Paradigm Persona 9h - Integrated Amp Suggestion


Just took delivery on a pair of Paradigm Persona 9h speakers.   Still looking for an integrated amp that lives up to the speakers.  Any suggestions?
mi4
mi4 - I'm generally not one to chip in with advice about something I know little or nothing about but haven't not heard of these speakers before you posted I went and looked them up.

Based on the specifications on their website, I'd assume, that with 2 700W amps per speaker to drive the LF drivers that they are almost certainly class D.  Any idea what modules they use or if they make them in house?  

While not mandatory, I would want to match the amps for the MF/HF that are driving your woofers.

I'm not sure how much information the dealers/ manufactures can (or will) share but asking them would be my starting point.  In fact, almost ALL speaker manufacturers design and voice their speakers with specific amplification and so they should have a great recommendation for you.

If not, a pair of nice class D monos would do the trick to match the speed and immediacy of the LF units.

What I find really interesting in looking at the specs on the site they list sensitivity at 98db (not surprising since it's crossed over at 400Hz) but the power handling at nearly 500W for that dynamic range has me scratching my head.

Greg
I think Paradigm and Anthem are an integrated company---I'd suggest looking at one of their amps. You might also look at Bryston's latest integrated--top drawer solid state kit with excellent sonics IMHO.
How about posting your impressions of the 9H? I am currently exploring Luxman amps and hope to hear the latest incarnation at the LA Audio Show in June. The new line seems to be popping up with positive reviews around the globe. Luxman just released an updated integrated,  L-590AXII.
Post removed 
With that much power for the woofers, agree it's almost certainly class D, you have the luxury of using a wide variety of amps.  I like tubes and don't think you should go all class D unless that turns out to be your favorite.  Please try a  tube amp
Parasound Halo Integrated comes to mind.  160wpc of class a/ab amplification and too many extras to list.
"Hi Guys, I am going to sound like a broken record, in what I am going to recommend, we have a lot of experience in this are....."

wow, give it a rest, enough already.
why integrated?

I know a guy who is a very careful listener who bought Personas.  He tried many different amps, and found the Benchmark AHB2 to be best; the Audio Alchemy 2nd best.  - no relation; no personal listening to either by me; and he has not done blind testing (yet - it's a wife thing)
I have an email out to the dealer to check.  I believe the internal amps are by Anthem.  
Mi4 - Glad you're looking into it.  

Assuming that your new speakers do in fact leverage Anthem class D's then my *strong* suggestion would be to get a pair of quality Class D mono's (so many great options) and a separate preamp.  Why?  

Considering the bang for the buck that good class D's provide versus linear amps, you could get fully balanced differential separate amps AND a great pre for the same investment (or even less).

You haven't mentioned what you plan to attach to this system, but it seems that there are a lot of great preamps on the market recently that have full analog bypass and also great DAC's that can handle hi-res PCM and MQA, DSD, etc.

I have a very different setup that yours, but if I were building a system around your speakers, this is the route I would probably take.

Greg
Greg I would highly disagree with any class D, we have tested many different Class D amplifiers from a bunch of assorted manufacturers including Hypex based, Ncore, Ice and other schemes.

As per the speakers having a Class D amplifier it is to drive subs and quite frankly Class D is perfect for this task. The fact that you can create two 700 watt amplifiers and fit them easily into the speakers is a testament to why Class D is perfect for this job, not to mention low heat and great reliability is also a plus. 

Although the speed and bass control is great, we have yet to find a Class D type of amplifier that has the midrange magic or palatability of the best Class A and A/B amplifiers. 

If you look at all the world's greatest amplifiers 99% of them are Class A or A/B including Gryphon, Vitus, Dartzeel, Solution, CH Precision, Goldmund, Technical Brain, BALABO, T+A, Chord,D'Agistino, Burmester, Thrax, Ypsillon, Audio Research, Ayre,  Conrad Johnson.  etc. 

You may be thinking that some of the newer amplifiers are Class D as they are sometimes smaller and lighter then older amplifiers. A new technique is to use a switched mode power supply rather than a giant linear power supply, the output stage in these amplifiers are still Class A or A/B. 

The Personas error on being hyper natural so if anything they need a bit of flavoring to make them sound a bit more engaging and less technically perfect.

The reason we are so high on the T+A is that they really combine the best attributes of  tubes with solid state and the Personas can handle the power and play loud so having unrestricted volume without to worry about compression is a great thing. 

By the way, I am also not saying that T+A is the only amplifier company that will sound good with the Personas, what I am saying is that the Personas are world class speakers and deserve the best, T+A is among the best sounding and best built products currently on the market. and as I have shown in the reviews I linked to they challenge the most expensive products yet cost 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the very best brands. 

