The Michi X3 Integrated Amp Review. Best of 2022!
By Steve Huff
My Video Review of the X3
Hello again my audio friends. Today I have yet another wonderful integrated amp that I have been listening to for the last few weeks and I am going to tell you all about my time with it. This time it is the ROTEL branded Michi X3 and this is the smaller “Starter” integrated in the company’s lineup. As you may have guessed from the title, this is one of my picks for my “best of 2022” when it comes to price, build, sound and feature set.
The X3 is a powerhouse of an amp and puts out 200 WPC continuous and up to 350 WPC max/peak power output and it does in fact have a beefy Class A/B amplifier inside of its handsome all black glass front shell.
What makes this integrated a bit different is that it comes packed with all one needs to set up a solid base for a Hi-Fi System. The X3 is much more than just an amp with a pre-amp in a box, as this feature rich integrated has a rather nice DAC (AKM Premium 32-bit/768kHz) inside as well. In addition to this we get a superb moving magnet phono preamp already installed and ready to roll out of the box. There is also bluetooth connectivity for those who want to start streaming instantly.
This is an integrated for those who want the simplicity and hassle free setup of a one box solution without compromising anything in the sound quality dept.
When it comes to the design, the X3 has an all black look and it is quite striking as the front panel is made of black glass. This adds a luxury vibe to the piece and it is a very modern look. No big switches, lights or gold trim here. The only visible controls are the volume dial and input selector dial. There is also a discreet power button and a headphone amp output as well.
Yes! This piece even has a pretty decent headphone amp inside that powered some Ukranian made Verum Audio Verum 1 cans that sounded unbelievable good for their $349 price tag. It drove these decently and much better than my reference Luxman 595 ASE’s headphone out.
The Michi X3 comes from ROTEL, a brand most of us should know from their long history of creating somewhat affordable Hi-Fi gear. Even today ROTEL amps and integrated amps are known for their lovely quality for the price they fetch. They are overachievers for sure and always have been.
I owned an integrated from Rotel many years ago and while it was nice for the money, I wasn’t in love with it due to the fact that it seemed to favor the higher frequencies above all else. It sounded a bit thin for my tastes back then. I couldn’t complain at all for the price I paid though, and reliability was fantastic. Never an issue with that amp that set me back under a grand brand new. This was many moons ago as ROTEL have been in business since 1961.
MICHI came about as ROTEL wanted to create higher end statement pieces in the 1990’s to separate the normal brands lower price offerings with more pricey, higher specced and well, much nicer audio pieces. While that didn’t seem to work out for them in the long run at that time, Rotel decided to bring back the MICHI brand in 2019.
The meaning of MICHI is “Path” and Rotel wanted to create a pathway to higher end audio for those who wanted more than what ROTEL was already offering. I see it as a great way to offer more to those who have a place in their heart for ROTEL as a brand.
There was an entire engineering team who worked on the MICHI line over three years and they wanted these amplifiers to truly deliver high end sound and features. Inside of these new products by MICHI you will see oversized custom made toroidal transformers mounted in epoxy filled enclosures. This is beneficial as it keeps the chances of any transformer noise or buzzing to near zero (and this amp is quiet as a mouse). They also included bulk storage capacitors for massive power reserves.
There is something about an amp with a big ultra low noise and oversized toroidal transformer that just sounds so good. The X3 has one of these : )
When I first saw the MICHI line I was very attracted to their big money pre and power amp separates but then I took a close look at the integrated amps which seemed to offer a very great value and a much nicer price point. The X3 I am reviewing here right now comes in at $5,299 yet it is built to a level of $10k integrated amps and seems to have a beautiful build inside as well. Seeing that I just purchased a new integrated amp in the form of a Luxman 595 ASE (after trying out half a dozen over the last few months), I was curious as to how the X3 would perform in my space.
The Luxman in more than double the cost of the MICHI, so I will of course keep that in mind while I compare. I will also talk about it in comparison to the Naim SN3 and HiFi Rose RA180 that I recently reviewed.
The Fun Begins
When I was asked by The Music Room if I wanted to review the Michi X3 I of course said YES! I actually had a few of my YouTube viewers asking me for a MICHI review and it seemed the X3 was the perfect place to start. Even though there is an X5 that is larger, heavier and more powerful, most will not need that much power in a home situation!
I am certain that the X5 is one hell of an integrated amp and it does offer a bit more than the X3 (MC and MM Phono, 600 WPC, DUAL Transformers, Improved DAC) but if you do not need that much power, or a moving coil phono pre built in then the X3 may be the one integrated amp that you find happiness with.
