Pricier integrated vs cheaper seperates?

Been eyeing on Mcintosh MA 5200 / Accuphase E 280 as well as seperates like Schiit Freya+ and the XTZ Edges…

Which option do you think has the best value and sound quality?

(Happy user of Stellar P3 btw)

What is your long range game plan, your budget, and current speakers. To a degree this comes down to what you value and your long term goals. I run integrated amplifiers for convenience, and sound quality. I run separates for sound quality and to mix things up a bit by swapping amplifiers and preamplifiers. Also, do you play LPs/vinyl, stream only or see a server in your future? Personally I mate amplification to speakers with an initial focus on speakers. BTW, if you are keen on the Accuphase E 280 take a look at Luxman as well. I own a Luxman L-509X and am completely happy with it as far as integrated amplifiers go. It competes head on with Accuphase and McIntosh. I believe the MA-5200 has been discontinued.

1 Like

Thanks for the long reply… I stream nowadays with Tuolihao 8350 which is practically a pair of DIY scan speak speakers. (I believe they’re trying to imitate Harbeth for a tiny fraction of the price)

well I never thought of any long term goals, I just sometimes wonder which option has better sound quality / value when given the same amount of budget.

Manufacturing casework is a substantial part of a component’s cost. Eliminating the cost of one case, elimination of interconnects between pre and amp and the extra power cord gives the integrated a substantial head start in the “value” equation.

4 Likes

I’ve long used integrateds for the reasons already mentioned above. Many now come with a digital section included, but I would recommend finding an integrated that excludes it. Digital tech evolves more quickly than analogue, so having a separate DAC and streamer gives you more upgrade options in the long run. That’s the way I have done it, anyway.

4 Likes

I think these days it is solely a function of space and if you want the ability to tune the sound a bit as mentioned above by experimenting with a different pre or digital depending on what the integrated offers. Best integrated I have ever had which rivals many separates is the Levinson 585. I have owned Mac and its great stuff- just depends on what your ears like. The 585 had a very good digital section as well. The Mac DA2 is pretty good as well but you may find that certain other DACs enhance your experience. Not sure I would be happy with anything below the DA2. I would A/B the 585 section against other DACs and for the most part, it held its own up to a certain point. I have since gone back to separates as I have the room (real estate can be a big factor) and enjoy the ability to swap out components. However there are some really good integrated amps out there… Good luck.

1 Like

agree and also what I’ve always thought. digital transport / dac should be individual components. streamers will be wholly different in a few years.

The MAC sounds wonderful and it will hold it’s value well in case you wish to sell it later.

1 Like

If $$$$ not a concern then go with Accuphase…the E280 while 10 watts less than
the MA 5200…has more to offer with the ability to use preamp seperate from the power amp
section…

Take a look here…but you may know this already…

https://www.accuphase.com/model/e-280.htm

Hard to top Accuphase

2 Likes

Short answer Luxman, and I’d forgoe an internal DAC as others have stated the technology is evolving too fast, and the internal DAC streamer can increase the overall noise floor.

My local dealer has the MAC and the Luxman, driving B&W 803/802 or Paradigm PERSONA 7F we preferred the Luxman. A friend has the Levinson 585 and has mentioned there have been issues with the Levinson 585 and 5805 integrated digital section and the ability to stream. If you are interested in Levinson you may want to do a google search. I’d focus on speakers, then select an amp when you land on speakers you enjoy. There is an art to mating amp to speakers in my experience.

1 Like

The Hegel H390 and H590 integrateds have the potential to be the perfect single-box solution.

Streamer, DAC, great amplifier.

However, they’ve been saying “Roon ready is going to be released any day now” FOR TWO YEARS, so who knows. But once it is, and if it’s killer, it will be hard to beat.

1 Like

An integrated is definitely the better value. I’d also suggest staying away from built in DACs and streamers as they will comprise sound quality. I would suggest going with a balanced model as well as one with separate power supplies for the preamp and each channel of the power amp. This would provide you with most of the attributes of separates.

Having recently gone from a BHK Preamp and 300 Mono Amps, it is possible to get pretty close to separates with the right integrated. Good luck!

1 Like

I would tend to agree, but there are some amazing integrateds with these features. And if you want a true one-box amp, I’m guessing these compromises are pretty minor.

Some people shrug their shoulders at Hegel’s roon tardiness and use a Lumin T2 with the Hegel (as the T2 IS roon ready), and are blown away by the sound quality. So, you can have the one-box thing if you want it, or add a separate digital front end if you don’t.

Having heard and owning a Hegel I can say what it does it does well. It is in a system oriented for digital streaming with a minimal footprint to evaluate new music releases. I compared it to McIntosh, NAD, Levinson and Sim Audio. I am happy with it, but then again I have more than one system and it’s selection was based on a focused purpose with specific goals.

+1 on the Accuphase

*Accuphase routinely understates output power as an example my P-4200’s are listed at 90wpc while they do not clip under testing until 156 wpc

Plus they are “Accuphase” watts :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, as with many other hi-end integrated amps the digital (and phono boards) are of good quality and modular so the boards can be upgraded as advancements in digital are made

Best,
-JP

1 Like

They can both sound excellent. What’s your long term plan?

I got into separates fairly early on and am happy I did. As some bit of kit interested me I bought it and swapped it in. As I realized the stuff around the new stuff wasn’t performing it allowed me to plan upgrades. Integrated I wouldn’t have been able to “play” this way. However, if I wanted a “one and done” I’d spend big bucks on an integrated and be done with it. Less hassle. No “synergy” problems. Just buy, plug it in, be happy. Sometimes it really is about the music.

I will echo what others have said though. Streamers, networked devices, anything with a “software layer”, etc. will age and very few manufacturers do a good job keeping up with this. You’ll eventually need a new streamer. Additionally, you’ll never find an “end game” DAC inside an integrated; just isn’t room to do it right in a chassis with so much other stuff going on. So, if you get the itch for a top of the line DAC you’ll be buying one of those as well. This is probably true of phono-pres as well. Look… now I’ve told you you’re going to need at least 3 separates to bolt onto that integrated, whoops :slight_smile: