The best separates between $2500-3000. Moving on from the original Rogue Sphinx Intg..

I have decided  NOT to upgrade the original  Rogue Sphinx integrated amp to its new version.  Therefore, I would humbly ask for recommendations for  the best separates in the $2500-3000 range. I would prefer the same brand pre-amp and power amp, but will consider mixed brands.

My requirements are basic: at least 150-175 RMS; a simple "quality" remote with a mute switch and smoothly calibrated volume control.  Pre-amp Out ( optional) feature;.  A good headphone stage;  A good to VG phono stage, BUT  CAN forego in favor of a good  phono box.. .

I DON'T WANT OR NEED:  an onboard DAC for streaming audio files  ; processor loops, or subwoofer inputs and outputs HT inputs and outputs;  class D amp

Because of the plethora of new pre-amps with the features I don't want, I might consider older "quality" pre-amps without the bells and whistles. However, I AM NOT interested in  so called   "upgraded" vintage  or refurbished" crap from 20-30 years ago. I recently got burned on a refurbished and marginally upgraded turntable. My mistake.  Thank you for your advice 


How about the new 'Blak' integrated from Roksan...
will you be using the GoldenEar Triton Sevens?
And do you want all SS, or are you open to a tube pre with a SS amp?
Take a look! Just might be what you are looking for!
If you are willing to go with a tube pre with a SS amp you might consider a Jolida Fusion all tube pre. I enjoy mine mated to a SS amp (BEL 1001MK5). The Jolida has output impedance of 600ohms, the BEL has input impedance of 22Kohms. Retail cost is $1350. One issue, it does not have a phonostage. 
Odyssey Khartago or Stratos for the amp, have not heard their preamps. I ran a Khartago Plus with a Rowland Capri with built in phono. I could only get about $1200 when I sold the Rowland, so the combo is within your budget and sounds great.  I replaced it with a Belles Soloist 1 Integrated which sounds great too, but less power than you are asking for
Music. Buy more music. And not from self-appointed pimps like Spotify.

To Lowrider.  I will probably keep the GET 7's for a while, until I give them a chance with better electronics. I have on and off considered the new Maggie.7

I would prefer to stick with all SS, but would be open to a tube pre and SS amp combo.

Thanks to those who have replied so far, I hope to provide a reply to each of your recommendations  


There is a pair of odyssey Khartago monos  for sale on AG, came up today. Asking $1200.
I ran the 3 piece mini Maggie system with a stereo Khartago Plus and it was a great combination

Post removed 

Thanks to all have responded so far; My reply to Lowrider  indicated I would reply to the others separately in one reply context.  However, it was lost according to Audiogon..... AG claims it was a glitch!!  

To mensch; I saw the ad but don't know if I want to get back into mono blocks, even though it looks like a deal I previously owned the Red Dragon M-500's about 6 years ago  Sounded edgy and bright after a while 

To Jl35, I am familiar with the Khartago, and almost bought one a few years ago. Do you know if the Khartago Plus sounded better than original, or provides more power??   I know the original review in TAS was very positive, and Jon Valin bravely claimed that despite some gritty sound in the midrange, Khartago sounded similar  to the $45,000  Soulution amp. .  What rope was he smoking that day?? 

The Plus sounds better than the original. Power increase is minimal. Not familiar with the mono block version, and there is a version above the Plus. I briefly replaced a Pass X250.5 with it, and the Khartago was quite impressive.  I did like the Pass better though...


I am concern that the Khartago's 130 RMS  may not be enough power should I go with Maggie's .7 speakers. or even another box speaker. It is only 30 watts more than Rogue Sphinx integrated, and so about 3db more volume or head room.  But, I  am not looking for "more volume" as greater clarity and resolution, and musicality.  Nevertheless, I have been looking for a pre-amp.  I saw a review in this month TAS about Brown Audio Labs sp-1. pre-amp . Dick  Olsher raved about its MM phonostage,, but the unit has no head phone feature, or phono stage.

Obviously I could go out and buy a quality phono box, but that is more wires.  The IA has a MP3 input which does not sound as good according to Olsher as listening through the output stage.  I have no use for that , and hate MP compressed music. It  also has no remote or balance control.  The pre-amp also has low noise and distortion specs. It sells $850.  However, it is one man company which may not be around in 5 years.  

 I gather that in the current separates market, these features are luxuries, and supposedly increase production costs. I would easily have settled for the headphone feature and a good remote.  

 BTW, what pre-amp did you use with the Khartago Plus??  I have learned that impedance matching between pre-amp and power amp can make a difference in the sound quality, especially with mixed brand componnets   Thanks for the info,.   

