ChemMan

Hunting for a new Amp for the D7s.

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HI All,

I had the good fortune to have the Hegel 190 in the house last weekend.  Bear with me for a moment as I explain the Hegel and then the competition.  (I think it will save time in the long run)

When comparing A-B-A with the Mac (MA252 Hybrid), the presentation is so much more immersive and slightly holographic that you really feel like you are in the room with a piano. Brad Mehldau's cover of Martha My Dear.  It murders the Mac for sound stage and scale. The Hegel offers a warmer/slightly darker presentation and is superlative with Orchestra and Jazz.  By comparison, the Mac sounds a bit brighter and leaner with a more direct sound stage. However, when playing James Taylor, the Beatles, Ray LaMontagne, Sting, the Mac is my preference.  It sounds more "real."  It is doing many, but not all, vocals better.

Ultimately though, the comparisons all get tossed out with the bath water. Once your in the bath tub for ten minutes, you don't notice the mineral content of the water. The overall immersion in the hot water is a different story.  That's the Hegel.  It does lots of what the Mac can do, but it also does something the Mac can never do.  The sound pours all over you. THIS iS WHAT I"VE BEEN MISSING.  A new source was never going to fix this.

The Mac, new, goes for €5k.  The Hegel 190 €3.7k.  The Hegel also comes with DAC and streamer.  Sometimes the DAC is better than my Node 2 other times not. However, I'm not interested in the 190.  I'd like to hear the big brother 390 at €5.8k,  If this is the 190 and more, the Mac is on it's way out. (98% of listening is Tidal into the Node2)

I was reading some reviews, I know lots of people hate them, but when they use comparisons it's helpful to me. http://www.serious-music.com/Blog/?p=6747. This is the Hegel 390, Mark Levinson N 5805 and the Krell 300i. Both can come with the digital module and will for my demo.  One of the shops here in Brussels has both the Levinson and Krell, but not the Hegel. I have a demo with both amps tomorrow morning. One Problem: They don't carry the Spendor nor my normal substitute the ATC SCM40.

Will the Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 2 or 3 be a decent replacement for my Spendor D7 (sensitivity 91dB) for the demo? The sales guy seems to think so, and I have my doubts. (other options would be B&W, Kef, Focal, Dali, Dynaudio).   I've not heard Focal floorstanders, nor anything from Sonus or Dali.  Dynaudio, Kef and B&W to my ears are not Spendor D7 like.

The other amps on my shortlist are:  

Leben CS600, Pass labs Int 25, Line Magnetic ????, and possibly the Audio Research VSi75 (a bit out of my price range).  Other than these there is not much else available as far as integrateds go in this price range.  The second hand market is also very wishy washy here and I'm not very interested.

All advice is welcome and appreciated.

Chem

Edited by ChemMan
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Interesting insight, as always.

FWIW. My view is that you should hold out for an Amp that betters the Mac in all areas....but it's not my money, or my ears that are listening.

I like the look of your other shortlisted amps.

If you can't find what your looking for, and can do a cost neutral "swap" for something that on balance you prefer, then I'd go for it.

Edited by CnoEvil

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13 minutes ago, CnoEvil said:

My view is that you should hold out for an Amp that betters the Mac in all areas....but it's not my money, or my ears that are listening.

This is sage advice and one I will heed. I've now had four amps in my house driving the Spendors.  It is a remarkable speaker in that the differences between amps are obvious.  I choose well, and with all the research I did it paid off in a great set of speakers. I did not do the same with the amp, and now I'm in this predicament.  I won't make the same mistake again.

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I know the KEF Ref.1 didn’t quite work well with your room before but you may give them a second chance with the H390.

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2 minutes ago, Iceman 16 said:

I know the KEF Ref.1 didn’t quite work well with your room before but you may give them a second chance with the H390.

I watched this when you posted it last time!! :)

  I'm super happy with the Spendors, but I feel like I didn't know "my sound" quite well enough when I went with the Neutral sweetness of the Mac.

