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  1. #1

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    Question Small Form-Factor integrated amp for desktop

    I need to find a small form-factor integrated amp for my desktop. I'm currently using a spare Cambridge Audio 550A, and it just takes up too much space. I've kept my eye out for one of the Teac Reference 500 integrateds, however ones in good shape seem to be pretty rare and the price has really went up on them. I also don't want tubes, as this amp will get turned on/off and be run for short duration cycles. I use a NuForce uDacII and Polk Blackstone TL-3 speakers. A sub-woofer output would be a bonus, however not required.

    Any suggestions for a small form-factor integrated amp for the desk top? Power output doesn't have to be all that high, however SQ does have to be at an acceptable level. I keep looking at the NuForce amps, however I see mixed reviews on sound quality.
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  2. #2

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    Audioengine N22? I don't have experience with the amp, but have Audioengine amplified speakers and to my ears the sound quality is very good. I think some other members have the amp, and can comment on it.

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    i was also going to say Audioengine and nuforce.. I don't have any experience with either but they do seem to get decent reviews.
    my first thought was the TEAC you stated as well, b/c i was looking at them when I was looking for a head amp.., but they are about $500 and it looks like you're trying to stay at around $200

    also saw this on Amazon tiny form factor, usually well built and cheap.
    http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-A1-Class-...ated+amplifier

    Fiio is quality manufacturer though they mostly do Head-fi type stuff.
    Last edited by coolsax; 10-30-2012 at 01:13 PM. Reason: updated
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    Not sure what those Polks need power wise without looking, and you're probably looking for something "higher" end, but what about a small T-amp of 10-15 watts x 2. Partsexpress sells those for almost nothing and rumor has it that the SQ is OK!

    http://www.parts-express.com/cat/amp...kg=25619|25619

    Just a low cost thought?

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

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    FWIW....I have a ming da MC84 and have had it awhile....yes I know cheap chinese junk...I purchased this to play around with and to use as a headphone amp. It is now in our work out room driving a pair of KLH model 6s. I have really abused this amp and it still sounds more musical than my yamaha amp. I don't give it more than 10 sec to warm up. It is small and portable. At some point I will bias the tubes...just not sure how on this amp yet. I have used it on my LSi15s just to see and i was stunned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    Not sure what those Polks need power wise without looking, and you're probably looking for something "higher" end, but what about a small T-amp of 10-15 watts x 2. Partsexpress sells those for almost nothing and rumor has it that the SQ is OK!

    http://www.parts-express.com/cat/amp...kg=25619|25619

    Just a low cost thought?

    cnh
    I had also thought of this one as well, but didn't know how low budget he wanted to go.

    though I've also heard some good things about those Topping amps that are on that page as well.

  7. #7

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    I've heard the T-Amps and the Topping amps from Parts Express, OK but not overly impressed. I would like something with better SQ and not opposed to it having a higher price tag.
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

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    It's a shame that the Parasound "Z" series doesn't have an integrated in it. They do have an amp and matching pre, though.
    Wris****ch--->Crisco

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    A Parasound Z series integrated would of been just the thing. Amazon had the Fiio integrated referenced above for $59.99 with free shipping/no tax so my curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it.
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

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    Ok, here goes my suggestion, like it or not......wouldn't it be cheaper to just get a bigger desk ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Ok, here goes my suggestion, like it or not......wouldn't it be cheaper to just get a bigger desk ?
    Unfortunately space for the desk is at a premium in the home office! I'm currently using a big old oak drafting table desk and need as much work surface as possible.
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkg999 View Post
    Unfortunately space for the desk is at a premium in the home office! I'm currently using a big old oak drafting table desk and need as much work surface as possible.
    Then how about a shelf .

    But in all seriousness do you have a location you could put a decent AVR/stereo reciever and just run longer speaker wire to whatever speakers your using?
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkg999 View Post
    A Parasound Z series integrated would of been just the thing. Amazon had the Fiio integrated referenced above for $59.99 with free shipping/no tax so my curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it.
    let us know your thoughts on it.. I used the E9 head amp for my "cans" for awhile.. I thought it was a great product for the price.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Then how about a shelf .

