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macgroover
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Joined: May 24 2013 - 2:59pm
Advice on Integrated Amp, please (Rega Brio-R vs. Marantz PM6004 vs. Arcam FMJ A19h

Hey All,

I am trying to slowly build a system (upgrading the amp first, the speakers second -- I have some old Klipsch KG 1.5's and a Pro-ject Debut Carbon Turntable. Currently have an old Yamaha amp, but I'm in the process of replacing that now. I recently listened to 3 integrated amps, all in different stores and different speakers (and note that all have a phono stage) and I'd like some advice:

Marantz PM6400. I listened to this first, in a different store. Sounded great, nice and warm, but did not listen with a turntable. I am worried about the phono stage since the price on this amp is the lowest of the three. The cost is nice, though, and will help me to afford even nicer speakers in a few weeks.

Rega Brio-R: I really liked the sound of this amp as well. Filled the room, and sounded very engaging. Since it was a different day and different store and different speakers, it's tough to judge, though it did seem more detailed than the Marantz, yet not so detailed to be clinical. Love the simplicity of the design, too. 

Arcam A19: I can get this for the same price as the Brio. Again, different store, different speakers, so it is really tough to judge, but I really loved the midrange coming from this amp, more than the other two, and I definitely love a warm midrange. I don;t listem much with cans right now, but I do see it would be nice to have that ability in the future (Arcam has headphone jack & preamp, as does the Marantz; Rega does not.)

I know listening side-by-side with the same speaker (and a turntable) would be key, but I'd still like to solicit advice if anyone has any experience with these, and particularly how the phono stage quality is. Again, the idea of saving money with the Marantz is attractive, but not if the phono stage or long-term quality is subpar compared to the other two. I'm probably leaning toward the Arcam right now, but I'm second guessing that because: 1. it seems from reviews the Rega phono stage is the strongest of the three amps, and 2. the cost savings of the Marantz is attractive, and again, will mean a few hundred more I can spend on speakers when I am ready.

Thanks for any advice!

commsysman
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Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Amplifier

My experience is that the Arcam would definitely be the best-sounding amplifier for use with most speakers. Its amplifiers and power supply are well-designed and can handle the difficult loads that many speakers present to an amplifier.

With the Marantz you will find that it will not sound that good with the majority of speakers, because it is not really designed to drive low impedances, and most good speakers drop to 5 ohms or less at many frequencies and also present a reactive load at many frequencies.

I also suggest that you get a Musical Fidelity V-LPS phono preamp; it is only $200, and IMO is the best you can get for under $500. It is well worth its price.

It will really make a big difference to your sound quality, compared to the ones that are included in most integrated amplifiers.

If you have not selected some speakers yet, i suggest that you check out the PSB Image T6 speakers. They are marvelous speakers for only $1300 per pair. Both The Absolute Sound and Stereophile selected them as best in class and included them in Recommended Systems articles.

 

P.S.-due to selling one of my homes, I have a like-new Musical Fidelity M3i amplifier that I will sell for $950. IMO it is considerably better than any of the above.

jgossman
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ARCAM

Period.  It's the only one that will do space and ambiance nearly the way a single ended triode or pentode will, and it will drive almost anything well and the phono stage is comparable to most under 1000.00 standalone units.

And it's a better amp than comm's MF. 

Sorry man, it just is! :)

commsysman
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Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Amplifier

It would be interesting to try them head-to-head.

I think they are both very good amplifiers, in any case.

The MF M3i does work great with all of the speakers I have used it with, and it does put out close to 100 watts per channel according to the tests done by an independent lab.

I very much doubt that the phono stage of the Arcam amp is anywhere near as good as the V-LPS, which is outstanding.

macgroover
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Joined: May 24 2013 - 2:59pm
Thanks

Thanks for all the fast advice - very helpful. And I appreciate commsysman's offer for the M3i -- I'd go for it in a heartbeat, but I really am on a budget, and with phono stage that puts me above my $1k limit for this purchase. I'm going to sleep another night on it, but I think I will be pulling the trigger on the Arcam this weekend. I will upgrade the phono stage at some point, but from jgossman's comment, I am guessing I can live with the Arcam phono stage for awhile

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