Question New integrated amplifier for PMC GB1

vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
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I'm switching to streaming music and I need to update my hifi system.
From the previous system I want to keep only the excellent PMC GB1 that I bought many years ago.
I am looking for an integrated amp with dac and usb port to connect to a miniPC on which I have mounted Daphile. The amplifier must also be addressable through the Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect apps.
I think one of the possible choices is the Cambridge Audio CXA81 but I don't know if sonically it fits the GB1 well.
I mainly listen to jazz, symphonic and chamber music. To be honest my current amplification (Rotel RB 870BX with RC870BX) was not satisfactory for symphonic music: confusion in the full orchestral and unsatisfactory stage reconstruction.
Thank you for your opinions and for any alternative suggestions in a price range around that of the CXA81.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Welcome....

This is easy. Arcam work a treat with PMC range - it really did sound impressive with my little A65+.

So I would look at one of the new SA range, which has a built-in Dac - they should tick most of your boxes.

Also, as you can see from my signature below, Leema work beautifully with older PMC ranges.

Back in 2011 Andrew Eveard, former WHFI journalist of this parish, tested a Marantz M-CR603 with his GB1is and thought it punched way above its price bracket. Worth looking at the newer version CR612.

I think they will be a better match for the PMCs than the Cambridge.
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
391
278
11,270
Welcome....

This is easy. Arcam work a treat with PMC range - it really did sound impressive with my little A65+.

So I would look at one of the new SA range, which has a built-in Dac - they should tick most of your boxes.

Also, as you can see from my signature below, Leema work beautifully with older PMC ranges.

Back in 2011 Andrew Eveard, former WHFI journalist of this parish, tested a Marantz M-CR603 with his GB1is and thought it punched way above its price bracket. Worth looking at the newer version CR612.

I think they will be a better match for the PMCs than the Cambridge.
This...

Arcam + PMC = result.
 
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Clarkey_71

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2007
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A lot of love for Arcam (and rightly so).
Not sure of your budget, but a friend uses Bel Canto with his PMC 20/22s and they sound great together. He uses pre/power now, but still has his old integrated. The C5i might be worth a look.
 
A lot of love for Arcam (and rightly so).
Not sure of your budget, but a friend uses Bel Canto with his PMC 20/22s and they sound great together. He uses pre/power now, but still has his old integrated. The C5i might be worth a look.
If you read into his post the budget is around £1000, the Bel Canto is a good suggestion but may be out side budget unless he can find a second hand one which might be well worth doing.
 
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rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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For that type of music, I'll defo +1 Arcam. Musical Fidelity might also be well worth looking into.

As for Tidal and Spotify connectivity, only a few amps do that, and CA are not it (their streamer does, however). But you're running things off of a computer, so shouldn't be that where you use the Spotify and Tidal?
 
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RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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I am biased having used two of their amplifiers but Hegel make superb amplifiers. I can't imagine they would not match well with most speakers.

Your budget should stretch to a mint s/h H90. It has no problems with difficult loads and due to a high damping factor will control speakers very well. - Hegel did, in their sales blurb, state that these 'are the most powerful 60 (or so) watts you'll hear'. - I can't confirm this but it really sounds High End and powerful for the rating. - Ultimate loudness is limited by its wattage but since most of us use around 5 Watts maximum for fairly high levels I can't see this being a problem in normal domestic situations ... .

For a little less, Audiolabs 6000a could be a good bet for your genres. It has good bass, a ton of facilities and is superbly built, better than CA's 61/81. I really had to look twice at the price tag.

It also has better Soundstage/imaging than the CX61 which I compared it to (and which I preferred to the 81) but sounded a little less 'dense' and direct.

It (and the CA's) are not as good as the Hegel in most regards, not surprisingly, though the Audiolab may just have a slightly airier/wider sound stage.

I can't think of better value at the price though some prefer the Brio/Rega in direct comparison as a more 'fun' amplifier and also highly recommended elsewhere. I have never heard it but there are probably a few owners here.

Lastly, Yamaha's RN-803D Network Receiver is also highly commended by owners, some of which previously have owned insanely expensive systems but had to compromise because of box count. Again, I have not heard it but there are forum discussions about it around.

I hope this doesn't confuse things.

Preferences.
 
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I am biased having used two of their amplifiers but Hegel make superb amplifiers. I can't imagine they would not match well with most speakers.

Your budget should stretch to a mint s/h H90. It has no problems with difficult loads and due to a high damping factor will control speakers very well.

For a little less, Audiolabs 6000a could be a good bet for your genres. It has good bass, a ton of facilities and is superbly built, better than CA's 61/81. I really had to look twice at the price tag.

It also has better Soundstage/imaging than the CX61 which I compared it to (and which I preferred to the 81) but sounded a little less 'dense' and direct.

It (and the CA's) are not as good as the Hegel in most regards, not surprisingly, though the Audiolab may just have a slightly airier/wider sound stage.

I can't think of better value at the price though some prefer the Brio/Rega in direct comparison as a more 'fun' amplifier.

