Looking at integrated amps for esl11a

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tktiomy56

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Just got my delivery of impressions esl 11a’s and having a difficult time finding a integrated amp that fits the bill. Volume wise I don’t listen to music and shows at a high level, probably around -20db or -10db so no where near reference. Off and on I’ve researched a bit about the Hegel h120 h190 anthem str integrated and naim uniti atom nad m10. The anthem and Hegel 190 would be the top of the budget unless I can find them used or open box, but from a power standpoint at the levels I listen to what would be adequate. Its a living room system with a open floor plan and they are paired with balanced force 210s for bass. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated thankyou
 

twich54

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a lot of good choices pout there, here a couple that I would consider .....


 

tktiomy56

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what about McIntosh could I get away with a ma5200 Or 5300 my freind will sell me his 5200 for 1500 which seems like a steal mint condition or a used 5300 from a dealer for 2800$
 

Spike

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Either McIntosh integrated will do well with your set-up. There are lots of members here with ML & McIntosh pairing.
 

tktiomy56

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I’m being told the ma5200 would go into protect mode with the 11s and was recommended the luxman 509x which is vastly out of budget...
 

tktiomy56

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I really do want the ma5200 to work lol since the price is just to difficult to pass on
 

Spike

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I’m being told the ma5200 would go into protect mode with the 11s
They may have a point. Looking over the user manuals for both 5200 and 5300, it is a bit strange that the 5200 user manual states:
"The McIntosh MA5200 Power Amplifier Circuitry is designed for a Loudspeakers with an impedance of 8 ohms." and it does not give any power figure for 4 ohm load. The 5300, on the other hand, does give power figure for 4 ohm load, albeit, not doubling down to 4 ohms:
  • 100 Watts into 8 Ohms
  • 160 Watts into 4 Ohms
Other McIntosh owners may be able to give you better inputs.
 

tktiomy56

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Yea that’s what I was worried about, I’m changing from rotel and liked how the c47 handled my friends system....but I prefer non separates for the new living room approach
 

Russr

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You could always go "budget" and consider the Anthem MRX range... about to bring out a new set of Pre/Pro's and Recivers (not what you're looking for) AND some integrated amps. I've always found the Anthem HT gear gives phenomenal stereo output, and the ARC systems built into the newer MLs are from the legacy Anthem shop (they're owned by the same conglomerate).

Russ
 

MickeyVee

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I have the Hegel H95 driving a pair of Vista's. Previous to that, an Anthem MRX-520. Both did drive the Vista's well but the Hegel is so much better across the range and especially in the bass. Love the Hegel so you should be good with an H190 with the ESL 11a. Maybe the H120 given your bass setup but would error on the side of the H190.
 

jtucker

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I know a lot of people pair ML with McIntosh, but I really would avoid tube power with the electrostatic panels due to the high frequency capacitive impedance. Personally, I use a Pass Labs INT-150. Pass is probably out of your price range though. I auditioned a Hegel amp. I think they are a good value, and liked the way it sounded. While I was looking I found the Pass used and local for a good price. If you like the tube sound, I would look for a hybrid like the Rogue that Twitch linked. As usual, just my $0.02.
 

Spike

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but I really would avoid tube power with the electrostatic panels due to the high frequency capacitive impedance
Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. I've been driving my electrostatic panels with tube amps for 18 years with great success. To my ears, the solid-state amps I've tried came close, but I still prefer my tube monoblocs over the solid-state amps. The differentiating factor (for me) is the immediacy and presence of the vocals, especially in the lower-midrange region of male baritone voice. Keep in mind that I have to match the tube performance with a Levinson class-A amp driving the woofers. As usual, your mileage may vary with your system.
 

zigman

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From my experience with the 11A, the more robust the power supply in your amp the more you will get out of the speaker.

