Amp recommendation -- McIntosh, Luxman, Yamaha


My system now is a Benchmark DAC3L and AHB2 with standalone phono stage for Technics SL-1200GR.

I want to simplify my system and I think a solid integrated will do that (reduce to almost one box)
Interested to possibly use 2 pairs of speakers and A/B them.
Interested to drive a separate power amp (probably tubes) with the same unit.

I'm looking at the Yamaha AS-2200 and Luxman L-507uXII which pretty much fit all the requirements:
Both allow 2 pairs of speakers. MM and MC carts. Preamp out with ability to toggle speakers off. Nice meters.
The McIntosh MA-5300 is another option, it throws in a DAC but lacks MC capability and dual speakers.
Has anyone heard these and compared?

I've got a range of speakers, some vintage JBL L36, JBL 4412 and Klipsch Quartets.
I'm in the process of building Troels Graveson Faital 3WC and Ekta MK2 which will likely be my long term speakers. None are too difficult to drive.

Only interested in additional recommendations if they have similar set of capabilites as above and are in similar range (~$6K and under).
itsikhefez
Pre-owned REGA OSIRIS integrated amp fits into your price strata 
Out of that group I would definitely say Luxman.
Either the Luxman 505UXii or 507UXii. I own the 505UXii and highly recommend it---it has everything you want. Great remote as well with loudness button. Good luck!!
Apart from sound quality where the Yamaha is generally considered to be inferior to the Luxman, all Yamaha gear which include the AS-2200 are made in Malaysia. The Luxman is made in Japan and has higher build quality and fit and finish. Mcintosh usually does not have the same level of refinement and detail as the Luxman,  sounding fuller in the midrange and bass with reduced nuance and fine detail. 
Thanks for the comments. The frontrunner for me was indeed the Luxman L-507uxII, I just needed the final push and some validation.

I'm a huge fan of vintage Japanese electronics, I've got a Yamaha CA-1000, Sansui AU-717 and AU-999 (and had some others along the way), and built some tube amps with Tango transformers.

In the future I'll connect a lower powered tube power amp and drive it from the pre-outs.
Luxman by far. But the best Luxman integrated is 590, pure class A, look into that, its slightly more money though. 
luxman and mcintosh are at one tier, one can quibble about the nature of differences of how they present the music (the unaware should also note that luxman and mac both make tube and solid state units... they sound very different within each of the brand lineups due to the different topologies... )

yamaha is a lower tier of sound quality
Am i out of line, hegel 390 ??
Well, the 390 lacks phono inputs and dual speakers so it doesnt quite meet those requirements.
That aside, the internal layout and wiring is such a mess, I don't know why they would put that on the product page.
My DIY projects are cleaner and nicer looking.
I have only comments, not specific recommendations:

I had and sold McIntosh SS Amp: MC2250 and SS Preamp C28. Frankly, except bulletproof, nothing special, just ’do no harm’. I (and everyone else) preferred my tube equipment.

I have my first and only Luxman, a tube integrated 10 wpc in my office. I love it, would definitely choose it over McIntosh, but it’s not indicative of the SS unit you are choosing.

Optional Speakers:

I ran 3 amps to 1 pair of speakers, each had WBT Locking Banana Plugs; 3 sets of speakers is simply the reverse. That lets you buy any amp without dual speaker capacity, much wider choices, perhaps larger transformers, ... I put a hook on the wall I could easily reach to hang the banana joints

Idle Speakers: Woofer and Mid Cones of Idle Speakers in the same room can make unwanted vibrations, thus you will need to think that thru, mobility, covers, ...?

Phono:

MM and/or MC: It’s hard to find one you truly like. For MC, these only have single loads, no optional X Factors or Optional Loads, i.e. Luxman is fairly common .3mv/100 ohms. You can select a cartridge to fit that, but I highly recommend just an MM Phono Input, and see if you like it first. Then for MC, a SUT with optional loading will let you use that desirable MM Phono EQ for various MC Cartridges. IF you don’t like the Phono, then you have the option of a separate MM/MC Phono Stage in all cases, IOW, don’t let the lack of MC capability be a concern (I know you want compact, but ...)

I did NOT like my McIntosh SS C28 Preamp’s MM Phono sound, just to reinforce that you may not like the built in MM of any chosen integrated, I would research that thoroughly. Of course you can always use a spare line-in later. Options widen again if Phono is separate.

Remotes/Menu Access/Remote Balance:

McIntosh doesn’t show the remote, I have found in the past I needed to download and read the full manual to ascertain facts. It may have access to it’s menu, perhaps allowing remote balance which, if/when you have a system with excellent imaging, will let you get large improvements with small balance adjustments for individual tracks. Once you have remote balance, you will never live without it.

Luxman and Yamaha remotes do not have a menu button, or remote balance.

