Why have I received only private responses to this thread? Curious.
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I would consider a seperate phono section with this budget.I personally like SS phono's into a tube integrated or vice versa but you are limiting yourself if you have to have it in one box.If the Redwine does it why not get a Isabella pre and Redwine 30 (or two 70's).That touch of tubes might do it for you.Then you have enough to get a KILLER phono stage.Hell for $100 I would want separates but a used ASR Emitter and and EAR 324 phono section is what I'd want.If you were just looking for a pre with phono no limit to choices.but you limit yourself with Int (though I am sure that Gryphon is killer-don't know Copland and never liked VAC as much as some for $$ like Cary).
I haven't heard the Copland or the Gryphon, but I currently own a VAC Avatar Super, and I'm very happy with it, though I do use a SS outboard phono stage as Chazz recommends. The internal phono section is pretty decent, but it wasn't good enough for me to sell my outboard stage.
The best SS integrated that I've owned with phono stage was a Jeff Rowland Concentra II. Personally I liked the Pass Labs INT-150 and Karan KA I-180 better, but neither one of those had a phono stage.
McIntosh MA2275 and BAT VK-300xSE are also two very good integrated amps with phono stages.
Ooh, the Luxman is sexy in an old school way - worth considering. Thanks for the multiple recommendations, John, I'll investigate.
Cary, I'm trying to focus on reducing components and getting a smaller footprint. I'd love nothing more than to have a full setup with RWA Isabella, 70.2 monoblocks and a Sutherland PhD phono stage, but space is limited. This is about compromise of space with minimal compromise of sound.
I've heard the Luxman 590A and 550A II with Devore 9's and both were great. The 550 is roughly half the price of the 590 (~5K vs. ~10K) and doesn't run nearly as hot (I could have fried an egg on the 590) so that was a plus. I heard the two in different rooms with different cables and front ends, so can't do A/B, but didn't think the 590 was twice as good. I hear the 550's phono stage vs. a simaudio LP 5.3 and the onboard phono heald up very well. It was maybe a touch less authorative in the bass, and the soundstage was a tad smaller over all, but considering you save 1500 on an outboard phono plus a PC and a pair of IC's, it seems an okay trade-off, if you're looking for convenience first. There are a lot of options on the Luxman that allow you to tailor the sound, and I found that very appealing.
I know that abouthifi.com listened to the Luxman 550A II with Proac D18s and found it a very good match. It should have plenty of power for either of your intended speakers. It EASILY drove the Devores.
The problem is that if you've heard a good outboard phono stage, it's hard to find an integrated (or preamp for that matter) that will have a better-sounding onboard stage. The Luxman, so far, is the closest I've come to this. The issue is that the phono stage doesn't have any loading options; it does, however, let you use MC or MM (I think, off hand, MC is 100 ohm and .3mv, so covers a lot of MC).
Some people have liked the Plinius and said it has a good phono section--I didn't find it to be to my liking. The McIntosh 6600 is actually a very good sounding amp, though it get's no press, but its phono stage isn't up to snuff. The Bat is a good amp with a decent phono stage, but I prefer the Luxman.
If you do get an outboard phono stage then maybe take a look at the Pass INT-30A, which I haven't heard but am dying to. I did hear the INT-150 extensively and have heard the 30 amp, and have a feeling the INT-30A will be a nice match, but what do I know! That or Luxman, which I am seriously considering buying.
I have a Vac Avatar Super and it is very good and the phono is a pretty decent MM. As suggested above, you can do better with an outboard phono that is in line with your cartridge choices. At your budget, I think that the new Boulder integrated is within reach (but haven't heard it) and it doesn't have a phono.
What about the Classe CAP-2100 Integrated? List price is $6,000. I believe a factory installed phono preamp dual mono moving magnet and moving coil for turntables (a $500 upgrade) is also available (please confirm this option). I own the Ayre AX-7e Integrated amp and like it very much. Simaudio also makes several integrated amps in your price range.
I found the Classe a little bland, especially for the price. No comments on phono, since I didn't hear it.
The older Sim i-7 sounded a lot like the Pass INT-150 to me, with perhaps a little less mid-bass emphasis. Very clean, very fast, and very neutral. I haven't heard the new series of 600i or 700i--Sim is sure getting up there in price at the top end, but they have a number of amps (maybe too many?) so you can't fault them I guess?
If vinyl is your main source you're going to want an outboard stage, especially at the 10K or below price arena. I mean, just as an example, you could get a Luxman 550A II and any number of good phono stages (nagra? Einstein? etc) at list and still be in budget.
Shazam - You made me laugh when I read your comment about feeling totally seduced by the Luxman SQ-38u before having heard it. That is EXACTLY the way I felt about the Luxman MQ-88 before I heard it. And it sounds as good as it looks. Of course I bought it. Best tube amp I have heard under $10K. All Luxman gear is superbly musical. Good luck!
