My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!


So I have been in a long journey looking to find the best amplifiers for my martin logan montis. As you know, the match between an amplifier and speakers has to be a good "marriage" and needs to be blend exquisitely. Right now, I think I might have found the best sounding amplifier for martin logan. I have gone through approximately 34-36 amplifiers in the past 12 months. Some of these are:

Bryston ST, SST, SST2 series
NAD M25
PARASOUND HALO
PARASOUND CLASSIC
KRELL TAS
KRELL KAV 500
KRELL CHORUS
ROTEL RMB 1095
CLASSE CT 5300
CLASSE CA 2200
CLASSE CA 5200
MCINTOSH MC 205
CARY AUDIO CINEMA 7
OUTLAW AUDIO 755
LEXICON RX7
PASS LABS XA 30.8
BUTLER AUDIO 5150
ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005

With all that said, the amplifiers I mentioned above are the ones that in my opinion are worth mentioning. To make a long story short, there is NO 5 CHANNEL POWER AMP that sounds as good as a 3ch and 2ch amplifier combination. i have done both experiments and the truth is that YOU DO lose details and more channel separation,etc when you select a 5 channel power amplifier of any manufacturer.
My recollection of what each amp sounded like is as follows:

ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005 (great power and amazing soundstage. Very low noise floor, BUT this amplifiers NEEDS TO BE cranked up in order to fully enjoy it. If you like listening at low volume levels or somewhat moderate, you are wasting your time here. This amp won’t sound any different than many other brands out there at this volume. The bass is great, good highs although they are a bit bright for my taste)

NAD M25 (very smooth, powerful, but somewhat thin sounding as far as bass goes)
Bryston sst2(detailed, good soundstage, good power, but can be a little forward with certain speakers which could make them ear fatiguing at loud volumes)

Krell (fast sounding, nice bass attack, nice highs, but some detail does get lost with certain speakers)

rotel (good amp for the money, but too bright in my opinion)

cary audio (good sound overall, very musical, but it didn’t have enough oomph)

parasound halo (good detail, great bass, but it still holds back some background detail that i can hear in others)

lexicon (very laid back and smooth. huge power, but if you like more detail or crisper highs, this amp will disappoint you)

McIntosh mc205 (probably the worst multichannel amp given its price point. it was too thin sounding, had detail but lacked bass.

butler audio (good amplifier. very warm and smooth sweet sounding. i think for the money, this is a better amp than the parasound a51)

pass labs (very VERY musical with excellent bass control. You can listen to this for hours and hours without getting ear fatigue. however, it DOES NOT do well in home theater applications if all you have is a 2 channel set up for movies. The midrange gets somewhat "muddy" or very weak sounding that you find yourself trying to turn it up.

classe audio (best amplifier for multi channel applications. i simply COULDNT FIND a better multi channel amplifier PERIOD. IT has amazing smoothness, amazing power and good bass control although i would say krell has much better bass control)

Update: The reviews above were done in January 2015. Below is my newest update as of October 2016:



