The best integrated amplifier

Hi All
Right now I am using a Marantz PM-KI Pearl amp to drive Esoteric MG-20 speakers. I feel that a better amplifier would give them a bit more get up and go. I would like to stick with an integrated and have short listed:
Pass Labs INT-150
Moon 700i
Audio Research dsi150
GammuT Di 150
As a starting point for auditioning. Now to the question:
Is there anything else I should put on the list?
Any experience with the products listed would be helpful.
Hi Zekezebra,

Yes, I think you might want to put on your audition list the new Modright 200 integrated. I will be doing a review on it for the website in the very near future. If you want to contact me in the next few weeks for details regarding its sonics, please do.
No list would be complete without Rowland and Gryphon.
Shooting for the moon won't necessarily get you there. As I recall, the Esoteric speakers you have use metal (magnesium) cones and that beautiful woodwork is done by Tannoy, but when I heard them, they didn't have that get up and go that you described and that was with an Esoteric integrated at TEAC's listening room. It wasn't an ideal room set up (what with all the clutter) but it was soundproofed which let the speakers loose, so to speak. I was auditioning the then, new, TEAC PD-H600 CDP and I could tell it was worth it but I knew it would sound better back at my place. And it did.

You'll definitely need something that can move those speakers.
I would definitely consider Threshold, Coda and McCormack. I agree with the Rowland and Pass as well.
VAC Avatar.

It is not the power that will move the speakers it is the quality of the sound. Think about a good tube integrated. I have a pair of demo MG-20's listed on agon and can make suggestions. give me a shout.

Hi all
Thanks for the response so far. I would like to stick with solid state, really can't see me messing around with tubes.

In the long run I don't feel the Esoteric speakers are for me. What they do with simple type music they do extremely well but I don't think they will ever rock. So this is a longer term plan - get the best out of them for now with a better amp and then go for speakers so I will be auditioning amps along side speakers.

I have quite a large room (by European standards) and am really looking for a set up that will bring the best out from all types of music not just a head banging type system.

There is a chance of a pair of GamuT L7 speakers at a really god price so it would be interesting to hear these along side the GammuT amp.
check out the cayin 100, great sound, great value.
Zeke, the amps you have listed are not so powerful risking you leave speakers underpowered. For what it's worth, JRDG C-500 give you much more power. Compairing a more powerful amp to a lesser, should probably make you nod towards to one with more power. JRDG won't give you a "bloom" but rely more on your cdp and speaker cable to set the sonic ideal. C-500 is very neutral but not sharp. If you have a large room, i would not go for those you listed. I would myself try the C-500 and a wise choice of speaker cable. Next step from that is a combo of pre/power amps.
Luxman should be on this list.

Teajay, have you heard the new Modwright 200? That is one nice looking integrated and whats more is something like that can really simplify ones system. Of course you can get the preamp/Amp in one box but also a USB DAC too. I know it is 200 watts, which is great, but what about current?
If you don't add Ayre to your audition list, you would be doing yourself a great disservice.
OP, are you working on the assumption that you will need at least 100 watts come what may?
Rega OSIRIS ... lots of glowing review out there

demo units for $4,999 (brand new is $9K) currently on E-Bay (US site)
Coda, Pass
McIntosh MA 6600. Please post your final choice. Love this stuff, a lot of great gear to choose from. Look at the total package. May the blue meters be with you.
I read up on the Rega Oriris. Lots of glowing reviews for sure. However an owner said that you better have warm speakers and it might not do so well with poor recordings. Plus, even though it is a likely a killer sounding unit in the right circumstances, it is not very attractive. Yeah, I admit it, I like looks too.
check lfd ncse

I don't think the British sound, the MG-20's are made partly by Tannoy and tuned in Scotland, can ever be accused of "rocking out"
Another vote for Ayre.
re: "... However an owner said that you better have warm speakers and it might not do so well with poor recordings..."

I am an OSIRIS owner. From direct personal experience I do not agree that "warm" speakers are required. We test-drove many different pairs before settling on our final choice.

Any brand top quality gear will highlight any shortcomings in poor quality recordings. The amp simply reproduces what is fed to it... "garbage in = garbage out" as the homily goes. That points to either the quality of the source or the recording, or both.
For me, it's a HH Scott 222D
I continue to be very satisfied with my LFD Zero LE MkIV.
I have a couple of suggestions, but it partly depends on power needs. I prefer tubes, but one of the best amps I have heard, regardless of topography, was the Lavardin IT, only 50 watts though.

The best SS I have heard, cost no object, was the Dartzeel 8550. Unfortunately, cost is always an object, so I will never own one.
Given your need for power (150+ watts) and your desire for solid state, I'd say you should go with the Gryphon Diablo, the Gamut, the Dartzeel, the OLD jeff rowland integrateds, or the Pass Labs.

