My Triad of Integrateds

Whenever someone says they are looking for an integrated, I think they should try brands:

  • Luxman
  • Pass
  • Ayre
  • Arcam (actually a lot like Ayre to my ears)

Because I hear them as quite different sounding. What about you? Is there a constellation of integrateds you think buyers should experience?
I bought a Ayre A7e to use with KEF LS50s in a secondary setup in which the source is Roon via a microRendu/Ayre Codex.  I've been very impressed with this little integrated bought used for about $1500.  It has the same sense of refinement I enjoy with the Ayre 5/Twenty digital hub, preamp, and amp I use with KEF Ref 1s in my primary setup.  That secondary setup is very satisfying and really all I need.

Totally agree on Luxman, Ayre, and Pass Labs Int line for Integrated. Not so much for Arcam.

Another brand if you can afford it to check out Integrated: Vitus
Depends on desired budget and topology (tube vs SS) and speaker choice. There are alot of great choices up and down the food chain.
I have owned a Pass Labs INT-30 and very much enjoyed it.  However in my 15’x12’ listening room with a 8’x4’ window and a sliding glass door combined with the Florida heat I sold it as it increased the room temperature by 3-5 degrees.

Having said that, I'm very pleased with the Mark Levinson 585 that replaced it.  You owe it to yourself to give a Mark Levinson integrated a listen.
If they were easier to actually see and hear in the real world and not only on the Internet, Accuphase could qualify.

Yeah, accuphase and the latest Yammies are models I'd like to hear for sure!
Raven Audio Tube amps.  3 levels to choose from.  Outstanding sound that can drive any speakers.
Interestingly absent are Krell, Musical Fidelity, BAT, Plinius, PrimaLuna, Parasound, and Nord.   I’m looking for a high quality <$5k used integrated with HT bypass and subwoofer out; these were the brands I’ve come across...   Of these the Nord looks to be the most interesting as they are reported to sound very class A tube-like, but I’ve not heard one.

I’m thinking I’d prefer a tube pre and SS amp hybrid integrated.

Any thoughts on these?
I have heard the older Musical Fidelity M6 500i at a dealer. It was the best sounding integrated amp I had the pleasure to hear. Dual mono design at 70lbs, I don’t think MF makes an amp like that now. Too bad, it really sounded fantastic.
If you have any interest in tube amplification I'll second willgoff's recommendation of Raven Audio. I've owned amps from Rogue, Cary, Cayin, AES and Dynaco and my Raven Blackhawk is remarkably better than any, at a very reasonable price.
Any of the Audio Analogue Anniversary line amplifiers should be on the list. Pretty sure nobody’s here know them, which is really sad as they are as good  as it gets. Great parts, made in Italy. Extremely musical, enjoyable pieces. And the good news is there is a distribution for them in the US (tmhaudio).
you could certainly create a sub-thread to this one focused just on tube or SS integrated.
I’m thinking I’d prefer a tube pre and SS amp hybrid integrated.
@noodlyarm   This makes no sense 
+1 on the Vitus. The RI-100 is starting to come down to reasonable price levels now the RI-101 has been out a while. Great sounding unit wth tons of power reserve 
@hasmarto Thanks for mentioning we're the new US Distributors of Audio Analogue.
Just received our first shipment - Puccini Integrated shockingly good and the Maestro Integrated can compete with $20k separates...and above.
There is certainly something to their ZeroGlobalFeedback Design. We are seeking quality dealers to associate with this Italian company.
Coming is the Sabre9038-based AA-DAC and the AA-Phono.
Jim Ricketts/tmhaudio
@tmhaudio , The Maestro is simply on of the best integrateds out there, you, as a business insider, by now definitely know it. At least it’s definitely much better compared with the pieces offered here imo. In a word, Jim, you definitely need a shill to promote this brand 😂, given the natural non-curiosity of our fellow audiophile citizens 😎, otherwise one crappiest review but written in the US could do the curiosity thing.
BTW, their Airtech Air cables are really good.
@hasmarto A US review of Maestro Anniversary coming - and LOTS of VERY positive Euro reviews on AA website. The Maestro is truly amazing - combining the speed, power/control of solid state with the rich midrange tonal vividness of a 300B SET that passed thru our door many moons ago. Interesting you mention the AirTech "Air" series cables. My first order included the "Air" Power Cord - OCC copper w/Rhodium connectors, Cryo and Demagnetized ala Furutech’s "alpha" process. Compared to the Neotech "Sahara" OCC copper ribbons w/Rhodium connectors, the AirTech was more transparent, detailed, neutral with a faster PRAT. From your comments, I assume the "Air" series interconnects and speaker cables have a similar sound?Our formal Press Release coming later this week - just awaiting some tech feedback.Thanks again for your positive comments on Audio Analogue.


