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The perfect integrated doesn’t exist…and it’s annoying


CoryGillmore
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I’ve been racking my brain for weeks now scouring the internet seeking out the perfect (for my needs) integrated amp to pair with my Cornwall IV. 
 

When I find something that I think will be perfect, upon further inspection it has glaring issues or omissions. Like a lack of home theater bypass. I thought the NAD M33 was the one for me. But nope no home theater bypass. 
 

I had the same problem with the McIntosh MA5300. Plus it’s massive. So deep it won’t even fit in or even on top of my current entertainment center. 
 

None of the big gorgeous amps with VU meters have home theater bypass….Like the Yamaha AS models. 
 

I’ve considered the Parasound HINT 6, which has all the features I want but it’s made in China or similar and just looks cheap as hell to me. Same problem with the Rotel 1592MKII. 
 

I do love that the HINT 6 is class A for like the first 5 watts. Plus it’s bass management features. High pass filter, low pass filter, it really has it all. 
 

Ugh I don’t even know anymore. I may start looking at preamps and mono blocks again….

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Yeah I’m kinda in the market for another A/V receiver as well. One with pre-outs. But first I want my two channel sorted. I’m currently powering Cornwall IVs with a mid tier Onkyo 7.2 A/V receiver lol. 
 

At one time I was considering a Freya+ pre and two Aegirs in dual mono. But the thought of fiddling with tubes and once again no home theater bypass functionality on the Freya+ kinda turned me off. Even if the tube sound sounds appealing to me. 
 

I definitely want an amp that’s described as “meaty”, thick, lush and warm. 

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2 minutes ago, sputnik said:

I know this is the solid state sub-forum but……this might be worth a look for you.  I just ordered it’s little brother (MA252).

 

https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA352

 

 

That thing looks gorgeous but it also looks waaaaay out of my budget. I didn’t even see a price for it but it looks every bit of 10k. My budget it about half that. 
 

Also if I do tubes I’d rather have them in the pre-amp stage. 

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Just now, CoryGillmore said:

That thing looks gorgeous but it also looks waaaaay out of my budget. I didn’t even see a price for it but it looks every bit of 10k. My budget it about half that. 
 

Also if I do tubes I’d rather have them in the pre-amp stage. 


I think it goes for for 6.5 kilobux. Still plenty spendy.  The pre-amp is tubed and the amp is SS.

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I had the ma252 and it sounded great and I’ve read the ma352 even sounds better. Ran my Yamaha AVR with its preouts for my home theatre system and the ma 252 for my two Chanel setup.  Ht bypass made it all work easily. 
 

I listened to a Primaluna Evo 400 and loved the way it sounded and traded in the ma 252 and have been more than happy with my current setup for the past two years.

 

As good as the mcintosh was the synergy in my space and with my Forte IVs is just more pleasing to my ears with the Primaluna Itegrated. Synergy is everything!

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I've not seen any for sale lately, but a Juicy Music Peach specifically has a HT bypass built into it.  (I owned one for many years and recently sold it).

 

It's a tube preamp (if that matters).

 

Actually, I'm puzzled.  You're asking for an AMPLIFIER that has a bypass?  Why?

 

Seems to me you'd want the amp to power the speakers BUT be able to swap between a HT head unit OR a stereo unit (no??)

 

I guess I'm missing something here.  Sounds to me like what might fit your needs is a preamp with HT bypass verses amp (integrated or not) with bypass.  I've been out of that loop so long though, that it might be a common feature today and I'm simply (gasp) out of touch!

 

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3 hours ago, Coytee said:

I've not seen any for sale lately, but a Juicy Music Peach specifically has a HT bypass built into it.  (I owned one for many years and recently sold it).

 

It's a tube preamp (if that matters).

 

Actually, I'm puzzled.  You're asking for an AMPLIFIER that has a bypass?  Why?

 

Seems to me you'd want the amp to power the speakers BUT be able to swap between a HT head unit OR a stereo unit (no??)

 

I guess I'm missing something here.  Sounds to me like what might fit your needs is a preamp with HT bypass verses amp (integrated or not) with bypass.  I've been out of that loop so long though, that it might be a common feature today and I'm simply (gasp) out of touch!

 

Yeah I'm really wanting an integrated amp with the bypass. I'm not opposed to class D either but most of the ones I've seen reviewed are all praised for their neutrality. I don't want neutrality. I want a meaty, thick and rich sound. Hell I could just do a Parasound P6 pre and pair it with a couple Aegir monoblocks from Schiit, or literally anything else. No matter what I end up with it's bound to be an upgrade to my current Onkyo TXNR757 Best Buy A/V receiver. 

