will be already in heaven. You have a really good system.
Congratulations !
Thank you very much again for your always kind and valuable advice.
Kind regards,

beppe61

bolly
11-28-2005, 06:26 AM
dear Mr. beppe61,

I very muchso love listening to my system, thank you so much for your kind compliments! And best of luck with your amplifier search. :)

Greg

Bigerik
11-28-2005, 08:03 AM
As someone who has just switched from separates to an integrated amplifier, I request that you don't totally dismiss integrated amps alltogether. I think that it would take a very serious set of separates to sound better than my Accuphase. And while I agree that some integrateds can be poorly designed in the pre-amp section as you state, the finest amp I have ever had the pleasure of hearing was an integrated amp, namely Yves-Bernard André's YBA Integre. That has always been on the top of my dream list.
Have fun with your search!
Erik

beppe61
11-28-2005, 09:13 AM
Dear Mr.Erik,
thank you so much for your kind and extremely interesting reply.
Let me please put some other questions between the lines.

> As someone who has just switched from separates to an integrated amplifier, I request that you don't totally dismiss integrated amps alltogether. I think that it would take a very serious set of separates to sound better than my Accuphase.

Very interesting. Which precise model are you referring at?

> And while I agree that some integrateds can be poorly designed in the pre-amp section as you state, the finest amp I have ever had the pleasure of hearing was an integrated amp, namely Yves-Bernard André's YBA Integre.
That has always been on the top of my dream list.

Very interesting again. I record your kind and valuable suggestion.

Have fun with your search!
Erik

Thank you very much indeed.
Kind regards,

bepe61

Bigerik
11-28-2005, 09:46 AM
Dear Mr.Erik,
thank you so much for your kind and extremely interesting reply.
Let me please put some other questions between the lines.

>

Thank you very much indeed.
Kind regards,

bepe61

The Accuphase that I have is the E-202. Older unit, and will probably need some re capping and restoration as they are 25+ years old. They do sound VERY nice though. Build quality is exceptional.
There are some other minimalist integrateds out there that don't have all the controls that you are concerned about. I know Teac made one in Europe, mostly for the European market. (For some reason integrated amps have always sold better in Europe than North America). Copeland has also made one that was very nice sounding. Again, just a couple of controls on them of very high quality. Some have made the argument that a quality Integrated can have an advantage in sound since you remove the interconnects, connections, etc. Of course, you are sharing a power supply in the integrated.
In vintage equipment, there are a couple of hidden gems from the early to mid 80's, including the Sansui AU-D11-2 and the Pioneer Elite A77x and A-88x. A friend has the Sansui and it sounds great. I have one of each of the Pioneers, and they are very nicely made units. The Pioneers have 3 transformers and 7 separate power supplies. All of these units have more controls on them though.
Anyhow, don't mean to confuse you more! I have learned recently that there are no absolutes in audio. A month ago I would have dismissed any mid 70's Japanese amplifier as not possibly being good sounding, until I heard a friends Accuphase for the first time.
Have fun!
Erik

axel
11-28-2005, 09:52 AM
beppe61,

You might also consider the Yamaha M-4 (1979, reliable, linear and smart-looking, too :)), Yamaha B-2 (1975, V-FET equipped) or Sony TA-N7B (1977, V-FET/BJT hybrid). None of these calls for too much money either.

The Luxman M-300 (1980) or M-05 (1982) would be beautiful samples of lushness and distinction in sound but they are a little more expensive, and rare.

beppe61
11-28-2005, 10:30 AM
> The Accuphase that I have is the E-202. Older unit, and will probably need some re capping and restoration as they are 25+ years old. They do sound VERY nice though. Build quality is exceptional.

Dear Erik, thank you very much for your very welcome and valuable reply.
Speaking of Accuphase I heard an old P250 power amp at a friend's home.
Very clean and powerful. I liked it a lot (actually another amp to search for IMHO of course).
I am sure your E-202 is a great amp indeed as well.
The build quality of Accuphase unit is beyond any reproach.
Very impressive. Besides like the best high-end builders (ML, Classè, etc.).