I've heard good things about the Coda units also, but I cant vouch for them like I can the others above.

Depending on whether you need a phono stage or not, there are only 3 solid state 150+ watt players left (the Gryphon, the DartZeel, and the old Jeff Rowlands). You'll pay $5k-$15k on the used market depending on what you chase after. Beware though, the DartZeel has some ridiculous keyfob George Orwell ID system associated with it, so if you buy it used, you could be in for a headache.

If I did not need a phono stage, I would have gone with the GamuT. If I only needed less than 50 watts, I would have gone with the Pass Labs INT-30.

Everything else (including a bunch of the recommendations you've heard already in this thread) will come up short. Cheap volume controls. Lots of op-amps. Switching power supplies. And on and on. Trust me - I've done the research and paid the big bucks to learn my lesson(s).

I've owned big solid state integrateds from many manufacturers (Musical Fidelity, Marantz, Sim Audio, Burmester, etc). I dont know what your budget is, but if you really want the best (given your criteria of solid state and more than 150+ watts), refer to my suggestions at the beginning of this post.
AKg Ca, thanks for chiming in on your experience with Orisis. I agree somewhat with the garbage in garbage out, however I am not a source first guy to the point that it becomes so hugely important. Important yes, but there are so many other variables. For example, I can drop a 50 DVD player in and it will still sound really good. I have had a lot of bad recordings. They are never going to sound like Roxy Music or Jennifer Warnes. I have had to put together systems that make those type of recordings sound the best as possible. I don't want stuff that "shows" me how bad things are and how great the good stuff is. There are speakers and components out there that help breath some life and air into poor recordings. Yes they won't sound outstanding but they also won't sound flat, dull, harsh and lifeless either. So in that sense, the Orisis may not be a good fit for some people. I speculate that is why the person said pair them with warm speakers. Whether it is the speakers or source I don't think matters, what matters is with the Orisis is he has to compensate for something somehow.
Check out Neodio NR600 Signature, Frech made, 100 watts, replaced a Air Tight300b/Joule Electra 300ME combo and have never looked back.
Pass Labs INT-150 would be my pick, plus you can audition it at home in your system without risk other than paying for original to and from shipping. Any other's in your list that will loan you an amp to try out ? I bet not. Try Pass first. RenoHiFi
Has anyone actually heard both the Lavardin IT and the LFD LE? That sounds like a very interesting comparison, but I suspect very few have heard both.
The Luxman 509u integrated amp is wonderfully musical, beautifully built, and powerful - 120W into 8 Ohms, and 240W into 4 Ohms.

I auditioned several of the amps mentioned above, and the Luxman won me (and my wallet) over.
I've auditioned the LAVARDIN and the LFD and also the AUDIOMAT before I bought.All were outstanding.

LFD was my personal choice between these but subject to the clear qualification that it appeared to very sensitive to one and all of a proper matching to (i) the source, (ii) the speakers' and yes ... (iii) using LFD's own top-shelf (and expensive ...sigh) cables (ICs and speaker cables)

In a properly tailored system it is magical and was my personal #2 choice overall in my ultimate purchase. This illusory search for audio nirvana (clearly a value judgement)in our common hobby is more of a journey rather than a destination.
I recommend adding the Boulder 865 to your list. I prefered it to the Pass integrateds - better resolution and more alive sounding. Different strokes for different folks. Haven't heard that particular Simaudio unit, but in general I have found their stuff to be lower res sounding and more "wooly" than some of the other brands on the list. Just my 2 cents.
I second the Luxman. I "downgraded" to a Luxman L-550AX about a month ago (20 W class A, no tube hassle), it's a beauty. There is a higher power class A (30 W, L-590AX) and a line of other Lux integrateds that are AB (much higher power, like the 509u that another member suggested) I believe. Some useful features for me at least include a MC Phono stage, a loudness control, headphone jack (late night listening). But its the sound that makes the Lux special. Driving Gallo Ref 3.5 speakers, I feel no need at all for more power (but I do have a fairly small listening space). If you're not familiar with the brand, check out their web site. And they have big meters that light up (ala McIntosh).

I just received a 509U, have some questions about it (no owners manual, etc), wonder if you would be so kind to answer based on your having the unit.
Ive heard amazing things about the Luxman. That's on my very short list. I'm waiting for the Ayre AX-5 to be released before I take the plunge. You cant go wrong with Luxman. Let us know your impressions.
Well, its been a month. I was initially very disappointed, the music was harsh, hard to listen to. I decided to play the unit non-stop for about 10 days and now find it pretty great. I initially regretted the purchase but after an extended "burn-in" could not be much more pleased. I went for this unit to decrease the number of boxes in front of me plus to have the option of a subtle treble tone control to help make so many CDs listenable. Recommended.
Have now mated this wonderful integrated with Luxman D06 CD/SACD player. Driving a pair of 5A's, will not ask for more.