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@CoryGillmore, what about a vintage receiver... Luxman R-117(5,4 or 3) or HK 9/730 ... input to CD line in... set volume to match Onkyo ... use vintage amp’s tone controls... then use Onkyo to manage volume?  Either Luxman or HK will give you good sound for stereo music.

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19 hours ago, MC39693 said:

@CoryGillmore, what about a vintage receiver... Luxman R-117(5,4 or 3) or HK 9/730 ... input to CD line in... set volume to match Onkyo ... use vintage amp’s tone controls... then use Onkyo to manage volume?  Either Luxman or HK will give you good sound for stereo music.

Yeah I haven’t really considered anything vintage. I kinda want all the modern bells and whistles too. 
 

https://www.musicdirect.com/integrated-amp/Cambridge-Audio-Evo-150-All-in-One-Player

 

This Cambridge Evo 150 is a very attractive package. It really has everything I want, it’s just one review (Andrew Robinson) said it was almost cold and clinical. 
 

I also feel like 3k is a really nice sweet spot for me. I can stretch to 5k or maybe even 5.5k but I don’t feel good about it. 
 

In that price range I’ve been considering the MA5300 or Luxman 507 I think it’s called. 
 

I also really like the aesthetics of the Peachtree Audio Nova150 and Nova300. 
 

I’ve also strongly considered the two Rega integrateds priced around 3k and 5k. 
 

I’ve considered the NAD M33. 

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On 10/23/2021 at 3:41 AM, CoryGillmore said:

I’ve been racking my brain for weeks now scouring the internet seeking out the perfect (for my needs) integrated amp to pair with my Cornwall IV. 
 

When I find something that I think will be perfect, upon further inspection it has glaring issues or omissions. Like a lack of home theater bypass. I thought the NAD M33 was the one for me. But nope no home theater bypass
 

I had the same problem with the McIntosh MA5300. Plus it’s massive. So deep it won’t even fit in or even on top of my current entertainment center. 
 

None of the big gorgeous amps with VU meters have home theater bypass….Like the Yamaha AS models. 
 

I’ve considered the Parasound HINT 6, which has all the features I want but it’s made in China or similar and just looks cheap as hell to me. Same problem with the Rotel 1592MKII. 
 

I do love that the HINT 6 is class A for like the first 5 watts. Plus it’s bass management features. High pass filter, low pass filter, it really has it all. 
 

Ugh I don’t even know anymore. I may start looking at preamps and mono blocks again….

 

 

Hi @CoryGillmore

 

At McIntosh, the Cinema BYPASS feature is called PASSTHRU and the MA5300 is well equipped with it. Look at the photos of the back of the device and the features given by McIntosh:

 

Connectivity

Home Theater PassThru
Yes

 

 

 

Extract from the user manual :

 

• PassThru Mode

The Automatic PassThru Mode allows the MA5300 to become part of a Multichannel Sound System for DVD-Audio, SACD and Home Theater Movies.

 

 

 

 

other instructions for connections and opération here:

 

The McIntosh PassThru system is complete, programmable and efficient, read in particular pages 9, 19 and 28 and more

 

download the file >>>> MA5300 Integrated Amplifier Owner's Manual 

 

https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA5300

 

 

✌️

 

 

 

 

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Few suggestions --- Have you considered offerings from Rogue -- either the Cronus Magnum or the Sphinx? I don't think they come standard with HT bypass, but when I was looking a year or so ago and considered HT bypass to be something I wanted, I emailed them and it was available as an option to add for like $100 or $200 more. I'd think either would pair well with the CW's.

 

Or for a more pricey option, the McIntosh MA352 has a HT bypass. I realize this may start a tubes v.s. solid state debate, but you didn't specify in your post, only asking for the "perfect integrated". Such a thing may not exist.

 

I'm assuming your post is asking for suggestions for an integrated to play 2-channel sources through the CW's, but with the bypass for an AVR since the CW's do double duty for HT?

 

Also - as Fido mentioned, some of the PrimaLuna's also have HT bypass. Might be worth a look.

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1 hour ago, mustang_flht said:

 

 

Hi @CoryGillmore

 

At McIntosh, the Cinema BYPASS feature is called PASSTHRU and the MA5300 is well equipped with it. Look at the photos of the back of the device and the features given by McIntosh:

 

Connectivity

Home Theater PassThru
Yes

 

 

 

Extract from the user manual :

 

• PassThru Mode

The Automatic PassThru Mode allows the MA5300 to become part of a Multichannel Sound System for DVD-Audio, SACD and Home Theater Movies.