The larger X5 puts out 600 WPC and that means it is made for some seriously hard to drive speakers. Also remember, it is not always a given that more wattage will sound better than lower wattage. I find lower wattage amps, in my experience, tend to sound better to these ears. Then again, it all depends on the load the amp is driving, meaning how sensitive your speakers are. Some speakers out there can use that 600 WPC of the X5 but most would be right at home with the less pricey X3.
Most of us with systems in our home listen with 10-15 watts of power at most during our listening sessions. I think the 200-350WPC of the X3 will do mighty fine for most folks who have a system at home. I know as audio lovers we tend to want the “biggest and best” but sometimes smaller and nimbler can be a better solution for our home systems.
When the box arrived it was HUGE! Larger than the heavier Luxman shipping box and much larger than any integrated amp box I have seen. I feel that is because the X3 is pretty deep and wide in stature. While it sits low, its about 3 inches wider than my Luxman and quite a bit deeper as well. This amp is serious and looks like it means business as I remove my Luxman and place it in position.
It’s lean, mean and I sure hope it is a music making machine!
Looking at the back I see all kinds of inputs and outputs. There is also more than the usual four speaker outputs as the X3 allows you to bi-wire your speakers if you desire. It may appear that this has hookups for two sets of speakers but it doesn’t. You will also see an ethernet input but this box does not include a streamer so you will need a way to stream those digital bits into the X3 DAC, unless you decide to use the built in bluetooth (which is actually quite nice).
Seeing that the X3 has a high res DAC built in we see digital inputs as well. This integrated has balanced and single ended outputs as well as an option to use it as a pre-amp if you ever desire a more powerful amp section. It seems everything is here besides the kitchen sink.
On the back we see digital inputs in the form of three optical inputs, three coax inputs and a USB input. For analog inputs we see one XLR balanced input and three RCA inputs. For the outputs we have two mono sub outs and a pre-amp out for hooking up to a different power amplifier.
On top of the X3 sits the double the price Luxman 595 ASE but does it offer double the performance and build quality?
I am happy to say that even though all of these gadgets are built in, I do not hear any noise or issues arising from the inclusion of the DAC or phono stage. This and the HiFi Rose RA180 are among the quietest integrated amps I have ever had in here and both include a phono stage. When I say “quiet” I mean noise coming from the amp itself as well as the speakers. Being able to review many integrated amps I have noticed that some do produce a hum or buzz from the unit itself, and some bring some noise through speakers, although slight, and some amps are silent as can be. The Michi sits in the 100% dead silent camp.
This is great for late night low volume listeners as noise robs our systems of resolution and being able to breathe.
Many audiophiles like to stay pure and buy amps without any of these”add ons” such as the phono pre, dac, etc. Some of us prefer to buy separate DACs and phono preamps as we feel cramming too many electronics inside of a box will create possible noise and issues.
I have been in this (external separates) camp for a decade or so and have always enjoyed my external boxes. With that said I find no fault in the X3 out of the gate as the sound is quite nice with zero noise and free of any “nasties” in the audio chain. Tech is moving right along in audio!
THE MENUS and SETUP
The MICHI has a screen that shows us the input we are using as well as the volume shown as a large number. It’s super easy to see from across the room and I loved seeing the volume level again on an integrated. The display can also be customized to show a variety of VU meters or spectrum analyzers. This is super cool as well as it provides a little light show when listening. It’s nice to look at in the dark.
The MICHI also comes with a long slim hefty solid metal remote that is quite nice and quite simple. I love the weight and feel of it, even more so than The Luxman remote. The remote for the 595 ASE is lighter, flatter and wider and both feel substantial and well made. The MICHI remote feels and looks fantastic. I really love the remote here.
On the X3 remote you will see a “SETUP” button that opens up the menus screen of the MICHI.
In this setup you can name or even disable or enable inputs, you can set up customization such as the volume the amp will start up with, the display and meters, and much more. It’s very easy and simple to use and the text/fonts are quite large. Being a man who just turned 53, my eyesight is not what it once was so I was happy to see that I could read everything without glasses of any kind. A nice touch by MICHI.
I can not overstate how beautiful and modern looking this amp is in person. It’s just such a gorgeous piece that truly does feel and look like a more pricey integrated. I changed the compact disc input to “stream” and it was super simple using the remote.
Overall it took me 5 minutes to set up the MICHI to my liking. Next up was to listen to it.
