"warm" solid state integrated amplifier

I am interested in purchasing a new solid state integrated amplifier in the $6000 to $8000 price range. As I am getting older I am finding many amplifiers to be uncomfortable to my ears, "bright" is the term I see frequently used.  I am looking for an amplifier that is "warm".  Thank you and  I appreciate any advice I receive from Audiogon members.



Hi, if I’m reading through the lines correctly you’re looking for a natural sound. If so, you might like the Circle Labs A200 around that budget. It’s a beautiful, tonally authentic amplifier that lets the music flow.

Here’s a member review from an owner: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/circle-labs-a200-integrated-amplifier-review-it-will-appeal-to-both-t

KRELL K-300i - very smooth (first 90 watts Class A), powerful bass, non-fatiguing. I also have the internnal DAC for streaming. It does not run that warm. In terms of features and sound I think it is really unmatched at the price.

Check out the review on Stereophle for the K-300i. The Stereophile reviews of the Boulder 866 ($15K) and the new D’Agastino ($40K) also compare those 2 with the KRELL. As a reader I get the sense that the reviewer is saying why spend the extra money when you can get the K-300i instead.

BTW - I have this unit stuffed into a closet to be a headphone amp. Kind of a waste of the unit, but one day I will have this integrated setup to use all of its' features. I did have this unit on Thiel CS3.7 speakers, which are hard to drive. They souned great. However, I need separates for the CS3.7 system due to placement issues.

You can go with either the Luxman 550 AXII or the 590AXII depending onnyour budget. Both are excellent.

Most say Pass and Parasound are on the warm side i don't think you can go wrong with either.

Twenty series Ayre or Aesthetix Mimas. Rugged, well engineered gear w great support from firms that will be around in the future... The Mimas is a hybrid w SS outputs.

I have Proac D-2 stand mount monitor speakers.  I would like to try new speakers in the future, possibly Fritz or JM Reynaud. I listen to classic rock and classical symphomy music. Thanks for taking the time to help me.  

If you are listening Symphony, warm sound does not sense. I think what you really need is laid back music instead of forward music.

You better go with class A amplifier,which in fact in some way of tube amp replacement.

Go listening Jeff rawland and see if it is what you ask?

Luxman, and Ayre are going to be where you want to go in that price range. 

Parasound is also warm, but at the cost of loss of detail and control. 

The particular sounds that are "uncomfortable" aren’t just "bright" and your amp may not even be the biggest factor. You will make a lot more improvement eliminating small problems in a number of areas rather than trying to cure it all with one amp. At 64 I am well down the same road and know what I’m talking about.


A lot of the problem is ringing. Everything rings, the trick is to dissipate vibrations as quickly and uniformly as possible. Springs are great at this. Nobsound springs are cheap yet extremely effective. Townshend Pods are even better and in most cases would be recommended #1 for someone in your price range. With your particular concern however I think you really should try Nobsound first.


This is because Nobsound are more sensitive to tuning the sound by changing the number of springs or total load per spring. The difference is easy to hear and it allows a much wider range of adjustment than anything you will find with any amp. We are talking the difference between the most annoying solid state and the most syrupy smooth tube amps you can find.


Simply by changing the number of springs per footer, or the number of footers per component, you will be able to fine tune each one. The beauty of this is it is a two-fer: you get both better details and dynamics AND smoother more pleasant sound.


Not bad for $30/set.

Disagree with tuberist 80%. Pretty sure Chuck knows his age.

Spring for the springs and let us know. Or buy a new amp and let us know.

Some good suggestions. May your search be successful.

All valid suggestions. Tweaks and isolation devices for equipment (and speakers) such as Nobsound springs or other equivalent products will be useful. Apart from these products, room furnishing or treatment and placement of speakers will also help.

Nevertheless, I understand you are asking for a warm sounding amp. I can only advise based on my experience. You want an amp that will not sacrifice clarity and detail at the expense of warmth. Some amps will mask the detail, or perhaps fail to reproduce the detail. Some of the detail may be rolled off in the treble. You may appreciate the reduced energy in the treble but that’s not accurate sound reproduction. What you want is a sound that is not bright or harsh but still has that illuminating glow or energy with good clarity and detail. Some amps may sound smooth but are capable of reproducing the clarity and detail, a hard act to follow. The inferior amps sound smooth and warm and at the same time lack the clarity and detail, sounding like mud.

All amps are colored to a certain degree and it would be useful to pick one that doesn’t sound too colored.