PS AUDIO BHK 300 MONOBLOCKS: Amazing amps. Tons of detail and really amazing midrange. the bass is amazing too, but the one thing i will say is that those of you with speakers efficiency of 87db and below you will not have all the "loudness" that you may want from time to time. These amps go into protection mode when using a speaker such as the Salon, but only at very loud levels. Maybe 97db and above. If you don’t listen to extreme crazy levels, these amps will please you in every way.
Plinius Odeon 7 channel amp: This is THE BEST multichannel amp i have ever owned. Far , but FAR SUPERIOR to any other multichannel amp i have owned. In my opinion it destroyed all of the multichannel amps i mentioned above and below. The Odeon is an amp that is in a different tier group and it is in a league of its own. Amazing bass, treble and it made my center channel sound more articulate than ever before. The voices where never scrambled with the action scenes. It just separated everything very nicely.
Theta Dreadnaught D: Good detailed amp. Looks very elegant, has a pleasant sound, but i found it a tad too bright for my taste. I thought it was also somewhat "thin" sounding lacking body to the music. could be that it is because it is class d?
Krell Duo 300: Good amp. Nice and detailed with enough power to handle most speakers out there. I found that it does have a very nice "3d" sound through my electrostatics. Nothing to fault here on this amp.
Mark Levinson 532H: Great 2 channel amp. Lots of detail, amazing midrange which is what Mark Levinson is known for. It sounds very holographic and will please those of you looking for more detail and a better midrange. As far as bass, it is there, but it is not going to give you the slam of a pass labs 350.5 or JC1s for example. It is great for those that appreciate classical music, instrumental, etc, but not those of you who love tons of deep bass. It is articulate sounding too
Krell 7200: Plenty of detail and enough power for most people. i found that my rear speakers contained more information after installed this amp. One thing that i hated is that you must use xlr cables with this amp or else you lose most of its sound performance when using RCA’s.
Krell 402e: Great amp. Very powerful and will handle any speaker you wish. Power is incredible and with great detail. That said, i didn’t get all the bass that most reviewers mentioned. I thought it was "ok" in regards to bass. It was there, but it didn’t slam me to my listening chair.
Bryston 4B3: Good amp with a complete sound. I think this amp is more laid back than the SST2 version. I think those of you who found the SST2 version of this amp a little too forward with your speakers will definitely benefit from this amp’s warmth. Bryston has gone towards the "warm" side in my opinion with their new SST3 series. As always, they are built like tanks. I wouldn’t call this amp tube-like, but rather closer to what the classe audio delta 2 series sound like which is on the warm side of things.
Parasound JC1s: Good powerful amps. Amazing low end punch (far superior bass than the 402e). This amp is the amp that i consider complete from top to bottom in regards to sound. Nothing is lacking other than perhaps a nicer chassis. Parasound needs to rework their external appearance when they introduce new amps. This amp would sell much more if it had a revised external appearance because the sound is a great bang for the money. It made my 800 Nautilus scream and slam. Again, amazing low end punch.
Simaudio W7: Good detailed amp. This amp reminds me a lot of the Mark Levinson 532h. Great detail and very articulate. I think this amp will go well with bookshelves that are ported in order to compensate for what it lacks when it comes to the bass. That doesn’t mean it has no bass, but when it is no Parasound JC1 either.
Pass labs 350.5: Wow, where do i begin? maybe my first time around with the xa30.8 wasn’t as special as it was with this monster 350.5. It is just SPECTACULAR sounding with my electrostatics. The bass was THE BEST BASS i have ever heard from ANY amp period. The only amp that comes close would be the jC1s. It made me check my settings to make sure the bass was not boosted and kept making my jaw drop each time i heard it. It totally destroyed the krell 402e in every regard. The krell sounded too "flat" when compared to this amp. This amp had amazing mirange with great detail up top. In my opinion, this amp is the best bang for the money. i loved this amp so much that i ended up buying the amp that follows below.
Pass labs 250.8: What can i say here. This is THE BEST STEREO AMP i have ever heard. This amp destroys all the amps i have listed above today to include the pass labs 350.5. It is a refined 350.5 amp. It has more 3d sound which is something the 350.5 lacked. It has a level of detail that i really have never experienced before and the bass was amazing as well. I really thought it was the most complete power amplifier i have ever heard HANDS DOWN. To me, this is a benchmark of an amplifier. This is the amp that others should be judged by. NOTHING is lacking and right now it is the #1 amplifier that i have ever owned.
My current amps are Mcintosh MC601s: i decided to give these 601s a try and they don’t disappoint. They have great detail, HUGE soundstage, MASSIVE power and great midrange/highs. The bass is great, but it is no pass labs 250.8 or 350.5. As far as looks, these are the best looking amps i have ever owned. No contest there. i gotta be honest with you all, i never bought mcintosh monos before because i wasn’t really "wowed" by the mc452, but it could have been also because at that time i was using a processor as a preamp which i no longer do. Today, i own the Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp which sounds unbelievable. All the amps i just described above have been amps that i auditioned with the C1100 as a preamp. The MC601s sound great without a doubt, but i will say that if you are looking for THE BEST sound for the money, these would not be it. However, Mcintosh remains UNMATCHED when it comes to looks and also resale value. Every other amp above depreciates much faster than Mcintosh.