You guys really should get a room. LOL.  Jokes aside, consider starting a thread and not hijack a thread that asked people to name a triad of integrateds.
@ghasley , honestly didn’t know folks could get upset from learning about one new good but unknown piece, and I highly doubt I did “hijack” the OP’s thread by naming this particular  brand. Now I have to add two more brands to be forgiven... oh no... just remembered had the Luxman in ‘09 (sucked), had a latest BAT hybrid right before I got the Maestro, also sucked (Bat separates I have in my main system are great).) how’s that for a triad😂?

I'm sorry if you mistook my comments for upset, I am not nor would I have a right to be, its not my thread. Just thought it might be courteous to the OP to start another thread that focuses on your Audio Analogue love. That's all.

So, your triad of integrated amplifiers that you would recommend is still incomplete unless all three are AA. Have a great day.
@ghasley at this point the only upset person here is you, and I don’t even know why. Kind of strange. You’re not even familiar with the pieces (they make 3 integrateds, btw,😂).

@erik_squires I hope you’re not really upset on this matter

I assure you, I’m not upset or even mildly bothered. I wish you happiness with your AA gear, that’s why we are all here. Peace.
Damn I was gonna buy a Luxman, accuphase or pass integrated. Now I gotta buy an audio analogue. 
 A-Analogue was a suggestion based on my personal extensive audio journey, it’s a great amp and nobody can say otherwise without listening to it. As simple as that.

So far those sarcastic childish comments on AA are what they are - childish. I do realize for some folks having Pass or Luxman  is all it takes, but still there are facts and wishful thinking.



I recognize and genuinely respect your amplifier choice, AA makes wonderful gear and your Maestro is by all accounts exceptional. The older AA stuff I heard many years ago is too far from my aural memory to comment on. It will be beneficial to the brand here in North America to establish and support an appropriate and stable distribution channel. I hope that is the case.

In order to stay on topic, my triad of integrateds with tubes and solid state co-mingled, decidedly not taking into account speaker selection, is as follows:

Affordable pricing:
Leben CS300x

Higher priced:
Leben CS600
Nagra Classic Integrated

The Absolare Altius integrated is the best I’ve ever heard. Frighteningly real. It has a tube preamp stage and SS amp stage. Super minimal. This company deserves more attention. 
The seldom mentioned (for reasons beyond me) Marantz products, particularly their reference line.
Pm 14s1 or older pm 15s1....$3000, or for under $1500, not much can touch the rogue sphinx v2 in my opinion. For $1200 you should listen to the Marantz pm8006, wow...super amp. As far as pass labs, although not an integrated, I'd love to own a first watt j2...paired with maybe one of rogue's excellent preamps....maybe some day. 
Absolutely on the Ayre. I saved for a couple of years to buy my AX-5 Twenty - the heart of my system.
If I didn't have the Ayre I would look at the Aesthetix Mimas. Never heard a Luxman but I've only read positive things about that brand.

I seem to have moved to cooler regions.en

Going East:

If it turns out that the reincarnation thing is real (could be cool, or maybe not, depending on how you look at it), I suppose I might wind up owning several more integrated amps.

But if this is the only life we get, I'm pretty sure that Nelson Pass's sublime-sounding and beautiful INT-60 will be my last integrated.
Been a big Ayre fan since buying an AX7E and finding it compared very favorably with a BAT/McIntosh combo costing nearly 5 times as much.

This was replaced earlier this year with the full boogie Ayre EX8 hub.

My search ended that day......
Raven Audio Tube amps.  3 levels to choose from.  Outstanding sound that can drive any speakers.

Just to follow up on this particular post, Raven will soon also have the upper end Elite Series Reflection MK3 integrated out with several new enhancements. 
Before obtaining a Belles 250i Integrated from a fellow member here I would have quickly offered Pass Labs as a serious consideration. My experience with Pass Labs was with the X150.5 amplifier, which became my benchmark for amplifiers.  Clean, articulate, uncolored.  Made my Thiel CS3.5’s sound absolutely wonderful. 

The Belles model I now own is out of production, but David Belles is still in business as Power Modules.  Currently they offer the Aria integrated, 75 watts per channel into 8 ohms. 

IMHO, based on my experience with this integrated, Belles should be given serious consideration. It’s in almost every way as good as Pass Labs and a helluva lot cheaper.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Nelson’s gear, but Belles is definitely a discovery.  
The Aria exists in three incarnations.
Preamp + stereo amp.
Preamp + monoblocks.
Each level offers excellent value.