Arcam Delta 290 retiring. Advice needed on new replacement amplifier


Any opinion or advice greatly appreciated.

I am retiring my long serving Arcam Delta 290 integrated amp and am looking for a replacement that will open up my recently acquired Vienna Acoustics Baby Beethoven Grand speakers. 

The contenders (other recommendations are considered also)
Ayre AX-7e
McIntosh MA 5200
Music Culture MC701

The Arcam will continue to bring me pleasure in my study linked to my Harbeth L3/5As :) 

I have had a sound test with the McIntosh and was impressed with the 'big dynamic' sound but have not had the opportunity to pair with my VA speakers.

Any thoughts?



I have read GREAT things about Ayre products but sadly have never heard them. McIntosh I have heard most of there better sounding amplifiers ( McIntosh makes a lot of different amp circuit types) this is not one of them, the 5200 uses no traditional autoformer its newer circuitry (I wont go into it now, but if its not double balanced or quad balanced with autoformer stay away) What you do get is a hell of a lot of stuff in 1 box. Also, the built in DAC is very good. and you get a MM phono stage (not so good) and a Headphone amp ( very nice ) So, I would say that if you have a large vinyl collection stay away from the MAC, if you love digital music, get the McIntosh. McIntosh makes some very good products they also make very expensive (pedestrian sounding) ones, wading through all their products can be daunting, I hope you have a good Mac rep so he can explain the differences properly. That MA5200 is NOT cheap! Because its versatile. But that dosent make it "the one to buy" Be careful, make sure you listen to them all first before buying if you can. Its YOUR ears that need to be happy.

Matt M
I don't know the price range of your suggested amps, and I haven't heard them AFAIK. I have heard the latest -R version of the Rega integrated amps and they are all very good at their price points. I ended up purchasing a used Rega Elicit-R and I think it sounds fantastic. If you like full, weighted low end (bass) the Elicit-R is a killer. It has everything else too, but it is one on the most weighty sounding amps I've heard in my system. I'm driving 4 ohm speakers with mine and I'm mighty impressed.
Dear Matt,
Many thanks for that feedback on McIntosh. I am based in Moscow, Russia and the McIntosh brand is new to me, however the dealer is very open and helpful. I am predominantly vinyl and CD so it looks like good advice to avoid the 5200. Agree re price too. It is the most expensive of the bunch. I have organised a sound / listening test next week with 4 options and will let you know how I get on.


Dear Reubent,
Very good advice and noted. I have added the Rega Elicit-R to the list and the dealer has this model to sound test for me next week along with the others. Very keen to hear how the Rega delivers. Will let you know.