That said, my future purchase (when i can find a steal of a deal) will be the Pass labs 350.8. I am tempted to make a preliminary statement which is that i feel this amp could be THE BEST stereo amp under 30k dollars. Again, i will be able to say more and confirm once i own it. I hope this update can help you all in your buying decisions!


whitecamaross
P.S.

I would echo the post on B.A.T. & LLam. BAT is very well heeled amp all around, top to bottom. the first word in BAT, Balanced says ita all with their SS amps. they work well with tube line stages either XLR or SE..
Guys, 
i just unpacked the CLX, threw them in room, connected the ati6007 amp with some cheap speaker cables that i had because my wire world silver 7 don't reach and cranked on my Pass labs xp30. 
Wow, my jaw hit the ground within the first 10 seconds of listening. I have never heard a speaker sound so good in my room. These speakers have me with my jaw open and i am not even using the world class amps i have owned in the past. 
I wanted to just post this real quick at how impressed i am about these CLX. I will come back with more feedback and give you my true opinion on these speakers. So far, holy [email protected] is all i can say..
Man, i can't believe how fast sounding is the bass. I have never EVER heard bass sound so articulate, coherent, tight, fast, with zero bloating. I am just really impressed here. I am like unable to get off my couch because i just feel like my ears can't get enough of this. 
Hi whitecamaross, I am new to the forum, but I have been following all of the posts of your journey. Excellent work on your part and very much appreciated. I have been searching for an amp for a couple of months and was hoping you can give me your opinion. I have the Goldenear Triton Ones along with the Marantz 8802a preamp. My old vintage Hafler Transnova 9500 lost the right channel so I am looking to upgrade. I am looking at 3 amps. I prefer this time to use monoblocks. First I am looking at the Ati 6002 which is a dual mono design in a single chassis. It got great reviews the only complaint was the lack of audio jewelry. Next is the Parasound JC1 it has excellent reviews still on Stereophile recommended components. But my fear is it has been around a long time since 2003, so I am wondering if it will be refreshed soon. Next is PS Audio BHK 300 it got good reviews, but not stellar like the JC1. I use my system 50 percent 2 channel listening and 50 percent home theater. I have 3 dedicated 20 amp lines in my system. Please let me know what you think would be the best match for my system. I know you had the 6005 and mentioned it doesn't do well at low volume. I noticed you now have a 6007 do you notice any difference between the two? When I first started my search my plan was to put the front channels on the 6002, and then buy a 6007 for the rest of the channels. Please let me know what you think. I am also open to any other recommendations as well. Thanks for all the help. Milkmaker1.
I would say you need to look into the bhk 300s... very amazing amps...
jc1s do not have the highs of the bhk 300s but They have better bottom end. 
It all depends on what you want your speakers to do. I think with your speakers the bhk300s would sound amazing. You don’t need an amp with massive bottom end because you have powered woofers. You just need an amp with smooth highs and great mids and that’s what the bHks do best. 
The jc1s are excellent amps even thought they are 14 years old. They are the best amps from parasound. 
Thanks for the response. Do you think they will be good for home theater as well? I'm asking because you have mentioned you do not like tubes for home theater use. I know the tubes are on the input stage, and the amp is solid state. So if you can give me your opinion on that I would appreciate it. Also my dealer thinks the JC1 with the Tritons would lack synergy. Do you agree with that. I had thought with the 25 watts of pure class A they would sound good together. Also do you have an opinion on the 6002 with the Tritons? Thanks.
Do you plan on auditioning the other big boys like Solutions, FM Accustics, Boulder, Dartzeel , what about the Accuphase 3850 & 250 class A monos?
I wish that I could. My problem is my closest dealer is a 5 hour drive each way. So it makes it almost impossible. This is why whenever I buy any new equipment, I rely on forums and reviews a lot. Thanks.
I think no matter how you slice it, the bhk will be better than the jc1s with Tritons. I don’t like tubes for home theater because tubes lack dynamics which are needed for home theater. They don’t “explode” with sound when an explosion occurs for example. It’s not what they were designed to do. 
Sorry I'm a little confused. So will the bhk be good for home theater as well? I was wondering because of the tube input stage? Also I have an opportunity for a pair of mc 601. I know you had those for awhile. Between bhk and mc 601 which do you think would be better with the tritons? Thanks again for all the help.
I don't personally like any McIntosh amps unless it's the 1.2kws.
get the bhk. Trust me on this. 
Okay thanks, I definitely trust your opinion. I just thought I would check with you on the mac because it is around the same cost as the bhk. On Monday I am going to order a pair of the bhk 300, and once I pay for them, I will order one more for the center channel. What would be the best multichannel amp for surrounds and atmos channels to match up with the bhk? Thanks.
whitecamaross-
where are you on cabling your system?
Happy Listening!
Home Depot 12 gauge cable... lol. Gotta keep being honest here.  I am using it because my wireworld doesn’t reach so once I go back to monoblocks then I’ll use it again. 
Right now I’m using the 6007 amp to drive my clx. I just want to get really acquainted with the clx sound by using what I am using. The goal is to later on bring the Luxman set up, another pass labs amp to mate with my xp30 preamp, belcanto black system seems to be also a possibility as well and maybe the Mark Levinson 585 integrated. I want to bring serious fire power to my clx speakers. I really love these speakers. They have grown on me in the 24 hrs I’ve owned them. I have zero regrets about letting go the Cremonese. They were excellent speakers but I will say in only 24 hours the clx have made me forget about the Cremonese. 
That said, these could be the set ups I’ll be using in the next 2 weeks:
1. Mark Levinson 585
2. Belcanto black system 
3. Pass labs xp30 and 250.8 combo 
4. Luxman 900u pre and 900 amp
5. Audio research gs150 amp and pass xp30 preamp 

