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Integrated amp with tone controls - recommendations?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Crazeenick, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. Crazeenick

    Crazeenick Active Member

    I want to buy a new integrated amp with tone controls - yes, I know some people frown upon these, but I require tone controls now and again to tweak poor recordings, or live music DVDs. I will probably use the "tone control defeat button" most of the time.

    I am probably looking for a good second-hand amp in the range £800 to £1500, but might go up to £2k maximum.

    I have a Naim CDX2 (with Teddy XPS) and B&W CM10 S2 speakers. (My current amp set-up is Arcam A85 integrated and an Arcam P85 power amp, used in bi-amped configuration).

    I have tried a Naim Supernait-2 and like the lively sound presentation, but it has no tone controls.

    I tried a Marantz PM14S1 SE, but found its sound a bit warm/boring.

    Thinking of trying the following amps which have tone controls:

    Yamaha A-S2100 (or A-S1100)
    Rotel RA-1572 (or RA-1592)
    Creek Evolution 100A
    NAD C375BEEE

    Anyone heard these amps that can advise me on whether they would give a sound similar to the Naim SN2?

    Any other amps with tone controls that people could recommend to me, to provide the type of sound I favour?

  2. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Either the Yamaha out of that list, or top flight vintage Sony ES model... Sony made some seriously good integrated amps through the 80s and 90s and thanks to Sony’s elegant and well thought out aesthetics, they still look very nice now! I’ve always fancied a Sony TA-F808 ES, gorgeous looks, tank like build, and they sound excellent too!
    TonyScarlett likes this.
  3. maccar

    maccar pfm Member

    Have a look on Ebay for a sh older model Accuphase, you won't regret it.
  4. Hoopsontoast

    Hoopsontoast pfm Member

    Denon PMA-2500NE or if you don't mind a bit older, the PMA-2000AE.
    Older still like the Sony TA-F770ES could be worth a look, or Accuphase as mentioned too.
    lazycat likes this.
  5. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    Having spent years with Naim amps (52/scap/250) I moved to a used NAD M3 Master series and could not be happier. It is super powerful and will drive just about anything. Great reviews too in Stereophile among others. Have a look. Only problem is they are no longer made and hard to find. If you do find one check the display works ok that is the only fault. I will only change mine if it breaks and can't be fixed.
  6. Paul Mc

    Paul Mc pfm Member

    Accuphase seconded.
  7. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    As the OP is looking for a new amp, as much as Accuphase are admired, they are not in the frame. I have one of those much talked about NOS North American JVC AX-Z1010's and they are highly recommended. They only have a bass boost so not proper tone controls but you would have to spend a great deal of money to get anything approaching the competence of the JVC, they are great amps but you will need a step down transformer (about £75) to use in the UK.

    I have not heard the Yamaha amp but have its partner the CD-S2100 and its a beautiful machine that sounds wonderful; If its matching amplifier is in that league it is a bargain. There has been some praise for the big Denon so that may well be worth checking out.
  8. marshanp

    marshanp Active Member

    I use (and enjoy) a Supernait 2, and like you feel a need for tone controls. All my sources go via my DAC, then to a DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0:


    ...which takes care of room modes up to ~300Hz and also provides sophisticated tone control. This can be simply operated via its remote, or more advanced. For example, I have a "presence lift" programmed into one of its four profiles for those recordings which need it, and this profile can be selected with a single button push.

    There is extensive parametric equalisation available, adjustable loudness compensation for low-level listening, and several other things that I have not used such as a house curve and a tilt control. All processing is done in the digital domain (40 bit, 6.144MHz). The device's ADC/DAC is transparent, to my ears anyway.

    I now regard the DSPeaker Anti-Mode as an essential part of my system, and will never part with it.
    PhilofCas likes this.
  9. Bodymusic

    Bodymusic pfm Member

    Hi. Could you connect an audio PC source directly, via a usb to spdif converter, rather than with an extra DAC in between? If so, any drawbacks?
  10. BB Wan

    BB Wan pfm Member

  11. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Fourth line down, he says he’s “probably looking for a good second-hand amp in the range £800 to £1500”, that gives an awful lot of options and a mint vintage gem a long with a service should be easily achievable. Most integrated amps with good tone controls are going to be vintage models because tone controls have been unfashionable since the mid 90s.
    maccar likes this.
  12. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    Of the amps I’ve had with tone controls like Yamaha A-S801 the only time I used them was to see if they make any difference.

    The answer was yes.

    Do I have any need for them?

  13. marshanp

    marshanp Active Member

    Yes. The Anti-Mode 2.0 has one S/PDIF, Toslink capable digital input (and output) as well as the analogue in/outs I use. Reviews suggest that it is a capable DAC when used in this way.

    It also has a USB Type B mini input. I haven't tried this using a PC as source, but it seems to be incompatible with my Auralic streamer for reasons that are not obvious to me, having tried an OTG adaptor to no effect.

    It also has analogue output level control, so could be used as a DAC/preamp direct into a power amp (but I use it as a 2.0V source into a Supernait line input). Source selection is limited, though (I do that at the DAC, a Teac UD-503).
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
    Bodymusic likes this.
  14. Fire99

    Fire99 pfm Member

    My father purchased the Nad C375bee for his second system to drive some power hungry Mission speakers and Monitor Audio at the same time using the A+B and it sounds great! It’s a great amp for the money.
    Good luck with your decision- looking forward to some photos.
    Darren likes this.
  15. Philim

    Philim pfm Member

    You could try the Vincent sv237 which has tone controls. Funnily enough I had the chance to demo a sn2 and vincent at a dealers a couple of nights ago.
    Tarzan likes this.
  16. Philim

    Philim pfm Member

    Or a second hand devialet 120 or 200
    maccar and linnfomaniac83 like this.
  17. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    I can't resist bucking the trend by saying that IIUC one of the advantages of the Creek is that you can add a tuner module. Given that I don't know how many of the people who are recommending other amps have actually tried the Creek (nor have I), it might be worth considering.

    There is IIRC also the Loki tone control unit which can potentially be added in between a pre and power amp or a 'tape loop'. The Loki unit is more flexible IIUC than standard controls and remains analogue.
  18. TLS

    TLS pfm Member

    The Yamaha A-S1100 is priced well below the A-S2100 but is the same 51lbs. integrated except for balanced inputs and discrete headphone amp.
    John_73 and linnfomaniac83 like this.
  19. early

    early pfm Member

    If the op wants a lively sound similar to a Supernait then forget about Accuphase or the Yamaha AS 2100.

    Both are fantastic amps, I use the AS 2100 myself and have owned Accuphase amps in the past but they don't sound like Naim amps.

    Might be worth checking out Onkyo's A9000r, don't know what it sounds like but it's a he'll of a lot of amp for the money.
    John_73 likes this.
  20. Pinky

    Pinky In suspense, not compressed

    Or perhaps buy the amp you like the sound of and use something like a Musical Fidelity X-tone with it?

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