We also sell quite a number of other amplifiers as well, so our testing as pointing out that in our opinion the combo is really fantastic, we tested Devialet, Conrad Johnson, Electrocompaniet, Coda, Aragon, Manley Labs, Nuprime, Naim, to name some of the products we have run and tested the speakers on.

Troy
Audio Doctor
877 428 2873
As per JSL, you think this is just a sales pitch, it is not. Many audiophiles make recommendations based on what they read not actual testing.

We also sell Parasound the Halo integrated is great for the money and it is not really in the right class of performance to match up with the Personas. 

We have also had the JC 2, and JC 1 combo, not up to the job either!

Chord, Electrocompaniet and many other companies products are better for a bit more money. Parasound needs to redo these older designs. 
I agree with audiotroy, because I’ve had the Parasound JC2 and A21. To my ears Parsound is just okay.

audiotroy -

I spent a bit more $ on the speakers than I originally envisioned.  Unfortunately, the T+A products likely will be out of range.  Was hoping to keep it to $7,500 max.  May have to two step it here.  Buy something decent now and upgrade down the road.  

Matt
Hi JSL
He never gives it a rest. We must suffer and endure.
Suffer and endure you may actually learn something!


Mi4 I understand what are you using currently and what would your budget be?

Just sayin', but this is Audiogon.  Used gear can really stretch your budget.  To all the golden ears viewing this thread, can anyone make a recommendation from the current gear listed on the site? 
If your speakers are 98db then I would recommend trying a tube amp SET would be fantastic with the base being handled I’d say that’s the direction you should try. I’ve had a Luxman class A amp in my system and it was really nice but after I picked up Finale audio’s F 3008 integrated 300b based with James transformers,I’m amazed at what 8wpc can do and I only have 94db speakers (living voice avatar 2) I would highly recommended Finale audio out of Toronto Canada made In North American totally and in your price range even with full upgrades
audiotroy seems intent on telling the forum just how good the Personas are at bringing out the worst in a wide range of amplifier brands and topologies. From reading his posts, they seem to be the quintessential bitch speakers: lovely to look at; impossible to live with.
The set up I heard for the demo was with McIntosh gear (C1100 pre amp and two MC2301 monoblock amplifiers).  Sounded great.  That said, a bit above my $7,500 budget at this time.  
There are a lot of really good used integrated amps available way under that number on Audiogon today. For example here are just a couple of fine class A and class A/B higher end products and even a class D from NAD at good prices:

Accuphase E-530 Integrated Power amplifier 30W pure class A
Anthem INT-225 Integrated Amplifier
NAD Master Series M2 Direct Digital Amplifier
Bryston B-135SST2

My own experience may be instructive in this process. Starting in 2008, I purchased a nice integrated from the board and lived with it for about a year.

As I became acclimated to the sound paired with my speakers at the time, I developed distinct preferences that were/were not being met by my choice.

This led to selling the unit, purchasing my next set of kit (happened to be Bryston separates this go around). I lived with that choice for quite some time. I’ve since moved on from the Bryston separates to a class D setup, but that had more to do with downsizing my home (and my Maggie 3.7s speakers to a near-field listening setup, Legacy Studio HD Monitors).

Lot of great stuff out there....
As usual the obvious questions are not being asked?

If MI4 bought the speakers from his local dealer why isn't he working with the dealer to solve this issue? Does that dealer sell a wide range of gear or not? What is being offered?

If he was our client, we would sell him a good affordable integrated amplifier and then take it back for what he paid for to facilitate his moving up to better gear later. 

Everything about Audiogon is about deals, the real deal is being satisfied with your purchase and sometimes older more expensive gear will be outperformed by newer cheaper gear.

If Mi4 would contact us, we have a great affordable idea for him that will give him great sound and fit into his price range, but hey what do I know as I spent the entire weekend in the shop listening to our 3F and 9H while setting up two turntables. 










Also maybe it isn't MI4 amplifier maybe it is his source or cables or whatever, he has. 

What gear is he using currently?

Troy
Audio Doctor
877 428 2873 
Audiotroll:
I can assure you that I have learned nothing from you except perhaps how shameless you can be as a salesperson. There is virtually nothing you have said that is not contained in the promotional material, professional reviews and the companies' websites which are extensive and revealing.  You merely add a salesman's pitch and bias to that information.
Most importantly, I have heard the T&A gear and the Paradigms you push. As you know, I think they are both very good audio companies and I admire both of them--especially T&A which is a very underrated audio company with superb engineering chops.  