my connection told me that my gs150 amp will probably sound the best because it’s tubes and my panels will love the high voltage. 
@whitecamaross  loving this thread, please keep up,the great work. I wanted to ask you about some of your earlier comments regarding the Mcintosh C1100. I understand that it's not at the same level as say the Luxman 900u but the price reflects that also. What are your thoughts now based on its price range? Seems like earlier in your journey you were impressed with it. The reason I ask, I may be able to aquire one for a very good price.
That’s the best preamp from McIntosh. That said, it’s not better  than other offerings from other manufacturers. For example, xp30 pass labs, audio research reference 6 , Mark Levinson,etc . In terms of beauty, that’s the best looking preamp I’ve seen. 
OK guys, 
the Mark levinson 585 integrated and 533h 3 channel amps are here!
The luxman pieces ship tomorrow so it will be an interesting show down!
whitecamaross-
the ML No. 585 integrated is on my radar. I look forward in reading your review. Happy Listening!
Perfect. I will be shuffling a lot of pieces and certainly list them for sale as they each enter and leave my living room. 
I am also about to lock down a deal on the Hegel H30 power amp. My goal is to see if this puppy can best the krell 403e, and levinson in terms of resolution, detail, smoothness, etc. 
thanks a lot for that great work. it is good that you have not tested tube amps as well, as those would have been very difficult to compare, especially in the price tag whereas you have needed very powerful and expensive tubes to drive the Montis.

I actually also believe that some amps tested have not been fairly assessed in their own rights because they just werent the right ones for the Montis, such as the Pass XA30.8 which are not powerful enough, and few others which did not have the same price reference. The Bryston 7B3 are still cheaper than the Pass tested, and would be more appropriate for the Montis than the 4B3.

One giant killer, known as such, that would have been great to test here in mono configuration is the Benchmark AHB2, for the cheaper side, and on the higher side, ASR Emitter II, Gryphon Diablo 300, etc...

Anyway, a very good and indicative review, confirming some other reviewers work, and confirming what I long believed about Pass amps !!
Luxman 900u combo and hegel h30 will be shipping to me tomorrow. It’s going to be one hell of a shoot out. Source will be the PS Audio directstram with tidal masters Mqa. 
what I plan is this:
Mark Levinson 585 vs Hegel H30/pass xp30

luxman 900u combo vs Hegel H30/xp30

mark Levinson 585 preamp section/Hegel h30 vs Luxman combo 




@whitecamaross

Let me try again….
pass 200.5 vs 200.8….
you indicate a noticeable difference between these two amps, , mind briefly expanding on it?

