Requesting opinions about 4 specific amplifiers

Greetings Audiogon community,

I am requesting your input about four specific amplifiers in a particular price range and how they may, or may not, pair well with my Dynaudio Confidence 20 stand mount speakers.

My room is 20' x 16' and does have wall absorption treatment. I do not listen at high levels, typically in the 75 to mid 85 db territory. 

I currently own a Luxman L-509X integrated amplifier, which is probably the best integrated amp I have owned to date. However I am wondering if there is a better amp match for my Dynaudio Confidence 20 speakers, and so am considering moving to separates. My budget for the amp alone is in the preowned $4K to $5K range.

Here are amps I am asking for your input about ;

-Simaudio Moon 860A V1 (Dynaudio dealers seem to endorse Simaudio)

-Pass Labs X150.8

-PS Audio BHK Signature 250 stereo (PS Audio has dropped the price on new amps in their closeout sale)

-Parasound JC 5

I realize there are many, many, amp manufacturers, and that of course if I reach a bit higher I could consider Ayre, or Aesthetix, or Coda, all of which interest me, but seem to stay outside of my budget. 

I wish I could side-by-side compare or demo all of these amps, but unfortunately it is not possible. I am looking to your experience to help in any way possible.

Thank you!



Look for demo or 1 - 2 year old amps.  You will bring those more expensive models into your budget.   The "new car smell" is not worth paying 60% - 100% more than used.  IMHO.  

In my opinion the luxman power amplifier section pairs well with the Dynaudio Confidence 20.

If it were me, I'd invest in a tube preamp for more SQ impact.

Again, just my opinion.


For me, Parasound power amp didn't pair well with Dynaudio.

Simaudio is a fantastic choice but way pricier.

You will find more JC5 on the used markets than the other ones, so you could add a few other, niche brands to your list?

This really depends on what improvements and sound characteristics you’re looking for.  Without that critical info we’re just shooting in the dark here. 

Be aware the Pass amps -- even the Class AB ones -- run warm. The X150.8 is specified as emitting 370W at idle. That is heat going into your room. Tough if you're in a warm climate.

@grislybutter -This is helpful, thank you. I found an 860A V1 on Audiomart for $5K which is a possibility in my price range.

@soix -I'd love to pinpoint sonic improvement characteristics desired, but it's hard to be aware of what is possible without more experience.

I feel like this Luxman integrated provides good imaging, but is better possible? It sounds very detailed, and maybe slightly more analytic or cool than my last integrated-the Hegel H390. Maybe I am looking for a bit more midrange warmth? Another reason to consider separates in a tube preamp.

Again, I am looking to this community for suggestions of what might be possible. If the Luxman is the final word in pairing with these Dynaudio's, that would be nice to learn as well. 

@mike_in_nc -Good to know. My listening space is in a basement, so a bit of a break there with the temps.

@imhififan -Thank you, great to heat this! I can be happy staying with the Luxman too if it's one of the best choices to make. It's a beautiful integrated!

@soix +1...Hegel, now either enable you to enjoy your tunes ? Why do they ? Why do they not ? This will help you, and us, to further assist / guide you in a direction. Consider a pair of subs, based on improving things, and you have the room physically, and for them to open up and breath......

Sounds like you’re maybe missing a bit of magic and soul in the music.  I think your instinct of trying a tube preamp is excellent, and pairing that with something like a Class A amp could deliver a lotta soul and magic.  Here are a couple excellent pieces available now just for an idea and FWIW…

Best of luck.


Keep the 509. It’s an excellent unit with an underrated preamp section. IMHO a very different choice than the Pass or Parasound. I just don’t like Pass, and Parasound tends to be too warm and laid back.

Of those you mention which I've heard, Ayre may be significantly different enough and good enough to be worth a switch to.




Consider your room acoustics.


I can only fairly comment on the Pass relative to the Luxman. I find the Pass amps to capture the midrange and rhythm and pace far better than Luxman. These two parameters are key to musicality, making Pass in this situation keep detail and bass but have a much higher musicality. The Luxman has an accentuated treble and bass which gives it a sparkly high end sound… the Pass is much closer to the real thing. Great match with DynAudio… I have heard both Luxman and Pass with these great speakers multiple times.


I have owned enough Sim moon equipment… but not an amp to recommend Pass over them if my description of Pass is appealing to you. 

I own the C20s right now pairing with Pass labs..Pass is always good with Dynaudio...but Simaudio seems to be  the ticket  when talking Dynaudio..forget tubes with those speakers might want to think subs as well,makes a big difference

Have a look at the Audia Flight Integrated Amps - FLS9 or FLS10. They have the speed and transparent quality that will bring your Dynaudios to life.

Your choice (and investment) in preamp may be a more important consideration. 

Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your opinions and experiences! I do not post often, but have tried to learn much for the community here in the relatively short amount of time I've enjoyed this hobby.

@soix-Yes! You said it well-thank you. I guess it's a bit hard for me to put into words what I am hoping to hear. At my local shop, Music for Pleasure, here in St. Louis the Dynaudio Confidence 20s sounds "magical." They were using high priced Simaudio gear that I can not afford. So trying to reclaim as much of that emotional  experience with gear I can afford. Thank you for the recommendations!

@erik_squires-Thank you for the encouragement. Actually many of your posts helped me land eventually on the L-509X. It's been a journey, and I've enjoyed learning along the way. If I can get to a point that I can purchase Ayre I'd love to try it. Everything I've learned about their approach to sound lines up with what seems best from an engineering perspective IMO.

@mickeyb-Thank you for the encouragement to consider Simaudio. I have been concerned maybe Simaudio is a brand that dealers sell because of a large markup rather than it actually being great gear. Their prices just seem high to me compared to other brands. Glad to learn you feel it is a positive match outside of a dealership.

@ghdprentice-Thank you for this input about Pass Labs, this lines up with what other have shared with me.

Interesting no one has commented about he PS Audio BHK stereo 250. On paper this appears to have many positive attributes. I've only owned a couple of PS Audio items so far, a power conditioner and the Stellar Phono Preamp. I did not keep the phono preamp. It was fine, but I'd describe it as neutral, and maybe slightly bland compared to the Hegel V10 or Manley Labs Chinook. Are their amps kind of the same? Fine, but not great? Just wondering...


@jpipes - I wouldn’t say everything Ayre does is correct from an absolute measurement perspective. I’ve read detractors which I believe was centered around a relatively high damping factor or distortion. I’m not sure. I also don’t care... they sound really good. :)

From a purely personal and subjective point of view, Ayre and Pass make different aesthetic choices to the sound. I’m not about to debate it based on measurements, I just happen to like one a lot more than the other. I suspect others will also find themselves naturally preferring one to the other, and I’ve got no issue with that at all.


I doubt if you'll get a sim audio 860A V1 for that price the Simaudio W8 used is selling for $5,000 US.

Nad c298 power amp. Or, buy two Nad c268's and bridge them for 300 watts per channel. Mine sound great!

I had the BHK 300s and moved to a top end Luxman amp.  They are very different from each other.  BHKs are more of a bottom up amp, with plenty of foundational bass where the Luxman is more top down, with an exceptional mid and high range.  Only you can decide which of thee (if either) works best with your speakers, equipment and room.  Good luck.

I can’t say how it’ll sound with your speakers, but I love my Parasound JC5. It runs in class A for the first 25 watts, which in your situation of a lower listening volume may really pay off. I find my JC5 shines everywhere and it’s very satisfying.

Highly recommended and is in the used price range for about $4K-5K.

@missioncoonery-Thank you for this insight. I failed to mention I have one JL Audio sub in place and agree it is helpful.

@gramophone_canada-Thank you for this suggestion. I was unaware of Audia Flight out of Italy. Beautiful looking gear. I appreciate learning about new companies to me in this hobby-thank you!

@chocaholic-Yes, this is another decision to make. I am considering a tube preamp, maybe a AR LS28, or VAC Renaissance Mark V. I prefer balanced inputs, but really appreciate what I have learned about Backert Labs as well. If an Aesthetix Calypso would appear in my price range that would be near the top of my wish list too. Your handle here on Audiogon is awesome!

Thank you all again for sharing your experiences so generously!

“Maybe I am looking for a bit more midrange warmth? ”

Consider Accuphase Integrated for that mid-range warmth. I have auditioned both Luxman (among others) and picked Accuphase E-650. 4 plus years of ownership and have no desire to upgrade except move up in Accuphase lineup. 

My listening experience with SimAudio has made me think of them as a neutral amp. if the Dynaudio Confidence 20 sounds good with the SimAudio then I would try it with the much cheaper Benchmark AHB2 stereo amp. The AHB2 monos are not likely needed for the Dynaudio Confidence 20.

This is not a very forgiving amp, so whatever is upstream needs to be good along with the speaker cable. You can get this amp for 2-2.5k used and can easily sell it.

I owned a CODA #8 in the past and that amp can be found for under $5k. If the speaker is not too difficult to drive, then I take the AHB2 over the #8. I own the CODA #16 and like that more than the AHB2.

The SimAudo 860 V2 is getting cleared out but I do not see a big drop in price. I take the AHB2 over the 860 V2 for an easy to drive speaker.


