The reviews seem a bit of a barren desert at present, so i thought I’d just write a short review/thoughts on these two components.
I’ve now had these in my system for a couple of months, having bought them new from that very nice organisation Audio Emotion. So, plenty of time to get acquainted with them, functionally and sonically.
Both of these units came in excellent packaging, complete with double boxes. They look and handle like the premium products that they are. In general the finish and fit is excellent. These are designed to offer great performance, but in a relatively small package, hence they are a fair bit smaller than might be expected. This suits my needs very nicely as it would many others, I suspect. Having said that, these should not be labelled ‘lifestyle products’ (i.e. potentially all design with little content) as they do offer very high quality performance.
The DA200 is a DAC, which is also a pre amp, that also has a quality headphone amplifier. (my Beyer T70ps, AKG K701s and Audeze EL8s all sound very good, with no signs at all of the amp struggling properly to drive them) The DAC used is aBurr-Brown PCM1792A, 24/192Khz, but only 96kHz on USB. Analogue output is Class A. Luxman make the similarity in design and performance to their D05 player. Having never heard that myself, I can’t comment. It does though highlight the care that has gone in to the implementation of the DAC and the pre. There is no remote control, which may be a deal breaker for some.
There is a display window which shows sample rate on digital, but which goes blank if using analogue inputs.
There are coaxial and Toslink inputs in addition to USB. Unusually, there are also 2 analogue inputs, meaning that this can act as the heart of most systems. It needs to be noted that, whilst there are balanced and SE outputs, variable out is only available on SE. It can operate in fixed mode on both XLR and SE.
The M200 is a power amplifier, with a pre (can be set to be bypassed) Hence this could be used as a single source integrated. There are also two power meters. These show average power; you can choose over what period this average is set. They can be turned off if required. Inputs on XLR and SE.
Power output is fairly low at 25W/channel in to 8 ohms, 35W in to 4 ohms. It can also work as a mono amplifier with a 70W channel in to 8 ohm rating.
The amp is very quiet, mechanically and electrically (so far as I can detect through my speakers).
As background to how this combinations sounds to me, a little about the type of music I have listened to on the system. I don’t listen to much in the way of classical, with the exception of works by Steve Reich, John Adams and Terry Riley. It’s mostly jazz, from 50’s Blue Note to Pat Metheney’s more ‘adventurous’ work. And of course some prog, but not so much these days (but Selling England does indeed sound really good through the system!). My speakers are Harbeth P3ESRs. You might think that such a lowly powered amp would be a hopeless mismatch with these low sensitivity ‘speakers. Not a bit of it. The P3s are easy to drive. In my listening environment, at a round 80dB levels, sitting about 2m or so away, then the amp never even breaks a sweat. The power meters hardly move above 0.5W. Even when I turn it up a bit, it rarely goes above 3W. There’s no sign of clipping that I can detect and I’ve been listening to systems to well over 40 years.
I’ll talk about the system as a whole, as I haven’t listened to the components individually. Having said that, i strongly suspect that the DA200 is the stronger performer of the two. Describing sound is just so subjective, it’s a difficult one to put in to writing. The overall sound is very complete, to my ears. The detail of the music is all there, but there’s not that often found forwardness bordering on stridency (?) (as I find the MDAC, by way of comparison). It all hangs together well. No sibilance at all (apart from on some poor recordings). The presentation may be a bit too laid back for some as it does lean towards the warm side of neutral. To illustrate this, my previous amp with the Harbs was a Bel Canto C5; a very fine amp. That produced a much cleaner sound, bordering on sterile. It also controlled the P3s a bit better as bass was better defined using that amp. But it just wasn’t engaging, if you take my meaning? I much prefer the sound using the Luxman pairing. I've tried other amps with the P3s, including the Gato DIA-250, which was good, but again just a tad too controlled, for me. I don't want to gush on about mids, highs, soundstage and the like; I'll just say that music is presented beautifully, with instruments easy to place and hear, with a sound that seems independent of the 'speakers. OK, bass (or lack of) will be an issue for many, but if that's important to you then you probably wouldn't choose P3s (although they can surprise).
Overall I’m very happy with this combination. Both components are satisfying to use, nice to look at and produce a very grown up sound. They originally retailed at the £2K per component mark, which I think was overpriced. They are now available at substantially less, a price point at which you’d struggle to match, let alone, beat them. If you can live with the low power then very much worth considering.
PS: I know everyone likes a piccie, so I've uploaded some to my gallery on this site