Lets just say I disagree, the people who have worked with Dave who does 99% of the field work vs me who does  turntable setup on the weekends, would beg to differ with you. 

Head over to Matt's post on a reference grade digital front end, guess what he finally laid that to rest, and bought a Davinici.

Look at Musicfx bought a T+A integrated not from us and was on the merry go round and couldn't decide, between a Pass Labs piece and a Prima Luna and now loves his T+A integrated.

We gave tips to a guy who bought Personas not from us, about setup and footers.

So in one out of three cases, we gained nothing, in in one case, the guy had been to our shop and already respected our products and experience. 

Not wanting to put you down, but there are very few hobbyists that have the real world experience that a dealer does. I don't think you are in the audio business for a Living and unless you are it is doubtful that you have the same range and depth of product knowledge and experience. 

As per championing our brands, both T+A and Paradigm Personas are newer products to this market and many people still talk about the brands and products they know. 

If you look at T+A build quality, design, and technology they can easily rival the D'agastino's, Vitus, Solution and many others. 


Here is another interesting point, how many people on these forums actually saw and even read the T+A review in the Absolute Sound in the first place? 

I am willing to bet you that many people never saw or even read that review are just starting to hear  about this brand. 

If it wasn't for that one review we never would have considered the new HV series, as most German gear is very expensive, which is not true with many of T+A products. 

We would welcome you to the shop to hear our reference system under non show conditions, and then judge for youself. 
"Not wanting to put you down, but there are very few hobbyists that have the real world experience that a dealer does. I don't think you are in the audio business for a Living and unless you are it is doubtful that you have the same range and depth of product knowledge and experience."

AT- 

I'm sorry but hobbyists (as you label us/ them) buy what they want because they love the hobby, the music and what they hear-  and so many do so with passion and without bias as to brand or price-range- and will pursue this with all available resources that they've accrued through other means.

Subsequently dealers need to sell what they have access to sell so that they can pay for their houses, cars, meals or whatever so...

"Let(')s just say I disagree" (punctuation added to be correct)

Listen - I'm not going to take you up on your invite that you extended earlier (now deleted) to come hear your brand of speakers since that was not the topic of the thread - but listen - why don't you come to my side of the river to my place instead and hear my system through my amps and speakers, in a real room and then reflect on why **your** products are better and convince me.

Assuming they are, I'm perfectly happy to have you report back here on the findings openly and objectively and I'll even host and provide dinner or whatever.

That might be something to think about, considering all you seem to care about is disagreeing with people, promoting your business and securing new clients.  If you have a better product to sell - convince yourself and then me and I'll make a move to it.  Might even buy it from your business if you are a nicer guy in person than you come across here,  but I'm not getting on the path train to find out based on what I've seen of you here so far.

In all due respect (sincerely).

Greg

To the OP, your budget for an integrated amp is pretty large. I would say, a nice tube integrated like the moderately priced Primaluna Dialogue Premium would be perfectly fine. I head it with Dynaudio Contour 20's, and the combo sounded heavenly.
Greg you miss my point, that post was not directed at you but for Grbu, dude.

Our mission is to focus on these brands which may offer far better sound for the money, such as T+A, Legacy, Paradigm Personas and many others.

What I find so bizarre is how so many people make recommendations based on what exactly? What they have read in a review or possibly heard at a show? In the case of the Personas, we almost passed on them when we heard them paired with okay electronics in another dealers shop.

The Forums are absolutely dealer hostile, when most dealers should be considered great sources of knowledge and experience. Also everyone is just buy used, when many times dealers have demo models that may be less expensive then new, and only a bit more expensive then buying used, and getting service and support can't be a bad thing.

For example we can play our Personas with Naim, Nuprime, Conrad Johnson, T+A, Electrcompaniet, Devialet, Synthesis, Manly Labs and other brands of quality tube and solid state designs, and they sound very different depending on what you pair them with.

Are there other brands of good equipment of course their are, we are not saying we are the only ones who can make the speakers sound great. 

What I am trying to illustrate is that is is journey with Reference grade products, we tried quite a number of really expensive electronics until we found that the T+A gear in particular married the best qualities of the Conrad Johnsons, with what the Chord electronics did, we also tried Thrax and Devialet, 

I hope that clarifies my point, and yes we would love to hear your system across the river. 


AudioTroy, I must have read almost all of your posts here because I can see you have experience listening to a ton of products. You also are enthusiastic about audio and write well. I am actually going to go to Covina, CA this weekend for a LA Audio Society event because the guys from T+A are going to be presenting their speakers and electronics at a very nice store (very large space). The reason I decided to make the long 2 hour drive was because of your posts here on T+A. Just wanted to write this to let you know your posts do not fall on deaf ears.
Dear yysantabarbera,

Thank you so much for getting us and understanding why we post.