As you have enjoyed some hybrids did you ever archive your impressions on them after rolling their tubes?

Ever consider similar Euro hybrid amps, or for that matter Euro SS amps at all?

Thanks for your time.

200.5 vs 200.8 I have not done. I said my impression is that the .5 series is easier to match and to sound good. The .8 is more like a glass with transaparency but that may not always be good.
Hi whitecamaross  thank you very much for your very informative tread did you ever have chance to listen to Allnic M3000 Mk2 kt150 based tube amp or L3000 pre amp . I am the owner of  Allnic T-2000 25th Anniversery integrated tube amp . It is sound amazing I like better than any well known company which ARC,CJ.Carry audio,VAC etc...  Allnic audio pre,power amp deserve for your look for sure.  Also better check for any high power 845,211 DHT  SET amp.  You will find out a lot different tube sound than any Mcintosh, Audio research amp I ordered one from Aric audio myself.
Interesting, thanks for the feedback :) 
Ok guys, i have been seating down for the past 2 hours just listening to all sorts of music with my Mark Levinson Integrated 585 and here are my initial impressions:
- Excellent midrange with good full body. If you have anemic speakers with regards to midrange, this integrated will fix that.

- Excellent highs with plenty of sparkle and zero fatigue
- outstanding smooth sounding dac. I actually played a cd through my oppo 205 and connected it to the integrated via optical input and i was impressed at the drastic improvement i heard.
- Very good power and i drove the CLX panels to pretty loud levels and yet the 585 DID NOT shut down or act up. Solid amplification in this unit.

- I LOVE how detailed it sounds at low volumes too. It reminds me ALOT of pass labs class A amps at low volumes.

Overall, this is one solid integrated and i can 100% vouch the review on sterephile magazine and why it was given a Class "a" component rating. As a matter of fact, if i wanted to downsize, keep a nice 2.1 set up that allows me to stream and play anything then this would be my top pick . This is EXCELLENT and will make you feel as if you don’t really need to be using an amp, preamp, dac, monos, etc because it really closes the gap. THE BEST ALL IN ONE BOX solution in my book.
If you are looking to match an amp with a preamp and are afraid of the end result, i highly suggest you just get this unit. Everything plays AMAZINGLY through this puppy and again, the power is far more than you will need because this is the type of unit that you don't need to crank up in order to hear it. TRUST ME, you will hear your music at any volume level. 
I will keep listening to the 585 throughout the week so i can get really acquainted with its sound signature and then this Friday i will receive the Luxman pieces along with the Hegel h30. That is when the party will really start. I suspect the hegel h30 will make these panels sing due to its massive current, but i am not 100% that pure raw power can best the finesse and resolution of the Luxman 900u. 
The more i keep digging deep into amplifiers the more i realize that it isn't about the huge wattage, but rather the quality of such watts. 
For instance, i said it above that THE BEST 150 CLASS AB WATTS i have ever heard were from the luxman 900u amplifier. The best class a watts have always been from the pass labs 200.5 for me. The best bottom end was probably from the parasound jc1s, krell evolutions and bel canto ref600s. The smoothest highs would be from simaudio 860a, luxman 900u and mark levinson in general. As far as the "omg holy sh(t" seat of the pants feeling amplifier sound, i gotta give that to the pass xa200.5s. I can't take that away from those monsters. 


 
Thanks for the feedback
Much Thanks! for the No. 585 review. I look forward in reading more about your listening thoughts/impressions whitecamaross.
Happy Listening!
I really REALLY like this 585. It sounds so detailed and smooth with zero fatigue. I haven’t even used it’s Dac because I’m impressed with just the amp and preamp section. Very holographic, detailed, enough power to love my Clxs and with amazing midrange. 
It makes me wonder WHY the hell am I spending more money to purchase separates ? 

The INT-250 from Pass Labs might be another good integrated (minus the DAC).