I own the LSA Signature integrated amplifier. It is a hybrid with a tube pre and ss amp. It makes some awesome music. Best integrated I have heard or owned. The people here on Audiogon will offer you the best advice on the planet and for $10K there are so many choices. Listen to as many integrated amplifiers as you can with your system. If you do that you will be rewarded handsomely.
And the winner is...
The LSA Statement. Maybe a bit of an impulse buy, but I found a deal I couldn't pass up. I was already leaning towards the Signature so maybe it's just serendipity the Statement landed in my lap. I don't see myself having second thoughts or doubts about it - more amp than I need right now and enough to power my potential speaker choices in the future.
Should have it in about 2 weeks.
My first full week-end with the LSA Statement - I'm in love. I bought it here on the 'gone, so it's been mostly broken in. It does need a few minutes to warm up to full potential (10-20 minutes) but once it is, it just brings the room alive.
First of all, I never knew my little ProAc 1SCs were capable of such big things. I bought the amp in no small part to power a larger set of speakers (yet to choose). But the message seems to be clear - power matters whatever you pair it with. I'm getting low end authority that I've never heard from either my Stingray or Red Wine - neither a slouch. It really is almost a full range sound I'm getting.
Staging is on par with the battery powered RWA amp. I knew the LSA was a dual mono design, but I didn't expect it to be as good as the best staging stereo amp I've ever heard (the RWA). I thought I might regret this aspect of not choosing the path of separates, but I'm extremely happy.
The sound is oh so seductive. Lots of sweetness and bloom around instruments that the Stingray gave me hints of are just there with the LSA. And, in a completely non-fatiguing way (where the Stingray can come across as aggressive and a bit of a workout to listen to).
I haven't enjoyed classical this much since...well, probably ever. I go to the symphony a few times a year but recorded classical just never seemed to capture what I like about it. Sure, I've enjoyed the improvements of high resolution recordings, but this last week-end with the LSA is the first time I've felt like I'm getting the experience. Maybe it's just my upbeat mood about the amp, but I'm excited to have a big avenue of music open up to me again.
As a person who often feels a lot of buyers remorse with big purchases like this, I have zero hesitation about the LSA - especially getting it second hand. I may not need to change amplifiers for a long long time.
Glad to hear you're loving the sound. Yes it is very seductive. I listen to a lot of jazz and there are some recording that are mesmerizing.
I am loving my LSA Signature. If you are looking for some speakers I have my amp pair up with some Salk HT3 full range speakers. Salk makes some amazing speakers that provide a great match with the LSA.
I had the CTA 402 for quite sometime now. Coincidently I run them through the Proac response 1SC as well. I like the way of the integrated because of less signal path route. The warm tube actually matched quite well with the 1sc. Love love love this match up. And if the CTA 402 sounds that good then I think the CTA 405 must sound better. My CTA 402 made the easy driving, non-greedy 1SC sound so good I bought a second pair of the Response 1SC for my dad.
At this time I am looking to keep the CTA 402 and inquiring if I can hook up a pair of monoblocks to it and use it as a preamp. What can I say, got the upgrading bug again but not wanting to give up the CTA 402. Does anybody know if this can be done, and how? Thank you in advance and welcome any suggestions.
I had a chance to review the Luxman SQ-38u at home this last week-end. Just for posterity sake I thought I would post a few thoughts here since it was one of the contenders I looked at.
First off - best headphone amp I've ever heard. Granted, I've not heard a ton, but the synergy with my AKG 702s was wonderful. Lively, accurate, super deep soundstage (something none of my other headphone amps have managed) and just plain a joy to listen to. I think it certainly points me in a direction if I ever invest heavily in a headphone amp.
Conversely, the amp does not have good synergy with my ProAc speakers. More to the point, the amp seems to me to be made to work best with single driver speakers and create that "old school" sound heard in top gear from a generation or two ago. Great for what it is but not what I was looking for. Nice imaging and great bloom almost on par with the LSA, and tone almost better (with vocals/choral selections this may have been true). But it was markedly 'slower' and 'flabby' compared to the LSA at the bottom end - which is where my heart lies and what seduces me about music. The weight of string section doesn't carry moment as well, the articulation and clarity of the bass and drums not up to snuff with the LSA in my opinion.
Lastly, it was hot, Hot, HOT! I suppose an all tube class A design will always be this way, but it certainly needs to be shelved on the top of any rack. I had to pull it out from where I had it for worry of blackening the wood on the underside of my rack.
All in all a nice unit. I love the features and the headphone amp is awesome. If the sound signature is to your liking, certainly worth your consideration.
Coincidently i use my Copland CTA402 to drive the Response 1SC as well and I love the sound. I love the clear midrange (especially vocals), and the base is just beautifully adequate (not too much or too soft).
The one thing I want to know is if I can use the CTA integrated as a preamp should I want to add monoblocks just to change things up every now and then, but still have the integrated to go back to when I want. Do you have any comments or do you know if the Copland integrated can be used as a preamp?