I hope this doesn't confuse things.

Preferences.
Certainly the 6000a Play would also cater for the Tidal and Spotify connect requirements
 
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vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
1
25
Welcome....

This is easy. Arcam work a treat with PMC range - it really did sound impressive with my little A65+.

So I would look at one of the new SA range, which has a built-in Dac - they should tick most of your boxes.

Also, as you can see from my signature below, Leema work beautifully with older PMC ranges.

Back in 2011 Andrew Eveard, former WHFI journalist of this parish, tested a Marantz M-CR603 with his GB1is and thought it punched way above its price bracket. Worth looking at the newer version CR612.

I think they will be a better match for the PMCs than the Cambridge.
Thanks for the reply. I saw that in the catalog Arcam has SA 20 (90W) and SA 30 (120 W) but both have a USB type A input which I believe is not suitable for connection to a PC for a "bit perfect" data transfer.
I visited the Leema site and there would be more models to suit me but the price is out of my budget.
In your opinion it would be better to change strategy and buy a USB DAC (I see good comments on products around € 300, e.g. Topping D30Pro) with volume control and a power amplifier or integrated amp with high current without DAC section around € 1000 ?
 

vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
1
25
I am biased having used two of their amplifiers but Hegel make superb amplifiers. I can't imagine they would not match well with most speakers.

Your budget should stretch to a mint s/h H90. It has no problems with difficult loads and due to a high damping factor will control speakers very well. - Hegel did, in their sales blurb, state that these 'are the most powerful 60 (or so) watts you'll hear'. - I can't confirm this but it really sounds High End and powerful for the rating. - Ultimate loudness is limited by its wattage but since most of us use around 5 Watts maximum for fairly high levels I can't see this being a problem in normal domestic situations ... .

For a little less, Audiolabs 6000a could be a good bet for your genres. It has good bass, a ton of facilities and is superbly built, better than CA's 61/81. I really had to look twice at the price tag.

It also has better Soundstage/imaging than the CX61 which I compared it to (and which I preferred to the 81) but sounded a little less 'dense' and direct.

It (and the CA's) are not as good as the Hegel in most regards, not surprisingly, though the Audiolab may just have a slightly airier/wider sound stage.

I can't think of better value at the price though some prefer the Brio/Rega in direct comparison as a more 'fun' amplifier and also highly recommended elsewhere. I have never heard it but there are probably a few owners here.

Lastly, Yamaha's RN-803D Network Receiver is also highly commended by owners, some of which previously have owned insanely expensive systems but had to compromise because of box count. Again, I have not heard it but there are forum discussions about it around.

I hope this doesn't confuse things.

Preferences.
Thanks for the detailed reply.
A used (now discontinued) H90 at a price close to my budget is a good idea, I will keep this in mind if I find it in the second hand market.
As for the Audiolab 6000A I am a bit puzzled as my speakers have a sensitivity of 87 dB / W / m. Today I drive them with a Rotel power amplifier of 100W at 8 ohms (200W at 4 ohms) and 50A of peak current according to the factory data. I would only replace the Rotel if I am sure of improving the sound performance especially for symphonic music.
I'll be looking for more information on Yamaha and REGA. I am very interested to know how Rega Brio-R or Elex R works with PMC speakers, particularly with GB1 or PMC 23.
 

vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
1
25
For that type of music, I'll defo +1 Arcam. Musical Fidelity might also be well worth looking into.

As for Tidal and Spotify connectivity, only a few amps do that, and CA are not it (their streamer does, however). But you're running things off of a computer, so shouldn't be that where you use the Spotify and Tidal?
Thanks for the reply.
You're right, but I also wanted to cut the boxes and allow my wife simplified access to music.
Two questions if you can answer me.
First question: Speaking of Musical Fidelity, which series do you recommend for my budget (1200-1300€)?
Second question: is it worth changing my strategy and buy a USB DAC (e.g. Topping D30Pro at around € 300) with volume control and a power amplifier or integrated amp with high current without DAC section around € 1000?
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
453
259
1,270
Thanks for the detailed reply.
A used (now discontinued) H90 at a price close to my budget is a good idea, I will keep this in mind if I find it in the second hand market.
As for the Audiolab 6000A I am a bit puzzled as my speakers have a sensitivity of 87 dB / W / m. Today I drive them with a Rotel power amplifier of 100W at 8 ohms (200W at 4 ohms) and 50A of peak current according to the factory data. I would only replace the Rotel if I am sure of improving the sound performance especially for symphonic music.
I'll be looking for more information on Yamaha and REGA. I am very interested to know how Rega Brio-R or Elex R works with PMC speakers, particularly with GB1 or PMC 23.
Factory specs.

Your amplifier neither doubles its output into a half load nor does it deliver 50A current.

Quality over numbers, within reason.
 