   Have you considered the Parasound A21 power amp?
250wpc/8 ohms and 400w/4 ohms. There's a lot of love for them and I've seen them come up for sale used.
I used a Rowland Capri. Original version. Stratos has more power very similar sound  I did not like the Parasound but many do 
I also used a Linn Majik Kontrol. Great pre and used price is very low 
Audio by Van Alstine (avahifi) could be an option for new components.  The Vision SL preamp with phono and remote is 1499.00 and the Synergy 300 amp is 150W per channel for another 1499.00 and it is rated down to 2 ohm load.  No fancy casework but might be worth checking out.

jl35   Thank you again for your recommendations   I believe you mentioned the Rowland Capri before; it which looks stunning but how does it sound??. The Odyssey Stratos is a viable alternative to the Khartago, but it is heavy and big, and I have a bad back.

I have seen a used ARC 150.2  amp on ebay which is 150RMS. It looks clean but  was, according to the seller was issued in 1993 which means it is 23 years old.  It got mixed reviews, some loved it;  some claim it is garbage. Seller  wants $1400, but that is too much. I believe its  market value may be $950 regardless of it ARC pedigree.  It is either a tube or hybrid amp, and the seller claimed he upgraded two tubes.  I don't think he will back off much from his selling price

To rhljazz   I am also am considering  AVA,.  I saw in the new issue of TAS, that Frank issued a new preamp, the Transcendence 8 ( retail is $899.  However,  his website is confusing because of  all the options you can add,   The pre-amp and power amp you mentioned, I saw and I will check out again because I thought  that the phono stage and remote were extras which can add  $600 to the final ticket.

In addition,  despite AVA's reputation and service, they offer no discount. And I would like to stay under 3K.  I could consider the SL Vision pre-amp with  either the Khartago, or  Stratos, or even the ARC, if I could buy it for say $950. The Stratos Plus is $1500. and Khartago Plus is $1375. However, I misstated before it was 130RMS, but it is only 110RMS.  I want to find a combo that is a significant step up in sound quality from the Rogue Sphinx v.1 integrated   BTW, I never heard any one on this blog make comment about the sound quality of  AVA phono stages whether  MM or MM/MC. The Rogue phono stage is a very good.   Thanks guys. Jim  



To Lowrider. I think I have seen a few reviews of  Parasound A-21 amp that were very strong about its performance.  However, this company has never impressed me, and its expensive integrated amp looks like cucukoo clock with mutiiple  features I don't need or want.  However, I will check out a few reviews, and see there if any currently on AG. Have you ever auditioned the A-21??. Don't want a typical SS sound

BTW,  check out my last response.  Do you have any information or heard the Audio Research Company 150.2 amp.  Neil Gader

of TAS reviewed it in 2008 and loved. But Jonathan Valin in the same review added his rejoiner, and said the amp sounded  like a light weight, and lacked presence.  John Crossett of Sound Stage reviewed the 150.2 in 2004 praised its neutrality, low end punch. and cool running and 300RMS at 4ohms; it is 150 RMS at the standard 8 ohms  but cautioned it has to stay on 24/7 for best sound, I am not  sure if it is tube or SS hybrid.  Issued in 1993, it is 23 years old, but looks clean. Seller on ebay wants $1400, but despite it being an ARC amp, I believe it is worth $900-950 on the resale market because of its age.  Thanks   

I also thought the Khartago Plus was 130 watts.  I had back surgery but have a friend to move my amp every few years - don't let the back hold you back - get what you want :)
Jim, I haven't heard the Parasound A21. Just know some members were pleased with it.
The amp that I'm impressed with and would love to hear is the Odyssey Stratos. A lot of members are talking about it and it's Class A/AB, stable to 2 ohms. Since these amps can be built to the customer's requirements, that's probably why the actual power of the amp is not specified.
And Odyssey is related to the high-end German brand "Symphonic Line."

I'm going to toss out a recommendation for an older amp, that IMHO, is a giant killer. A refurbished Sunfire 300. It's high power, high current, and not solid-state sounding. The later generation is fully balanced; I made the mistake of buying one from 1998 and it's single-ended. But, it sounds terrific; wide and deep soundstaging and very musical.
I see them going for about $1000.
To Lowrider. In reviewing reviews about the ARC150.2, I found out about the ARC 100.2  The reviews on it on the "audioreview" blog praise it to the sky as a "music lover's amp".  There seems to be a very strong consensus about the excellence of this amp's sound quality  So,  I will investigate it and see if one is available either on AG or ebay. It is less power at 100RMS at 8 ohms, but  doubles to 200RMS at 4 ohms.  Let me know if you have heard this amp or know of its reputation   
Nelson Pass 1st watt amplifier the new one F7  if you have s efficient loudspeakers these are 25-50 wpc pure class A every year is different. Sonic very hard to best even at 3x thd price Sonicly.

