Looking for integrated better than my Rogue Sphinx

I have owned a Rogue Sphinx integrated amp for two years (100RMS). I don't have any specific complaints about its performance except at times when played loud, it sounds like it is clipping and delivering more distortion than clean signal. The Rogue retailed at time of purchased for $1325.00 (remote cost $100 bucks more). I thought it wise to check around with members as to their opinions about a step up in sound quality from the Rogue integrated before starting any serious searches.

Most higher end integrated amps today are decked out like cuckoo clocks and so this might be tough one. I have read a lot of good things about the Hegal integrated amps, but don't need a DAC unless it is going to be superior to the one in my Ayre CX-7emp CD player. In addition, I have no interest in computer audio and many of the accessory features of the newer amps will be useless to me.

However, I will need an MM phono stage, and will miss the one in the Rogue which is first rate.

Is it worth while to take a look at some of the older, highly praised integrateds, like Sim-Moon series of 7 years ago, or Krell, Vincent, Musical Fidelity, and possibly Conrad Johnson. CJ offered an integrated amp about 10 years ago and tagged it at $6500. It was rated 200RMS, but had no inboard phono stage It got excellent reviews at the time, though never took the market by storm ( probably because of its price tag in a depressed market) .

Having more power than 100RMS would be nice, but not a priority. My speakers are (newly acquired) Golden Ear Technology Model 7; so far, an extraordinary sounding speaker considering its price of $1400 per pair. Thanks to all
Have you thought about the Rogue Pharaoh? It has more power, great sound, and a great phono. I have heard the Pharoah but not the Sphinx, but from all accounts I've heard and read, a higher quality, better integrated.
If you're looking for an integrated with plenty of power and a good MM/MC phono stage & aren't phased about getting a high end AE to switch the voltage to 120v (from 100v), you can pick up an Accuphase E-470 on Price Japan for $ 4,292USD + the optional MM/MC phono board. I can also recommend a 2nd hand Vitus RI-100 with the optional phono board which has excellent power & Vitus's essential DNA.

But if you want to buy new, I would check out the new [url=http://www.henleydesigns.co.uk/Unico-150-p1456]Unison Unico 150 tube hybrid integrated[/url] which is well designed and built & sounds musical. They are £4,000.00, though I couldn't find a US price. Unison used to offer an optional phono stage for their integrated products, though I'm not sure if they offer a phono board for this amp. Worth checking.
I'd recommend any accuphase or luxman. However, they're a bit higher than what you're budgeting. Considering cost, you might want to look into the top line NAD integrated. It's got all the features you mentioned, plus plenty of power. I know a couple of folks that have NAD's and they sound good. Certainly, worth an audition. For more....


Good luck
If you don't mind staying with Rogue, I would suggest Their Pharaoh integrated. 185 W/P with MM and MC phono stage. For about $225 replace the two stock tubes with NOS Mullard 12au7's. This makes a very good Amp into a great amp and is very competitive With Hegal, ARC, Ayre, at a fraction of their cost.
Hey, Sunnyjim, you might want to check out the amp that Hans Wetzel compares the Sphinx to: Arcam FMJ A19. The comparison is made in his review of the A19.

It has the MM phono stage and no DAC. I'm using Bowers and Wilkins 683 S2 speakers and the A19 is driving them superbly. The build and function is executed to a high degree. It has performed perfectly for me the past two years.

Hans does a very good job describing its sonic attributes. Good luck with your search. Enjoy your new speakers. They are outstanding!


I would suggest the Rogue Cronus Magnum II Integrated 100Wpc with the KT120 tubes. My friend has one and it sounds great--musical, powerful, and nicely detailed, plus it has a phono stage and remote control.

