Need help buying an integrated amp.
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Ymer

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Yeah, after days, months, YEARS asking... over and over... I still haven't figured out what to buy!

I'm trying to build a bedroom system. My bedroom is about 9.5m² (10'10" x 10'10" I think) and I'm on a budget. It's hard to find something that fits the bill!

Thus far, I have narrowed down my choices to:

* NAD C320BEE
* Rotel RA-01
* AKAI AA-1040

* Marantz PM-44SEF


Some pointers:
* I listen to classical (especially symphonies and vocal works) and metal mostly.
* I'm very concerned with voice reproduction, bass (I like precise, controled, soft ... not thunderous and overblown bass from silly bookshelf speakers) ... and I am awfully frightened of bright and congestioned sound.
* I have no idea as to what is the sonic characteristic of any of these models, nor can I go and test them before buying.

As for the speakers, I'm currently between the Athena Audition (AS-B1 or AS-B2), KEF Coda 70, B&W (Either 601 S3 or DM303) and Axiom MTi3.

Suggestions, please?

I'm especially concerned with what matches what.

I've also posted this message in audiokarma, is there any other forum that especializes in this stuff in which I can post?

Thanks in advace.
 
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w00glin

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Looking over some of your speaker options, I'd probably stay away from the NAD. It's a bit bright on its own.

I have a C730 and with a set of Audioquest Granite cables (I'd call them lively), it balances well with the set of Tannoy bookshelfs.
 
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Ymer

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Thanks for your reply! (the sole reply ;_
 
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dd3mon

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I have a NAD 320BEE. Bass is precise and controlled as you seek, however I could see someone describing this amp as somewhat bright and congested to a small degree with some recordings (read: revealing). With a bright source it may not be an ideal choice, but with a warm source I'd recommend it. Good amount of very clean power in a neat and cost-effective package.

-dd3mon
 
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Asmo

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I also own the NAD c320BEE, I am very happy with it, when I auditioned it, I compared it to a rotel and a yamaha model at the store, on paradigm and b&w bookshelves -- I ended up choosing the nad + the paradigm monitor 5s, price range was perfect and I really like the sound the paradigm + nad gave, I also liked the b&ws a lot, I didn't find the B&Ws to be too 'bright' at all with the nad amp, but then again, I think I enjoy a brighter sound, I'm also a senn HD590 fan
I got a good deal at the time on the paradigms because they were clearing out v2 models.

The only speakers you listed that I've heard were the B&W ones, they sounded good with the NAD amp, the yamaha one I tried I believe was a lower end HT one, so probably not a good comparission to a stereo int amp.

Not sure if this post helps you any


Its almost impossible to choose good matching speaks/amps w/out hearing it yourself.
 
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Wodgy

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I really disliked the C320BEE when I owned it. Unlike most of the better NAD amps, it has very lean bass. If you're not going to get a separate subwoofer, I couldn't recommend the C320BEE at all. The highs are also somewhat gritty and irritating. It would have been a good value at $100, but at the current price it's mostly hype and marketing.
 
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BlindTiger

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How much power does the NAD C320BEE has?
Like they say, with solid state amps, Bass is their bread and butter.
I would look into this inexpensive separate system. an audiosource amp 3 (150wpc, bridgeable to 400w) for $169 refurb and a new amc 1100 pre amp for $119 at sound city. Or you can get the amc amp with it.
I found the audiosource refurb at ubid, I'm sure other places has them refurbs.
Audiosource has good customer service, I blew one of my refurbs, told them the amp powers up but no sound, got an rma, shipped it out and got another one. sold it on ebay at a profit.
Don't buy their pre amps from all the bad reviews written on audioreview.
 
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Wodgy

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Quote:

Originally posted by BlindTiger
How much power does the NAD C320BEE has?


I think the problem is in the preamp section, not in the amp section. When I used the C320BEE with a separate preamp it was fairly decent and the bass was there. I doubt the amp section itself is underpowered. It just has a poor preamp section.
 
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dd3mon

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Quote:

Originally posted by Wodgy
I think the problem is in the preamp section, not in the amp section. When I used the C320BEE with a separate preamp it was fairly decent and the bass was there. I doubt the amp section itself is underpowered. It just has a poor preamp section.


Holy crap wodgy. You are so right. I just did a little experiment with my C320BEE:

I have two major sources for music, my M-Audio revo & my sweet modded sony sacd player. Through my headamp, the modded sony outperforms the M-Audio in every way.

I usually have them both connected to the NAD inputs, and I can switch between them. The Sony outperforms the M-Audio hands down here too. I decided to bypass the C320BEE's preamp section, and plug-in my M-Audio directly into the amps inputs. I would have done this with my cd player, but it has a fixed output, and I can change the Revo's volume via computer.