The Simaudio Moon gear is brilliant. Drives difficult speakers really well and with easy loads, like my speakers, they just seem to open out the sound and simply sound fabulous. I currently have the 700i and did notice a huge difference between that and the 8-series pre and the 860A when I demoed than back to back.

we were a luxman dealer years ago one of the very few integrated amplifiers  that could beat it was the coda csib 


the csib through a wider soundstage and had a touch better bass and dynamics


Dave and Troy

audio intellect NJ

coda Dealer

@jpipes if you are looking for a touch of magic trying a tube pre with a SS amp, class A sounds like it could be the recipe you are looking for.

Pass, Coda, Newer Krell XD all could be a good fit.  The Coda CSiB integrated can be biased to different levels of overall watts while putting out the first watts in class A.  I had the CSiB in my system, really hard to beat.  Krell 300i Integrated was also amazing, Class A first 90 Watts.  Also had a Prima Luna Evo 400 Integrated, that’s all Tubes, was good but preferred the CSiB or Krell.  I ended up with a Tube Pre and SS Class A amp combo and it’s the sweet spot for me but will be a bit more $$ than an integrated.  There are also some great Class D designs out now that have captured some of that tube like magic that are worth a look.

Good Luck! 

@mgw-This is helpful, thank you. Is your Simaudio 700i the V1 or V2 version? 

@audiotroy ​​​​@mm1tt77-Thank you this good info about Coda. I think I am going to separates but the CSiB seems impressive.

@lalitk-Great to learn about Accuphase, thank you. I was unaware they would sound warmer than Luxman. They appear very similar in appearance and in specs. I think a preowned Accuphase may be within my budget. Good to know-thanks.

@yyzsantabarbara-Great intel-thank you! The Coda No. 16 looks like a beast! Beyond my budget, but wow what an amazing looking amp. Happy listening!

The PS Audio M1200s would be killer- they come up periodically ~ @ $3500-4K, or LSA Voyager GaN 350 (dual mono single chassis) ~ $1500

Both have excellent reviews

I owned the CODA CSib integrated amp and the KRELL K-300i integrated. Both are really good as others have stated. However, separates are better. I tried a lot of preamps (including the CODA 07x) with the KRELL Duo 175XD, CODA #8, CODA #16, and Benchmark AHB2 amps.

I found that the best combo for me was the Holo Audio Serene and Benchmark LA4/HPA4 preamps with any of the 4 amps listed above. An added bonus was that they were cheaper than most of the other choices I was considering. My choice was based on the preamp adding very little to the sound since the amps were so good.

Only caveat, I may not use either preamp with the SimAudio 860 V2. Not sure if that would work unless the speakers were a bit warm.

@jpipes mine is the V1. The differences between the 600 and 700 series V1 and V2 seem to be as much about minor changes to components driven by supply as anything else. The major difference between the 700i and 700i V2 seems to be that the transformers are encased in the latter.

Either way, both sound fabulous. 


By the way "I currently have the 700i and did not notice a huge difference between that and the 8-series pre and the 860A when I demoed than back to back." In my original post in case you did not get that from the context.

I have not heard all the amps on your list, but with the 50% price drop on BHK 250, it would be hard to beat with the new warranty and not having to wonder if you are buying someone else's problems and the return policy.  I picked one up about a month ago and I am keeping it.  I like the sound after it is broken in.  IMO, the tubes do add to the sound and  you can roll them to adjust the sound slightly to suit your tastes.  

@mgw-Thank you for this follow up!

@12many-I agree, it is quite a deal. I hope you really enjoy the amp!



<.005% THD+N performance, .1dB flat from 3Hz to 50kHz, full differential.  Half the cost of Mac and only 27 lbs for 200W.....something to consider....

other ideas: replace integrated with integrated?  Simaudio is wonderful stuff; Moon 641?  Also, Modwright KWH 225i (hybrid).  I suspect both would sound a little warmer than your Luxman.

Personally, I feel the Luxman 509 is a little analytical to my ears, especially with those Dynaudio speakers. I agree with those posters who recommend a tube preamp to warm things up.

I love the look of the accuphase, and people who’ve heard them seem to have great things to say about them, but they just seem overpriced in the USA. Their USA distributor seems hell bent on price gouging. It’s a shame. 

Hello @jpipes , so many choices and opinions!  While never with your speakers, I have owned and quickly sold BHK 300’s which were noisy and dull.  I have owned and sold Parasound JC1+ monos, which were also lacking on sparkle.  I have demo’d the Luxman, which, I did not prefer..  I have heard many Pass amps, which I found warm and pleasing, but not magical for me.  I have not had the pleasure of Coda or Sim / Moon or Accuphase but bet they are good.  I have had the Benchmarks in my system and I thought nothing special except small and less expensive.  For me, the clear winner was Audionet amps.  The entire line shines but the magic really comes starting with the Max amps.  These were well more resolving in a pleasant way than anything I had tried or heard.  Much more sparkle on top, but in a non fatiguing way.  Very full spectrum.  They occasionally can be seen used for around 18k, more than most discussed here but to me so worth it.  I now have my Max’s upstairs, and have the  amazing Heisenbergs in my reference system.  All here is just my opinion, but I do recommend you listen to Audionet.

