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Rogue Audio Sphinx Integrated Amplifier Review

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Setup and Use

I used the Sphinx in two systems. First, I used it in my video/digital system with the Teresonic Magus A55 speakers and with a pair of the new Fritz Speakers that use a ceramic midrange/bass driver and a ribbon tweeter. I also used it, as ludicrous as it sounds, in my reference system with retails for over $100,000. In this system the source was my AMG Viella V12 turntable and the speakers were my Teresonic Ingenium Silver. Heck, in this system the interconnects cost three times what the amp cost and the power cables cost almost twice as much. I also used the fixed outputs hooked up to my Wavac EC-300B so that it was functioning as a preamp with a phono stage.

Just on a lark I tried it as a preamp with a phono stage in the Reference system. This turned out to be a wonderful discovery. I’ll come back to this later on.

After making all the connections, one first powers up Sphinx using the switch on the back panel.  The Sphinx is designed for the Class D amp to stay energized in stand-by mode, but the two input tubes don’t power up until you turn on the front-panel “power” switch; this that takes about 20 seconds.

Listening to Digital

The Rogue Audio Sphinx had no problem driving either the ultra efficient Teresonic Magus or the not-so-efficient Fritz Speakers. With both speakers, the Sphinx played music in a way that was, surprisingly, emotionally engaging for an amp at this amazingly low price point. In this context, it exceeded both the Electrocompaniet and the Peachtree Audio Decco. Sonically, the Sphinx is more dynamic and has better micro-dynamics than the Decco, but falls short of the Electrocompaniet in both areas.

Its overall sound is kind to digital in that it neither exaggerates nor is overly revealing of digital grain and grunge. It has a nicely smooth sound that seldom if ever is irritating; this is no small accomplishment in my opinion when listening to digital. It is impressive how little it adds to the sound; I would say that almost all its shortcomings are more subtractive in nature and thus you don’t tend to notice you’re missing them as much.

Playing LPs

The phono stage of the Sphinx is a simplified version of the circuit used in Rogue’s solid-state Triton phono preamp. Using the Sphinx as an integrated amp playing LPs I was quite pleased. To me, it sounded better in every way than it did with a digital source. Admittedly, this is not a fair comparison since my analogue setup is much more expensive than anyone would ever pair with this amp. I used it with an older Allnic moving coil and their step-up transformer. The phono stage seems very quiet and does not magnify surface noise as some much more expensive solid state phono preamps do.

Still, if you only use the Sphinx as an integrated amp you will have no idea how good the preamp and phono stage are. The preamp and phono stage of the Sphinx are the reason to buy it, it really is that good. When I came out of its variable outputs into my Wavac EC-300B, I was genuinely shocked. No, it wasn’t in the same league with the Shindo preamps or the  Allnic phono stages and line stages. Still, it was darn good.

It was dynamic, spacious, quiet, possessing very good resolving power. Let’s take a moment to compare the sound of the integrated amp to using it as a stand alone preamp. As a preamp it had much less grain, it sounded smoother, there was more air, more spatial information, and the scale of the soundstage was much larger. Most of all, it was much more emotionally involving as a preamp.

I know you’re thinking no one would use it with a $30,000 power amp, and you’re right. Still, I think this shows the potential of the preamp and makes me wonder just how good the better Rogue Audio preamps might be.

Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated amplifier rear view


Rogue Audio has managed to make an incredibly good and musically involving integrated for only $1,300.  They have also given us an extraordinary bargain in a preamp with a phono stage that is really musically satisfying.

If you are in the market for an integrated amp under $2,000 you should hear the Rogue Audio Sphinx. It may easily be the amp you use for many years. Moreover, it offer you a great option. If after a year or two you can afford a better amp, you will have already owned a really good preamp and phono stage. The Sphinx is an amp with a built in upgrade path.

12 Responses to Rogue Audio Sphinx Integrated Amplifier Review

  1. Tom says:

    The type of tube is wrong. They are not 12AU6’s. They are 12AU7’s. Please check the Rogue Audio website for this information. Also, please make the correction ASAP.
    From Rogue Audio’s website, the Sphinx Integrated amp is listed as using two “Matched 12AU7 preamplifier tubes”:

  2. Jack Roberts says:

    Sorry it was a typo, that wasn’t caught, it has been corrected.

  3. Hugh says:

    Fascinating review thank you
    I am considering pairing the Sphinx with Tekton Design Pendragon loudspeakers 98 Db sensitivity. 20Hz-30khz Frequency.
    Would you be able to comment on their compatabilty?

  4. Jack Roberts says:

    Hugh, I have not used them together but a friend has and finds it a great match.

  5. Bracque says:

    Nice review. Have you heard the abrahamsen integrated? Given how the rogue sounded against the electrocompaniet, I was trying to find a comparison with abrahamsen. Thx

  6. Frank Picarello says:

    I’ve owned the Sphinx for 6 months. I bought it as an interim solution until I was ready for the real amplifier and preamp. I assumed the amp would sound like a typical Class D amp. Well I was wrong. Smooth, dimensional with good power. No need to change for me. I really like what Rogue has done.

  7. John D'Angelo says:

    I really like the looks of the Rogue Sphinx. It reminds me of the AR amplifier which was a favorite of mine. Simple looking with excellent sound! I think the price is excellent and would like to have one someday. The only item of concern for me is the 17 inch depth which makes it more difficult to fit into shelving. I would certainly get the silver version! Thanks for your review.

  8. JUAN says:

    Hi, I’m thinking about pairing a sphinx with a pair of Golden Ear Triton 5’s which I pre ordered and should arrive in 3/4 weeks hopefully. I have always had this concern about class D’s but I’m reading very favorable reviews about this hybrid. I will pair it with my Rega RP3 with a 2M blue ortofon. Any insight you can give me to make the decision? as in terms of budget this is as far as I can go and it looks like this could be better than the NAD 356 + a $200/300 outboard phono I was thinking about.

  9. davie says:

    Got a Sphinx nearly broken in and in combination with KEF LS50’s, I am surprised and satisfied. The sound is sweet and fat. I am not sonically aware of the presence of the switching amps. I rolled in a pair of RCA clear tops from 1953 and I noticed some improvement in voicing, but really the supplied JJ tubes sound pretty damn good on their own. A very nice amp for me.

  10. Tim Irvine says:

    I have a Sphinx and Pendragons and love the combination. It gives the same thrill that Advents and a Dynaco did in the 60s and then some. I’m about to get a restored Thorens from Vinyl Nirvana to complete the trip. I’m going with a VN150 and an Ortofon bronze.

    • Richard Cronk says:

      I have fitted my Thorens TD-160 (restored and upgraded) with the Ortofon bronze. This is my ‘second’ system, but the one I listen to most and often. I am very happy with the performance and notable improvements as you go from red to blue to bronze. I tried the black and it was too much for this fine rig. After a few months I put another bronze on my new Rega P6 while I shopped around for a flashy cartridge. That was 14 months ago and I just can’t get motivated to change out either one. The Rega is amped by the Peachtree Grand X-1 hybred integrated amp and like the Sphinx passes thru a ‘tube’ based preamp. The bronze delivers to mine and I expect it would be a very good fit for the Thorens. Have great luck and let us know how it works for you.

  11. Rolls says:

    As others have mentioned, tube rolling in this amp can yield some noticeable improvements. Experimenting with tubes allows the user to somewhat tune the amp to their preference, a feature of almost no other integrateds in this price class.

    I agree that the sound has a “forward” front row character, which is great with some types of music but a bit too much with others. Overall, a very good amp for the money. I would caution against pairing it with bright and forward sounding speakers.

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