Loudspeakers without question 94 dB 4ohms , loaded Spatial Audio M-3
Hotrod with reference compression driver.
Digital Schiit audio ,Multibit Gungnir , $1300,or their $2300 'flagship

Jim, not familiar with that ARC, but many good user reviews.
I'm sure it would have no trouble driving your speakers. But do some research if you plan on upgrading to Maggies.

BTW, keep checking US AudioMart for used gear. It's grown into a damn good site for affordable HiFi.
To Lowrider, I  never have  checked with US Audio Mart; probably thinking they were just an "audio" version Craig's list. I will check them out in the near future. 
Audio Research, Parasound, Conrad Johnson and Cary would be on my short list, and not for sounding alike. ;)
On a different track, Schiit plans to introduce a 2 channel set in the fall, with the amount of power you are looking for, and right in your price range. Details have not been announced yet, but they usually provide a  very high value proposition.

Another possibility would be a used ModWright KWI-200 integrated.
Klaus at odyssey  will build his stratos amplifiers in the smaller khartago cases if you call him.  The upgraded boards are great and adding extra bank or 2 of capacitors are all options.  I have mono stratos extremes with 180,000 micro farads upgrade  and the newer black boards and have run these amps on ML CLX's,ML Summits, larger Maggies,  Apogee Divas, and currently my favorite Dunlavy's.  I play around with wires and room treatments now, I don't worry about the amps.  I use an old 1970s Audionics of Oregon tube pre amp (and can work on it myself) so not so sure on modern tube pre amps suggestions.  My local store in Chicago is big on the musical fidelity and manley brands. The basic Khartago is a good amplifier if you have fairly easy to drive speakers, but the upgrades can make it really like stepping up to a much higher price league.  Used I like the CJ gear, nakamichi stasis, and threshold.
(((Jim, not familiar with that ARC, but many good user reviews.
I'm sure it would have no trouble driving your speakers. But do some research if you plan on upgrading to Maggies.))

I am sure the ARC 100.2 runs Magnepans 3 series and Vandersteen 3 series and down, to bliss by getting out of the way for music.
ARC, Magnepan, Vandersteen Dealer.   

To Johnny R.   Thank you for recommendations:  I am pretty much sold on either the ARC 100.2 or the ARC150.2.  I like Odyssey amp products, but ARC always delivers high quality products. But this can change as I get closer to making a decision.

However,  a new spike has been added to this merry go round.. I investigated the Audio By Van Alstine recommended by a member on this thread, and again had set my mind on either FL Vision pre-amp, or the all vacuum tube pre-amp ( I forgot the model number). Both are 899.00, but remote and phono stage are optional and add $627 to the base price of the pre-amp. 

However I got an e-mail via Audiogon's message system, out of the blue from a guy who claims he heard both at CES or AXPONA, and claimed they sounded  bad and to avoid both, He suggested and recommended checking out Audio Illusions pre-amp line stages.  However, I cannot locate them on AG's index of manufacturers.

I ran across a thread  from 2013 which offered several recommendations and comments about Audio Illusions pre-amp line stages.  So, I need to check it out before making any type of decision..  Thanks again to those who responded  

I believe the 300.2 is a more powerful version of the 150.2 but that the 100.2 is an entirely different amp.  I always liked the 100.2, never heard the other two
Sunnyjim 6-21-2016 4:57 pm EDT
I have seen a used ARC 150.2 amp on ebay which is 150RMS. It looks clean but was, according to the seller was issued in 1993 which means it is 23 years old. It got mixed reviews, some loved it; some claim it is garbage. Seller wants $1400, but that is too much. I believe its market value may be $950 regardless of it ARC pedigree. It is either a tube or hybrid amp, and the seller claimed he upgraded two tubes.

Sunnyjim 6-25-2016 4:54 pm EDT
I am pretty much sold on either the ARC 100.2 or the ARC150.2. I like Odyssey amp products, but ARC always delivers high quality products. But this can change as I get closer to making a decision.
According to ARCDB.WS the 150.2 was introduced in 2003 and discontinued in 2006. And it appears that it does not contain any tubes, and certainly not in the power stage which is class-T.