To cut to the chase, an integrated amp which sounds smooth and slightly warm but still has great clarity and detail is the Class A Luxman L-590AXII. This was mentioned before above by another member. To me it sounds very close to neutral.

As Millercarbon has aptly pointed out, don’t overlook the isolation devices or other tweaks as they can fine tune the system and produce great results. Get the basics right and you will be on the right track to achieving a great sounding system.


Good luck.

Jesus the guy wants a warmer sounding amp and millerlightcarbon comes in suggesting to get some nice warm sounding springs instead. 

Go with the springs dude it'll solve ur troubles for sure! I hate it when my damn springs sound like crap!

I want to second the recommendation for the Krell K 300i. I have been using this amp to push my Maggie 1.7i speakers for over a year now. The power is produced via a patent pending new circuit design called Sliding Bias - this keeps the amp in Class A power longer and running cooler than other Class A designs. It’s midrange on vocals is unsurpassed in it’s price range.

Happy Listening!

The usual gear or tweaks/room dilemma seems to have arisen again on this thread. I don't see why they're opposed. The OP is looking for a warmer sound.

We don't know the extent to which the OP has dealt with isolation and other tweaks, nor do we know the kind of room being dealt with or that room's treatments.

If I was the one posting, I would be ready to invest in a new amp only after those other factors had proved ineffectual. Because then I would know the true sound of any amp being tried. I see no reason that this is a dilemma. It's a sequence and we don't know where the OP is in that sequence, yet.

The Krell K-300i mentioned above a few times is great. Get it with the DAC card and you have a fantastic all-in-one, including HDMI eARC. I've had that and the Ayre AX-5 Twenty at the same time in my system and could live with either. The Ayre was warmer but not as detailed as the Krell. I would take the Ayre personally but you only get analogue, no digital available.

@millercarbon is on point and I have dealt with similar issues in a simalar fashion. Als look at the Simaudio line. SS on the warmer side. 380 or 600. 

Another choice could be a hybrid like Pthos or Vincent.

Check out Herb Reichert's review of the AVM Ovation A 6.2 ME in stereophile from a few months ago.  It would be a stellar option and is well suited to driving most speakers.  

i purposefully did not include the luxman on my short list of top notch warm sounding integrateds, as in my recent experience (a borrowed 590x class a/b unit, for about 6 weeks) the sound was very nice, quite sophisticated, extended but not to my ears 'warm'... so my word of caution on luxman is that their different integrated models can have notably different sound signatures, as some are lower powered models running class a only (e.g., 550, 590ax) - which likely have a warmer tone - vs the one i experienced which did not...

I own the Circle Labs A200 and find the tonality you desire resides in spades in this unit. It’s has so much to offer beyond proper tonal warmth. Realism and inner detail nuance is quite special. Worth a listen and a special unit. It does have a tube preamp section. However, the tubes are low cost and last 10,000 hours. Only two small signal tubes. 

Agree with jjss49, Luxman is not warm, especially class AB.  Quite neutral, smooth, a bit sweet, but not warm.  I would say McIntosh (w/autoformers), Pass, maybe Hegel H390/590 and Accuphase.  Haven't heard Ayre and new Krell, but those are often described as on the warm side.

Boulder 866 is a stunner but way over budget unless a used analog version can be found at a great price.

my recent experience (a borrowed 590x class a/b unit, for about 6 weeks)

I presume it's not 590X but 509X? FWIW although the 590AXII Class A has a slightly warm tone, it doesn't sound overly warm. From what I read, the Pass Labs  INT25, 60 or 260 has a fuller and warmer midrange but the clarity and detail are lacking in comparison to the Luxman.

FYI, all of the current Luxman integrated amps are AB with some having a larger biased operating range for Class A.


The 550AXII and 590AXII have the higher Class A operating range, but they do transition to AB for higher ouputs (even though you don’t see that specified).

I confirmed this with Luxman USA directly - here is their email reply


The Luxman L-550aXII integrated amplifier is rated by Luxman at 20 watt RMS per channel, while operating in Class-A into 8 Ohms. Above 20 watts, the L-550aXII amplifier transitions to Class AB based on the output stage biasing scheme applied.

For impedances below 8 Ohms or above, the Class-A envelope of operation is reduced, as again operation transitions to class AB. For it’s rated 20+20 watts RMS measured at 8 ohms, it is a “pure class-A” integrated amplifier. Other power specs remain unlisted on Luxman’s website because the designed-in amplifier headroom is simply fact. Also, most 20+20 watt RMS transistor amplifiers don’t weigh 24.3 kilos.


