To Garrett Hongo,
I just read your review of the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 preamp. I love your hi-fi reviews. Have you ever considered collecting them, or writing a love story about the art of listening, and music? It could be fabulous. I don't know of anyone who listens as broadly and deeply as you seem to.
Do you have any experience with McIntosh integrated amps? I am dreaming a bit about a serious upgrade but can only stretch so far, and beyond a certain point an upgrade might be wasted on speakers, etc., that aren't at the same level; you must know what I mean. At any rate, many of the higher-end retail shops around here and in Boston push these McIntosh components; and sitting in the rooms, they sound pretty good, at least compared to my NAD/B&W system here on my desk. My speakers are simple: just B&W 600-series bookshelf speakers, set up along with my components right in front of me on my desk. I have an NAD C 515BEE CD player and an old JVC JL-A20 turntable with a signet AM10S cartridge with Audio-Technica stylus. Current integrated is an NAD 314.
Thanks. Actually, I've a contract with Pantheon Books to do something like that, a kind of "audiobiography." Glad for your encouragement!
McIntosh is good but there are numerous others with more bang-for-the-buck in my opinion. Still, Mac has high resale and that can be a consideration.
As for integrateds, as your NAD 314 is 30Wpc, I suggest the Electrcompaniet ECI-3 I think, as at 70Wpc it's double the output of your NAD. The EC-5 is 120Wpc and more current for orchestral and opera. I had the ECI-3 and it sounded very good, though there wasn't quite enough juice for my speakers at the time, which were 89dB/4-ohm models. The B&W 600-series speakers are nominally 8-ohm speakers, if I'm not mistaken, and 70Wpc should be plenty.
Unison Unico or Secondo are also excellent. Made in Italy. Highly recommended. See http://www.soundstagehifi.com/traveler/traveler200804.htm.
If you want tubes, I suggest you look at PrimaLuna -- either the One or the Two.But you must match the amp to your speakers. That is the main thing. For headroom and a possible upgrade in speakers, I'd go with amps of higher wattage -- at least 70Wpc. . . . Garrett Hongo