Have a great time at the event please tell the T+A guys we were instrumental in getting you to check out the gear.

And afterwards let me know your thoughts on the products.

I have no idea on what they are going to use for their setup in terms of cables, power conditioning and sources and of course speakers, nor do I have any idea of how that dealers room sounds so I can't know if you will be blown away or not I am really curious to what you will think. 

Thanks again,

Sincerely, the Audio Doctor boys, Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor
877 428 2873

and if you are ever in our neck of the woods I would love to be able to meet you and demonstrate our T+A setups with the Personas, Enklein Cables along with Audio Magic power conditioning.

Just heard the Personas with the new Anthem integrated due out in May at Axpona, and the combination was impressive.  
I myself would give a phone call to Rick Duplia of Audio Alternative north of Boulder at Fort Collins.  Rick has been a Paradigm dealer for many years now and has, the last time I saw him, has a couple of their latest top of the line speakers on demo.  Actually, I might even give some of the other current Paradigm dealers a phone call to ask them what they suggest.  Of course the electrical products that they currently carry might be different, and of course, they would probably suggest their own current offerings.  As they have built in subwoofer systems built in the amplifier chosen would most likely be chosen for their midrange and upper frequency audio reproduction.  As for myself, if I had the room (large speakers with tremendous base audio reproduction might not go too well in a small third floor wlkup one bedroom apartment.  For myself most likely I would choose top quality tube electronics, such as Audio Research for instance.  One would probably need more power than such as Prima Luna can provide for best results, but the speaker system under discussion is a "BIG" speaker system and would be best if posessing more than 70 watts per channel offered by the vast majority of tube amplifiers.  I might also want to check with someone from Paradigm itself to get their own suggestions.

We have one if the new Anthem STR integrated on order so I will let you know how that amp sounds vs all are other integraed amplifiers.

We are very found of the Unison Research Line, we had the older Unico 50 which was a tube hybid design that bested every other integrated amplifier we compared it to including Luxman and Hegel.

I have no idea how any of these guys will sound on a pair of 9H we have the 3F in our second sound room which contains the integrated amps.
Just curious that to why you have very large 30k + speakers and why you need an integrated? Seems like some good separates are in order. 
@MI4A,

A few of us recently auditioned a pair of Ayre amps with the 9Hs. The 2 amps we auditioned were both Ayres.  One was the integrated AX-5 Twenty (125 WPC @ 8 ohms, 250 WPC @  4 ohms.  The other was the MX-R Twenty, (300 WPC @ 8 ohms, 600 WPC @ 4 ohms). All cables were the same.

Since the AX-5 Twenty doesn't have a way to use an external pre-amp, we used the AX-5 as a true integrated and connected an Ayre QX-5 Twenty to it as our digital streamer/DAC.  For the MX-R Twenty listening we again used the QX-5 Twenty as the digital front end source and directly connected it to the MX-R amps via XLR using the QX-5's digital volume control so the QX-5 was effectively the source and pre-amp.

I mention the wattage only because we were thinking there should be little difference in the number of Ayre watts we supplied to the 9H speakers as they have 1,400 watts per cabinet for the 4 woofers.  One would think 125 watts for a mid and tweeter would be more than enough.  Were we wrong.  

The 9H became a different speaker with the MX-R Twenty amps. With the AX-5 Twenty integrated the 9H just sounded like a wall of music with little separation of the musicians.  The bass also was not well defined.  With the MX-R Twenty's in place, the 9H bass was more coherent with the mid & tweeter.  Additionally, and this was surprising to us, we had less distortion of the mid-bass and bass with the MX-R Twenty amps.

We used the song 'Gaia' from James Taylor's 'Hourglass' album to test bass management.  At the 4:13 mark, there's a few thunderous floor tom thwacks.  When played at a moderate - high SPL, it will let you know about your bass reproduction.  With the AX-5 integrated there was a fair amount of woofer break-up (aka distortion).  With the MX-Rs at the same SPL, no woofer break-up.

I've heard several Martin Logan (ML) owners say that the powered woofers built into many of the ML models behave the same way.  They explain that the LF amps are influenced by the power characteristics from the main amp.

Perhaps Audiotroy can explain this feature better as he's more familiar with the 9H's.  Just wanted to let you know about our recent discovery.


Could it be that Ayre watts are not Ayre watts?

A flagship product from any company should always sound dramatically better than their lower end line, and in your case  you were comparing an intergrated amplifier to the company's flagship monoblocks.