Over the decades, Luxman has produced a variety of Class-A power amplifiers and Class-A capable integrated amplifiers. Not all models were produced for North American sales or ever seen here.

In the past, it was acceptable to build (electrically inefficient) 50+ watt/channel, pure Class-A amplifiers. To offset the considerable heat produced during Class-A operation, specialized chassis constructions were incorporating using liquid coolant filled “heat-pipes” and or cooling fan(s).

Electrical consumption was such that for some Luxman models, two AC power cable connections were required; one for each (stereo) channel. (i.e. M-05) These earlier Class-A developments began in the 1970’s, in the all analog sources era.

AM/FM radio, phonograph records, cassette tape, open reel tape, 8-track etc. were largely the only (consumer) available music sources. And all these sources had at least one aspect in common; limited dynamic range. An amplifier supplier then (Yamaha, Pioneer, Luxman etc.) could build a 25+25 watt Class-A amplifier without much concern for dynamic headroom or loudspeaker load tolerance with the dynamic range of digital audio sources unknown.

Enter digital; beginning with CD and today…with SACD and HD file downloads. Modern digital audio sources demand much greater performance and dynamic headroom from today’s generation of amplifiers. Enter as well, global environmental concerns, and global power generation/ electrical grid concerns. We now have un-avoidable “Energy Star” ratings for most North American electrical appliances efficiency. And appliance energy efficiency is of great concern throughout the rest of the world. While not heard loudly at the moment, amplifier manufacturer’s worldwide are more and more incorporating high efficiency digital amplification. (i.e. Class -D, ICEpower, HYPEX etc.) This trend will speed up in the years ahead as inefficient amplification will be further frowned upon by various world government electrical certification bodies.

Luxman anticipated these actions and decided some years ago to implement pure Class-A designs which gradually transition to AB at accommodate dynamic headroom demands of today’s digital audio sources. Simply put, Luxman engineers believed this was the best compromise. (for efficiency too) It preserves sound quality without resorting to (generally inferior sounding) digital amplification to keep the amplifier away from clipping. In this way, it is also factual that the Luxman L-550aXII produces near 70 watts RMS/CH into 8 Ohms before clipping onset.

For most musical content, playing digital (or analog) sources at moderate levels in a residential listening environment, the L-550aXII or L-590aXII will operate mostly within their Class-A envelope. Music crescendos or loud transients will instantaneously demand brief bursts of increased power. It will be during those few milliseconds that Luxman L-550aXII and L590aXII will be operating in AB. The process is imperceptible. Luxman is not alone with A/AB circuits acting like this. Another example is the recently reviewed PASS INT-25.


The 550 and 590 actually have a max output of 70watts/8-ohms.

The L-505uXII, L-507uXII, and L-509X are also Class A but only for the first 6 watts, then go AB to their rated outputs.


I presume it's not 590X but 509X?

yes you are correct, it was a 509x model, sorry for my typo

i must say i find the model #s for luxman integrateds somewhat confusing... i am sure it makes perfect sense to those who live mainly in the luxman sphere but for someone who doesn’t, the numbering/lettering system is hard to decipher

tubeless which speaker cables are you using 

I help out at Audio Connection and when Proac are demoed we use                Proac speaker cables not sure but I think they are made by Cardas

Tubeless, many here are sympathetic to your goals. At the risk of throwing in a variable that was not requested, I'd suggest at least trying different speakers (say, Spendor Classic line (not D line), or Harbeth C7). I tried the ProAc D2s some time ago and found that they had a much brighter sound than the older Response models. (I recall a frequency response plot -- maybe in Stereophile -- that showed a "scooped" shape, with a rising treble.)

Otherwise, as others have suggested: Sugden definitely, Luxman class A integrateds, maybe Ayre.

We are assuming that your room is sympathetic (windows covered, rugs, etc) and you have experimented with speaker placement and toe-in angle, of course.


I recently purchased a 3 year old BAT VK655SE in your price range. My most recent amp was a Bryston 4BST and I'm driving Magnepan 3.7i.  The BAT definitely has endless power reserves, slightly better control of the lower bass and fit's your "warm" request.  Never any etching or brightness. The Bryston is quicker with more punch.  The BAT's imaging exists, but it is not locked or precise like the Bryston. I really apreciate imaging, but if that's not that important to you I would Highly recommend the BAT VK655SE.  I am still switch between the two amps and am undecided and as always have my eyes out for my next amp.

