Integrated Amp Question for a Newbie to the Forum


Hello Audiogon Community!


First time posting to this forum. I’m somewhat of a novice when it comes to hifi audio gear. I’m looking to replace a busted McIntosh MX110 preamp and an outgoing MC225 amp and have been looking to consolidate and upgrade to an integrated amp. My current setup is:


• Jolida JD9 II phono preamp

• Pro-ject 2Xperience Classic Turntable 

• Monitor Audio Silver RX6 Floor speakers 

• CD player to buy soon

• Streaming player to buy soon


For the integrated amplifier, I’ve heard a lot of good things about -

Luxman L-509X and L-590AXII

Hegel H390 and H590

Mark Levinson 5805

McIntosh 7200

We play everything from rock to jazz to R&B, hip hop and everything in between. I’m looking to keep the integrated amp in the sub 10k range and will eventually add the streaming player (I hear good things about the Lumin T2 and the Lynn Selekt) and the CD player. 


Do you all have any recos on what you think would sound good with the setup I have? We like a dynamic and warm sound. Appreciate any advice!


Cheers


fourminutesong
Post removed 
Not on your highly regarded list, but the Exposure gear is a good fit with your Monitor Audio. Consider the Exposure 3010S2D
Thanks! I've heard of the BAT gear but not the Exposure. Will check them both out! Keep em coming!
Welcome!  Your speakers sold for $1250/pr. and I’d match the integrated amp accordingly making sure it’s comfortable driving a 4Ohm load.  You can get a Yamaha A-S2200 on Accessories4less.com for $3200 that can drive your speakers and provide a touch of warmth.  It’ll sound great with your speakers.  

I’d also ditch buying a CD player since you’re also getting a streamer and just get something like the Innuos Zen streamer/server and a good DAC so no need to spin individual discs anymore.  Can go into more detail if you want, but hope this helps and best of luck. 
what are you doing with that mx110?

busted?

I love mine, wouldn't mind having some spare parts.

you could pm me.

thanks, Elliott
Nice system.

Am I correct that you will skip a preamp: jolida and everything else direct to new integrated?

count your needed inputs: some offer preamp direct as one of their inputs. That skips the integrated’s volume, so you may not be able to use that input without a preamp.

Or, get a CD player or Streamer with volume control, send it to the preamp pass thru input.

I don’t care about remote switching, but I want remote volume and remote balance for tracks that benefit a surprising amount from a slight balance tweak. some have it, but you have to download the manual and read until you find it. Many don’t show the remote, and many, you need to get deep into the menu, but it is there.

.........................................

Do you play Mono LP’s? Your TT has fixed arm, no way to change cartridges easily. How do you play mono lps now? You will lose the mx110’s McIntosh Mode switch. Will the Jolida convert it’s output to mono?

Your/A stereo cartridge reacts to both horizontal and vertical motion, a true mono cartridge reacts to horizontal only. I trusted the advice here and got a mono cartridge, it makes a bit of difference on some and a lot of difference on many.

I sell LP’s, including Jazz Mono. I just sold a rare one, with a 3/8" wide scuff deep enough to be audible . I played it with Stereo, then Mono. It was disturbing, scuffs same volume as music; with Mono less picked up, and what was was much lower vol than content, quite acceptable, and as I say, pretty desirable.

Point is, I advised bidder, buy ONLY if he had a mono cartridge. He said he wanted it, and would buy a mono cartridge.

yap, yap, it makes a definite difference.


I've actually sent he MX110 back to Audio Classics where I bought it from many years back. As for the Jolida, it's a nice preamp for the TT. If the integrated amp's phono preamp is superior I'll just just that directly but may wind up keeping it and using a line level input with the Jolida still in play. That may work?

I don't listen to a lot of mono recordings so if I'm understanding your note I think I'll be ok? Your knowledge runs deep! Thank you
Most integrated amps do not have phono preamps.