I find this no surprise as any company whose flagship product didn't sound better then their lower end more affordable products would be in serious trouble.

I do agree with one of the other posters that for $7,500.00 the OP should be able to find some really good affordable separates, we have some demo CJ and Bat products that would would clear out as they are not current and I am sure there are other dealers with similar deals.

As per why you were getting break up on the sysem with the integrated I do find that a big puzzling as the speaker is efficient, perhaps it was an impedance issue with the amp, cables and speakers, most integrated amplifiers power supplies are not anywhere as stiff as what is in a much larger stereo or mono chassis. 

As per the Ayre stuff it is very good gear I find it a bit dry sounding and personally I would think it would be a little too cold on the Personas, 
what was the rest of the setup you demoed with? Cabling, source and power conditioning? 

Troy
Audio Doctor


The thing which you have identified is the specious reasoning that many members think when you have a flagship speaker with self amplified bass.

Just because you take the bass drive from the speaker doesn't mean that the midrange and tweeter drivers are any less forgiving.

I remember demos done at CES's past where really expensive electronics were driving cheapie speakers and everyone was amazed at the results.

I find it usually not the case when expensive speakers are driven by cheapie electronics. these are sins of ommision vs commision.

A cheapie speaker may have colorations from cabinet ringing and cheapie wiring and crossover components so the speakers are not transparent, but in their range may sound great, and when driven by great electronics you are hearing everything possible out of the speakers.

Not so when you reverse the equation, cheapie electonics don't have the power supply stiffness to start and stop the speakers, even in the midrange/midbass, and their lack of clarity and congestion cause the system to sound medocre.

So the equation we like to recommend to our clients is the electronics should cost as much to twice the price of the speakers on avergage. We have found certain less expensive pairings that work well.

In the case of our store, the T+A stuff just blows away all the less expensive stuff not even close. We demoed the $11k 2500r integrated and it was still pretty magical not quite in the same class as the big HV stuff, but you could hear the family resemblance.

I would still take that $11k integrated vs many of the other separates we sell. So in MI4 case he has a lot of demoing to do.

Troy
Audio Doctor


mi4,
You asked a simple question. Recommendations on an INTEGRATED amplifier. I recently acquired my first Class D integrated, a Primare I32. The sound quality is exactly what I was looking for: very natural (no syrup), realistic sound stage, lets me hear every detail and nuance, dynamic and engaging. It's rated at 120/230 WPC; but measures 160/345.
http://www.primare.net/assets/_managed/products/files/I32HiFiNews611UK.pdf
There's one for sale on eBay now for $1,700 with the optional DAC package. The only caveats are that my speakers are quite different than yours - passive 3-way towers and that Primare may be coming out with a new model soon.  Expect that to be a bit over $3,000 without the DAC?

Other integrateds I listened to before buying the Primare were the Belle Aria, Creek Classic 5350SE, and Prima Luna Dialog separates. I didn't even listen to an Ayre or T+A, since I am not interested in spending that kind of money.

Jim,
Amature music lover


By no means do I suggest  a 'cheapie' amp for treble and mids.  What the powered bass gives you, is a bit of freedom from the big current draw/low impedance, associated with the low frequencies.  As an example, you could use  really fine tube amps that puts out 24 to 50 watts from 211 or 845 output tubes. They are amongst my favorite sonically.
I have been selling new and used audio equipment for 40 years. In the course of a year I get to listen to a hundred or more pieces of different audio equipment. Here is what I have learned.

System synergy, your listening room and personal taste are critical to making a decision when purchasing audio equipment.

No two persons listening preference are the same. I have had equipment that sounded so bad to me I could not listen to it for any length of time but customers bought it and told me for years how much they loved the sound of the equipment.

 An audio salesperson taste changes when they change stores and an audio reviewer taste change when something new and more expensive comes out.

Used equipment is the best bargain. Do some research and find out what equipment the audio reviewers and salespeople were recommending 5 years ago and use that information to help you make a decision. You can buy and sell (and listen to) many pieces of used equipment with very little investment verses the loss you incur when buying and selling new equipment.

Through the years I have heard many pieces of new equipment from many different manufactures that to me did not sound as good as the model it replaced. I have a collection of older equipment that I have personally picked over the years as my favorite from the thousands of pieces of equipment that I have had the opportunity listened to. Some of the newer equipment may sound better but when you consider the up to10 times difference in price ( new car to new house kind of money) the older equipment is a no brainer.

Go listen to as much live unamplified music in as many different vinues as you can it is the ultimate reference music.

As far as the best integrated for you - buy used, listen to a bunch and pick the one you like the best. Biggest mistake in buying audio- getting in a hurry and not listening to equipment in your system.