CODA CSIB another great reco. Very happy with mine, making me want to move up the line towards the separates. Have had pass and FW in past. 


Definitely less warm / rounded then pass but just a great for tone color and density 

Hi tubelss,

Short answer: get Class A amp or full body midrange speakers like Harbeth

Long answer:  Just sharing my exact same experience at this very moment, the problem you're looking to solve is 'synergy' not just an amp.  As I aged from late thirties to early forties these past few years, I've come to exact same problem that I get 'listening fatigue' much sooner with my B&W 805D3.  I used to be able to listen for 1hr now 15mins start to feel long.  'Bright sounding' is just one aspect, the problem is much broader that just that.  To avoid writing a long paper, below is my bullet points on my journey of progressively honing in on solving system synergy.

1)  Speaker cables, its the biggest impact assuming your system is already at certain above average level.  Audioquest Rocket88 subdues brightness very well but you'd lose details.  Ping me if you want my set.  I'm currently using a 6 AWG cable handmade by someone in USA from ebay that's shockingly good for $400.

2) Finding the right amp.  Big difference between amps that make 100W at 8ohm & 4om vs 100W @8ohm / 150W @4ohm vs 100W @8ohm / 200W @4ohm...etc.  After trying NAD Master, Mcintosh MA5200 a few other small brand stuff, I've settled on Marantz PM-10.

3) DAC, I've recently upgraded to Gustard X26 Pro

4) Interconnects

5) USB cable

Amp alone wont solve your problem.  Good luck with your search for syngery journey.  Just make sure the speakers are really ones that you want to stay with before you splurge 10 grand.

If you can find one used the Primare i30 is a great match with Proac's and should help you achieve the sound you are looking for. I would steer clear of the newer Primare amps as they have gone to class D.

At a much higher cost the Leben CS-600 integrated amp is the best amp I've heard with the D2's.

You might want to touch base with JohnnyR at the Audio Connection. He is a Proac dealer and likes the D2's very much. Good Luck!


As a (reformed, with great difficulty) tube guy, I often find solid state components "bright" or more to the point not quite musical in the sense of not allowing to relax naturally into the music. One of the SS integrated I have heard (and own) that I prefer is the all in one Gold Note IS-1000. Even the standard version sounds like music to my ears. And the versatility/ convenience is hard to beat (integrated, DAC with USB/streamer.Bluetooth, phono stage, pre-out, choice of damping factor, remote control of course ...). Despite its middle of the road power rating, it will drive most speakers with gusto. An outstanding component and a fantastic value.

Good luck with your quest! 

Check out the Lejonklou website, and see if this line might meet your requirements.  I would say that it is neutral, rather than warm, but for the type of music you listen to......neutral may work best IMO.  But, ymmv.  Good luck.



+1. Definitely good observation on synergy.

I have had mostly solid state gear (tube preamp for the last fifteen years)... and it has not been harsh or bright (Pass xseries, Threshold preamp for a decade or so). It is a mater of synergy and component quality... and finally interconnects.

My reason for moving to tubes over the decades was not warmth... it was fully fleshed out sound, midrange bloom, natural textures. Often, it is easy to use the term warmth as shorthand for the characteristics I mention above. The problem can be this can be too high a level of abstraction to make changes efficiently actional.

Fatigue typically comes from a high noise floor and lots of high frequency distortion. It can be solved by implementing speakers or amps that don’t communicate the problem. But this is a band-aide and will get in the way later when you upgrade something upstream.This is where you really need to understand the source of the problem. In general you want an amp that passes on exactly what it gets and you want speakers that do the same... but then you need a really good source and preamp.

As an example, for a very long time I had harsh digital components and had to use really warm cables and interconnects (Cardas Gold Something) to cover it up. I upgraded to high quality CD player and Preamp and suddenly the Cardas sounded like a filter cutting off the treble. Neutral sounding interconnects and cables, that had sounded harsh and trebly, suddenly sounded perfect (Transperant and Straight Wire). With a great source and components you want full transmission of the signal. The trick is figuring out what sounds like what and how the whole thing is working together.


I bring this up as a general way of looking at thinking about warmth, and fatigue in sytems. 

Thanks to everyone who took the time from your busy schedules to offer your amplifier recommendations. I now have a lot of fun research to do.  I have truly been educated about audio by reading the Audiogon Forum.  Happy Holidays and be  safe.