I used to own the Rogue Medusa and moved to the Rogue ST-100 tube amp (similar to the Magnum II without preamp features). I can say that I'm much happier with the all-tube Rogue...
To Samac, What magazine was this comparative review?? I did see a review of the Arcam A-19 in the last issue of either TAS or Stereophile. Is this the review?? If not, please send me the link to that review Thanks, Jim

To Plato, I came very close to buying the Rogue Cronus Magnum II with the KT120 tubes, but did not want to spend the extra $1000 over the cost of Sphinx Also, I was mindful that often tube amps can have a higher noise floor. Also, did not want to get caught up into tube rolling. The Rogue Sphinx is a very good product, and I have no guarantee that CM will provide a marked improvement in the sound, unless I can find a local dealer who will loan me one for the weekend

To Mi8764ag, The Rogue Pharoah might be a great choice, but it retails for (I think) $3800. The dealer I bought the Sphinx from was in NYC and had them on sale, but not the Pharoah at the time. I would probably get badly beat-up on any trade-in toward $3800. and have to spend $100 bucks to ship it to NYC. Even if he gives me $1000-$1100, I will still need to come up with at least $2700-2800. He might spot me the shipping. but I doubt it

So. add another $150-200 to the final receipt for roundtrip shipping to Los Angeles A local dealer might work a similar deal, but I would have to pay 8.5% sales tax on $2800. Regardless, I still would have to be convinced either by audition or a variety of strong reviews, that the Pharoah is much better across the board than Sphinx. I know that the quality of its parts are better...but

Roksan Caspian II integrated?? Maybe, but only, if I can hear it with the red lights turned o0n. Thanks to all other who responded so far
I have been looking for a used Vitus RI 100 for over a year and nothing is showing up except on the European Market.
For the ump-teenth time: Balanced Audio Technology VK-300SE.
The first one I acquired was by far the best home stereo I've ever owned (around 2005). Thinking I was going to lose my job, I sold.

Picked up another 3-4 years ago and, while not "as good" as the first, is just an outstanding piece.

I think the first had a BAT cap upgrade which made it so freaky-good (I just could not imagine it sounding better).

I'm planning my "Swan Song" system but may send the '300 to BAT for the cap upgrade.
If you want glowing reviews of the Rogue Pharaoh,go to their website and check out the review section. These reviews of the Pharaoh are stellar and what I believe, un-biased. I've seen a few Pharaohs out there on the used market for around $2500. They should be of current production cuzz there are no updated versions that I know of. You didn't state a specific price limitation, so I thought it would be game on for a more expensive amp. And remember, a tube change can make a BIG difference. Even with the Sphinx. I do realize this is your call, and your money. Just my opinion.
Check out the new $2500 retail Parasound Halo Integrated amp. Plenty of power, very nice DAC, built in phono stage, headphone amp and also has front panel subwoofer management with high & low pass crossovers if you want to hookup a sub.
I think my Luxman 505ux is an excellent value. I tried the Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum and the Luxman was much better. It has an excellent MM and MC stage as well. Plenty powerful and built very well with great remote. List is $4000, I paid $3200 and I've seen them on the Gon used for $2400 to $2800. May not be esoteric, but there's a reason its been in continuous production forever.
Last year I exchanged my Sphinx for the Cronus Magnum. No similarity between the two; the CM is a whole other deal. Better in every way. Had it on Triton 1s also, a sweet match. It's a screaming deal as well at $2k ish.
What are you looking to improve upon over what the Sphinx does now other than power, and what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you?
To Mr M. One of the two Rogue Pharoahs had pre-amp or output stage tubes changed. I believe the the seller is the second owner, and praised the sound improvement, I guess he previously heard the standard version. I am not sure who made the tubes, but I believe they were purchased at Upland Stereo in California. He did not go into details of how the sound was changed.

Some member recommended a similar tube roll for the Sphinx which I never got around to doing. For the record, the Sphinx and Pharaoh use the same phono circuits, and same design of the headphone amp. The remote is the same also. So basically, only increase in power distinguishes the two, though I have been informed that much better parts are used in the Pharoah over the Sphinx As far as those additional inputs and processor loops I could care less

To Soix, see the above; I guess; more power usually is a plus, and could make "X" amount of difference in sound quality. However, even with a healthy resale return on the Sphinx, I would still have to put in about $1100-1400 more from either of the available Pharoahs currently on sale on AG, plus another $70-$100 for shipping I am looking to achieve with more power to get a fuller sound from my current speakers, GET's

7. Another members Dweller, claims he recommended the BAT 300SE integrated several times to me, also suggested to have the cap upgrade done. I don't recall either. Unfortunately, used 300SE's come few and far between, and usually command $3000-3400 at resale Also,I have no idea what the "cap" upgrade would cost, but it will not be cheap. Plus, tube replacements could be expensive.