STARTING IT UP
Now that I was all set to finally hear the MICHI I was excited. This dd not need burn in as it was the store demo model from The Music Room. It was all set for the first run.
It was around 9PM and my wife Debby and I sat in the listening room and fired up the X3. It’s super cool as she is now getting into audio pieces and even hearing the changes and differences between them. We have listening sessions at least 5 nights per week now as we find it much more soul soothing than watching what is on television. Debby is very familiar with the Luxman, 300B and the Pass Labs sound in our room so as I fired up the MICHI for the first time we instantly heard the difference between what it was doing and the others.
Her first words were that it was more laid back and fuller sounding than the Luxman 595ASE but more energetic and punchy than the Pass Labs gear we have on hand. My first thoughts were that it was a warmer sound vs Luxman and a touch less warmth than the Pass Labs mono blocks that cost far far more than the X3. I also have some thoughts on it vs the Naim SN3.
I will compare the sound to more price appropriate integrated amps further down in this review but the first impressions were “well this is a nice beefy rich yet delicate sound that is super pleasing and musical”.
What I heard was very nice from the X3 but that was just a first impression. Evaluation of an audio piece can take weeks as it can take that long to really let yourself get used to the sound. I can say that as time went on and I listened more I started to really admire the quality of the X3 all the way around. It grew on me more and more each day.
SPEAKING OF THE SOUND
The Michi X3 is not as lit up or detailed as The Luxman 595 ASE but it is not meant to be. This is an amp that is going to offer up a sound that is unique to the amp itself. Every integrated amp I have heard sounds unique and each brand typically offers up their own “house sound”, their own flavor so to speak.
The MICHI threw a nice wide organic soundstage and it leaned warmer vs the Luxman’s silky more clearer energetic vibe. Almost like a chocolate vs vanilla kind of thing where the X3 would be the chocolate. After about 30 minutes I was noticing that we were both swaying to the music and enjoying the very rhythmic flow of the music via the X3. It was such a different sound that it took me a few moments to process what was happening. It was gentler and more intimate than the forward nature of the Luxman and I was digging it. As much as I love my Luxman for what it does, I was really getting into the X3 for what IT WAS DOING.
For me there is no one sound that I love. I enjoy both a wide deep three dimensional sound as well as a thicker more fluid musical sound. Let’s be honest, pieces that bring forth that crazy detail and large holographic soundstage is not really bringing music forth in a natural way. Most “HiFi” makes music sound enhanced in a way that is pleasing to the ear and brain.
The amps like the X3 that focus on musicality above all else usually have a more meaty warmer sound while still bringing forth plenty of details for us to enjoy. I enjoy both kinds of presentations and could easily live with one or the other…or both. It is why I usually have 2-3 amps on hand to change the flavor of the sound to fit my mood.
First question? Did I enjoy this sound from the X3? HECK YES!
It was beautiful as it had a nice solid foundation with an almost liquid flow of warmth and ease. Where The Luxman excels in layered micro and macro details, the MICHI was more at home just painting a complete musical picture for us. It was less about the impact and more about the flow and performance. It wasn’t worrying about every little detail being heard, rather it was doing its job of portraying the music in a more whole, full and complete way.
It sort of reminded me of a Hegel 390 integrated I once heard at a dealers shop. It was warm, direct, threw a wide stage and offered up generous detail but without being forward in any way. It was doing well with all kinds of recordings and seemed to be kinder to some old 80’s flat recordings I have on hand vs the Luxman which is more revealing of flaws and shows that thinness in some recordings.
There is something to be said for a sound that pours out of your speakers like real music vs sound that is more HiFi. Neither is wrong or right, rather it is about what you enjoy for your own listening sessions.
See, HiFi sound is all about the HIGH FIDELITY of the sound. With an amp like the Luxman, it walks a fine line between detail and musicality. There will be no detail unheard with the Luxman and yet the 595 ASE has a silky velvety kind of sound that is not harsh or hard. I hear these details with the X3 as well but they are more subdued and not as forward. This in turn, creates a very nice welcoming warm musical sound from the MICHI.
The X3 has the details, but they are not pointed out as clearly as the Luxman does this “appearing act” with minute details almost like when you use a camera with a 100MP sensor vs a 50MP sensor. This means most music will sound fantastic on the X3 wether that is metal, rock or jazz and vocals. How about EDM? It can do that too and it does it with weight, solidity and punch. Ambient stuff sounds sublime and organic on the X3 as well. All of this sounds great on the Luxman as well but it’s more tipped up and energetic.