> There are some other minimalist integrateds out there that don't have all the controls that you are concerned about. I know Teac made one in Europe, mostly for the European market.

I think it was made in Denmark from another audio firm, but I don't know exactly who. It should be a very nice sounding piece indeed.

> (For some reason integrated amps have always sold better in Europe than North America).

We have less space maybe.

> Copeland has also made one that was very nice sounding.
Again, just a couple of controls on them of very high quality.
Some have made the argument that a quality Integrated can have an advantage in sound since you remove the interconnects, connections, etc.
Of course, you are sharing a power supply in the integrated.

I understand that all dipends on the quality of the build in the end.

> In vintage equipment, there are a couple of hidden gems from the early to mid 80's, including the Sansui AU-D11-2 and the Pioneer Elite A77x and A-88x. A friend has the Sansui and it sounds great.
I have one of each of the Pioneers, and they are very nicely made units. The Pioneers have 3 transformers and 7 separate power supplies. All of these units have more controls on them though.
Anyhow, don't mean to confuse you more! I have learned recently that there are no absolutes in audio. A month ago I would have dismissed any mid 70's Japanese amplifier as not possibly being good sounding, until I heard a friends Accuphase for the first time.
Have fun!
Erik

Thank you Erik. You have given me a lot of extremely interesting suggestion.
I will try to trace some of the models you mention.
My most wanted database is getting bigger and bigger.
Thank you so much.

Kind regards,

beppe61

Bigerik
11-28-2005, 10:50 AM
>

Thank you Erik. You have given me a lot of extremely interesting suggestion.
I will try to trace some of the models you mention.
My most wanted database is getting bigger and bigger.
Thank you so much.

Kind regards,

beppe61

You are very welcome, Beppe. Always willing to help any way I can.
Denmark does sound right on the Teac. I have the info at home and I can check tonight.
There are no absolutes in audio, I have found. There can be good and bad in almost anything.
The only concrete advantage I see with separates is the flexibility of choosing different pre-amp/power amp combos.
Thanks
Erik

Lefty
11-28-2005, 11:20 AM
Keep in mind that unless you are fixed on a given matching series that you have quite a few mix and match options when going to separates. If you already have a intergated amp or a TOTL receiver many offer a jumper option such that you can run the main amp portion from an external preamp. The main compromise in TOTL intergated amps and recievers is in the tuner and preamp sections, the main amps are pretty much straight forward DC complementry circuits. While separate TOTL preamps usually offer more switching functions and possibly better phono matching features. This would let you start playing around with your system layout one peice at a time.

Lefty

beppe61
11-28-2005, 02:02 PM
Dear Mr. Lefty,

thank you so much for your extremely kind and valuable reply.
Let me please answer between the lines.

> Keep in mind that unless you are fixed on a given matching series that you have quite a few mix and match options when going to separates.
If you already have a intergated amp or a TOTL receiver many offer a jumper option such that you can run the main amp portion from an external preamp.

Unfortunately my current integrated (not a TOTL unit anyway) does not have this very interesting option. Next I will think about it before purchasing.

> The main compromise in TOTL intergated amps and recievers is in the tuner and preamp sections,

this is exactly the biggest reason for switching to separates.

> the main amps are pretty much straight forward DC complementry circuits.

I am sure my Kenwood KA-801 could be a very nice power amp.
Nice lay-out and strong power supply.

> While separate TOTL preamps usually offer more switching functions and possibly better phono matching features.

I listen only to CDs.
Anyway once I had the opportunity to listen to a AU517 with a tube preamp in front of it. Really nice sound and very powerful as well.
A very nice combination.

> This would let you start playing around with your system layout one peice at a time.
Lefty

Thank you very much Mr. Lefty for your kind and valuable reply.
May I ask you some suggestion about a very good sounding power amp or integrated with the pre-main splitting option (without having all the fuss to route the main in point to the outside)?
Thank you very much indeed.

Kind regards,

beppe61