Jim, I have no particular suggestions to offer in your price range, although over the years I’ve formed very favorable impressions of Odyssey products based on the comments I’ve seen. However I can’t help but express some skepticism about the ARC 100.2 and 150.2 (especially the class-T 150.2), regardless of the reviews and comments you have cited, and although I haven’t ever heard them.

According to ARCDB.WS the 100.2 was discontinued in 2003 (having been introduced in 1998), and the 150.2 was discontinued in 2006 as I indicated. The class-T architecture that is employed in the 150.2 (and also the 300.2) is a proprietary variant of class-D. As we all know, class-D has come a long way in the last decade or so, and your Sphinx is a much more recent design utilizing a class-D power stage. It’s perhaps also worth noting that the company which developed class-T went bankrupt in 2007. And the only high end company other than ARC that I am aware of which produced class-T amplifiers, Bel Canto Design, has not utilized that technology in many years as far as I am aware (although I could be wrong about that).

Also consider that ARC’s tradition of excellence, and presumably their area of greatest expertise, has primarily involved tube-based designs. And also consider the possibility of condition-related issues that might surface eventually if not sooner in a dozen or so year old amplifier.

Apologies for the uncharacteristically negative post, but personally I would be surprised if either of those amps would turn out to be a meaningful upgrade relative to your Sphinx.

Best regards,
-- Al

Oee thing about ARC, the new products don't sound much like the old one's.  I like the new one's a lot, but ARC die-hards probably feel the opposite. I find the new one's clean without sounding clinical like the old equipment.  I point this out in case you are looking to buy used. 

Parasound amps sound very neutral if a little warm. They don't have any colorations to call attention to themselves and drive most speakers well.  I had a pair of A23's for a while, which are heavily biased into class A (140 watts at idle) .  I liked them, but after getting ICEPower 250A modules, I decided I'd rather save the planet. I could not hear a significant difference between the two amplifiers. 


If Maggies are in your future the options become much more limited. You would need high current and high quality. Few amps have the power current and tubey signature you are looking for and which definitely would be a plus for driving a Magnepan speaker. The Parasound A21 and the later Sunfire amps are easy recommendations 
Keeping with Rogue. The Rogue Pharaoh and the tube Zeus (if you use subwoofers) or Apollo (usable without subs) though way out of your budget even used.  The Pharaoh is actually the best idea to meet all your requirements and be able to drive a maggie. 
Older Class A and high bias A/B amps from Classe (DR-9) Threshold, Levinson, and Haffler 9500 and XL600. May need to be recapped eventually.  
There are great classic tube preamps that can be modernized at reasonable cost to bring them to competing with the best of the current offerings in the $5k-10k range. Among my favorites Melos MA333 stack (any version - particularly the phono stage) and the SHA Gold particularly with Maestro or Reference upgrades. The Melos don't need an update. Bruce Moore designs from Audible Illusions Dual Mono, Saturn Uranus (less so the Modulus 3), the MFA Lumiinescense and Magus, and the Paragon. 
In the DIY range look for the Herran design - best executed with separate filament power supplies. 
Opportunities in the CAT CJ and ARC preamps are also worthwhile. 
The Chinese Doge 8 hybrid and the Ming Da MC7 and 
yaquin 12B (requires some mods to bring it to top notch performance but still impressive in stock form) Tube complement is very important for these preamps from China.

To Almargm  Thank you for your advice, but you need not apologize for a " "negative post"  You are usually right.  I feared that  the ARC 150.2 and 300.2 were just  spin offs of another class D version. I mentioned in other threads in the past that I owned the RED DRAGON M-500 mono blocks about 4 years. Il loved the way they looked and they had plenty of power. The pre-amp of those days was a BEL Canto Pre3 which is excellent with an outstanding remote control.  This combo was  hooked to  Acoustic Zen Adagios  Hardly a shabby system!!  However in less than one hear, I began to hear or discern  bright and edgy sound. They were not defective, and I had taken great care in making  sure that pre/ power amp  out impedances were compatible So, I decide to downsize , and bought the Rogue Sphinx v.1, but later and reluctantly sold the Adagios because of their weight, and difficulty in moving them around

. I proceeded to buy the Golden Ear Technology 7's which were the rave of CES 2012. They sound very good, and about I year later bought a pair of  Wharfdale 80th  Anniversary Denton speakers a smallish bookshelf to play around with. . They are colossal and amazing speakers and actually sound better that is, more natural than GET 7's  They also are comfortable with the Sphinx integrated. Just yesterday, while listen to them, I thought why not just stick with this sound and save the money because how much better are the Dentons, or GET' 7's going to sound with approx. $2500-$3000  worth of separates . BTW, about a year ago I changed the Sphinx two output tubes to Mullards 4003CV's on recommendation by another member who claimed the Mullards took most of the edge off of Rogue's  Hypex Class D amp.  It did but not totally.