Some may ask why I am comparing a $12,500 integrated to a $5300 integrated. Well, this is because they are both fantastic music makers, and one is not really “better” than the other in sound. Just different. I also have both here, so why not? Just how much more do we get when we spend 50% more? I always have wondered these things and now I know, so I can share with you.
Some may prefer the X3 and some may prefer the Luxman. I try my best to describe the sound so you know what to expect from each piece. With the Luxman we pay for the name as well as the exclusive nature of that piece (limited to 300 pieces world wide). Then there is the fact that it is made in Japan. The MICHI is made in China by ROTEL and therefore we pay less. Doesn’t mean it is any less in performance than the more pricey piece. It just means it will be different.
In other words I will not say here that the more expensive piece “killed” the less pricey amp. It didn’t. Nor did the cheaper amp slay the giant! : )
BLACK ACID SOUL
It was around 11pm and I was sitting and listening with Debby and a song came on from Lady Blackbird called “Black Acid Soul”. This track sucked me in with it’s layered beats and instrumentation and it has some 3D qualities that the MICHI did in fact show us without effort. It was soulful and complete but again, had that solid wall of sound and liquid flow.
When I fired up this track via the Luxman it was more forward, lit up, detailed and even more holographic. There was more sparkle but this is what we get when we pay $6k more in the integrated world. As we climb up the ladder it seems we get more detail, more three dimensionality, etc.
Such a different presentation but even with the “wow” factor of the Luxman I adored the X3 with this track as it was more subdued and laid back and just felt like music. Go figure! I now settled into my chair for a long listening session with the X3.
There is another track that I want to highlight that shows the differences easily between these two integrated amps.
The song “Poorman” from Depeche Mode’s Spirit Album is a track that has a deep bass groove and with the Luxman the instrument separation is top notch. There is a point where we hear a small short guitar solo between verses and when played through the 595 ASE this guitar floats in space above the speakers dead center, slightly behind the speakers. It is rich, deep and has body and solidity to the sound with the 595 but is also clear as a bell. Martin Gore’s backup vocals also hang up above the speakers in the rear in a focused position in the soundstage.
With the X3 the guitar is not as etched in space but rather more a part of the whole performance and the vocals are bigger and warmer than the Luxman. The Luxman is world class with imaging and depth, something I would expect at its retail cost of $12,500. The X3 is not as slick in this department but again, I have to stress that it still sounds phenomenal and dare I say more musical still. These two amps sound fantastic but each is different. Neither is dull, bright, harsh or boring.
As for Bass the X3 has plenty on tap. It fills in the mids and brings a sort of “wide open beefy sound” and it also brings the big bass down below when it is in the recording, as long as your speakers can reproduce this of course. The 595 ASE goes a bit deeper in the lowest registers but the X3 sounds a little more relaxed through the mids in my system, though we are splitting hairs.
The fact that this X3 is even hanging with the double the price Luxman is astonishing. It’s not the same sound but it is equally as pleasing as long as all out forward detail retrieval is not your thing. I will say the X3 does detail better than most I have heard in this price range (bests the Naim SN3 which sits among this class of integrated).
THE PHONO STAGE AND DAC
Up to now I was testing the X3 with my DCS Lina DAC and Clock as well as using a Pass Labs XP-15 and XP-17 for phono duties. I decided to test out the internal DAC of the X3 as well as the built in MM phono stage as I know most who buy this will take advantage of these perks included with the MICHI. I swapped my Luxman MC5 moving coil cartridge for a Ortofon Blue MM and started with some Vinyl.
I put on Diana Krall’s “Live in Paris” 45 RPM LP and was very pleased with what I heard. The sound was pure analog and sounded lovely, rich and powerful. It had me snapping and toe tapping within moments spinning the first track “I love being here with you”. The Ortofon Blue is a budget MM cartridge but it is a great starting point for those getting seriously into vinyl.
My $2600 Luxman MC cart is nice but sometimes I like a good old fashioned high output MM as I feel it can sound better with some music, sometimes. It’s also easier to implement as most phono stages do MM very well. I had zero complaints with the internal phono preamp of the X3. It is just as good as the MM stage in the 595 ASE, which is super for an internal deal. If you have a turntable with a moving magnet cartridge the MICHI internal stage may be all you ever need for your analog playback.
The DAC was next and I admit I have been spoiled by some lovely DACs in my space recently. The DCS Lina/Clock, the Denafrips T+ 12th, the Weiss 501, Chord DAVE and many others. When I went to the internal DAC of the MICHI I was not as thrilled as I was with the phono preamp but your tastes may vary of course.