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vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
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Quality over numbers, within reason.
I agree.
However, Hegel 90 convinces me more for the technical specifications and because you heard them.
My difficulty is that I will almost certainly have to make a purchase without listening first. That's why I'm looking for who has possibly heard the PMC GB1 coupled to a certain amplifier.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Thanks for the reply. I saw that in the catalog Arcam has SA 20 (90W) and SA 30 (120 W) but both have a USB type A input which I believe is not suitable for connection to a PC for a "bit perfect" data transfer.
I visited the Leema site and there would be more models to suit me but the price is out of my budget.
In your opinion it would be better to change strategy and buy a USB DAC (I see good comments on products around € 300, e.g. Topping D30Pro) with volume control and a power amplifier or integrated amp with high current without DAC section around € 1000 ?
Exactly. Having read good things about Hegel and couldn't say whether they would be a good match with PMC - I can only comment on the combos I've heard and Arcam with PMC have fabulous synergy.... all hi-fi, regardless of whether they get good reviews or not, depends on how each component works with each other.

Personally I would look at a Arcam DIVA A85 with a good Dac (Arcams own rDac, Peachtree iDac, Rega....)

But if I didn't have a turntable and wanted to save space the all-in-one Marantz I mentioned is a must hear IMHO.
 
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I would only replace the Rotel if I am sure of improving the sound performance especially for symphonic music.
I've got a lot of experience with Rotel amplification and their watts are not their for a marketing show. They have current rich power rather than current starved wattage. In the RB-870BX you've got a rock solid engine. So my advise will be to hold on to the RB-870BX and look at adding a streaming pre amplifier such as Auralic's Altair. The Altair should offer an uplift in performance throughout the fq. range and regardless of the genre of music you listen to. You should be able to find a demo or a used Altair at or within your budget.
 
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I've got a lot of experience with Rotel amplification and their watts are not their for a marketing show. They have current rich power rather than current starved wattage. In the RB-870BX you've got a rock solid engine. So my advise will be to hold on to the RB-870BX and look at adding a streaming pre amplifier such as Auralic's Altair. The Altair should offer an uplift in performance throughout the fq. range and regardless of the genre of music you listen to. You should be able to find a demo or a used Altair at or within your budget.
I’d follow this advice they don’t make amps like that rotel any more at the budget you’re looking at.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Thanks for the reply.
You're right, but I also wanted to cut the boxes and allow my wife simplified access to music.
Two questions if you can answer me.
First question: Speaking of Musical Fidelity, which series do you recommend for my budget (1200-1300€)?
Second question: is it worth changing my strategy and buy a USB DAC (e.g. Topping D30Pro at around € 300) with volume control and a power amplifier or integrated amp with high current without DAC section around € 1000?
Don't know their prices from the top of my head, but either can work fine. Some reviewer said the M5si is the sweet spot, but it's probably over budget.

Using a preamp with your existing power amp is also a valid idea, and so is getting an external DAC, but the Topping, good as it is, is still budget component and would not use it for preamp duties (DAC, maybe, but not preamp), because the preamp is more responsible for shaping the sound than you might think. If you don't need any analogue inputs, a Cambridge Audio 851N might be very good candidate for audition list.
 

vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
1
25
I've got a lot of experience with Rotel amplification and their watts are not their for a marketing show. They have current rich power rather than current starved wattage. In the RB-870BX you've got a rock solid engine. So my advise will be to hold on to the RB-870BX and look at adding a streaming pre amplifier such as Auralic's Altair. The Altair should offer an uplift in performance throughout the fq. range and regardless of the genre of music you listen to. You should be able to find a demo or a used Altair at or within your budget.
Hi.
In fact, talking about power without saying distortion makes no sense. In any case, the Rotel RB 870BX delivers 100W per channel into 8 ohms with a total distortion rate of less than 0.03% from 20 to 20k Hz.
At 4 ohms it delivers 200W per channel with THD below 1% at 1kHz.
The peak current (1 pulse, 10 micros, 0.1 ohm) is 50 A.
The damping factor from 20 to 20k Hz is 180 on 8 ohms.
For an old low-end amp that's not bad.
These days I am inquiring about how the current amplifiers behave in the various classes (A, AB, D). I have not followed the market since the purchase of the Rotel which took place in the early 90s of the last century. I am struck by the performance of the most recent class D amplifiers.
In fact, your suggestion of adding a good streaming pre amplifier probably makes a lot of sense.
 

vin

Active member
Mar 19, 2021
7
1
25
Don't know their prices from the top of my head, but either can work fine. Some reviewer said the M5si is the sweet spot, but it's probably over budget.

Using a preamp with your existing power amp is also a valid idea, and so is getting an external DAC, but the Topping, good as it is, is still budget component and would not use it for preamp duties (DAC, maybe, but not preamp), because the preamp is more responsible for shaping the sound than you might think. If you don't need any analogue inputs, a Cambridge Audio 851N might be very good candidate for audition list.
Thanks for your answer.
It's probably worth the extra money on a preamp / dac. Others are recommending it to me too. I'll check Cambridge even if it's a little higher than my budget.
 
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