Dave

Guys,
the massive change I’m hearing with my Clx panels have  me just floored. I can’t begin to tell you how I’m feeling. I have never heard something anywhere near it. As good as the Cremonese were, these Clx panels certainly top it. They contain so much width, depth and just zero harshness. I’m not even done with my set up. I’m still using cheap speaker cables, power cords etc and yet I could easily live with this as is. Yes the Clx are just spectacular in every way. Far better than the Martin Logan renaissance. The only tning is that they need space to breathe. You need about 4 feet behind them. If you have a small room, then you can forget about these.
That said, I’m still playing with the 585 integrated and I’m impressed. Can’t find ONE SINGLE fault with it. Drives things excellent with great smoothness. Again, this is far better than the Hegel h360
i had. No comparison here.
Tomorrow i will be receiving the hegel h30
and Luxman 900u combo. I’m not sure I’ll connect things until next week. Again guys,
its surreal what I’m hearing with my speakers right now. I expect things to be elevated even further with the Luxman combo.
Whitecamaross
Just re-read the whole thread for the second time.  I have the new SF Homage Amati Traditions with a Raven Audio Reflection Integrated tube amp.  I also have a Lumin A-1 Streamer and soon will have a Emm Lab DAC.  I was in a McIntosh store today and was looking at the C1100 and MC452 or MC302 combo.  Do you still have your C1100?  This dealer also carries Audio Reference and Burmeister.   He thought the McIntosh was better than Audio Reference.  Did you ever own the integrated MA9000?  If you were in my shoes, with the speakers that I have do you have recommendations that I should look at from a power perspective.  Could you please list your top three choices.   Thanks
i have always said, the c1100 is a great preamp and possesses a bunch of sound layers with great depth and width. It is also gorgeous looking. That said, there is something about audio research reference pieces that catch you off guard. I would go the audio research reference 6 route. I just feel it is an amazing preamp. 


quick update:

i unpacked the luxman 900u combo last night and i was not impressed at all.. I don't know if it was because these pieces were not being used for the past 3 months and it needs major warm up sessions or what, but the Mark Levinson 585 has the edge right now. 
I am in shock at how amazing this 585 sounds. I am not done with the luxman and need to keep it on for a day or so to see if it wakes up. Right now, my initial impressions are that it sounds way too laid back with my clx panels. I still need to use the wire world speakers cables with it and do another few tweaks before i come to my final assessment. 
The Hegel h30 is still in the box and will most likely be taken out tonight to see if the massive current it has will change things drastically or not. 
Quite a shock, but the no585 is SUPERB and does not get affected by crappy speaker cables. It just turns on and GETS THE JOB DONE RIGHT. 
@willgolf,

I agree with OP assessment. As good as C1100 is, its no match to ARC Ref6 or even LS28. IMHO, that ‘something’ is wider emotional bandwidth which ARC has it in spades. 

I once heard the Ref6 / Ref250SE with Cremonese and I was blown away by the sheer soundstage ( I am going to spare you from the adjectives often used here to describe that WOW feeling). 

If you’re considering ARC, I suggest a in-home audition of Ref6 / 250SE.
I agree with rob. The audio research reference 6 or 10 are outstanding. I feel like McIntosh knows this and they are ok with it. They don’t want to top what audio research is doing. 

Anyhow, unpacked the Hegel H30 and I can already hear the extra horsepower. So far it sounds ver my controlled and work great depth. I left my house about 5 hours  ago and left music playing. I hope kings have changed a little when I get home. 
Thank You- whitecamaross
I enjoyed reading about the ML No. 585 integrated.
Happy Listening!
Really liking this thread.  
Tonight’s shootout:

Hegel h30/C900u Preamp: great slam and dynamics. Really good full sound with plenty of body. Mids are satisfying and highs are smooth.

Luxman C900u/M900u: More bass than hegel h30/c900u combo which is surprising since this amp is half the power of the Hegel.
The mids of this combo outshine the hegel’s h30. The highs are very very close but the extra ounce of silkiness goes to the luxman.

