Upgrading Integrated Amp

jonoshal

New Member
Jul 19, 2020
3
0
1
53
Hi - looking to upgrade very old integrated amp - Arcam Alpha A7. Currently paired with B+W 685 S2 speakers.
Want something that gives me as many options as possible.
1. Still can't totally disconnect from vinyl collection - have an ancient Rega Planar 2 (c-1984) that works perfectly well. So would like a phono stage but will spend the extra for an external phono stage if necessary
2. Most of music nowadays played through the phone - I currently connect to a bluetooth unit and I appreciate this isn't ideal but I love the convenience. But I guess it would be even better to use a DAC? So bluetooth as minimum and built-in DAC device even better (excuse me if I'm misusing terminology - I'm a music lover but not a hi-fi expert).
3. Want something that will go well with the B+W 685 S2.

Been looking at two options (3rd option Audiolab 6000A - doesn't sell locally and although found someone that can import, no local service / support which puts me off).
- NAD 368 including the BluOS upgrade. This would seem to give me everything including some future proofing
- Cambridge Audio CXA-61 (plus a separate phono stage) - this gives me bluetooth at least and I guess at some stage I can add a separate box for streaming services?

The reviews I've read seem to favour the Cambridge Audio but I'm always a bit wary of expert opinions as they tend to get so detailed and to my ear I'm not sure I'd always hear the difference. The NAD just seems to tick every box above, but I'm worried that I might be underwhelmed compared to the CA?

Any input would be appreciated - including reference to the speaker pairing

Thanks!
 

Hear Here

Well-Known Member
Feb 14, 2020
252
102
45
76
Portsmouth, UK
Jonoshal - We have little idea of your budget but you obviously prefer a simple system rather than lots of boxes connected by lots of over-priced cables. You still use vinyl but mainly "stream from your phone". How frightful especially when you say "I'm a music lover but not a hi-fi expert"

If you're love music you deserve better than your phone to supply it!

You mention a NAD product amongst others. Could I suggest a probably more costly NAD product that should offer much better sound and allow you to upgrade your speakers in the future without having to retrace your amplifier decision?

The new (and not quite yet available) NAD M33 is an integrated amp with DAC built in, a phono stage for your vinyl, lots of digital and analogue inputs, a headphone output (and subwoofer if you ever go that route), a built-in streamer (ditch the phone), the excellent and intuitive BluOS app control (use your phone, tablet or PC) and even room correction. All in one box for a reasonable price - about $5000, £4000 or €4000. Oh yes, another cheeky feature is you can shout at it if connected to an Alexa or similar - if you have such an annoying device in your home! It has a great colour LED display to show what you're listening to and a lovely old-fashioned big volume control where it should be - on the front of the unit - and an equally old-fashioned but so useful IR remote control.

If you can't wait or stretch to that cost, look at the recently discontinued NAD M32. All the features of the M33 apart from room correction and Alexa control, although you'll have to add the BluOS module for music streaming. They will become available for sensible prices used as the M33 will tempt owners such as myself to upgrade. Look for a used one with the BluOS module fitted.


Peter
 
Last edited:

CSG

Well-Known Member
Oct 30, 2012
12
2
233
You haven't mentioned what phone you have or budget but those speakers need a minimum of 25 watts which isn't much. I would suggest something like the Marantz PM6006 or PM8006 which both have great phono stages for most MM carts and are superb middling cost integrated amps.

FWIW, in my living room, I run a PM8004 (earlier model) and, while I have a Technics turntable hooked up to the phono input of the amp, most of my listening is streaming through an iPad Mini II which I used to run from the headphone out to the RCA ins on the amp. Then I learned I could go from the lightning port to the USB in on my Marantz CD6004 CD player. This does two things, 1) it runs the signal through the CD's DAC and, 2) charges the iPad when the CD is on. I never noticed a aural difference between the two set-ups but the latter is certainly more convenient. My speakers in this system are the NHT SuperOne 2.1's, an acoustic suspension speaker with incredible performance, especially if you're bass adverse like me. If you need the full spectrum, a sub is always an option.

More info will probably help others give you their opinions but based on the two amps you list, a Marantz PM8006 which is made in Japan is worth a very serious look IMO. It has plenty of power and is an absolutely wonderful piece of gear.
 

jonoshal

New Member
Jul 19, 2020
3
0
1
53
Jonoshal - We have little idea of your budget but you obviously prefer a simple system rather than lots of boxes connected by lots of over-priced cables. You still use vinyl but mainly "stream from your phone". How frightful especially when you say "I'm a music lover but not a hi-fi expert"

If you're love music you deserve better than your phone to supply it!

You mention a NAD product amongst others. Could I suggest a probably more costly NAD product that should offer much better sound and allow you to upgrade your speakers in the future without having to retrace your amplifier decision?

The new (and not quite yet available) NAD M33 is an integrated amp with DAC built in, a phono stage for your vinyl, lots of digital and analogue inputs, a headphone output (and subwoofer if you ever go that route), a built-in streamer (ditch the phone), the excellent and intuitive BluOS app control (use your phone, tablet or PC) and even room correction. All in one box for a reasonable price - about $5000, £4000 or €4000. Oh yes, another cheeky feature is you can shout at it if connected to an Alexa or similar - if you have such an annoying device in your home! It has a great colour LED display to show what you're listening to and a lovely old-fashioned big volume control where it should be - on the front of the unit - and an equally old-fashioned but so useful IR remote control.

If you can't wait or stretch to that cost, look at the recently discontinued NAD M32. All the features of the M33 apart from room correction and Alexa control, although you'll have to add the BluOS module for music streaming. They will become available for sensible prices used as the M33 will tempt owners such as myself to upgrade. Look for a used one with the BluOS module fitted.


Peter
Thanks - a little out of my budget I think - looking to keep under the £1000 mark.
 

jonoshal

New Member
Jul 19, 2020
3
0
1
53
You haven't mentioned what phone you have or budget but those speakers need a minimum of 25 watts which isn't much. I would suggest something like the Marantz PM6006 or PM8006 which both have great phono stages for most MM carts and are superb middling cost integrated amps.

FWIW, in my living room, I run a PM8004 (earlier model) and, while I have a Technics turntable hooked up to the phono input of the amp, most of my listening is streaming through an iPad Mini II which I used to run from the headphone out to the RCA ins on the amp. Then I learned I could go from the lightning port to the USB in on my Marantz CD6004 CD player. This does two things, 1) it runs the signal through the CD's DAC and, 2) charges the iPad when the CD is on. I never noticed a aural difference between the two set-ups but the latter is certainly more convenient. My speakers in this system are the NHT SuperOne 2.1's, an acoustic suspension speaker with incredible performance, especially if you're bass adverse like me. If you need the full spectrum, a sub is always an option.

More info will probably help others give you their opinions but based on the two amps you list, a Marantz PM8006 which is made in Japan is worth a very serious look IMO. It has plenty of power and is an absolutely wonderful piece of gear.
Thanks I'll take a look
 

musicfirst1

VIP/Donor
Mar 8, 2015
324
159
345
59
Canada
If you can listen to one, I highly recommend the Crayon line of amplifiers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jonoshal

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing