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What Affordable Stereo Amp to buy?

 

New member
Username: Marc

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-04
Lost in the review jungle, please help! Had a Denon receiver for ca 15 years and need a new amp now. No need for AV and I am considering the Marantz PM7200, HK670, Denon PMA1055R and possibly NAD (C352?). Currently I only have Yamaha speakers (80w) but planning to upgrade at some point. Also have a Yamaha CD player and Technics decks hooked up via a Numark mixer (i.e. won't be using the phono ins of the amp). Any advice, suggestions?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Walt_h

Tustin, CA USA

Post Number: 24
Registered: Jun-04
It is a jungle!! However, my suggestion is to select your speakers first as they will dictate, to some degree, your choices for amplification. I just finished going thru a major overhaul of my system after many years of inattention. I too am a music-only listener so not involved at all in the surround sound jungle. The speakers, in the end, are what makes the most difference in the end result. Most audiophiles don't dispute that. So - again..try to make a pick of speakers - -- bend the budget as much as you can in that direction - - then see what horsepower you'll need to successfully drive them to your satisfaction. One man's opinion. Have fun doing it!
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 613
Registered: Dec-03
Marc:

About a year ago, I was lost in the same jungle. I spent a lot of time looking to replace my old Kyocera receiver which had given me many years of good service. In my research, I listened extensively to all of the units you listed (with multiple speakers )and I will give you my conclusions, FWTW.

The Marantz was most intriguing to me as the Marantz PM7000 was voted the Amp of the Year in Europe and looked like a killer, but wasn't available here in the US. Instead, we get the PM7200. The two units could no be more different. The 7000 is a brute with a huge power supply and near Class A operation. The PM7200, however, has a much smaller p/s, and designed as almost purely Class B, which has a hardness to its sound of solid state electronics. The sound is utterly stale and lifeless--a huge disappointment.

The Harman/Kardon I did not listen to for a long time, but it too appeared to have a two dimensional sound. While it sounded clean and accurate, there was no real depth to the soundstage. Again, although it is warmer sounding than the Marantz, it still lacks involvement. Again, not a unit that I was going to enjoy listening to for long periods of time.

IMO, the Denon is a dog. It has less detail than either the Marantz or the H/K, and even less spaciousness than the first two. I have had some in-home experience with Denon equipment over the past two years and I have never failed to be disappointed.

Now, you have not suggested what constitutes "affordable" to you, but I can suggest a few brands that make great affordable gear. Obviously, you know about NAD, which is probably the #1 brand for great affordable sound. I just got an NAD T753 a/v receiver for the HT I am building, but I would be very satified with it as a two channel receiver, it is that good. I also tested an NAD C320bee in home for the two channel system in my study/music room and I absolutely loved the sound. It is rich, warm and involving. Good price, too. At the time I checked it out, the C352 was not yet out, but I have no doubt it would also do a superb job. It looks like the C352 goes for under $500

Now, I ended up with a Rotel receiver, the RX-1050 (which goes for $799 retail, but I found mine for $550) for two reasons: first, the Rotel had more power than the NAD C320bee (I can be a real power snob, unfortunately) and was just as detailed, and second, it has a tuner, which I appreciate using from time to time (in my circumstances, it helps to have an all in one solution). But otherwise, I might well have ended up with the NAD, especially if the C352 had been out by the time I purchased my receiver. Rotel also has a very nice integrated amp, the RA-1062, which I heard recently and liked very much. I think the RA-1062 goes for $599. The Rotel sound is a little leaner than the NAD sound, which some people prefer and some do not, but there is no denying it is a sound you can listen to and enjoy all day.

Finally, I was also very interested in a Cambridge Audio Azur 640A integrated amp. I heard one at a demonstration and was impressed, but couldn't play around with it before I found the Rotel on sale and decided to buy on the spot. nevertheless, I think the Cambridge A640 is a very nice amp for about $499 and very worthy of consideration.

So, for $600 or less, there are three very good integrated amps, the NAD C352, the Rotel RA-1062, and the Cambridge Audio 640A. If this is above your price range, then I would suggest the NAD C320bee, which is without question the best budget amp around and can be had for about $325. Cambridge Audio offers a cheaper amp, the Azure 540A, but I don't recommend it as the NAD C320bee is much better ofr the same amount of money.

