Luxman, Hegel, Other Options?

To Hans Wetzel,

Thanks for the great review of the Luxman L-550AX.

I have a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3s and am looking to upgrade to a better amplifier and am torn between buying either the Luxman L-550AX or L-505UX. I presently am using a Hegel Music Systems H80 integrated amplifier-DAC with the Harbeths and it sounds great, so I am also thinking about the Hegel H160, which I understand is a few steps above the H80 in sound quality. What are your thoughts on either getting a Hegel H160 or one of the Luxmans for the Harbeths? I previously used an Audio Research LS17 SE with the Harbeths and an old Anthem MCA 2 amp. My other option is to put the Audio Research back in and get another, better amp to go along with it. Another distant option is to get an LFD Audio Zero LE Mk. 5.0 integrated.

My associated equipment is all Kimber Kable cable, a Bryston BDA-1 DAC, a Clearaudio Concept turntable with MM cartridge, and a Sutherland 20/20 phono preamp. Other speakers I have are KEF LS50s, Paradigm Reference Studio 100s, and an older pair of Magnepan MC1s with the DWM panel.

Any thoughts are appreciated as I plan on doing an upgrade sometime this year.

Kenneth Siegle
United States

If you like the cohesiveness of the Harbeths and the Hegel H80, I think the H160 is your best bet. It is a notably more flexible amp, has far more power, and has better components throughout its amp, preamp, and DAC stages. While I adore what the Luxman can do, its 20Wpc may be limiting for you, and it is also $1500 more expensive than the H160. I also think you’ll appreciate your KEF LS50s even more with the H160 in play -- they are great little speakers. I am not familiar with LFD Audio, so I can’t offer any advice on that front, but it does look to be a bit more expensive than the Hegel. I say save the extra cash, grab the H160, and don’t look back, Kenneth. . . . Hans Wetzel