I feel like I am chasing my tale. on this new quest. The question is not "What am I trying to improve. in the sound??  I don't think many audiophiles are not trying  to improve one aspect of  their system's sound in particular, as much as looking for sound that is either "just right" for them or just sounds right.  In terms of speakers the Denton deliver this quality in spades.

You and comrade Schussor who response follows yours, and many other  members have far more knowledge of high end than I do. In retrospect after over 41 years involved in audio, I have concluded that I was just a dabbler, that is, not committed to spending more money or big bucks to get what I wanted, except for my second high end system which I bought at 50 % because I worked  part-time in an high- end audio shop the from 1987 to 1991.  I bought $5600 system for about $ 2500 including speaker cable and interconnects..

OK, so without droning over my audio history, let me say that it may be time to suspend this quest for separates, because I am getting opinions from every side and many often cancel out each other related to equipment,  I may have expressed a growing interest .  But that is OK, because I don't want to shell out  $2500  for components used or new or a combo of both to find out that the sound even after burn-in is only marginally better.  

At the same time the speakers, I currently own are not the  of magnitude of Wilsons or upper tier Focal, Nola,, Magneplanar, etc.. Also, what I have in speakers may not really demonstrate the quality of the pre-amp and amp I choose.. 

To date the amp situation, the ARC 150.2 was sold on ebay. So that is out, and the seller of  ARC 100.2  will not budge on his $1550 offer. Despite its alleged cult status as the best SS amp ever made by ARC, I feed it is worth possibly $950-1100, and no more. It is only 100RMS, and may not drive Maggie .7  to their state of art performance should I go in that direction  this year. . I can not go for 1.7r's because they are too big for my listening room, and surprisingly a few members and owners claim the new  Maggie.point 7 sounds better.

Lastly, on the pre-amp scene , the Van Alstine SL Vision preamp and its  full vacuum tube brother are in the running ( both are $899, but I was informed by an anonymous audiogon member, that AVA $1899 pre-amp is the killer, and to avoid the other two which he heard at the AXPOXA  and they sounded awful.). . Keep in mind, that  $627  must be added to the retail price of all there pre-amp if your need the optional remote and MM/MC phono stage .  Two other pre-amp is the Conrad Johnson  pre-amp line stage which received a rave review by Sterophile's Larry Greenhill in December 2002 which makes the piece at least 14 years old. There is one for sale on AG, and the newer and current ET3 pre-amp line stage on ebay. 

However, there  are  many testimonials to the CJ 18LS which would require headphone amp and phono stage, both which I need   The last horse in the race is made by Quicksilver and called the "QuickSilver Remote Line stage"   Very good reviews on  the blog Audioreview, but they are old and short.   The unit requires both phono and headphone amps which  would jack up its resale price.for me     Cheers, Jim    .      .   

Schussor, Thank you for the reply. I appreciate your time and comments. The Rogue Pharoah does have many of the features I require, and more power. However, i question whether it will sound much better than my Rogue current Rogue Sphinx v1  and especially the upgraded version Sphinx v.2. ( cost of upgrades and shipping is about $500)  Nevertheless, I cannot afford to purchase it new at $3800, but in time a used one may come up on Audiogon in the $2500-2800  price range.

BTW, if you have the time, read my response to Almarg above my response to you, It offers a good overview of where I am at in this quest for separates, and the components I have considered. If you have  any knowledge of the CJ pre-amp line stages, or the Quicksilver I cited, please let me know  Thanks, Jim  .

OK, so without droning over my audio history, let me say that it may be time to suspend this quest for separates, because I am getting opinions from every side and many often cancel out each other related to equipment,  I may have expressed a growing interest . But that is OK, because I don't want to shell out  $2500 for components used or new or a combo of both to find out that the sound even after burn-in is only marginally better.
  Jim, I've followed your threads regarding the Sphinx ver.1, and I feel that your conclusion to replace it is correct. Maybe Rogue isn't the amp for you, or maybe it's been the growing pains of having their first generation, entry-level Class D hybrid.
  Having said that, rather than moving into the sometimes complex world of separates, I suggest replacing the Sphinx with a Class AB or A/AB integrated. We're at a time in HiFi that integrated amps are so well designed and sonics have progressed to the point that an integrated can compete with separates.