    But in all seriousness do you have a location you could put a decent AVR/stereo reciever and just run longer speaker wire to whatever speakers your using?
    Across the office is a full system including Rogue 66 Magnum pre, Marsh A200S amp, Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, Music Hall DAC 25.3, SqueezeBox Touch, Music Hall 5.1SE TT, and Moon LPS 3.5 phono pre. My desktop computer system is for listening to news, conference calls, etc. while I am working and don't want to fire up the office system. If I have a morning or afternoon without conference calls (somewhat rare event!) I fire up the office rig and enjoy.
    Last edited by dkg999; 10-30-2012 at 05:59 PM.
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkg999 View Post
    Across the office is a full system including Rogue 66 Magnum pre, Marsh A200S amp, Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, Music Hall DAC 25.3, SqueezeBox Touch, Music Hall 5.1SE TT, and Moon LPS 3.5 phono pre. My desktop computer system is for listening to news, conference calls, etc. while I am working and don't want to fire up the office system. If I have a morning or afternoon without conference calls (somewhat rare event!) I fire up the office rig and enjoy.
    Why not USB DAC and headphones?
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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  16. #16

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    definitely look into NuForce's new home line. They have the DDA-100 powered dac which i've been toying with for the last couple of months and its been fantastic! really can't believe the performance for the price.

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    OK, I've had the FiiO A1 breaking in for most of the afternoon. It's rapidly smoothing out, the highs were a little harsh at first. First impression ............. this is a hell of a little digital amp for $59.99! Even if I would of paid the regular price of $99 I would of been happy. It seems to have enough power to drive the Polk Blackstone TL-3's in a nearfield desktop configuration. I do notice that it has less bass than the CA 550A integrated, however the mid-range is pretty nice. I'm going to guess after about 48 hrs of break-in I'll be able to give it a fair evaluation.

    So, to show my ignorance with digital amps .......... can they clip?
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  18. #18

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    If you buy the FiiO A1 integrated do not, repeat do not, even judge it until it has had at least 8 to 10 hours of burn-in time! I'm not sure why, but this piece of gear had the most drastic change in sound quality in the first 10 hours or so of any piece of gear I've ever had. Fortunately it's all good. My only direct comparison is to the Cambridge Audio 550 integrated amp it replaced. Is the FiiO as good .......... no. The main areas of difference are in the less solid bass presentation, and the highs are still a little more harsh with the FiiO. The FiiO also has a more direct and less open/airy/side sound stage. Is the FiiO a keeper ........ absolutely! It gets you about 80% of what the CA integrated provides in SQ, and in a nearfield desktop set-up where you don't need high volume, it's just about perfect.

    Thanks to everyone for the recommendations! The FiiO slides right under my monitor and takes up no extra desktop real estate. I suppose I should experiment with a couple hundred $'s of PSU to see if it makes a difference in my $59.99 integrated amp, but that's another day
    DKG999
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    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  19. #19

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    That's an interesting little D-amp there. Wouldn't mind having a set of the Blackstones, too!

    I use an old set of Minimus 7s with a Realistic STA 700 (total cost, almost nothing). The little Realistic receiver has EQ for Minimus speakers that does a nice job making them sound "fuller" and deeper than a normal receiver. No problem with the bass even. Only 10 watts x 2 but it draws 130 watts from the wall?

    I would, never, though compare a set of TL-3s with these.

    I have the same deal going on in my room. The LSi-7 system is on the other side of the office. And I use the small system for the same info you're using it for. You don't want to fire up an amp, pre-amp, Tuner, etc. every time you want to hear the news or a youtube track?

    Hope to hear more about the setup as it breaks in.

    Have fun!

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    The LSi-7 system is on the other side of the office. And I use the small system for the same info you're using it for. You don't want to fire up an amp, pre-amp, Tuner, etc. every time you want to hear the news or a youtube track?
    cnh
    Agreed.....but then again for youtube tracks and news, isn't lsi7's a waste ? Or integrateds for that matter ? Why not just toss some cheap computer speakers up there and be done ? Spend that coin on the main rig.

  21. #21

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    cnh - I have a set of Realistic Minimus 7's that I recently found in a box of stuff, and had forgotten I even had them. I think they were mounted in my old pickup camper at one time? You may be surprised at how good they are. I was A/B'ing them with the Blackstone TL-3's one night, using my Cambridge 550A integrated, and they have their good reputation for a reason. I was just amazed how good they sounded with a decent amp/source. The Blackstone TL-3's are definetely better, IMHO, however the Minimus 7's are also pretty amazing considering mine are about almost 30 years old.

    Tonyb - audio isn't supposed to make sense!
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

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