I'm looking to upgrade my current system with a new amp and an out-board dac. I'm quite sure that the dac will end up being the Hegel HD20 (or perhaps Nad M51). The amp, however, seems to be a much harder choice. I was hoping that some of you might be able to help me by giving some insight and suggestions ;-)
I currently have B&W 705 speakers and a Nad C320bee integrated amplifier. My main sources are a mac mini and a Sonos Connect. I also have a Nad C521bee cd-player, but I rarely use it. I've been meaning to upgrade the speakers to B&W 805S, but haven't found a used pair in the right colour and price range yet.
Back to the problem. The sad truth is that my amp does not have nearly enough power to drive the 705s. This is manifested through a rather thin and loos bass and a somewhat sharp reproduction at the top frequencies. I'm aware that the 705s are rather bright as they are. Another way to put it is that they are brutally honest when it comes to defects in the top frequencies. Hence, my goal is to find a natural sounding amplifier with enough muscle to controll the bass and with enough finesse to reproduce the high frequencies with minimal distortion (not a "warm" aplifier that tones the trebble down).
Oh yes... and it should not bo too expensive either ;-)
I've been considering three alternatives:
1. Buying a new Hegel H200 integrated amplifier.
I really love the sound of this amplifier. Good detail and separation as well as low distortion. I can get a new one for around $2600 if I buy it togather with a HD20 at ful price ($1700). The total price is, however, a bit higher than my initial budget. Not sure it's worth it.
2. Buying a used Nad S300 integrated amplifier
I've not heard this one yet, but I understand that it should be rather good. I've got an offer for around $1200 (including an S500 cdp). Have any of you heard this piece? It only specified at 100 watts compared to 200 watts of the H200. Will it be able to drive the 705s with a satisfactory controll of bass and trebble? I've seen som complaints about quality issues with the S300. Lots of expensive repairs. Should I worry?
3. Buying a used Nad C372 integrated amplifier
I've got an offer for around $700 including a van-den-hull missing link cable and a matching cdp (the successor to the one I've already got). This one is specified at 150 watts which should be enough. While the price is much more "comfortable", I'm worried that this piece will leave me wanting more.
I understand that I'm comparing Skodas and Aston Martins here. I'ts clear that the H200 should be the (by far) best of the above. However, considering that its nearly double the amount I was planning to pay, it might not be the ideal solution. Is there a way to get, say, 90% of the performance/sound quality for, say, 40% of the price?
Do you have any thought or suggestions? Any other alternatives that might be more suited to my budget and my (vaugly defined) preferrences?
I'm thankfull for any input.