I have tried pairing a McIntosh MC452, Luxman 509X, and my latest was a Vitus RI-101. The biggest takeaway was that power rating (watts per channel) isn’t the best way to gauge amps. It’s how well the power supply is built, how much reserves it has, and how much current it can supply. These ESL panels may seem easy to drive, but to get the full range of sound you need some robust power. If you can find a HiFi News review on the integrated amp you are looking at they tend to do some great lab testing.

After the power supply the next most important thing for me is the sound signature. I felt McIntosh solid state didn’t pair well with the 11As since the panel rolls off highs a bit and the McIntosh amps with autoformers tend to do the same thing. This made instruments, like string and piano, sound soft. This of course is a personal preference.

I have heard Parasound makes some fantastic amps at a good price. When I looked at Hegel, I was evaluating the H590 since it was the one I felt matched the needs of the 11A the best, but it brought up the price quite a bit.
 

zigman

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Agreed on the importance of power-supply in amplifiers. Here's my post on this subject a while back...
Link to importance of power-supplies

And of course, Nelson Pass' article on power-supplies
Power Supplies by Nelson Pass

Great links and explanation! If you like the sound of tubes but want the power of solid state you should check out some of the Vitus amps, if you haven't already. The RI-101 is the first integrated I have heard that comes close to have the naturalness of tube but with the control of solid state.
 

jtucker

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Spike,

Not impossible to drive ESL panels with tubes, just need to watch the output impedance. Also, you may not mind a little shelving of higher frequencies. At my age it probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference as I probably can't hear much over 15 kHz.

I also very much agree about the power supply (of course I would say that as a retired power supply designer...)
 

tktiomy56

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Hmmm awesome information thank you so much everyone for your thoughts, I’m new to the bigger esl panels so getting everyones takes on this is a great help. I think for a budget of 5k the anthem integrated would be close, or a used McIntosh c47 with a anthem mca 225 2 channel amp would be the 2nd option. Between those 2 what would y’all ultimately take if it were you.
 

tktiomy56

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I went ahead and purchased a used McIntosh ma5200, read that it’s basically the same as the 5300 minus the upgradeabke dac and 4ohm written on the device, the 5200 is 4ohm rated and was just a marketing decision to not place it on the 5200. I did audition the ma5300 with esl13a since they didn’t have 11s. At moderate levels it was really magnificent and the sound was incredible, so I’m assuming dealers pushing for 8-10k integrated units is just for up sell primarily. Thankyou everyone for your input, I would’ve like to do a c47 pre and a mc312 2 channel amp but budget was around 4-5k and the 5200 used was only 3700$ and excellent condition... had to buy it lol.
 
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From my experience with the 11A, the more robust the power supply in your amp the more you will get out of the speaker.

I have tried pairing a McIntosh MC452, Luxman 509X, and my latest was a Vitus RI-101. The biggest takeaway was that power rating (watts per channel) isn’t the best way to gauge amps. It’s how well the power supply is built, how much reserves it has, and how much current it can supply. These ESL panels may seem easy to drive, but to get the full range of sound you need some robust power. If you can find a HiFi News review on the integrated amp you are looking at they tend to do some great lab testing.

After the power supply the next most important thing for me is the sound signature. I felt McIntosh solid state didn’t pair well with the 11As since the panel rolls off highs a bit and the McIntosh amps with autoformers tend to do the same thing. This made instruments, like string and piano, sound soft. This of course is a personal preference.

I have heard Parasound makes some fantastic amps at a good price. When I looked at Hegel, I was evaluating the H590 since it was the one I felt matched the needs of the 11A the best, but it brought up the price quite a bit.
@zigman
Thanks for your post.
I bought ELS11A a few weeks ago and am looking for a new amplifier because my NuPrime ST-10 150W 4ohm power amp pairing delivers a "thin" mid range where the vocals sound quite recessed and a "forward" upper range where the cymbals sound very pronounced.
Just wondering how the Luxman 509X sound?
Thanks
 
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