You are lucky, your Jolida has both low outputs, and high outputs.
The high output is internally boosted up to line level, thus you can go into any line level input of the integrated amp, aux, tape, cd, whatever the label.

you will need 3 line levels inputs on your integrated amp for your Jolida; CD; Stream.
Ah good to know. Do you think the models I've mentioned are overkill or worth pursuing given the system I have?
Hello, reading your post, I would like to mention the possibility of consolidating the CD player and the streamer, with your CD music stored on a server/streamer.  This not only allows you to concentrate your purchasing firepower on a shorter list of aquisition targets, but you can enjoy mixing music from the CDs with other sources for playlists and the like.  BlueSound provided an excellent entry point for us, and then we upgraded to Innuos.  Very glad we followed dealer advice taking this approach.
Thanks for the intel on Bluesound and Innuous! Will look into it!
BluNode IS the best starting streamer.  It plays most things, easy plug and play. You WILL move up once you're familiar enough with streaming to know what  features you value. They ALL have different hardware  AND OS's. Rip your CDs on the computer ($20 USB disc drive if you don't have one); and store them on a USB drive. That is the easiest way to play them.
Enjoy the journey.
What do you all hear on the lumin T2? A friend of mine has it and says it’s pretty outstanding as a streamer.
The luxman is a good choice as well as an accuphase but it might be hard to find a dealer near you but i would search those out they are both still made the old quality way.
There's a dealer in Los Gatos (Basil Audio) that has the Luxman. He actually says they're all spoken for but can order one to be here in a few weeks. 
The Hegels are great. Give one a listen... you’ll probably buy it.
What is your budget? Honestly all of the newer line are nice, but the H390 hits a very real sweet spot for the $$$.
Yeah, I was looking at the H390 last night as well. I like the price point and it seems like it may be a decent match for my system? The money I save I could put toward a great streamer like the Lumin T2.
I know those speakers and they are not the be-all end-all in terms of resolution. I was surprised at how forgiving they were. I did a side by side compare of those exact speakers, PSB (forget the model), Revel Performa3 F206 and Wharfeldale Jades. I LOVED the neutrality of them but was shocked at details that were missing. I remember not hearing certain moments of crowd noise on "don’t give up" off Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Live.

If it was me, I would look at an updated MA Silver speaker like the 300 and a nice integrated. The MA Silver 300s are $2200 and much more detailed than the older models. The drivers are much better and have the same, amazing neutral sound profile.

Luxman would be my favorite choice of what you have listed. I think it is the most musical and the build quality is insanely good.

Another option would be the AVM Ovation 6.2 Master Edition. This is an all SS integrated that has a MOSFET output stage that is warm and detailed. It is an amazingly good sounding amp.  It lists for $8K and the Ovation line is AVMs music without compromise line of products.  Ud is an ex Burmester guy and that should indicate the kind of sound profile you should expect.  Smooth, natural and ultra detailed.  

Given that you have the Jolida, are you open to tube options? Not pure tube but maybe hybrid tube? If you are, read on. if not, don’t bother.

Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600. Lists for $6990. This is a hybrid SS unit with a tube input stage that uses NuVistor Tubes. Plenty of reviews and this is an insanely good integrated. I had a customer just take its big brother, the 800 to drive some Triangle speakers and it is insanely good sounding. 200w into 8 ohms

For a little bit less money, the AVM Evolution A5.2 is $6499 and is a hybrid Class D that uses a Purifi module with a tube input stage that is exclusive to AVM. I have customers driving Magicos and Martin Logans with this and it can easily handle those MAs. 185w into 8 ohms. This is a German company that makes some amazing gear. Great review from Gary Beard over at Positive Feedback.

Finally, another interesting option would be the Canor A2.10 which is also a hybrid class D using a hypex module. This unit is $4000 and is made in Slovakia. Canor is just coming to the US, but has a long history selling in the EU and they are the OEM for several companies. This is 100w into 8 ohms and supports tube rolling if that were to interest you. I have this unit currently sitting with a reviewer that I expect to come out in April and his top-line feedback was "quiet and dynamic." This would be cool because you could get the amp, Lumin and speakers for just over $10K. There are currently plenty of reviews in the EU though some are in german.

