Looking for the integrated amp with headphone out under $2000

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  1. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Just note that if you get a large integrated amp that happens to have a stereo preamp output that output might not work at the same time as the speaker outputs. You can use a splitter plug there with one going into the amp stage to the speakers and then run cables to the sub, but the the problem with most if not all these amps is that they have very high output impedance and not a lot of clean power on the headphone output. My Grados sounded like tin cans out of these (due to low impedance load; they get really loud because of the high sensitivity though), and the HD600 just sounded lazy (low voltage output).

    Honestly what I'd probably do is just use powered monitors so I'd skip having an extra amp for the speakers, unless you blow money on something like that Macintosh or a DAC and the Schiit Ragnarok. Alternately, just have a DAC+HPamp and the NAD D3020 (since it has a dedicated mono subwoofer output) connected to the source at the same time using either an SPDIF switcher, or one on USB and the other on SPDIF or both on USB, then just manually select which audio output device I'd use.

    Or since the AudioGD NFB-11 has an active preamp then just use longer cables and have an Emotiva speaker power amp positioned off the desk. Alternately, maybe you can fit the AudioGD NFB-28 with Balanced preamp output and any Emotiva with a Balanced input into your budget in case wherever you can position the amp has to run a distance of over 10ft.

    One other option - try to find someone who can assemble a small Class D fullrange stereo power amp and have them make one for you that has no preamp stage. This way you can get a low noise (albeit higher THD vs Class A amps, though more power; and less switching distortion than Class A/B but with comparable power) amplifier in a very compact chassis that at worst would be slightly taller than an NFB-11.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  2. TheGru
    I don't care what anybody says, but this integrated McIntosh amp has an EPIC sound!!! The speaker section is freaking amazing! I am running 2 bookshelf Martin Logan LX16 speakers and preamp out to Martin Logan Dynamo 700 active sub via stereo interconnects and the bass sounds really tight.

    The Focal Elears sound really good with normal gain and proper impedance setting. HDX option adds depth and musicality to the sound. At least that's what I'm hearing...

    I just spent an hour or so with the amp as I just brought it home, but so far it didn't make me regret spending a fortune on it :wink:
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    The only reason anybody said anything different was because you said you wanted options for less than half of the price of the McIntosh. Lucky you got it for less than $4500 though. How much was it?

    Good to know the preamp can work with the speaker amp stage working. Adding this to my list of options in case I go with speakers again in the future.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  4. TheGru
    True, ProtegeMacian. My initial budget was $2000, but I convinced the "boss" to just get this done and buy it :D The power of persuasion. :wink:
    I would rather not discuss pricing, but I got it for less than MSRP at the end. Purchased some discounted AudioQuest interconnects and speaker cables as well. End game for me. At least that's what I promised my wife until I am 40
    Monsterzero likes this.
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