Overall i really like the Hegel h30. i will say that this amp has really surprised me. I really like what this amp is all about and the great horsepower and overhead makes it an excellent amp for those of you with monster speakers such as rockports, magicos, etc.
I can honestly say that the HEGEL H30 is the top contender to the pass labs x350.8. I wished i still had my x350.8 amp so i can compare. What a battle that would be. I have to say that the hegel h30 and pass 350.8 are neck to neck. If i am going to go on the performance per dollar route, the hegel is the clear winner hands down. 


I can honestly say that the HEGEL H30 is the top contender to the pass labs x350.8. I wished i still had my x350.8 amp so i can compare. What a battle that would be. I have to say that the hegel h30 and pass 350.8 are neck to neck. If i am going to go on the performance per dollar route, the hegel is the clear winner hands down.
How about that and made in China.  Happy listening and Keep ME posted!!!
Thanks! for the update -whitecamaross
Enjoying your shoot-out. Is the Luxman running in class-A? If so, that explains more Bass than the Hegel. Too bad Hegel is made in china.
Keep listening and posting.
I'm confused.  It seems from your post that the Luxman had better bass/mids/highs than the Hegel, yet it's the Hegel that you say you like overall??

BTW, how did these two setups compare with the 585?

Dave
Sorry guys- I discovered a bad panel on my clx speakers. I will have to re-evaluate things again once they are 100%. For now, take my feedback above as partially correct until I get everything sorted out.  I will report once my clx are back up and running. 
Just picked up the audio research reference 6 again and I’m blown by it once again. As bad as I want to keep my luxman pieces, I just don’t think the outcome will change for the better once my panel is replaced. I am starting to feel slowly wrapped around by the sound of this ref6 preamp. I’m using the Hegel 30 and krell 403e as my amps and I’m switching between both for now using the reference 6 to see what I feel happens in terms of sound. Panels love juice without a doubt. They need high voltage. 
Luxman 900u amp And preamp are beyond gorgeous. Far better construction than anything else I’ve owned including pass labs. The sound is ridiculously engaging and smooth throughout. It’s possibly the best preamp an amp combo I’ve ever heard. That said, with panels, I simply would need another 900u to run both in mono mode. My panels need more voltage than what the single 900u amp can give. Right now, I will probably part ways with my luxman pieces. I hope I don’t regret down the road because they are beyond hard to come by. 
HEGEL H30/ ARC REF 6 COMBO: I loved everything about this combination. Insane dynamics, smoothness, detail, clarity & resolution, big soundstage. I can now understand why the hegel h30 went up in retail value from 15k to 17k this year. 
I am really loving the synergy between these 2. What an immense wall of sound. What i find interesting is that the hegel h30 runs cooler than the arc ref 6 preamp. Yes, it runs amazingly cool and does not break a sweat. 

Luxman 900u amp/ arc ref 6 combo: the best midrange i have EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE has been presented by these 2 components regardless of any amp i have ever owned before. The luxman 900u with its spectacular midrange and the tubes from the preamp present a midrange that sounds better than if you heard a person speak in front of you. It almost feel like you can hear the saliva in the mouth of the performer. The highs are world class by all accounts and lack absolutely NOTHING. If you are a person who enjoys music purity, finesse, detail, high resolution and the last ounce of silkiness without any fatigue, this combo will make your jaw drop to the ground. This IS YOUR TICKET. 
It won't come cheap though because the amplifier does not show up often and when it does, it is gone in hours for over $10k. Far superior amplifier than simaudio 860a, plinius 103, pass labs 250.8 and possibly besting the 350.8 in resolution, clarity, but not attack since the 350.8 has more power. Getting a luxman 900u is like getting a ferrari without trying a mercedes amg, bmw m series, audio r8 etc. You completely leap over a ton of amplifiers. 
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How would you compare the Luxman 900 preamp to the pass xp-30?
I’m thinking about improving my amps (Rogue Apollos).
My preamp is an ARC Ref. 10, Bricasti M1 DAC and Evolution Acoustics MM3 speakers.
Amps options considering:
Jeff Rowland M925
VTL Siegfried 2
D’Agostino M300 Momentum
ARC Ref.250 SE
Mcintosh MC2301

Your advice, please. Thanks.