Obviously I am an importer & retailer. There aren’t the biggest brands in the US so if I don’t, I am not sure anyone else will and they really do deserve consideration. It is great gear.
Look at Raven Audio for a tube integrate www.ravenaudio.com

or Pathos Acoustics at www.upscaleaudio.com for a Hybrid.

both make wonderful sounding integrated. I know I own both.
I’m sure impressed with my Anthem STR Stack and they do make an integrated amp, both having their ARC software which is fantastic!
https://www.anthemav.com/products-current/model=str-integrated-amplifier/page=overview
I am in-home demoing the Hegel Rost now and I am total impressed with the sound quality of this little integrated.
Personally I think the Hegal and Yamaha suggestions are really safe bets.
Of your list Luxman would be my choice.   You did not mention any tube amps???/  Great sound and many options.  I second the comment on Raven Audio.  Check their website.  I have owned Raven and they put out some of the best music for the price period. Call them....Dave Thomson is an expert on the tube sound.  
The thing is, you are in the price territory where most of the amps listed are excellent overall. The tough part is demo-ing, which really is required if at all possible. I realize that’s difficult. Listen Up is a Hegel dealer, not many online dealers for them. There is always the “used” round-about. If you can buy from a The Music Room type of place, they have a robust try it period. 
If you are in the 6-7k realm, don’t overlook a Pass Labs Int-25 or Int 60. I just went all in and sold my Hegel and stepped up to a Pass XA25 and XP12. Just awesome. Lost some goodies, but pure class A (pretty much). Take a look at Reno HiFi, they have all the Pass goods along with demo units and “used” as well. I think they are an exclusive, Pass only, shop. Just an idea in a sea of ideas.
Awesome advice, thanks geof3. Sorry for the newbie question, but what does the Class A amp get you vs an AB, etc? Haven't looked much into Pass but will now. What made you trade the Hegel in for the pass? 
Add Pass Labs INT250 to your list of integrated amplifiers.
It is in a league of its own.

https://www.audioholics.com/audio-amplifier/amplifier-classes

A Pass Labs setup was always a goal for me. Nelson Pass is an icon in the SS amplified circuit industry. But, I have space challenges so it took some time to figure out just what would work and gather the budget. A bit more expensive for what I have vs the Hegel but not by much. The Hegel is very hard to beat, but Pass is Pass. Some don’t like Pass, some don’t like Hegel, or put any other name in there. I’ve gone through quite a few setup changes in the last year and a half (not uncommon) getting here. Mostly just trying things out, thus the “used round-about” above. It’s fun. There may be other setups in my future, but they start to get into a whole other $$$ realm at this point, so for now, I’m good.
How would you describe the sound of the Pass vs the Hegel? I'm coming from old McIntosh gear and play guitar out of old tube amps so I "believe" I'm inclined to warmth and tight bass but I'm just learning all this nomenclature as well. 
Think some of the amps are nearly overkill in terms of quality as your speakers may be the limiting item. The luxman 550ax2 is more than ample for my tannoy arden and will be great with your speakers saving you money for future upgrades. The phono stage is ace too for MM and MC
590 and 550 are both class a so nice mids warmth but also the speed for faster music led zepp James Blake etc
Speakers just aren’t up to the level of the gear being mentioned.  If you love warm, dynamic sound, get some JBL’s from Music Direct.  They can be driven with a broad range of integrateds due to their efficiency.  Music Direct carries a great bunch of gear that you can live with for 60 days before you need to decide!  Priceless 
I was afraid of that. What kind of JBL's/
What about B&W speakers under 3k? Do those match well with the same amps? Open to upgrading the speakers and the amp at the same time. 
I owned the 4329’s and they were exactly what you desire...the L100’s are ok but not as dynamic.  The B&W budget range won’t do it IMO.  Klipsch May be a possibility as well...very lively and engaging with real presence!
Actually, the B&W 603S2’s  are out ...maybe with new midrange and tweaks they did it could work!  $2000 pair and 30 day free returns from B&W direct.
These look pretty nice. 