Good luck!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Walt_h

Tustin, CA USA

Post Number: 25
Registered: Jun-04
Mark,

The Hawk has it pretty much nailed as far as a short list of affordable choices. I'd vote for his choice of the Rotel RX-1050. I've heard it and it has plenty of power and finesse. Back to my earlier suggestion however - - regarding picking speakers first. The Rotel RX-1050 should be way more than adequate to drive most speakers. Just be wary of speakers that present a 4-ohm or less impedance to the amp-especially if you tend to play music with a ton of bass at a loud listening level - - the RX-1050 might struggle in that case. Otherwise, it's a great choice in my opinion.

Go listen to it if you can.
 

Anonymous
 
.........except the PM7000 is the dud and not the PM7200.
 

New member
Username: Ray

Post Number: 10
Registered: Dec-03
I totally agree with Hawk regarding NAD C320BEE. I just bought one, along with NAD C521BEE CD player and PSB Image 4T speakers. The sound is great, it is so smooth and natural sounding! I couldn't afford to buy the higher models, so I chose 320BEE over NAD T743 receiver as I mostly listen to two-channel music.
 

nout
Unregistered guest
The Marantz was most intriguing to me as the Marantz PM7000 was voted the Amp of the Year in Europe and looked like a killer, but wasn't available here in the US. Instead, we get the PM7200. The two units could no be more different. The 7000 is a brute with a huge power supply and near Class A operation. The PM7200, however, has a much smaller p/s, and designed as almost purely Class B, which has a hardness to its sound of solid state electronics. The sound is utterly stale and lifeless--a huge disappointment.

Are you sure you didn't mix up the both of them?
The PM 7200 has a class A button and to my ears it has a warm sound allover even in AB.
PM 7000 was voted European Amp of the year, but at the same time it got some terrible reviews in Hi-Fi Choice magazine and TNT audio. The PM7200 got a rave review in Hi-Fi Choice and in my opinion this amp deserves it.

The sound is utterly stale and lifeless

I cannot dissagree more, have we heard the same amp? Funny, I love the sound of the PM 7200 and I'd vote for it over any Rotel (even NAD) in the same pricerange.

 

nout
Unregistered guest
The Rotel RA-1062 is a very fine amp but I don't think you can get that one for $599 (maybe second hand?)
It is listed here (in the Netherlands) for 899 euro which is pretty much the same as $899.
Is Rotel cheaper in the U.S.?
Marc, just listen to some amps and try to figure out what you're looking for. What kinda sound do you like?
What did you like and what did you miss in your previous set?
Good luck!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Walt_h

Tustin, CA USA

Post Number: 26
Registered: Jun-04
$699 retail price in USA.
 

nout
Unregistered guest
You lucky b*st*rds! :-)
 

walt_sound
Unregistered guest
Marantz has very little to offer in the USA as far as stereo amplification. They have moved almost all their product line to the home theater world - -its a matter of survival for them I guess.
 

New member
Username: Ojoi

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-04
if one needs an answer he has born with one " one's own ears "
now to my ears...
marantz had a reputation of making powerful amps and a good one until rotel had to come in the hi-fi area. marantz has lost his ground and as far as my knowledge goes 80% of the components they put in there amp today are outsourced, it is surprising to me people talk about the award it won in europe, but the fact is it won on a price / quality ratio and that is were it stays.
i am not pro rotel or for say any company but giving my views as to what i have read on the internet and it is purely my conclusion.
rotel on the other hand is known to make almost everything that matters in an amplifier and they have the ability to put the best in it, they have quality components...period. they talk about the facts they have in there ampilfiers and i doubt any company even comes closer to that, that says how they are committed towards there customers and the product. they proudly give 5 years warranty on there product...atleast they give a warranty that long if not a gaurantee. rotel will deliver what it says, and one thing to note, you get what you pay for and if you pay less you will get monkeys out of it, so don't compare price out here if you like music, give the company some credit in there continious inovation and they are always a bit on the higher side, but to my thoughts for the good. rotel is what i will put my money on.
cambridge on the other hand again is known to give basically price advantage, not a quality product and one should known there amps are being made in china, so think twice i don't say china cannot make good quality but at the price cambridge is offering they are still making money on it, so if one has to have a qaulity components inside the price has to go up. cambridge cannot justify there components, hence the low price they sell there products at.
i am not the person who is going to rate the companies they are all good companies with there respective price bracket.
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