To Jeff Fritz,
Sometime last October I read your "What I'd Buy: Integrated Amplifiers" column, being in the market for a new sound system. I followed some of your recommendations. I first bought a Bel Canto C5i and a pair of KEF LS50 speakers. I loved that little setup, but decided pretty early on that I needed more (a classic case of high-end-audio fever). Fast-forward six months later: I tried the following integrateds you recommended: NAD C 390DD, Hegel Music Systems H300, and the Ayre Acoustics AX-5 (I also made a little tube detour with a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium integrated).
I’m currently using the H300, a one-box solution that offers an excellent balance between great sound and convenience (fantastic remote!). The AX-5 would still be in my living room if it had a great internal DAC (and a better remote!). Talking about one-box solutions, I just read your latest column about the Devialet and I'm getting that urge to upgrade again. Question: Do you think the 120 will be enough for my Magnepan 1.7 (a notoriously power-hungry speaker)? Or should I buy the 200 or the 250? Thanks again and keep up the great work.
You've had some fine components in your system, Alex. I obviously agree with the selection of integrated amplifiers that you've chosen to audition or own. Even though I would be happy with any of the products you mention in your letter, there is no doubt that the Devialets are the next step if you're looking for the ultimate in sound quality.
If I were you, I think I'd opt for the Devialet 200. It strikes a fine balance between power and price: The 120 retails for $6495, whereas the 200 is $9495, and the 250 jumps all the way to $17,495. If you do want to spend more, and want to make absolutely sure that you will never run out of power, then look at the 400 monos instead of the 250. The 400s cost the same as a single 250, at $17,495 for the pair, but offer substantially more power.
Whichever Devialet you buy, assuming you have enough power to drive your speakers, you'll be at the end of the upgrade merry-go-round. In my opinion, there is nowhere to go after Devialet, even if you spend multiples of its price. Good luck with your purchase and your system. . . . Jeff Fritz