PS Audio Sprout or NAIM Nait 5i

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My present system comprises a Sugden Masterclass CD player and a pair of Ruark Solstice floor standing speakers. The amp is excellent but, for reasons which need not weary us here, has to be replaced with a solid state version. I would rather not spend more than around £1k on the replacement and have considered models from Leema, Naim and Sugden models.

At present I am using a Musical Fidelity X-A1 as the amp, as I have always liked its sweet, open sound although it is lacking somewhat in the lower registers and I would like to address that. It does, however, have a pre-amp output so I could always simply add a decent power amp to it (along the lines of a Quad 909, maybe) and to some extent this is my preferred direction.

I listen almost exclusively to jazz from the forties to mid-sixties (with all their attendant recording idiosyncrasies). Obviously the sound must be acoustically faithful to the recordings, have a good tonal balance and resonance and, above all, swing musically. So what think you think?

My feeling here is to keep it simple and get either a PS Audio Sprout or a Naim Nait 5i. The former has a lot onboard, including a phono stage. But these amplifiers are very different in nature and you really do need to find a dealer who can allow an audition, in a shop or at home. The Sprout is clear and bouncy, with quite obvious but nice treble, and plenty of bass. The Naim is a bit more considered, with a darker sound and again plenty of low end push.

A preowned LFD Audio LE Zero Mk3 if you can find one at a reasonable price due to escalating prices for nice examples with onboard mm/mc phono stage) might be all you need. Try HERE

I like the Sugden Mystro . I've always had a soft spot for Sugden designs. A Class AB Sugden has plenty of poke and a presentation that's brimming with life and bounce; a pre-owned version if you can find one might be a serious contender. The Leema is a little warmer, perhaps, with a touch more power, but isn't quite as riveting to listen to. As usual, it’s a question of taste.

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