I don't know the Aesthetx, but the Focals tend to be very airy but also "revealing." Maybe TOO bright.
They are also challenging in the mid-bass due to low output impedance they tend to put there.
This is really going to depend on your listening style. If you like full range music, the Luxman. If you like low level listening, something that's going to sound better turned down, the Pass.
Also, due to the low impedance, you may be better served by the Luxman 509 thanks to the robust output stage. I could be wrong here, but I think it has more output transistors.... I'd have to do more research to find out.
In any event, I strongly encourage you to listen. You may find your tastes are the opposite of mine.
Are these the only two you are looking into? If not, look at the Hegel H390 or H590. I was looking at Pass, Luxman and a few others, but like you, I was unable to audition the Pass and Luxman, but could the Hegel. Never looked back...
i am also a big hegel fan... i think they sound absolutely wonderful, not a hint of ss glare or hardness, deep dark background, spacious wide and deep sound stage, tremendous bass control
other top ss integrateds - by pass, luxman, naim, ayre, belles are all in the same (top) class of sq, but i have come to prefer hegels
i also agree that the focal be tweeter is very good, but can be easily teased into brightness, so smooooooth is the key word on source and amp selection, in which case, one must also not rule out good tube amps, i.e. from stalwarts arc and cj, and respected newcomers like rogue, primaluna etc etc
I've considered the Hegel, but I'm old school and don't have time or interest in streaming and all the technology that goes with it. I wonder if the Hegel is a good option as I would not use all of its capacity.
understood on the hegels including a dac which may not be used
you can get a used hegel with last gen dac, and consider that aspect a throw-away... what is special about the hegels is the amp section - something brilliant going on there... i don't use the dac in any of my hegels (have 3)
Since your speakers are pretty efficient you probably could use a lower powered class A amp. The luxman and pass labs are both excellent choices. It seems that a class A or strong bias in class A to A/B would be a good way to go with the focals. Mike at Suncoast Audio carries both and he is a really good source of information (no affiliation with him).
The Luxman L-590 isn't low powered. The 30watts is presumably the Class A rating, the amp will produce 90watts/channel into 8 ohms, according to a couple of reviews where it was actually measured. Nearly doubles that into 4 ohms.
Is this critical? No, but my experience is that amps are more sensitive to a speaker's impedance than we believe from the pure math. On the other hand, the 507 also has only 3, and I find it very capable, but .... my speakers have a higher minimum.
So, if you had the chance to listen to both, I'd 100% recommend you listen to what happens in the mid bass as a factor to consider. It may be zero, you may even like it.
Also, yes, the 590's actual power output for music listening will be the equal of the 509/507.
Again, want to emphasize that what's important is the performance, not the theory, but here goes.
The lower a speaker's impedance is, the harder to drive, the more likely an amplifier is to sag, or produce less output in that region than the rest. The "ideal voltage source" theory, where the output is the same across all frequencies, regardless of impedance, will always fail if the speaker impedance is low enough.
Here are the measurements for the 1037, which lets us talk about this with specific frequencies in mind:
For this particular speaker, the hardest areas to drive are between 30 Hz and 300 Hz. In this case the issue is more towards the true bass than mid bass.
Focal tends to make speakers which are "demanding" for amplifiers, especially in the bass/mid bass region. Since bass is the largest signal swing in music and the impedance is lowest there, this is a tough to drive speaker. Not as tough in absolute terms as others, but difficult nonetheless. To some, these speakers will appear "discerning" of amplifier, and I worry audiophiles take it to mean they reproduce music better.
In any event, where the impedance sags below 4 Ohms is a place to listen when comparing amplifiers. However!!! Just because it produces less bass, is not disqualifying, you might like that, and it may make a better amp/speaker/room match.
builder3 Can you elaborate on your statement regarding the mid-bass, Erik.
Here’s the piece I find important. Per Luxman’s website, the 590 has: Bipolar 3-parallel push-pull But the 509 has:Bipolar 4-parallel push-pull Implying a lower output impedance.
This is bi-polar v mosfet and the lower output impedance (amount of damping factor) can be a bit of a furphy builder3. As the damping factor also comes down to the amount of "negative feedback" used (global or local), and size of the output resistors the output stage has, to what amp has the "lower output impedance" (better damping factor) it could very well be the Pass Int-60.
For some one who loves Pass, you just did Pass a huge disservice.
Really!! No, you just been caught out not knowing what constitutes low output impedance (good damping factor) in an amp and were pulled up on it, that why your backs ups, everyone knows your a Lux pusher.
I actually don’t like the Mosfet sound, when Pass built Threshold bi-polar amps, I much prefer the good ones of those.