Brands like Pass, Plinius, McIntosh, VAC, PrimaLuna...I guess I'm saying all the manufacturers are making integrateds which are not considered inferior to separates.
Sunny did you mention what the speakers are that will be used?

I think the Rogue Pharoah is the bomb for its asking price. 

My local dealer who sells a plethora of amps and separates from ARC Rogue and others considered it his favorite and I was impressed enough at audition to think I could live with it in lieu of separates if I had to.

But only with the right speakers and overall system synergy.  

Highly damped Class D amps work well with most any speakers but can tend to sound thin to some people with smaller speakers not really up to the task of full range flat extended bass.

My high power  Class D amps are the bomb with my larger speakers that fit that bill but can be hit or miss depending on what one seeks with smaller more limited range speakers like many smaller monitors.

They never sound "bad" just not up to their potential when the speakers are a bottleneck.

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the comprehensive response, and the additional background. In addition to the suggestions the others have offered, if I were in your shoes, those shoes including the possibility of eventually replacing your GoldenEar Triton 7 speakers with a pair of Maggies, what I would consider doing is purchasing something like this Ayre V-5xe power amp, which is presently being offered here at $2900, apparently having cost $5950 originally. I would initially drive it with the preamp section of your Sphinx, and at a later time, if and when you feel the urge and finances allow, address the possibility of a preamp upgrade.

The V-5xe is rated at 150W into 8 ohms, and would double that to 300W into the 4 ohm impedance of a Maggie.

From Stereophile’s "Recommended Components 2012," in which this amp was rated "Class A," along with several other solid state amps costing up to $106K:

The compact, beautifully built V-5xe delivers 150Wpc into 8 ohms and features single-ended and balanced inputs and speaker-wire terminals made by Cardas. Though it lacked some power in the bass and sacrificed “a little of that you-are-there-ness” produced by the best single-ended-triode amps, the V-5xe offered a highly resolving, dynamic, harmonically pleasing sound that was never fatiguing. “Open, airy, and sweet,” said ST. “What more do you want?” (Vol.29 No.5)
My feeling is that pursuing a path such as that is likely to provide you with a more meaningful sonic upgrade at this time than investing a similar amount of money in at least most comparably powerful integrateds or preamp/power amp combos. While also being sufficiently powerful and of sufficient calibre sonically to be future-proof with respect to whatever speaker upgrade and/or preamp upgrade you may eventually choose to do.

I have no affiliation with or knowledge of the seller.

Good luck. Best regards,
-- Al

To Almarg,  A very worthy suggestion. However, the Sphinx v.1  i was informed  by  the Rogue Director of Sales has no pre-amp out for a outboarded basic power( seems incredible)  HOWEVER, I DECIDED TO   CHECK THE MANUAL WHICH SAYS IN BULLET POINTS:

"LINE 3:

Variable outputs( for a subwoofer  OR second amplifier)

Fixed  outputs ( for a headphone amp or for recording)" 

What follow on the same page is instruction for connecting up a "turntable
Connecting headphones

Connecting the Sphinx to a power outlet

Connecting a subwoofer to the Sphinx

However on the same page it does not mention anything aV5ebout connect a SEPARATE POWER AMP

BTW, there is loose insert page titled "Sphinx Quick Setup FAQ"

Bullet point # 6 states: Line 1, 2, 3, are for line level inputs such as a DAC, tuner, CD player, or outboard phono section"

Again, no mention of a outboarded basic power amp.

I considered your suggestion about using a separate power amp to beef up the power output but also provide much better sound quality. I e-mailed Rogue, and spoke to I believe the Sales Manager, NOT  Mark O'Brien who is the CEO and head product designer of the company. The gentleman I mentioned e-mailed claimed he checked  with technical support, and the claimed there was no pre-amp output.  At the time, it was not a top priority, but it seems he was mistaken. Let me know your thought on what I provided from the manual. Tomorrow,  I will. call Rogue and get Mark O'Brien on the phone and ask him about whether v.1 has a pre-amp.

Regarding the Ayre V5xe power amp. I think that is a bit steep in price, and wonder if I could possibly buy something as good or equal to this amp for less money. I know Ayre products are high quality and built a tank, because I own an fully upgrade Ayre CX7e mp CD player which is outstanding. Nevertheless, you point is well taken. about "possibly" using the Sphinx v.1 for a pre-amp only  From what I read the new version Sphinx v.2 despite its upgrades may lack a pre-amp out.  let me your thoughts.   I will keep you (and others posted)   Cheers.

To Lowrider:  A very interesting suggestion, assuming there are integrated amps that either provide  sound quality equal to separates or  offer superior sound to them. 

