Best SS Amp - Pass Labs X350.8 vs. Luxman M900u vs. Ayre VX-R Twenty


I’m in the market for a used SS Stereo amplifier for about $8k-10k range, in the used market.

Source: Oppo BDP-105
Speakers: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II with 89db & 8 ohm.

The next step would be to add a Tube Preamp to connect my Nakamichi RX-505 tape deck.

Out of the following, which one do you recommend & why? I would prefer feedback from anyone who has compared any of these combination of Amps.
  • Pass Labs X350.8
  • Luxman M900u
  • Ayre VX-R Twenty
  • Jeff Rowland 625 s2
Later on the plan is to build a HT system & will add Amp for surround & center.

hitsofmisses
any of the amps will drive the speakers just fine, and sound great doing so

my personal faves would be a pass or an ayre, you may also consider a hegel amp, although most of them are integrateds which you may not prefer

you did not talk about your room and setup - unless it is a very very large room, those amps will be overkill in terms of power needed, you could scale back substantially, save $ and invest it in the rest of the system, and/or getting the room to sound good

good luck
I'd replace your Oppo first.

Try to audition a Coda Continuum No. 8 ($5k retail without meters).

I haven't heard any of the amps on your list. There are some comparisons of Coda and Pass if you search the internet.
If you find the Luxman in your price range let me know! My 509X is fantastic.
I owned a Pass x350 for fifteen years… actually amps designed by Pass for 35 years. When I needed to upgrade, extensive research and listening would always bring me back to Pass. Wonderfully neutral and powerful, excellent transients and micro dynamics. I actually got 95% the money back in trade in for my x350 after 15 years… so it’s cost to me was $30/year.

If I was in the market for a solid state amp, it would be a Pass. It will take on the character of the input signal.
The Coda #8 at $3.5- $5K used is one to consider if you are looking at those amps. A slight performance penalty compared to the Luxman m900u in terms of clarity but it is pretty minor.

However, the CODA #16 ($13K without meters) is in the same league and maybe higher than the Luxman m900u. See if you can find a used one (no chance).
No contest PASS 350.8 great sound great build and great company.
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I would hope the Coda 16 at that price could beat an 8 Year Old design Luxman 900.  Lets see how it compares to the New Luxman.  Yep you wont find the Coda 16 used because not enough people buy them. Probably due to poor re-sale value of the #8 which I got for about 40% of MSRP....the 7 Pre-amp too.   Well aware that re-sale value has little to do with performance BUT it does scare people away.
I highly recommend reading the various LSA Voyager 350 GaN amp blogs here. It’s only ~ $3-4K, but I believe you can spend the rest of the money on anything else and not look back, or forward to another amp

ALSO, I bought my 105 new and used it fro a few years before one day surfing on ebay and came across aftermarket linear power supplies, Furutech IEC with solid silver jumper to either board (old/new) and a jumper to bypass the 110/220 switch.

I did the first 2 first and was so impressed that I bought the power supply. The product page I bought from had comprehensive DIY photos. I left the top off and bought Nobsound springs (Amazon) which are under all my kit. <$40/4 and a terrific improvement


hth
@yyzsb,
@steakster
@tweak1

i think most folks responding have been trying to have some discipline and respond to the op on just his asking about the amps on his ’list’...

if we go beyond that, the floodgates can and will open with a zillion suggestions of what will work as well if not better for less $$
Post removed 
@jjss49

It is not your responsibility to make such comments

Notice he used the word PREFER "I would prefer feedback from anyone who has compared any of these combination of Amps."
I just recently cross shopped all these amps. Local hifi store had the demo Ayre for sale. I tried it out and while i didnt find much fault with it, i didnt find it engaging enough.

A different seller has both the luxman and passlabs. Of these two, the luxman I found more refined. It was so so sweet just an absolute pleasure to listen to.
my issue? the bass wasnt impactful enough. I received a good offer from the dealer for $11k new... so keep that in mind if your shopping the used market

So what did I end up going with? none of the above
A third local dealer who represents gryphon amps and vivid speakers had a used diablo 300 on trade in.
He was by far the most difficult to deal with. He doesnt like to go down on price for anything, kept insulting my speakers (kef blades) and cried about me using a credit card to pay for my purchase even though i bought high margin cables off him.

