High End Intergraded comparisons, Marantz, McIntosh, Levinson, Luxman....

Ive been trying to listen to higher end integrated amps but its not easy. 

Im looking for owners comparisons. 


I had a Marantz PM-KI Ruby that replaced lots of low powered SET gear with high efficient speakers im no longer using. 

I settled on a nice old pair of KEF Reference Model Fours from about 1999-2000. They are very hungry speakers. Very revealing. 

The Marantz Ruby was rather nice in all ways. 

Im trying a marantz PM-10s1 and although i was expecting a Bigger Better Ruby it turned out to be much more than that. I also got it for about 35% off list so it dramatically lowered the price point compared to competitive brands and products. 

I dont really want any DAC in the box. I actually wanted a good phono stage. Id buy a unit with a DAC but I wont be using it and I Do need a phono stage for a Rega with a AT OC9 MC cart. Limits choices based on additional costs. 

The PM-10 has a Much larger soundstage. Larger and tighter focused images. Wide, Tall and Deep. Much more detail and inner detail. Crystal clear presentation. Very tight and deep bass. Punch and slam. Very life-like presentation of instruments and vocals. Not necessarily bright but extended. Im rather happy but also very surprised. 

I feel maybe I should be exploring some other Integrated amps before settling in on this PM-10. Not easy. They cost allot to ship, return. 

The McIntosh MA7900 is an option but its more money than I spent and im not sure how it compares to the Marantz PM-10. Many say they are very similar in sound character. 

The Mark Levinson 5805 is also a bit more money and is said to be more so detailed and brighter. Is that true? Ive read the PM-10 is smoother and richer. I dont want any more detail or brightness. 

The Hegel 390 and MF MX8 lack phono which drives up the cost for me. Im not sure of their character in comparison to a McIntosh or Marantz. 

The Luxman seems to be one to try, the 507uxii but it has much lower power and some say its rather bright with a bass boom. 


Appreciate peoples comments based on what you've heard. 





Rega makes great integrateds with phono stages that will match nicely with your turntable. I think they’re all MM though….but I also think the Elicit R would drive the KEFs…..you could find out practically for free for 60 days…

Consider a big upscale into an entirely different performance strata,  and go audition the REGA OSIRIS integrated amplifier .


@steviet :

With integrateds, consider finding one where the phonostage and DAC are done via plug-in cards (most high-end ones done this way, anyway). Phonostage could last a long time, but my view is that DACs obsolete sooner, so nice to be able to update, or just avoid if you don’t need a DAC. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve bought most of my gear used, the savings enabling me to access quality otherwise less accessible

I’ve worked with the folks at Acoustic Sounds (used McIntosh) and had good experiences

Some ideas not mentioned above (none of which I’ve listened to), and all assuming used to be in reasonable price range:

Accuphase (used, from Canada - will get you in price range)


Jeff Rowland

Mark Levinson 585.5 (.5 has phonostage, and DAC)

Musical Fidelity

Also, could do separates from companies with small form factors & so take much less space, if that’s the issue (Bel Canto, Benchmark)

Looking forward to hearing your decision! (And sounds like you really enjoy the Marantz - I’d rather have Marantz’s best gear than Levinson’s lowest end (the 5805))

Have a great day!


I own the Hegel H390 and do love it, however I can’t say it’s perfect. It gives me probably 93% of what I’m looking for, specific I know. I wasn’t able to demo it against much, only the Michi X3 and for me it was better sounding. It has a very smooth sound, one that isn’t fatiguing and I can listen to it for hours straight. I listen to a wide range of music, and the only thing it lacks for me is energy during drum and bass or heavy metal. The smooth side of it seems to lose that 7% extra I’m looking for. Now I listen to loads of electronic music, and for everything else it is incredible, so it’s not a problem with electronic music, it’s that it doesn’t seem to do aggression well, that grab you by the neck punch you in the face. For all other music types I don’t want that, and it delivers vocals, instruments, and everything else with a muscular ease while remaining utterly balanced. I don’t know if my speakers are contributing to this (Spendor D7.2), or the room etc, but in my system this is what I have found. Therefore if you are after that massive slam, I’m not sure I can recommend the Hegel, but it does everything else wonderfully.

If anyone has a different experience I’d love to hear what speakers you use, Spendor are British and are known to be polite which is why it may not be the amp. Why the whole system setup is important, not one component!

Marantz makes some nice stuff. I own the pm14s1 and I think it sounds fantastic, similar to what you described in reference to the pm10. Although I am now running a Sugden A21se signature class A, I am hanging on to my pm14s1. Besides, they no longer make it, which is sad, as I don't really like the currently available Marantz products (looks wise), except for maybe the ruby.