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Best IA (under $600) to pair with Totem, Mite Speakers??

 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-04
Can anyone recommend the best integrated amp (under $600) to pair with Totem, Mite bookshelf speakers?
I will be listening to Music exclusively.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 632
Registered: Dec-03
Yes, Anthony, I can.

Your Totems are an excellent speaker, with a lot of richness and detail, but have a bit of brightness, too. Now, most people do not understand brightness, which is not an emphasis in the treble, but of the upper midrange, in the 2-4Khz section of the audio range. This is not a bad thing, but will become a bad thing with the wrong amplifier. What is needed is something smooth and very even, that will not emphasize the upper midrange and still produce the detail your Totem Mites are capable of producing.

I would suggest three very fine integrated amps, which will match well with your Mites. The first (in no particular order)is a Cambridge Audio Azur 640A. This is a 60 wpc integrated amp with some serious style. Also has an amp section that helps define the "British sound"--very smooth and relaxed. Readily available for $499. See the link here:

http://audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=CAMB640A&product_name=Azur%2 0640A%20Integrated%20Amplifier

The second is the good match is the Rotel RA-02, a 40 wpc amp that sounds much more powerful than its rated power. Retail priced at $499. The Rotel is a little leaner sounding than the Cambridge, but every bit as detailed and clean. As Rotel prohibits internet sales of its products, I can only point you to the Rotel web page for more info. Here is that page:

http://www.rotel.com/products/specs/ra02.htm

Third, one of the most admired products that would be a very good match would be the NAD C320bee, a 50 wpc integrated amp capable of 110 wpc on transients, and this has helped to make it one of the most sought after integrated amps out there. MSRP is only $399, but can be had for about $325. This amp has a more full bodied, richer sound than either the Cambridge or the Rotel, which may or may not be what you want. Here is a description:

http://www.nadelectronics.com/hifi_amplifiers/C320BEE_framset.htm

Finally, I would have to mention the Arcam Diva A65, which is retail priced at $599. I really like Arcam products, but the Diva 65 does not have the same richness of sound of their higher products--I think the sound is a little steely, with a bit of an edge to the sound which I think would be a bad match for your speakers. Otherwise, I would recommend it as a good match for another type of speaker (such as Paradigms, etc.).

So there you have three very good choices for your speakers. I would suggest you locate the Cambridge, Rotel and NAD dealers in your area and go for a listen to see what you like the best.

Good luck!
 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 2
Registered: Oct-04
Thanks so much for your help Hawk. I really appreciate your thorough, well supported answer.

I've been leaning toward the C320Bee as I am looking to replace/upgrade my NAD 7240PE. That combo amp, tuner has started to falter after over 10 years of solid performance.

Can I expect the C320Bee to sound pretty much the same as my old 7240PE or even better?

Also, this is a bit off topic (sorry all) but I'm also in the market for new CD player. Any recommendations you have for what might work well with the rest of this system would also be greatly appreciated.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 644
Registered: Dec-03
Anthony:

I would suggest that the C320bee will sound much better than your current NAD receiver. NAD was purchased by Lennar Industries of Canada from a Danish conglomerate about 3 1/2 years ago and they seem to have really injected new life in the brand, making a point of getting back to their roots as a "more bang for the buck" product line. The "bee" are the initials of the original designer of the legendary NAD 3020, brought out 25 years ago. Apparently, he was brought back to design this unit and it is a real killer at its price point. The quality of sound is just superb (Stereophile raves about it).

As for a CD player, my first choice would be the NAD C542. Again, a real solid player, with an excellent design and great value. It will match with your 320bee and can be controlled through the same remote. It has completely separate analog and digital sections to minimize any distortion and has very high quality op-amps. It is typical NAD--high value for the money. You should be able to get it around $400.

Other very fine CD players around the $500 price point that I recommend include the Cambridge Audio Azur 640C, the Rotel RCD-02, and the Music Hall MMF-CD25, which goes for $540. All are very good products, and like the NAD, are far superior sounding when compared to the mass market $300 changers (which sound pretty horrible to my ears) that most chain stores sell. I think you would be very happy with any of these players.

Enjoy!
 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 3
Registered: Oct-04
Hawk:
Is there a real compelling reason to choose the more expensive NAD C542 over the C521BEE?
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 111
Registered: Sep-04
Anthony

Yep! It's a whole heap better at playing tunes. The 521 is priced according to its performance. The 542 is capable of taking on and beating more expensive equipment. It's a very good player.

Incidentally, if you do have a problem with the brightness of the Mites that Hawk mentions, Totem make some very bizarre looking things called Beaks that you put on diagonally opposite corners of each speaker. The Beaks attenuate the output in the upper-midrange/low treble, reducing the brightness but also improving overall air and space. So if you do have this problem you can improve the sityuation quite a bit if necessary, and still choose the best amp to drive the speakers, which are mighty fine incidentally.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 4
Registered: Oct-04
Thanks Hawk and Frank, I'm sold on the 521!

I'd like to run another idea by you guys before I decide whether or not to purchase the C320BEE...

What I am really trying to do with my system is upgrade/replace my old 7240PE receiver. And, I definitely want to go with separates. I was thinking IA because of the lower cost, and maybe add a receiver later.