I wouldnt have dealt with him for any other purchase as i simply didnt like him, but it was worth it for the gryphon.
Yes, the integrated was better than the separates 

First 3 days i used my old copper speaker cables and found the amp to be very good. BUT, when i switched to the new silver cables it was then that I hit musical nirvana. This is the sound I've been searching for all this time. So happy with my purchase.  
questforhifi
Good to read that you found your Amp. Dealers/retailers cry over anything.
Small business receives a "kick back" for CC purchases annually.
Happy Listening!
ran a VX-R Twenty for a few years, super neutral….

have fun, enjoy the journey and the music
sorry guys...  you're right  :)

the librarian with nerdy glasses in me took over for a minute there


Post removed 
Thanks everyone for your replies. I searched for Coda, Hegel, Gryphon, etc. Most I could find was Integrated or nothing. 
The others, I never heard of them before. Which makes it more than likely that it’ll be a difficult to resell later on. 
I prefer someone to provide their comments based on sort of a/b comparison with any of the 4 Amps I listed above. 

I am doing music and home theater with Krell XD amps. I get the extreme dynamcis with movies and natural sounding highs and mids with music. I love these amps. I"ve owned most of the major brands and all amps have some sort of compromise especially if you want to use them both for music and movies. A  guy that only listens to classical music may not give you a good recommendation for a dual use amp and the converse is also true. You need to hear the XD stuff  yourself and see what you think.

You think AYRE is easy to resell?? As somebody who owned multiple Ayre amps I can tell you that you are sadly mistaken if this is your belief. Any AYRE dealer will tell you the same thing. If ease of resale is high on your priority list I would advise to stay clear of any Ayre Products. The KX-R Twenty Preamp is probably the only one that will move in an acceptable time frame...and even that wont be fast. The VX-R Twenty has been discontinued so that will be even tougher to move than the MX-R's.

You think AYRE is easy to resell?? As somebody who owned multiple Ayre amps I can tell you that you are sadly mistaken if this is your belief. Any AYRE dealer will tell you the same thing. If ease of resale is high on your priority list I would advise to stay clear of any Ayre Products.

i would never discount others’ experiences, but in my own, i would say ayre gear is no easier or harder to sell than any other reasonably expensive, well reputed, well serviced brand of electronics (audio research, cj, and so on) - always depends on condition and asking price and the quality of the ad placed so interested buyers bite

this based on my own experience selling the following ayre pieces in the past -- codex, px5se, k5 mp, ax7e, v5

granted the 20 series has gotten much more expensive than prior gear, but i think the ’difficulty’ of moving gear approaching 5 figures is more a function of the narrowed market at this price level, rather than anything about ayre

my 2 cents

 

Since Charles Died their sales numbers have dropped significantly and again...according to the numerous Dealers I have a relationship witth they are all saying the same thing. Nobody is placing orders.

I’ve owned all these amps except the Ayre, which I had the non-20 version on demo years ago. They are all quite different sonically. I like the Luxman quite a bit as its musical, transparent, with great texture- but its a top down amp so if bass is your thing, then I’d look at other options. It also is limited power wise and might require monos on inefficient speakers.

The Rowland has better bass, and very rich almost creamy midrange. If female vocals are your thing, this is the solution. It works better on speakers that are more neutral/cool. I liked it quite a bit.

The Ayre is very even sounding top to bottom, with super natural sounding treble extension. But its flatter dimensionally than the rest. Its as if 3d images are on a 2d plane. I’ve heard the 20 series is more dimensional.

Finally, the Pass is probably my least favorite. It’s warm, but not very musical in that it has way too much leading edge, thin timbre, and is flattish. I also found it not as powerful sounding as the specs claim and soundstage was more in between the speakers. The bass is a good point but its a bit round which some may not like (I do).

If you want an inexpensive set of monos that delivers, try out a used pair of Ampzillas. They are competitive with all of these. I also love the DarTZeel 108 which used is excellent value on relatively efficient speakers.

I owned for quite a while the Pass Labs X350.5 amp. I had the opportunity to upgrade to the then newer model X350.8. I thought the .8 version was less lively and duller in dynamics so I kept my X350.5.

I eventually went on to tubes amps and couldn’t be happier.

I also owned for a time a Ayre five-Twenty preamp and I thought it was a very nice sounding preamp. Very little electronices inside of it though.

ozzy

Ozzy,

        Could you tell us which tube model you choose?and what pre to match?

Keithr,

         I am a female vocal lover, and you mentioned Rowland amp.,which model you mean? Could you tell us?