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Super Dealer

They don’t appear to be a difficult load.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/spendor-d7-loudspeaker-measurements

Mc would appear to be a reasonable match,

https://www.hifinews.com/content/mcintosh-ma252-integrated-amplifier-lab-report

Keith

Edited by PuritéAudio

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3 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

I watched this when you posted it last time!! :)

  I'm super happy with the Spendors, but I feel like I didn't know "my sound" quite well enough when I went with the Neutral sweetness of the Mac.

How about the Harbs

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1 minute ago, Iceman 16 said:

How about the Harbs

They also had time with the Mac.  A bit bass light for me.  I am amp hunting.  The reference to Sonus is because I am not dragging my Spendors to the shop tomorrow, so I need a stand in just for the demo between the two amps.  Sure, I'll be able to hear the difference between the two amps, but it won't be the same as with the Spendors.  Hence a need for a close approximation, if that's even possible.

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Grief guys, ChemMan is asking about a new amp and half the posts are about changing the speakers!

I wish I had heard them but the Hegek 390 gets very good reviews so is a must hear. I would indeed be like ChemMan though and have suspicions about making any judgements about the Hegel with the Sonus Faber and in a different room as well. Too many variables.

So use the demo only as very much a first impression demo without it carrying too much weight. The Hegel 390 is supposed to have a pretty decent DAC too which you can use with your Node 2 instead of the Node 2's DAC by using the coax out. That is what I do with my Node 2i to my amps DAC and it's a big improvement.

I shall follow your journey with interest, happy hunting! :)

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2 minutes ago, Bit Perfect said:

the Hegel with the Sonus Faber and in a different room as well. Too many variables.

Indeed.

I think I put TOO much info into the initial post and confused everybody or wrote it poorly.

Tomorrow will be Levinson and Krell into the Sonus.  So at least I can see which I prefer on the Sonus.  Later in the week I should be able to get the Hegel 390 home for a listen.

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From your speaker journey , ..you may well remember I was pleased with my lavardin and my unison research unico 90

amps , which do have more than a touch of valve flavour ……..not sure if these amps are available in brussels,

I have listened but not at length to hegel amps at audio shows but cant really comment as there are to many variables involved,

home demo as you know is a must...….. good luck and enjoy .

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Super Wammer
47 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

Indeed.

I think I put TOO much info into the initial post and confused everybody or wrote it poorly.

Tomorrow will be Levinson and Krell into the Sonus.  So at least I can see which I prefer on the Sonus.  Later in the week I should be able to get the Hegel 390 home for a listen.

It was a clear post. I didn’t respond because I don’t know your amps but I have a few thoughts that might be useful. 

I do have a Leben CS300SX but am surprised that you would go with a Leben with the other amps that you list. I love my Leben but it’s a completely different proposition. 

I listened to the MF NuVista 800 at home when it came out (I used to have the M3). It was good but not what I wanted but it was typical MF and might suit as it is in McIntosh territory. I also used to own Audio Research 26 pre and VS115 power amp. I preferred the ARC stuff over MF but can’t remember why as it was 10 years ago but I think that ARC integrated would be more what you want than MF. 

If Leben is on your list then you should add Unison Research Preludio. Again a different proposition but really draws you into the music. 

Have no clue about your speakers as I have never heard them but hopefully this note was helpful in some way. 

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another quality solid state integrated to try with the spendor is the sugden masterclass ia-4.  Although i am not familiar with the d7, Sugden and  Spendor used to work well.

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If you want to try Sugden , hifi corner in nearby Antwerp stock Sugden and Proac which would make a good substitute for your Spendors.

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1 hour ago, deggie said:

lavardin and my unison research unico 90

I believe I saw a Lavardin here at a very small shop.  Not sure if home demo is an option there.   I've never seen a Unico here and it's been on my radar since you mentioned it.  Netherlands possibly, yet I would imagine impossible to get my hands on for home demo.

15 minutes ago, graham67 said:

sugden masterclass ia-4. 

This is another one that has been on my radar and I have read a lot about it.  Hifi corner eh?  Probably the only shop I've not been to in the whole country. :)

Edited by ChemMan

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