To Austinbob, the Luxman 505U is a beautiful looking integrated, but I always associated Japanese designed and manufactured electronics as clean, accurate but bright, etched sound, and canned. I am probably wrong, but I have owned a few Luxman amps over the years, however, not expensive ones, Thanks again to all
Check out Luxman. The amps have built in phone stages and headphone amp. Music Direct has a 30 day return policy.
If it's just more power and finesse you seek there is the bigger Rogue Pharoah.
It should be noted that Luxman have been bought out by a Chinese company & manufacturing of all their lines has returned to China. Personally, I don't have much faith in the motivation and skill of a worker who is probably earning $5AUD an hour in a market not known for manufacturing high end audio equipment. What you need to understand is, Chinese companies primarily buy established audio brands to make money, not for the passion of designing and building great audio products.
Sunnyjim: "Which integrated is best" is on this forum at least once-a-month. I've responded (VK-300SE) so many times, I've stopped doing it. I must have been in the mood when I answered your query. The 300SE usually sells in the $2500 range (?). And yes, NOS 6H30 driver tubes go for $300 apiece. I tried replacements from ARC but they ask "which ARC product do you have?". My opinion is that when you don't have an ARC product, they send you their bottom-of-the-barrel offerings (mine failed after 6 months -these usually last 10 years (10,000 hours).
I bit the bullet and bought NOS from BAT -No problems and great sound since.
To me, $3100 for near SOTA sound is cheap.
Sunnyjim....you have an amp that you seem to like for the most part, but you haven't at least tried different tubes. It would seem to be a prudent step to take before the expense of buying something new. Another amp to consider that hasn't been mentioned is an Anthem 225.
Melbaguy1: Check your facts. Luxman is owned by the IAG Group based in England. Ownership of IAG is by two Taiwanese brothers, Bernard and Michael Chang. IAG also owns Quad and Wharfdale I believe.
Some manufacturing of lower end products is done in China but higher end things are still made in Japan and are of top quality.
I generally agree with your assessment of Mainline Chinese business practices (follow the wine market?) but it is not fair to smear Luxman in this way. Taiwan and Mainland China are two different countries!
To Dweller, I definitely will check out if there are any BAT 300 SE available on AG, or possibly E-bay, and will precede from there,if I think the price is right, and the cap upgrade is reasonable.

Fortunately,In SoCal, there is Upscale Audio which is the premier dealer possibly in the Southwest for purchase of replacement tubes, and also to get solid advice.

Mtbrider. Sounds like good advice, worth at least Upscale Audio's free consultation service. You also mentioned and recommended the Anthem 225 integrated. One of our members recommended this unit to me several times, but I was never overwhelmed by the reviews, and just assumed it was another above average IA. I know the 225 model has been available for probably 10 years,maybe more; however, they don't come up that often o AG. Thanks to all who responded
Andysf, Unless a Luxman representive wants to come on here and officially discredit my view, I am sticking by my comments. This is a public forum. I am free to post my views based on what I know to be the truth. I am not engaged in a smear campaign against Luxman.
If your Sphinx sounds like it's clipping and you can hear distortion during loud listening sessions, changing the tubes in the preamp stage isn't going to help your situation.

Stay the course and get an amp with higher current.

Melbaguy1. Where did you hear that Luxman was PRC owned and manufactured? Important to me since I am about to buy a Luxman amp! It seemed to me that when I was researching the brand that they were pretty open about what they made in China (L-305, SQ 30) and what was made in Japan.
To Lowrider, I used to know much more about the advantages of a high current amp and high damping factor. I am NOT sure they are related. My understanding is that high current amps produce a stable output of power that is coherent across the amp's impedance range A good choice for electrostatics, and planars, ribbon and piezo electric tweeters. Whereas, HIGH DAMPING FACTOR offers much greater control over woofer movement allowing for tighter and deeper bass.

However, that said and assuming you are right, what high current integrated amps are on the market that also are very good in other areas of performance, e.g. highs, transparency, overall musicality?? If you know of a few, please let me know.