I have done some research before I launched the current thread about separates. I rejected or bypassed IA that were either just slightly above  average based  on my $2500-$3000 budget range, or more money like $3000-$4000.  So far, I can up with new the Roksan Kandy 3 integrated  amp which has a remote and an MM phono stage ( no  official report on its quality) and no phono input on phono stage.  It is a 150RMS, was greatly like by the blog HI-FI News and the shaky  "Audioreview."  It retails for $2700.  

One drawback it has a "Bluetooth" feature which I don't need or want ( channel the money into a better phono or a headphone) feature. Nevertheless there are 2 audio dealer in Los Angeles county. Both  offer about 10% discount, but the killer is the 8 or 9%  California state sales tax  There is dealer in Colorado, but I think he will not sell into a area that has other Roksan dealer which he carries, so I can sale some coin on tax..

All, I know about this company is that it is English, the new K-3 is supposedly superior than it the previous K-2. Roksan is not a household word throughout the industry to my knowledge, but still considered high end(?). Overall, despite the RMS power of 150, it may sound only marginal better than the Sphinx v.1 or maybe not as good. One review did note some edginess at higher volumes.  So there it is; However, there may be a better integrated out there in my price range.  I know the Vincent equipment has been recommended on and off by members. But the reviews never were convincing to me, and I don't to get on  home trial merry go round.

To Mapman, My current speakers are Golden Ear Technology 7's, but I am considering for the future, the new Magneplanar .7. which some members claim sound better than the Maggie 1.7r

   Thanks for your recommendations. 

At your budget, I realise that many integrateds and also separates would be a horizontal move. I was thinking of a much higher-end integrated than the Sphinx which would sell for about $3K+ used.

For example, Plinius...

Jim thanks.

FWIW the demo I had with Sphinx and Pharoah about a year ago was with larger newer Maggies, don’t recall which exactly. The Maggies were singing quite well with either but particularly with larger Pharoah. I did not get to compare with ARC and Rogue tube amp separates there but my dealer indicated Pharoah was his favorite. He also had comparable Sonus Faber for demo that I did not get to hear.

I owned older Maggies for many years. They are not efficient and thrived off good quality higher power amps, tube or SS, but not necessarily high current.

I have heard but am not a Goldenear Triton fan to-date but would think the Sphinx would do pretty well with those. Goldenear Aon monitors I liked a lot, though smaller.

If you are planning a move to Maggies in any case, might be worth trying the Sphinx with those first just to see.

Hi Jim,

Before I submitted my previous post I had looked at a rear panel photo of the Sphinx, as well as at the manual, and subsequent to your response I did some further Googling on the question of driving a power amp from the Sphinx’s variable line-level outputs. I had also noted that the input impedance of the Ayre V-5xe is a very easy to drive 100K. And the Ayre’s sensitivity (the input voltage required to drive it to full power) can be calculated from its power rating and its specified 26 db gain to be approximately 1.7 volts, which seems reasonable.

The bottom line is that it seems to me to be very unlikely that what I proposed would not be a suitable approach. But when you speak to Mark at Rogue you might ask him the following:

1)Are we correct in assuming that the variable line-level outputs on your version of the Sphinx are functional, e.g., that the RCA jacks are not internally connected to nothing?

2)How much gain is there between the phono inputs and those outputs?

3)How much gain is there between the line-level inputs and those outputs?

4)Would running the Sphinx with nothing connected to its speaker-level outputs have any adverse sonic effects on the variable line-level outputs?

5)Would running the Sphinx with nothing connected to its speaker-level outputs pose any threat of damage?

It seems slightly conceivable to me, although unlikely, that question 2 could turn out to be an issue, in terms of having enough gain to be able to drive the external amp to full power when using a phono source. I would be very surprised, though, and it would not speak well of the design, if the answers to any of the other questions conflicted with my suggestion.

Best regards,
-- Al

Al, Thank you again for your vast audio knowledge. I shot off an e-mail today to specifically to Mark O'Brien about whether any of the inputs numbered 1, 2, 3, can be used as true pre-amp out. 