 

 

 

 

other instructions for connections and opération here:

 

The McIntosh PassThru system is complete, programmable and efficient, read in particular pages 9, 19 and 28 and more

 

download the file >>>> MA5300 Integrated Amplifier Owner's Manual 

 

https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA5300

 

 

✌️

 

 

 

 

Yep you’re absolutely right. And there’s actually a couple other models that do have it that I thought didn’t have it. Like the Yamaha AS models do have it, even if it isn’t explicitly called “home theater bypass”. 
 

my only real quibble with the MA5300 is how massive it is. At 22 inches deep it’s longer than my current entertainment center, which is 19 inches deep. I was thinking maybe it could still fit with some overhang on the front and back but I can’t find a side profile pic of the unit to determine exactly how far apart the feet of the unit are. Obviously if the feet are no more than 19 inches apart it could still work. 
 

Regardless, if the MA5300 was something I really wanted I would get it and wouldn’t let trivial details such as my entertainment center dimensions deter me. I would just get it and figure it out when it came. 

12 minutes ago, Sam S. said:

Few suggestions --- Have you considered offerings from Rogue -- either the Cronus Magnum or the Sphinx? I don't think they come standard with HT bypass, but when I was looking a year or so ago and considered HT bypass to be something I wanted, I emailed them and it was available as an option to add for like $100 or $200 more. I'd think either would pair well with the CW's.

 

Or for a more pricey option, the McIntosh MA352 has a HT bypass. I realize this may start a tubes v.s. solid state debate, but you didn't specify in your post, only asking for the "perfect integrated". Such a thing may not exist.

 

I'm assuming your post is asking for suggestions for an integrated to play 2-channel sources through the CW's, but with the bypass for an AVR since the CW's do double duty for HT?

 

Also - as Fido mentioned, some of the PrimaLuna's also have HT bypass. Might be worth a look.

Yep I’ve totally considered that MA352 as an option. It’s just a little out of the range I want to spend though. 
 

I do need to check out offerings from PrimaLuna though. I have not looked at anything from them. 
 

Yeah you’re correct about my intended setup. But two channel stereo is what’s most important by far. I just need home theater to work. 

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7 minutes ago, CoryGillmore said:

Yep I’ve totally considered that MA352 as an option. It’s just a little out of the range I want to spend though. 

 

I do need to check out offerings from PrimaLuna though. I have not looked at anything from them. 
 

Yeah you’re correct about my intended setup. But two channel stereo is what’s most important by far. I just need home theater to work. 

Good luck. PrimaLuna 200, 300, or 400 all have HT bypass. I found my e-mail from Mark @ Rogue from Jan, 2021. At that time, the Cronus Magnum III or Sphinx could add HT bypass for an extra $150. Might be worth consideration as price-wise that'd be in the same category or less than the PL200. Rogue made in US and Primaluna China if that matters to you. Another consideration might be the Rogue Pharoah (tube pre-amp and SS amp) which comes standard with HT bypass. Specs here. Pharoah (just on the high side price wise from the PL200) would have way more power than your CW's would require.

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4 hours ago, CoryGillmore said:

Yep you’re absolutely right. And there’s actually a couple other models that do have it that I thought didn’t have it. Like the Yamaha AS models do have it, even if it isn’t explicitly called “home theater bypass”. 
 

my only real quibble with the MA5300 is how massive it is. At 22 inches deep it’s longer than my current entertainment center, which is 19 inches deep. I was thinking maybe it could still fit with some overhang on the front and back but I can’t find a side profile pic of the unit to determine exactly how far apart the feet of the unit are. Obviously if the feet are no more than 19 inches apart it could still work. 
 

Regardless, if the MA5300 was something I really wanted I would get it and wouldn’t let trivial details such as my entertainment center dimensions deter me. I would just get it and figure it out when it came. 

Yep I’ve totally considered that MA352 as an option. It’s just a little out of the range I want to spend though. 
 

I do need to check out offerings from PrimaLuna though. I have not looked at anything from them. 
 

Yeah you’re correct about my intended setup. But two channel stereo is what’s most important by far. I just need home theater to work. 

 

@CoryGillmore 

 

The MA5300 does not measure 22 ", but 18" 3/4, so about 20 "with the cables. In addition, if you let the chrome parts of the front face protrude, you regain 29/32": which will roughly be 19 " deep with the cables, it should go through your furniture, right?

 

 

See page 5 there is a side drawing of the appliance, the distance between feet is 13" center distance, approximately 14 "from edge to edge of the outside of the feet.

 

See page 5 >>>>>   MA5300 Integrated Amplifier Owner's Manual 

 

 

It would be a shame to miss such a beautiful amp that you like so much for a dimension error, so forget the 22 "and hurray for the 18" 3/4  

 

😆

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