How funny a combination.  3 of those amps are one's I recommend people listen to for themselves becuase they are so different to my ears.  You will come to strong opinions on your own.

I almost never get to listen to JR so I won't comment on them at all.

Pass - Not my cup of tea, at all, but they seem to be the most speaker dependent. 

Ayre - Very smooth, has a kind of darkness about them, sometimes the effect is as if they are sucking noise right out of the room.  It's ... honestly a little odd but if you like velvet black backgrounds from which your music shoudl emerge this is your choice.

Luxman - Among the very best amplifiers I've ever heard.  Best traits are awesome extension at the bottom and top octaves along with an absolutely tube-like midrange to treble presentation.  Absolutely not a hint of grain or edge anywher while at the same time providing effortless extension.  Lesser amps make the same speakers sound smaller by comparison.

I strongly believe you should listen to the Pass in contrast, because you might find that like many here, you prefer it, or you really don't like it, and either way I don't think it will be close, but who am I to tell you which you should like? :)

Please enjoy listening and let us know what you decide.

Forgot to mention, my setup will be used 70% of the time for HT & 30% for Music. I’ll be eventually adding a Tube PreAmp & another Amp for the remaining 3 channels for HT.

@jjss49 : I agree with you. The 5 figure price factor limits the marketability of an Amp. And when the brand/ model doesn’t have a solid following or recognition, it further reduces your possibility to sell.

Another factor is at what % price you got your product. Assume there are Two similarly speced products at $20k MSRP & are normally available used between $10-11k. Out of those if you end up getting one at say $7.5k, I would jump on that because that’s a good value.

@ keithr : I usually listen to Male Vocals. If m900u doesn’t have the desired bass, will using a powered sub compensate for the low frequency?
 

And the last point, it’s not possible to audition 2 Amps side-by-side when you’re shopping around in the used market. So that possibility is ruled out. Henced asking here in the forum to people who are way more experienced than me. 

After a lot of deliberation & a little hesitation, I ended up buying the Luxman m900u.

 

I'll update you after I plug it in but not sure how much that will help as I haven't listened to any of the Amps discussed here. The only comparison I can make is with my previously owned Parasound Halo A51.

Good to know it’s the Luxman M900U which got the nod.

This post may not add much value to the thread. I noticed there are few comments here on the bass of the Luxman that’s lacking in comparison to other options. Although I don’t own the M900U, I do have the L-590AXII integrated and it’s currently the best sounding amp I have experienced in my system after more than 20 years in this hobby messing around with different types of amps. The bass may not be Luxman’s strong trait in terms of visceral power and slam but it’s quality bass. It may sound slightly lean or lightweight but it’s a defined, layered and textured bass with good refinement and detail. You will hear all the detail and nuanced layering in the bass if it’s in the recording instead of a "one-note" bass. The appeal or strength of the Luxman is mainly in its detailed and neutral presentation, sounding a little light on its feet with a slight hint of sweetness and warmth in the midrange and treble.

At the end of the day, the amp needs to match the speakers. Synergy is the key to great results.

Good luck.

Thank you Ryder & everyone who shared their experiences/ insights to guide me in this process. It's the most expensive Amplifier I never dreamt I'll ever own. I stretched my budget to my wildest dream. And I still have a bunch of toys on my list to complete my HT/ Music setup. 😊

You will not regret it. Every well though out stretch purchase in high end audio has been a revelation. Give us your impressions when you get it and after several hundred hours when it is partially broken in... remember to reserve final appraisal after 500 hours or more. This stuff just gets better and better,

riaa said...”Yep you wont find the Coda16 used because not enough people buy them. Probably due to poor re-sale value”

OR.....because people like them so much they don’t want to part with them...

Nah. The 8's are being dumped every week it seems on Agon and Mart and these people aren't upgrading. Same old names/Sellers who only play in the Mid Tier category...not the 16K range. Truth hurts

Your way of thinking reminds me of Les...lol

 

 

My way of thinking got me exactly where I am today...thats why Im out on a ledge.

Once Charles Died people just shied away I imagine. Same thing would happen if Dagostino or some other well known designer of a particular brand departed us. Shindo is another brand that suffered sales/interest after Ken Shindo passed.

The pass X series amps are very neutral as others have mentioned.. For those with hard to drive speakers, electrostats, etc…. These are very good sounding amps with endless drive..  IME.