Originally Posted by islewind
That Pioneer has gotten a lot of mention as a great budget choice, but I've never been able to find distortion specs for it, even on Pioneer's website.
From ebay, a used Rotel, NAD, or Cambrigde integrated would work well for you.
It's almost impossible to find proper distortion measurements for most amplifiers. THD+N is a meaningless figure because it doesn't weight the harmonics for audibility (see the work of Geddes, among many others) and doesn't reflect low power performance. Stereophile does publish a proper set of measurements but they rarely review budget gear.
I can say that I owned the A-35R and the NAD C320BEE at the same time and the A-35R had superior sound. You can find full measurements for the NAD's bigger brother, the C370, online and the higher-order distortion performance is poor by my criteria, as are the measurements at low output levels. I have no doubt the C320BEE had similar issues, contributing to its audible inferiority.
The A-35R incidentally uses the same circuit board layout as a lot of amps from the late-90s, suggesting that a lot of manufacturers got their class AB amps from the same OEM. These days I actually use a Yamaha RX-770 as my main speaker amp, and though it is a higher power design, you can tell the OEM/designer was the same one who did the A-35R just by comparing the boards. This is not a bad technical design. The output transistors are even mounted on separate heatsinks, preventing thermal crosstalk, unlike most NAD integrateds.
Just because an amp is from an "audiophile" manufacturer (NAD, Rotel, Creek, Bryston, Cambridge, etc.) or has lower THD+N specs doesn't tell the whole story about sound quality. I still wouldn't hesitate to pick up a C370 off eBay for the right price, but buying new, especially on a budget, I would choose the Pioneer over whatever NAD and some others are selling on their low end. It's a nice, solid, good-sounding amp, provided you don't need gobs of power.