I found it to sound very nice but it also had a slight digital sound to it in the treble (again, I can not help but compare to what I have heard). This could of course be due to the fact that I have been enjoying a $20k DAC that is super refined, smooth and non digital sounding : ) I would say that the internal DAC in the MICHI is equivalent to a $500-$1k external DAC, so it is not going to bring that smooth rich analog vibe to your digital but it will still create very beautiful music that 98% of us would never complain about.
I applaud MICHI for including the DAC within the X3 as it still sounds rather nice, great really. No external expense is needed and for those who are not uber picky or critical about their digital playback will love the DAC inside of the X3. For me it was a little bit on the leaner side but even so still sounded quite nice. I have read a couple of owner reports of the X3 that raved about the DAC inside of the X3. One saying the X3 DAC bested his Mytek Brooklyn DAC. So there ya go.
The fact that we get a DAC and Phono Pre in one box that remains noise free and dead silent is remarkable.
Another integrated in the same price range as the MICHI is the superb Naim Supernait 3. I love the SN3 as it has a weight, sharpness, clarity and density about it that just sounds so good with most music. I will say though that a week after my review of the SN3 I ended up not buying it as I found issues with my speaker cables and the amp.
I know Naim suggests their own cables but I know many who use it with other cables and are happy. When I tried it with some Cardas cables into my Klipsch Heresy IV it was not compatible, at all. Just static emerged. I did not want to invest in more cables just to get the amp to sound its best so I sent the review unit back to TMR even though the sound, when synergized with the right speakers and cables, was so good and some of the best sound I have heard in my system.
Compared to the SN3 the MICHI has a nicer casing/design IMO. It also has more power and is quieter as in, zero noise. The Michi X3 is larger, heavier (double the weight of the Naim) and more impressive looking. More modern. As much as I enjoy the SN3 style, the X3 just looks tougher. Your tastes may vary.
The sound of each is superb. The Naim has more kick and weight to drums as well as a sharper treble but the MICHI has a wider stage, and a warmer quality overall with more warmth across the mids. The treble of the X3 is softer as well, more rolled off than the Naim but there is more hidden details dug out with the X3.
As always it comes down to your tastes. Do you prefer a large warmer wall of sound type of sound (X3) or a more dynamic sharper smaller soundstage kind of vibe (SN3)? The MICHI is far more versatile with a DAC included and more power on tap but some will still prefer the Naim sound which is unique to Naim. I have to say that for this price the X3 seems to be punching above its price class somewhat in all areas.
The HiFi Rose RA180 is an amp I almost bought after reviewing it. I had to control myself and pass on it as I can not buy everything I enjoy! That is a one way ticket to the poorhouse in this hobby. I enjoyed the ROSE for its quirky design and big big sound. While the Rose is a Class D amp, this tech has progressed so much lately that it sounds more like a Class A/B amp with a slight Class D flavor, and I mean slight.
The Rose threw a more holographic soundstage vs the MICHI but it was also more forward. Not in the same way as the 595 by Luxman. The Rose was forward in a way where instruments and vocals come out into the room further vs being laid back. The Rose has details a plenty but also is very smooth across the frequency range where nothing really sticks out. It’s very linear and sounds fabulous. Less exciting and holographic than The Luxman but more so than the Michi.
The MICHI again is warmer and fuller. It has a sound that reaches the heart maybe more so than the Rose. It is more delicate with the fine details as well. I really think the Rose is a powerhouse of an integrated but the X3 is as well. The Rose will speak to those who like its looks and style where the X3 will appeal to those who like what it offers for the price. Both sound lovely as there is not a “bad” integrated amp in these kind of price ranges. It all comes down to personal taste in looks, features and sound.
Compared to a Pass Labs INT-25 which is close to the same price range as the MICHI I have to say that I do prefer the sound of the Pass slightly more so than the X3 but guess what? The Pass is a basic integrated. No balanced connections, no DAC and no phono stage. With Pass we are paying for those beautiful Class A watts and the fact you get a piece made right here in the USA.
The Pass INT-25 has almost an “Angelic” kind of sound as its high end is so extended but sweet. The mids are full and vocals blossom into the room like a flower blooming on a sunny day. The bass is fantastic as well but with only 25 WPC you will be more limited to your speaker choices. You will also need a nice DAC, streamer and Phono stage if you plan to spin some records. This will add up quickly and you could spend thousands more than the X3 to get fully set up with digital and vinyl solutions if going the INT-25 route.