I suggest you forget separates and consider the darTZeel CTH 8550 especially if you like the form factor of integrated design.  From inputs, including the world class phono stage to the outputs everything is designed to maximize purity and deliver rich music with full dynamics and  clarity.  I have churned a lot of equipment over the years and when I got the CTH 8550 I was amazed as it outperformed all the separates I'd tried including the AR reference 6 pre amp and 610T power amps, Pass Labs and so forth.  darTZeel is expensive but if you off load what you have and combine it with your budget the difference should be manageable.  The Sound Advocate did a great review including interviews with Harv Delétraz you will find interesting.  Good luck.  


British Audiophile loved Atoll integrated - in300  @ $4500 new.  tilts warm with good bass control.  For amp only, Atoll has am300 for $3900 new.  Mos-fet designs, so tend to be slightly warmer. 

Aesthetix is a brand I sold for years and still has outstanding integrity ,they

wind their own transformers and enclose them in a faraday type cage to contain any magnetic fields , they build a quality product 

even their integrated Mimas has a Hybrid Vacuum tube preamp section .

Coda too has Some nice products in their upper line ,who btw we’re Pass labs engineers before Pass went independant.

your speakers are what model and effficiency ? Very important to know.

i have  40+ years building system synergy .I owned $6 figure Audio systems 

but technologies have moved on even class D look at AAvic from 

Audio group Denmark ,they have great newer technologies ,in part using multiples 

of Tesla coils to dramatically lower noise floor and many other things .

I myself am looking to upgrade but not until our home additions are completed 

being married means Audio is not 1st ,since I no longer own a Audio store .


You listen at about the same levels as I do but I don't consider it loud. Church is that loud.

Why not just get a Buckeye Purifi. Objectivity better than any you’ve listed.

@squared80 Objectively better? Really? So you’re the end-all, be-all authority and have compared the Buckeye directly to the amps listed by the OP? Just because you like an amp doesn’t make it “objectively better” if for no other reason that we all have different tastes so there’s no one objective standard. Get over yourself.

I was in a similar boat a few years ago and cycled through many amps when I was looking to upgrade in power from my Pass Labs XA25.     Pass XA30.8 which sounds identical to the 150.8 was too overtly smooth and euphoric.  The Parasound JC5 had exceptional low end grunt but its midrange didn’t soar like the XA25.  
I wound up with a McIntosh MC 312 which does it all, solid low end, gobs of power and dynamics and a supremely clean midrange that sounds even better than the glorious Pass XA 25.  Treble has exceptional detail and air without a trace of graininess.  The new Macs are the real deal.  

@soix doesn't know the difference between objective measurements and subjective opinions. Sit down, son. You're embarrassing yourself.

Thank you all so much for your generous insight and ideas!

@fastfreight-Thank you for this suggestion, I have not learned about this brand of audio gear yet. Always fun to learn about something new!

@larryh111-If I could afford darTZeel I would sure consider it. I've never seen one of their integrates close to my budget range though...but it sure is very cool looking!

@avanti1960-Great to learn the new McIntosh gear sounds good. I kind of feel like you have to go in all the way with McIntosh if you go with any of it. Unfortunately the look and feel is not my preference, but thank you.

@audioman58-Aesthetix is definitely a brand I have my eyes on, but again their gear typically exceeds my budget. But very impressive. 

It's especially helpful to learn of fairly consistent feedback about PS Audio, Parasound, Simaudio, and Pass Labs. I think I'll eliminate Parasound and PS Audio from the search (although I do own a Parasound JC3+ phono preamp). I think maybe a combo of AR preamp and Pass Labs amp is at the forefront of my search at this stage.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

@soix doesn’t know the difference between objective measurements and subjective opinions. Sit down, son. You’re embarrassing yourself.

@squared80 First, I’m not your son so you can just stuff that back where it came from. Second, you said your amp was “objectivity [sic] better” and didn’t qualify that you meant just based measurements — there’s an important difference there.  Last,  if you think your amp is better and should be chosen over the others as you recommended because it might throw off a good measurement here or there you’re better off over at ASR where you can worship at the altar of Amir. Talk about embarrassing yourself, there it is in spades.


@squared80 Thinking your amp is better because it may measure better in some ways is denial mixed with a healthy dose of sheer ignorance. Amir is calling your name hard.