But, is there another way that I can upgrade my system using/keeping my 7240PE? Obviously it's a receiver, so at the very least I assume I could continue to use it as such -- But it also has a U-shaped connecter on the back, bridging the amp and pre-amp. Can I use the 7240PE as pre-amp (and receiver) and put my money into a good power amp?? Will it work? What amp (under $600)?

I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys think.

-Anthony
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 646
Registered: Dec-03
Anthony:

Absolutely it will work. NADs have always had the ability to add a bigger amp to both their receivers and their integrateds. Now, I assume your receiver is a very good shape so that they pre-amp section is not providing you with any trouble, and thus you can simply get a power amp and a good pair of interconnects (check out partsexpress.com for their Dayton Audio house brand--top quality and reasonable prices, too). However, I would suggest a couple fo things to think about. First, one of the reasons the C320bee is so prized today is that the entire amplifier is very well designed and built--the preamp section is superb (should be a major step up from your receiver) and the switches are very high quality (has remote control, as well). Secondly, I can appreciate wanting to go the power amp route when I have larger or more inefficient speakers as most power amps of any quality are very powerful (true 100 wpc, not Japanese receiver 100 wpc). I am not sure your Totem Mites are appropriate for that kind of power. However, if you are looking forward to upgrading your entire system, then your plan would make a lot of sense.

As for a good power amp, the best choice, since you like the NAD sound, would be an NAD power amp. Saturday Audio Exchange is offering the C270 for a mere $379. It is a fine amp and it would be easy to connect to your 7240PE. Other good choices are the B & K 55.2, a 60 wpc stereo amp that has a very rich sound, and the Rotel RB-1050, which is a 70 wpc stereo amp for about $399. The Rotel has a slightly leaner sound than either the NAD or the B & K. All are first rate, quality-wise.

BTW, another option is to get the 320 and use your receiver as the tuner--easy to do.
 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 5
Registered: Oct-04
THAT'S IT. Just ordered the 320BEE/C542 and I'll use my 7240PE as the tuner.

Thanks much guys!

-Anthony
 

Mirabel
Unregistered guest
I have a pair of Totem Mites and want to upgrade my amplifier. Would you recommend Denon UD-M31? Thanks, MB.
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
Hmmm. I'm doing exactly the same thing, buying the 320BEE and 542 and using my L40 as a tuner, with an existing pair of Mites. Then, if I get the urge to move to the STTAFs I'll just replace the L40 with the 422 tuner to complete the system. The L40 and mites would be a stand-alone second system for use elsewhere.
 

New member
Username: Akatch

New York, NY

Post Number: 6
Registered: Oct-04
StuartNADfan,

I've had my system set up for about six months now and couldn't be happier. Upgrading to the 320BEE has made a world of difference in the sound quality off my Mites. They finally sound like they did in the store when I bought them!

I'm also really happy with the 542, another huge point of improvement over the crap Sony carousel that I was using.

I'm jealous that you will be getting the STTAFs. My wife would never let them in our tiny NYC apartment :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 419
Registered: Sep-04
Mirabel

No, the UDM31 is a basic system with basic ability. I suggest you aim for somethign a bit better than that if possible. The Mites are in a nother performance bracket altogether.

Regards,
Frank.
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
Done. NAD 320BEE, 542, 422 and a pair of STTAFs. Add in my existing PSB sub, some Cardas interconnects and some Kimber Kable and it should provide enjoyable listening after a few weeks of break in. Haven't turned it on yet. Still stripping speaker wires :-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Unbridled_id

ChicagoUsa

Post Number: 65
Registered: Mar-04
hey stu tell me how you feel about the c422? i own it as well, also the the c272 and c541i....
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
It was backordered. Picked it up today. Seems nice. A bit of a pain to set up presets, but you only have to do it once. Only thing left to do is mass load the STTAFs. Not sure about that but I was told to add 6 cups of sand to each one for better bass extension. Audio is a wierd esoteric domain for sure.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 462
Registered: Sep-04
Stu

Did you mass load the sttafs? I've never tried doing that. I'd be interested in what your observations were.

Regards,
Frank.
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
I was going to mass load the Sttafs but haven't done it yet. I've just decided that I will, as soon as I find some suitable material.
 

New member
Username: Derfel

Post Number: 1
Registered: May-05
Hi Hawk,

I just bought a NAD C320 BEE like you recommanded to replace my old Technics SA-222 (bought in 1982) and I found the sound good but not as good as my old Technics (less richer and full bodied like you said).

Do you have another model to recommand maybe more expensive that will match old ampli?

Thanks
 

StuartNADfan
Unregistered guest
I mass loaded the STTAFs with 6 cups each of sand. I can't say that I expected to hear a big difference. Unless my brain is playing tricks on me, I find the sound is more integrated, less bright. I can't speak for the bass extension since I am using a sub, albeit at a very low setting. Does the sand help? I'd have to say yes. Could it be that the speakers are just breaking in and sounding better? Maybe. They've probably got 200-300 hours or so on them.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 527
Registered: Sep-04
Interesting, thanks StuartNADfan.
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