In the meantime, I shall stay the course. I am not in a hurry to abandon the Rogue Sphinx, and not entirely sure the amp is clipping at high volume settings.
As you know, it all has to do with amp/speaker matching and I don't believe the Sphinx can deliver enough current into a low impedance load.

My understanding is that high current amps produce a stable output of power that is coherent across the amp's impedance range

Yes, that's true, but what if the speaker load is not stable? An amp that delivers high current can drive low impedance spikes in the bass frequencies with authority, and will have plenty of reserve power so that it does not go into clipping. There will be no distortion and the speaker will sound more dynamic.
It will handle transients at all frequencies with power to spare.
An example of a high current amp is one that can double it's power from an 8 ohm load to a 4 ohm. e.g., 300wpc/8ohms, 600wpc/4ohms.

I don't think high current and damping factor are related, any well designed amp can have a high damping factor.
A driver with a voice coil is in a magnetic field and for each motion, the coil generates current to the amp. The damping factor is like using the brakes on the voice coil and driver.

Jim, you don't need an amp that doubles it's power to drive your new speakers, but you do need a bigger amp, at least 200wpc.
I've always owned separates, but maybe look for a used Music Fidelity amp.
Melbguy, I would love for you to cite your source for your statement about Luxman being sold to the Chinese. It is simply not true based on my conversation with the US importer. Perhaps you are confused with another brand?
Greg, you are getting into legal questions I am not prepared to comment
on. You obviously want to ruin some people's life's here. I gave an opinion
on this forum, you're free to disagree. Please refer any further questions to
Luxman or your lawyer, as I'm out of this discussion.
Melbguy with all due respect you did not frame your statement as an opinion you stated it as a fact in a public forum. Now it seems as if you are backtracking.
FWIW, I just checked the Luxman website and looked at the pics of the 505ux that is a current model.

The picture of the back panel clearly shows "Made in Japan".

Seems to me if they were being built in China, Luxman would take down this picture to avoid any controversy. Like Hegel. And if still in doubt, just ask a Luxman dealer to verify where its made by looking at the back panel. I think its safe to assume that Luxman is still a high quality, Japanese built brand even if owned by IAG.
Regarding Luxman, here is the deal. This information comes directly from the US importer who provided me current data as well as a 2015 Price List.

1. A few items were produced in China. These were the low end items. They are as follows:

L-350AII Integrated
P-10 Headphone Amp
SQ-30u Integrated Tube Amp
SQ-N10DR V Tube Integrated Amp
SQ-N10 V Tube Integrated Amp
D-N10 CD Player
D-100r I Pod Dock
D-03x SACD Player
U-100 USB Converter

The remainder of the line (and it is extensive) is made in Japan with the exception of 2 isolation clamps and 2 vibration isolation pads that are made in USA.

2. In January 2015, the decision was made to cease manufacturing in China of a very few low end models and move it all back to Japan.

You can easily tell if a current Luxman product us made in Japan vs China as the brand logo will be script type for Japanese units and the Chinese units continue to use the box type letters from the 70's and 80's.

Hopefully this clears things up.

Melbguy1, I am not sure what I said that put you on the defensive. I was simply asking for a verifiable source to corroborate your statement - sorry.
Greg, your story is incongruent with the well informed information I was
given. I won't take the above information on face value, but will cross check
that in my own time. Again, I am sticking to my guns until and if I confirm
otherwise. As for my defensive reaction, I don't think you understand how
small the audiophile world is, and how posting names can have serious
consequences. If think i'm going to do that, forget it mate.
Andysf, apparently Melbguy1 claims to have some "inside information" that cannot be disclosed. Regardless of whether there is any truth to his statement, the fact remains that depending on the model you want, you can still purchase a Luxman unit that is made in Japan.
Melbguy, the more facts folks here provide on the Luxman matter, the more defensive you get. Do you work for Accuphase? Or, more likely, Luxman has a special Chinese-made line for the Australian market only (don't get excited, it's a joke).
Greg, if you're considering the Laws as a career path, I'd consider another vocation.
Melbguy1, your kind advice is about 36 years too late. I really do appreciate your willingness to provide career counseling on an unsolicited basis though. Perhaps you can start a new thread on Agon to help others with your valuable insights.