I owned a Creek 5350SE Classic in 2007, and eventually used it as a pre-amp stage which is activated by pushing in a button and removing pre-amp shorting bar.  Simple   . If necessary, I will cut and paste your e-mail to answer the questions. you provided

BTW, I was somewhat surprised by your recommendation of the Ayre V5xe amp, and just because of the price It is also a monster weighing 75lbs. I would be in traction for months.  Nevertheless, I would think that the magic of good sound would lie first in the pre-amp, not necessarily the power amp, unless it grossly under powered. Though, from my limited understanding of power amps having owned a few, power  high current, low noise and especially low THD and IMD are the requirements to make a qualitative jump in sound quality. I saw a distinct demonstration of this in 1988 when I sold my APT Holman combo.  (The amp was kind of wimpy even at its alleged  rating 100RMS) to an Aragon 4004MK II, and a CJ PV-8.  Though the true proof would have been to listen to Aragon amp through Holman pre-amp. Nevertheless the Aragon was superior almost across the board, though a bit on the bright side, even through the tubed CJ PV-8. I will let you know what Mark O'Brien reports.

BTW, do you know, or have auditioned, or owned, one of the Van Alstine. The CL Ultra Vaccum tube pre-amp line stage which supposedly is their best  at $1899 (add 627 to that number for a remote and VA's MM/MC phonostage.)  There are two other less expensive pre-amp line stages SL Vision, and EC full vaccum tube pre-amp. Both are $899 plus $627  for remote and phono. (Frank claims the second one is a bit more"engaging")  

Yes, both are doable, but  the top dog VA pre-amp costing $1000 more might be the better and wiser choice.  If so, a used Khartago Plus amp, or used Stratos Plus might be the best "budget" choice I can make amp at this time, though I wish the Khartago has more power.

BTW, the seller on e-bay sold the ARC 100.2 for $1425 from his starting price of $1750. This as I mentioned was supposedly  the best ARC SS amp   It did get convincing reviews.   Thanks again. I will keep you posted.  



Hi Jim,

Thanks for the nice words. Regarding:
I shot off an e-mail today to specifically to Mark O’Brien about whether any of the inputs numbered 1, 2, 3, can be used as true pre-amp out.
I’ve been assuming that the rear panel of your Sphinx looks like the following, which is how it is described in the manual and is how it appears in numerous other rear panel photos I’ve seen:

It would be the "Output Var" jacks that would be used to connect to an external power amp, assuming those are present on your version of the Sphinx. I would definitely not expect inputs 1, 2, or 3 to be suitable for that purpose.

Regarding the weight of the Ayre V-5xe, while the ad I linked to indicates 75 pounds, apparently for its shipping weight, both the manual and the description at the Ayre website indicate that the amp weighs 55 pounds.
I would think that the magic of good sound would lie first in the pre-amp, not necessarily the power amp, unless it grossly under powered. Though, from my limited understanding of power amps having owned a few, power high current, low noise and especially low THD and IMD are the requirements to make a qualitative jump in sound quality.
First, I would ignore THD and IMD specs in just about all cases, as they have little if any correlation with sound quality. Although I would be cautious about a power amp having THD numbers that are extremely "good," as that may be indicative of heavy-handed application of feedback in the design. Which in turn can result in excessive Transient Intermodulation Distortion (TIM), which is not normally specified, as well as excessive amounts of the specific components of harmonic distortion that are most objectionable (even though the TOTAL harmonic distortion may be very small).

Second, I am not a believer in generalities about the relative importance of preamps and power amps. It depends on the specific case, IMO. And in the case of a modestly priced integrated amp employing a tube-based line stage and a class D solid state power stage, my instinct is that it is more likely than not to be the power stage that is the sonic weak link.

Regarding the ARC 100.2, my biggest concern would have been the possibility that due to its age it would no longer sound as good as it once did, and/or that it would develop age-related problems in the not too distant future.

Finally, I have no particular knowlege of AVA products, but you may want to seek out posts on one of their products that have been made here by member "Schubert," who owns and has raved about one of them (I don’t recall which). I have particular respect for his sonic judgments.  To add a bit of context to that, btw, I'll mention that as in my case most of his listening is to classical music.

Good luck. Best regards,
-- Al

FWIW I would hesitate to replace a newer amp based on switching technology (Class D) with any older ones.

The technology has improved immensely in general in recent years and has not yet peaked in terms of bandwidth possible.

I heard a current ARC SS switching amp model about a year or two back at Lyric in NYC.   The speaker pairing was not quite my cup of tea, but I thought the sound to be quite good nonetheless and it to have a lot of potential finely tuned together with a wide variety of speakers.
FWIW I would hesitate to replace a newer amp based on switching technology (Class D) with any older ones.
I agree completely.  To be sure it's clear to everyone, though, the ARC 100.2 (which was introduced in 1998) is not a class D or other switching design.  As I mentioned earlier, though, the ARC 150.2 that was also being considered, which was introduced in 2003 and discontinued in 2006, is a "class T" design, that being a proprietary variant of class D.

Best regards,
-- Al

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