I actually own and use the pass int 60. It is a smooth and warm in the middle amp. At the same time is is very transparent. It tends to get out of the way of the music and you just listen. Bass is very controlled and doubles its power into 4 ohm. It has a tube characteristic, which I happen to like. I am using mine with the ls50 meta’s and the sound together is like nothing I have ever owned. I have never heard any of the other amps that have been mentioned, but I can tell you, you will not be disappointed if you go with the pass.
dwest1023 I actually own and use the pass int 60. It is a smooth and warm in the middle amp. At the same time is is very transparent. It tends to get out of the way of the music and you just listen. Bass is very controlled and doubles its power into 4 ohm.
Then look at the tested Stereophile specs of the Int-60 below, it’s actually 79w into 8ohm and 120into 4ohm as you can see even "Pass Labs" under quotes the 8ohm wattage, to make the 4ohm look like it’s doubling!!!!.
"The INT-60 is specified as delivering 60Wpc into 8 ohms, our sample clipped at 79Wpc with both channels driven into that load. Into 4 ohms the amplifier clipped at 125W" This should be closer to 160w at 4ohms.
As for the 2ohm figure, complimentary push pull mosfets tend tend to **** themselves into 2ohms, as this Stereophile statement says
"The Pass Labs was less comfortable driving 2 ohms than it was with higher impedances, as shown by fig.7"
Thanks, Erik, I appreciate it. I assume the flip side of that is that some amps do well, i.e. double their power when the impedance is halved, others fall short. I don’t begin to understand enough about amplifier design to know the whys and why nots, wish I did.
George, I read your stuff with interest as well. That being said, not really sure why you’d be throwing the ’fanboy’ slur around. I’d be very interested in listening to Pass Labs. The chance hasn’t presented itself, though. I’m very happy with my Luxman, if your opinion is different, I’m okay with that.
I do like both, but Pass is beter in low. Both are detailfull and very open , 3D I had the Luxman and was a little bit to “sharp” , Less detail in the lower area. Pass have a good combination between High-mid-low. I prefer Pass.
It's a little more subtle than that. Most amps will double in power as impedance is halved.... down to a point.
From 32 to 16 to 8 to 4. That's Fairly typical for most amps to handle. As the speaker impedance gets close to the amp impedance though, this vanishes. The power never gets to the speaker, and things sag.
It's my experience throough a lot of listening and cable comparisons, that amps _can_ be a little more sensitive to this problem, cable and speaker impedance, than we have thought. How much it is worth to fix, whether it is bad, and what a particular amp/speaker combo will sound like is another matter.
not really sure why you’d be throwing the ’fanboy’ slur around.
I was a big fan of Nelson with Threshold (bi-polar), but not so much with complimentary push pull Mosfets Pass Labs, as the P channel Mosfet always let them down big time for current delivery, but fine for easy to drive speakers, I tend to like ones that just happen to be pigs to drive Wilson Alexia etc etc
But there have been a couple of Mosfet amp manufacturers lately that have used only the N channel mosfet for both the complimentary push pull pairing, and they get just as much current from those as big bi-polars like the old Thresholds gave and today Gryphons. Agostino, Krell etc etc. I’ve yet to hear any of them, would love to though. One is the Constellation Audio power
" Instead of the usual push-pull arrangement of N-type output transistors for one half of the waveform and P-type devices for the other half (each of which has somewhat different performance characteristics), within each Centaur Mono are a pair of carefully matched "floating" (ie, not referenced to ground) amplifiers, both using only N-channel MOSFETs. (There are eight transistors on each half-bridge, for a total of 16.) One amplifier is fed the balanced signal’s negative phase, the other the positive."
And this is what it did on test, and it a Mosfet!! (but only N-Chanel push pull) 520W into 8ohm 830W into 4ohm 1210W into 2ohm
Larseand, what a nice problem to have. Can’t listen to the amps in your system and asking us to pick one for you based on our experiences. Looking at the responses here, it appears that most only have experience with 1 amp and that’s the only amp which is recommended.
FWIW I was offered both Pass labs Int60 and Luxman L-590AXII about 5 or 6 months ago. Similarly I can’t listen to both in my system and have to pick one. In the end I chose the Luxman and am glad to report that it matches very well with my speakers. I don’t think you will go wrong with either one although they both don’t sound alike. Since you own Focal 1038Be which is known to be a rather bright speaker, the Luxman and Pass Labs Class A will be a good if not great match since both amps sound smooth at the top. If you have a tough decision, perhaps pick the one that looks more appealing to you.
That would be a killer amp for my near-field listening set-up, George. In all seriousness, I've had nearly zero exposure to high-end equipment. It intrigues me, but it's also beyond reality for me. Same with Italian sports cars, lol.
That would be a killer amp for my near-field listening set-up, George.
Got the perfect amp for your nearfield listening, look at a pair of only 25w into 8ohm monoblocks, like the Mark Levison ML2 monos of yesteryear they do an even better doubling act all the way down to 1ohm even.