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!