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/home-audio/600-series-anniversary/603

Would they pair better with the Hegel or the Luxman? Or something else?
I think coming from tubes the Pass would more to your liking. Having said that, the Hegel is on the warm side as well. If anything, the Pass setup is a bit tighter in all aspects. They are different than good v bad. Also, my setup is separates now, so not a fair comparison IMO. 
those speakers do look very nice, I imagine sound terrific

I have three reservations

1. rear port. are you able to keep the speakers far enough away from rear wall, to avoid muddy reflected bass?

2. sensitivity 88 db/1w/1m. I always prefer higher efficiency, 90 or perhaps higher, to keep power needs low, keeps cost/weight/size/heat of amp lower, now and future upgrade and much less cost/heat if/when you try tube amp.

3. 8 ohms, minimum 3 ohms, combined with 88 sensitivity, I’d keep looking for options.

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/home-audio/600-series-anniversary/603

Bowers and Wilkins makes a wonderful speaker though I have never been a fan of the 600 series.  I find the highs a little grainy.  What is certain is that speaker is MUCH more forward than what you have.  I don't know the exact model mentioned, but JBLs are horns and also tend to be more forward.  That being said, matched with Luxman will leave you in about a neutral sound profile.  

If you are going to upgrade, new silvers are a big step forward.  Monitor Audio has redone all of those drivers and the resolution has take a radical step forward.  

The MA Gold 200 is a really great speaker.  The old ribbon I found a little dark but the new AMT they are using is amazing and that is an awesome speaker and one you would probably really like.  

If you are going to move away from MA, Dynaudio Evoke 30 would be the first speaker I would look at.  Dynaudio has a reputation for producing insanely neutral speakers.  Build quality is superb and the engineering is second to none. 

You could look at the Revel Performa 3 F206 which is a lovely speaker and is maybe a hair forward of what you have but will leave you with a lovely, warm sound with the integrated amps you are looking at.  

I traditionally would have suggested PSB but last I looked, they have not been available for a few months which is quite frustrating.  


Ah great advice. I do like the MA’s. Sounds like the new Silvers or Gold would be a worthwhile upgrade. 

As far as neutral goes, do you find that’s a desirable sound profile? I’m just getting into the differences between neutral, warm and bright. Coming from MAC tube amps, I imagine I’d lean more toward a warm sound but don’t know that I’ve really ever heard neutral. How would you describe the difference? And is there a speaker that tilts more warm with these kinds of amps?

So many things to consider. :-)
So...neutral vs forward/bright vs laid back/warm is really a matter of personal preference.  If you had a McIntosh tube amp paired with the MA Silvers, yes, the current sound profile would be a touch warm.  

Warm is going to be very easy to listen too.  Tends to be a hair forgiving and you will find things like piano will lack some sparkle but horns and strings will be easy on the ears.  This could be listened too for days and you will never have a moment where you feel fatigued listening.  

A forward sound will add some sparkle to piano, strings will be bolder and more details tend to come out.  I find there is a fine line between enhanced detail and fatiguing, unpleasantness.  My personal preference is a slightly forward sound profile.  I pair a forward speaker and DAC with a warm amp & preamp for a net result that is a hair forward of neutral.  I find this offers a wonderful level of detail and musicality without being fatiguing but it is a very fine line.  

A neutral sound will be remarkable in that it won't be remarkable.  Piano will be balanced and will sound natural.  Horns will be easy to listen too and airy.  Detail will be there but might also be a hair lacking in certain places.  There may be a fatiguing moment in a song but on the whole, it will not be a fatiguing sound.  