Wow! Bass fullness & impact is tremndously increased. Treble is far smoother now as well. As far as enjoyability this beats the pants of the cd player->nad preamp->nad amp. I can only imagine how the amp would sound with my modded sony! The preamp section of the C320BEE officially sucks, and I am now officially in the market for a new one.

Another thing: the tone conrols aren't quite as "uninvasive" as they seem (and NAD advertises). They do a good job at just increasing (or decreasing) the frequency extremes, while leaving the midrange balance even. What they don't tell you is that the tone conrols "veil" the whole sound, slightly muffling the sound resulting in loss of detail and attack. It's super easy to compare with them on or off, just set the tone controls to neutral and toggle the "tone defeat" button - definite difference to me.

Thanks again Wodgy, I was wondering what area of my speaker system to upgrade next, you have shown me my path


-dd3mon
 
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Ymer

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Has anyone ever heard/seen/heard OF the Marantz PM-44SEF? It's supposedly a japanese model.

I found it for a specially attractive price, and it's also a very good looking unit.

I am very curious about it and how does it stack against the current mainstream models such as the NAD and Rotel.

If the Marantz isn't good enough.... it seems that my only option is to shell out the money for a Rega BRIO.

I have heard things about the Rotel and about the NAD that make me not want them.


Thanks
 
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Asmo

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Wow, you are 100% right about the tone defeat switch, I always used the NAD to adjust the bass, being a lil bass light I used it to compensate, so I did your test, and tested several songs and noticed the same 'veil' you mentioned. I always used tone defeat when listening with my headphones, yes I do use the nad headphone jack, I was also thinking of where to go next, I think a headphone amp or a new int. amp all together could be my next move.

I still think this nad amp is very good at its price point, at least for powering speakers imho
 
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dd3mon

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Quote:

Originally posted by Asmo
Wow, you are 100% right about the tone defeat switch, I always used the NAD to adjust the bass, being a lil bass light I used it to compensate, so I did your test, and tested several songs and noticed the same 'veil' you mentioned. I always used tone defeat when listening with my headphones, yes I do use the nad headphone jack, I was also thinking of where to go next, I think a headphone amp or a new int. amp all together could be my next move.

I still think this nad amp is very good at its price point, at least for powering speakers imho


Dude, you gotta try plugging your source right into the amp input (taking off the jumpers) - only if you have a source with a volume control of course. Huge difference! I'm either gonna buy a pre-amp (I do like the amp section of the bee) or another integrated. I'll probably just get a new pre-amp so I can further upgrade my amp in the future. Maybe since I like the sound of the source directly into the amp, I'll look for a passive-pre.. True to the source sounds so good.

-dd3mon
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Tarso,

Quote:

Originally posted by Ymer
If the Marantz isn't good enough.... it seems that my only option is to shell out the money for a Rega BRIO.


I remember when I was totally unhappy with the sound of the Sony CDP-CE375 redbook cd player and wanted to shoot myself for contemplating the purchase of a much more expensive Rega Planet 2000. I took the plunge and I will never regret it one bit. I just love that Rega sound! I did audition the Planet prior to purchase as you should audition the Brio as well. Good luck on your search. The Marantz looks cool too, so I wonder how good it sounds. I'd stay away from the old Akai, unless my budget forced me to get it.

Um abra?o,
Alex
 
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Asmo

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Quote:

Originally posted by dd3mon
Dude, you gotta try plugging your source right into the amp input (taking off the jumpers) - only if you have a source with a volume control of course. Huge difference! I'm either gonna buy a pre-amp (I do like the amp section of the bee) or another integrated. I'll probably just get a new pre-amp so I can further upgrade my amp in the future. Maybe since I like the sound of the source directly into the amp, I'll look for a passive-pre.. True to the source sounds so good.

-dd3mon


Ok, been playing around with this a bit tonight, running from my PC with m-audio revo just like you, my IC is a zu pivot.

I am still trying to decide if the 'bass impact' is just because it is at first, much louder than at what i had it set too, I find the tone controls in the revo better also, still playing and comparing, a pain that I can't a/b because have to put the jumpers back in to get it to play from the other inputs.

I also got a lot of noise, maybe because zu pivot it unshielded? When I turned on the amp and turned off, with my headphones plugged in, got long extended hissing/noise, went away though, and wasn't present during music.

I will keep playing with this, interesting find, I never bothered to even try this before.
 
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Textual Intercou

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you might try used, as there're a lot of good used amps out there, especially on audiogon, or even here

like I have a nad 3220 that I'd sell for a bit over $100, ooheadsoo has a 3300 for 190, and if you go to forums that are more speaker oriented you'll find even more

for a cheap bedroom system you'll get more for your money, and you have less of a risk for if the system goes wrong (not that buying used presents that much of a risk, anyway)

of course, for the $400 of the NAD BEE320 you can certainly get something pretty decent new as well
 
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