Meter Options: the Yamaha has optional settings for the meters, just mentioning it.

best of luck with your decisions,

Elliott




I'm not in a position to comment on SQ, but the Rotel RA1592MKII might be of interest.  It lacks MC the gain stage but hits all your other desiderata.  The MKII has audio tweaks by Ken Ishiwata, a respected Japanese audio guru, so it may not be misplaced in the company of the other amps.  
crustycoot, thanks for the tip.

Elliott, thanks for the thoughtful response, those are great points. I'll comment to them in case someone goes through a similar decision in the future....

The A/B capability for me is currently more for short term swapping and evaluation, so it is convenient when its in the same unit. That said, I've got that in my older Sansuis in case the feature is missing.

Good point about idle speakers. The system is in a dedicated listening room which is fairly treated with Gik Acoustics panels. Not sure if that helps with idle speakers or not.

Phono: 
I currently have AT VM540ML, Nagaoka MP-200 MM carts and AT OC9-XEN MC cart. The default MM/MC loading of the Luxman match these fairly well.
As opposed to the past, I'm not looking to squeeze every last bit of performance but to simplify, so it helps that a single unit can accommodate all of them.
Otherwise, I really like DIY for phono stages and have built a few, the Pass Labs Pearl 2 being my favorite. I've also got Cinemag transformers for building a SUT, which I could always incorporate in the future.

If there is unit out there that is a much better engineered and built product than the Luxman and lacks one of the other features mentioned above, I would consider it, but otherwise it sounds like the Luxman is a solid stereo unit that also happens to have the additional features that are nice to have.
you won't go wrong buying a modern luxman... you will certainly pay up for it, but most feel it is money well spent
In the future I'll connect a lower powered tube power amp and driveit from the pre-outs.

It seems a bit of a waste to me to get this nice an integrated and then just use it as a preamp. Is the plan to flip the integrated for a good preamp at this stage?
Good point, I should clarify ...

The integrated will be used as-is most of the time. The system is in a dedicated "media" room for stereo listening and occasional movie watching. I don’t care too much for HT so movies will go through this same 2ch setup.

I enjoy DIY audio and have built a few tube amps, some 300B SET, EL84 push-pull, an EL34 push-pull is in progress.
I’d like to be able to easily integrate one of these power amps into the system for casual listening.

The nice thing about using the pre-outs of the integrated for this is that all of the sources (DAC, tuner, turntable) will already be connected and the remote control and various preamp functionalities (volume control, source switiching, balance) can be used.

Given that the integrated has a speaker off switch, I could easily go between solid state (Speaker switch on A, tube amp off), and Tube amp (Speaker switch to off, tube amp on)

Luxman is higher build quality and almost as good resale value as Mac. 
The sound signature is quite different. You won't go wrong with either brand.  Rotel and aforementioned electronics are not on the same level. I have Mac and plan on getting a Luxman 590
Placed an order for the L-507uX II at my local dealer ... should have it in a week or two. 
Great news. I hope the L-507UXII will live up to your expectation if not exceed it. I currently own the L-590AXII and have to say it’s the best integrated amp I have experienced in my system after 30 years in this hobby. The Luxman is truly quality. Some of the costly separates I have owned which include the current Naim NAC 282 and NAP 250DR which I still own do not quite match up to the finesse and refinement of the Luxman. The Luxman is that good.

You will know it’s quality once you receive the amp. It’s not only with the sound but build quality as well. The meters on the front, the knobs and switches, sorry I got carried away.

Enjoy~

Luxman is the best sounding and best built.
Thanks ryder and ebm.

Need some advice on a potential next step -- 

The move to Luxman practically only saves me one box, the phono preamp, since I still use the DAC3L as a standalone DAC (previously it was also the preamp for the AHB2).
Connected to the DAC3L are a streamer via USB and TV via SPDIF. 
I don't currently own a CD transport but was thinking of getting one because I have a fair amount of CDs boxed up.

The 3 reasonable options I can think of are:
1) Buy a CD transport and keep the DAC3L.
This adds CD support but then I hadn't really downsized/simplified as I was hoping. More money spend to buy CD transport.

2) Forget about CD's and only stream digital. Sell the DAC3L and use analog output of streamer (which I can probably live with just fine). Will need to find a simple solution to connect the TV directly to the Luxman. (maybe a basic DAC with optical input).

3) Buy a Luxman D-03X and sell DAC3L.
The TV and streamer can connect to the D-03X and this adds CD support. The D-03X is not cheap though, and the published spec is not exciting although maybe it is just conservative.
Even fairly cheap DAC's these days have much better measurements, so sound-wise this may be a downgrade from my current DAC3L.


You already have a superb analog source with Technics, I say dump the CDs and just do streaming. I have an Aurender A100 as a streamer and it has a very good DAC. It's a beautiful piece and will go nicely aesthetically with Luxman. Sell everything else, you'll never look back. I think you should be able to connect your TV via bluetooth to Aurender. 

Alternatively, you can get NAD M10 for around the same price as aurender, it has much better connectivity, a good DAC, and additional class D power amp that can drive any speaker. I use my M10 more than any other gear.