It comes down to features vs simplicity. While the MICHI is more laid back and warmer vs the PASS INT-25 (though the Pass XA60.8’s are warmer than the MICHI) it does have beauty within its sound signature as well. The X3 has a smoother presentation as well vs the INT-25. So many amazing amps we have to choose from these days. I enjoy all of what I review as I only review gear I enjoy.
I will say the X3 brings a better value for you cash as it has all you need in one box besides the cables and speakers themselves. The X3 also has the power on tap for more speaker selections.
The Michi X3 grew on me more and more every day I listened to it. So much so that by the end of my time with it I was unsure which amp I enjoyed more, the X3 or my Luxman! That is nuts when I look at the pricing as The Luxman is 2X the cost of the Michi X3. There was something that had me coming back again and again to the MICHI. Even when I was done with my evaluation and my Luxman was back in, I placed the MICHI back in as I missed what it was bringing to my room.
When I would switch back to my integrated reference 595 ASE I would instantly hear more depth and three dimensionality but I would soon miss the relaxed ease and flow and more fluid nature of the half the cost X3. It is the X3 that made me realize just how detailed the 595 ASE is. Things we can only notice with a direct comparison.
I could find no faults with the Michi X3. None. Nada. Zilch. NOTHING!
I tried to find things I did not love about it. I tried to find something to dislike or hate. I didn’t. There wasn’t.
Wether I powered my reference Deville SQ’s, Dynaudio S40’s or the ever so affordable Emotiva T1+ the amp never ceased to please the ears and that is what this X3 is, an ear pleaser. It doesn’t wow you with forward details being thrown out left and right nor does it make us revel in hearing a finger slide across a guitar (though you can). Rather what it does for me here in my space is create a rich, deep musical experience that sounds more musical than almost any integrated amp I have had here.
When I say musical I do not mean anything negative by that at all, rather it is a compliment as musicality is something I strive for in my system. This is a fantastic amp and while it was here it performed without issue every power up. Yes, it is made in China by Rotel in a factory they own but if it were made in Japan, the UK or even the USA I would expect this to cost around $8k. It’s made by ROTEL who are well known in the audio industry. They have been around a long time and know their stuff. Whoever designed these MICHI pieces did an amazing job indeed.
As I write this I am listening to Billy Joel’s Live at Yankee Stadium and it is just such a big warm beautiful sound I am getting from the X3. There is body, breath and feeling here. Emotion. At the end of the day that is what it is all about is it not? Having the music touch us in some way that we can connect with. It’s beautiful and this X3 ticks all of the boxes I look for in an integrated. So much so, I proclaim it the best integrated, full stop, I have evaluated in 2022.
I consider price, value, features, build and above all else, sound when I make these picks. While I loved the Willsenton R300 for the EXTREME value it brought, it is not as complete as the X3. While the X3 was not launched in 2022 (rather in 2020) I have not heard it until now and I wish I heard in much earlier. The X3 has all one needs to create a beautiful audio system. The Amp, the DAC, the MM Phono Stage and the beauty, simplicity and connections to do whatever it is you need.
Sure there are integrated amps out there that bring a more detailed sound or an even bigger wall of sound. There are amps that bring more glow and more precise imaging as well. The question is…what makes a piece of music sound best to our ears? Detail, Imaging and Hi-Fi tricks or a more natural presentation of music, that sounds like a real performance?
The other question is how much do you want to spend to get that extra “sugar on top”? It will cost you thousands to do so and you will never get $5k more sound when you spend $5k more. Instead you may get $500-$1000 more worth of sound as this is called “Diminishing Returns”.
On the other hand, you can not spend less and get what the X3 brings to you. This is an integrated that delivers on all fronts for middle of the road “high end” money. At $5,200 this is the deal of deals in the higher end integrated amp world. It proves that spending more doesn’t really get you more.
We all have different tastes and likes but I am here to say that the X3 is a fantastic integrated amp that still has me not wanting to send it back even though I have some mighty impressive amplification here already. It’s a beauty in looks, sound and build. It brings music forth in a human kind of way. This amp is all about the spirit and soul of the recordings vs the showmanship. If that sounds like it speaks to you, an audition of the X3 may be in order.
Is it wrong that I wanted to listen more to the X3 than my Luxman on some nights? The struggle is real, lol.
This is a good one guys, audition it if you can! I dig it! My pick for best overall Integrated Amplifier of 2022.