Luxman with new Monitor Audios or Dynaudio is going to give you what you had but with more detail as they are simply better made speakers. 

If you were to select a warm speaker like Wharfedale or Vandersteen and pair it with a warmer amp, you may find that the sound would drift into a dark territory.  

If you were to pair Luxman with a brighter speaker like B&W or Paradigm, your net result will be brighter than what you had but relatively neutral.  Your sources also factor in here along with your cables though most reasonably priced cables are not going to color the sound in a significant way.  
Scanning through your sound performance preferences it would all be so easy if you could just come and hear mine. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367  Oh well.
I have heard the following that are similar to the OP's choices.

Luxman L-509X

Hegel H360 (similar to the 390)

Mark Levinson 585 and 5805

I recently bought a used CODA CSiB. This unit was from 2018 and does not have the latest CSiB amp internals from the CODA #8 nor does it have the latest preamp upgrade internals ($150 upgrade). The CODA is an amazing preamp, for the $3400 price I paid is a bargain. The ML 585 is another integrated that I thought was great. I think the CODA is quieter though and just as powerful.  The CSiB comes in 3 versions


V1 - 150 watts | 300 @  8 and 4 Ohm with first 18 in Class A

V2 - 250 watts | 500 @ 8 and 4 Ohm with first 12 in Class A

V3 - 400 watts | 800 @ 8 and 4 Ohm with first 8 in Class A 


I have Version 1 and tried it out with my 2 Ohm-ish Thiel CS3.7. It sounded great. I am currently using the CSiB as a RAAL SR1a headphone amp.


Compared to the others I have heard the CODA is like the ML 585 which I thought was the best integrated I had heard. I think the CODA is similar to the ML, maybe better for my preferences since it seems quieter.

Thanks, yyzsantabarbara. Good to know you're a fan of the 585 too. Seems like Class A amps put out a bit more power and may sound a bit warmer. Overgeneralization? 

On another note, I'm curious what you all think are the quality music streamers out there. A buddy of mine has the Lumin T2 that he swears by where I see a ton of reviews for the Naim Uniti Atom as well. Others say the Lynn Selekt is great. 

I've just started exploring the premium service with Tidal which sounds great and I"ve heard good things about Roon but haven't tried it yet myself. But having something that can also stream the 300GB of personal music I have ripped is great too.

What do you all recommend with that in mind? Appreciate any advice as always. Cheers
Go for some pre owned Monitor Audio Golds! Tmr has a pair of smaller platinums for $2200 with stands.  Not sure how big your room is...




@fourmiutesong For streaming I am upgrading this week from a Sonore microRendu for my ROON playback to the Sonore opticalRendu. I will actually be using both rendu's because I have 2 DACs. I have the opticalRendu already in the house but the Sonore Linear Power Supply and DC5 cable are being built. So likely in about 10 days before I turn on the opticalRendu.

I also bought 2 SPF fibre optical cages from Sonore and also 1 length of fibre optical cable. This is not Toslink cable I am talking about. The beauty of what I am doing is that the analog noise in the network from many sources cannot traverse the fibre optical cable. So in my opinion it does not matter what music server I use. I use a cheap DELL server that cost me about $600 to run ROON Core.

The Rendu's are ROON READY and all I need to do is hookup the fibre cable from the network switch to the opticalRendu and then from there take a USB cable to the DAC. For the microRendu I would use a RJ45 Ethernet cable from the same switch and then a USB cable to the other DAC.

The microRendu is using a switched more power supply and is supposed to be a bad way to do this. I will compare in 10 days the 2 rendu's and decide if I want to upgrade the microRendu also with a linear power supply or replace it with another opticalRendu.

I bought the following gorgeous network switch to make this possible. It has 2 fibre optical cages along with a few RJ45 slots, cost was $199.

https://www.ui.com/unifi-switching/unifi-switch-8-150w/

Send me a PM if you want to discuss this approach further. I can point you to some links.