Rogue Pharaoh $3500, 185×2 Integrated Amp
Speakers have more to do with your sound than electronics. That being said, electronics definitely make a big difference in getting the most out or your speakers. If price is no object you can buy a magnificent preamp, a stack of monoblocks and $15-20k later- we’re set. Since most of us don’t have that much to spend just on electronics, the Rogue Pharaoh is aiming for the rest of us!
Integrated amps are the best electronics buy in our hobby. To make any product you need a chassis with buttons on the front and jacks on the back. If you can house the preamp and a muscular power amp on a single chassis, you’ve made a sage choice.
Virtually every speaker I’ve ever heard benefits from more power instead of less. The tremendously efficient Avantgardes are on the very short list of exceptions. Fact is, speakers need to be pushed and controlled. You need more water pressure instead of less. You need a fire hose instead of a garden hose.
You can even clearly hear this benefit on speakers such as the GoldenEar Triton 2s, which have powered subs. You would THINK T-2 wouldn’t need much power because the amp is only driving two mids and a ribbon tweeter. But nope, you’d be wrong and it wouldn’t be close.
When customers visit to audition equipment, I turn on the system they want to hear and get the music going. Then I turn the volume down pretty low and hand them the remote. The listening volume is then up to YOU. I’ve heard pianos and violins louder than stadium rock and roll. I’ve heard female singers (recorded acoustically) played louder than a jet engine. Whether it’s due to men of a certain age or what… power matters.
The Rogue Pharaoh has a tube preamp and solid state amp. Pharaoh delivers an impressive amount of water pressure. While it isn’t equal to a brute like Bryston’s $5k, 4B-SST/2 power amp, it’s enough for most of us. Pharaoh has a solid amp section that grips our speakers from Bryston, Paradigm, GoldenEar and Magnepan very well- thank you. I’ve spent a good amount of time listening to the Bryston and Paradigm speakers with the Pharaoh and am suitably impressed. Pharaoh gets you a large chunk of the way to top tier performance at a bargain price.
On top of providing that big sound with control, what makes Pharaoh unique is that you can hear the tubes down the throat of this sucker! Everything good about tubes comes out of Pharaoh in spades. It evokes thoughts of $10k and north preamps stuffed with expensive tubes and oil caps. THIS, from a $3500 integrated?! It has a solid state phono section that supports MM&MC! It’s got four sets of high level inputs, one of which is XLR.
We received the Sphinx ($1400, 100×2) before the Pharaoh. It’s also a hybrid. While it’s good, it’s not nearly as good as the Pharaoh. Sphinx is a sweet interface with one of my favorite speakers, the Paradigm Studio 20 ($1500pr). S-20 is efficient enough that Sphinx does the job with it. But with big time speakers like the Bryston Ts, Paradigm Sig 8s and Maggie 3.7i- no.
Pharaoh is unmistakeably tube like in preamp flavor.
I know a lot of you are going to love the musicality the Pharaoh provides. While no product is perfect, to get a big time dose of tube taste and the control of a powerful solid state amp- it’s really tough to beat this value. Unless you’re asking Bonnie Raitt to sing as loud as a Boeing 747, Pharaoh is going to win your musical heart!