Cheers mate!
No, I fear i'd reach too many non compos mentus gents like yourself, and thus waste my valuable time.
Melbguy1, I am very happy for you. Are your incoming Magicos the US or Chinese made versions? LOL!
One idea is to get one of the Hegel h 200 demos on sale now on audiogon. It has the great sound signature of Hegel without the bells and whistles (and dac) that the newer models have. Sufficient power to drive many options for future speaker upgrades. I just bought one will post on it later. if you like the sound of the Hegel but have concerns about obsolescence of the dac, the Apple stuff, etc., you may love this one. I like the sound better than the h300 and 160 even though both are supposed to be upgraded in some way. Others have disagreed and said the h 300 is much better - I didn't hear it that way.
Greg and Mel. Maybe you two should take your petty differences to another forum....

Unfortunately, I let this thread get passed me, so I want to thank  every member who responded since my last appearance on it

I want to update those who were kind enough to respond that I still have the Rogue Sphinx v1. I found out before CES 2016, that Rogue had issued an updated version of Sphinx v1 which is now in full production. Unfortunately, updating v1 version to v.2 is  $400 plus shipping both ways. I live on the West Coast, so figure at least $200 to round trip the amp which weighs about 30 lbs boxed. which In my opinion this STINKS.They could at least pay the shipping  both ways.

Steve Guttenberg wrote a review of v2 on March 16 2016 for CNET and raved about the improvements 1) a revised and improved MM/MC stage that is quieter 2) The addition of 3 more RCA inputs 3) the head phone amp  has been improved, probably meaning it has a higher output. 4) Mark O'Brien redesigned the circuit board, and claims the overall sound quality has been improved  ( hopefully less noisy than the original!!).   However, the remote up volume is still too great and you can't quite get the setting you would like......That's just great!! 

Let me mention, that I was advised by another member to upgrade the stock output tubes to Mullards 4003V in August, 2015. It made a difference in taking off some of the edge off the class D amp Rogue uses. The two tubes cost $185.00. 

For new buyers the price of the v2 is the same, plus $100 extra for a slightly revised remote that has a mute switch.

After  almost of 5 years of owning Sphinx v1, I am caught between a rock and hard place, because if I sell it to just move it, I will take a bath on the original price I paid,  However, the changes that were made could pay dividends, for example, the MM stage offers not enough gain for a high out coil. I used a Dynavector 10X5  with it and had to crank the volume to 2'oclock to get decent volume for LP play.  Hopefully the new MC leg of the phono stage  has enough gain to support the lower output MC's like the Denons or AT's, etc.  So, I need to consider my options because I now own a pair of Golden Ear Technology model 7's which sounds very good, but also very dead and lifeless.  I may audition the new Magneplana  .7 speaker which has received very good reviews

However, Maggies need lots of power and are a pain in the butt tot set up in an average size room   Cheers!!.      

I so often see comments about power and watts. Watts do not equate to quality. First consider the power requirements of speakers, and the sensitivity of the speakers. One would not want to connect a 200wpc amp to a pair of Cornwall III speakers no matter the quality of the amp. With those speakers a low watt amp of decent quality would be better than a Mac 6600 with 200wpc. Recently at a shop in Indianapolis I listened to a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II. The mid range is super. The bass, and especially the highs are lacking. It looks impressive but I can assure you the Jolida Fusion 3502S amp sounds nicer. I know the Vincent SV500 sounds really nice. The guy at the audio shop in Indy ignored my request to listen to the Sphinx- said it did not sound as good as Cronus. As for Jolida- final assembly, QA, shipping, warranty service, and upgrades are all done in USA. I sell for Jolida. I know. I would think the Vincent SV500 or almost any of the Yamaha integrateds would sound as nice as the Sphinx, and surely the Jolida JD1501BRC would. The styling of the the Jolida is simplistic, but the sound is great. Much of the gear that is supposedly made in USA is assembled in USA using Asian made components. That is why their gear is currently on back order for so long- floods in China are terrible, and have set production back.