Solid State Power Amp Reviews

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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Nov 21, 2004 0 comments
Non-audiophile friends and relatives raised their eyebrows when they saw the Classé Omega Omicron monoblocks. Not only is the Omicron more expensive than any other amp I've used; at 108 lbs, it's heavier than some of the speakers I've used. The Omicron is Classé's next-to-top-of-the-line amp in its Omega series, but is still definitely a "statement" product. Brian Damkroger reviewed the Omicron's big brother, the Omega Mono, in the July 2003 Stereophile. I refer you to that review for a more detailed description of the Omicron's basic circuitry.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
One of the highlights of recent Consumer Electronics and Home Entertainment shows has been the demonstrations of sound quality put on by Australian amplifier manufacturer Halcro with Wilson Audio loudspeakers. At my first exposure to one of these demos—described in my April 2002 "As We See It"—enormous dynamic range was coupled with a grain-free presentation and almost holographic stereo imaging to produce a breathtaking sweep of sound. Paul Bolin reviewed Halcro's dm58 monoblock in October 2002, and that amplifier was subsequently voted this magazine's "Amplification Component of 2002" by our reviewers.
Paul Bolin Posted: Aug 15, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
It's true—you never forget your first love. And no, I'm not talking about little Jackie Lynn Neeck in my second-grade class when I was seven years old. I still remember her, almost as vividly as I remember my first encounter with a fantastic stereo system, and therein hangs a tale.
Paul Bolin Posted: Aug 15, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
It's true—you never forget your first love. And no, I'm not talking about little Jackie Lynn Neeck in my second-grade class when I was seven years old. I still remember her, almost as vividly as I remember my first encounter with a fantastic stereo system, and therein hangs a tale.
Paul Bolin Posted: Jul 18, 2004 Published: Jul 01, 2004 0 comments
Consider the plight of solid-state muscle amps. Often derided as brutes lacking sophistication or subtlety, particularly by the SET set (ie, fans of single-ended triodes), these powerhouses are taken for granted and often, like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect. And once upon a time, the stereotypes were true. Every veteran audiophile has at some time heard an immensely powerful transistor amp that had the soft sonic allure of a sheet of sandpaper, a lumbering oaf of a component with nothing whatsoever to recommend it save for a bulging set of mighty moose muscles.
Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 21, 2004 Published: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
Monoblock power amplifiers seem to be moving in and out of my listening room faster than green-onion salsa from Chi-Chi's. Over the past six months I've had the Parasound Halo JC-1, the Halcro dm68, the Pass XA-160, the Musical Fidelity kW, and now these 300W (into 8 ohms), $4500-each beauties from Theta Digital. All of these amps sounded as different as they looked, which was no surprise; too bad the "measures the same, sounds the same" dogmatists remain open for business.
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Mar 28, 2004 Published: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
For me, the iconic Adcom power amplifier was the GFA-555. As an aspiring audiophile, I was deeply impressed with Tony Cordesman's review in Stereophile in 1985 (Vol.8 No.4). That did it! After years of kit-building and doing it myself, the '555 was the first factory-built amp that I wanted and could afford. Over the years, I changed speakers several times, and even added a fully regulated power supply to the '555, but it never balked. At the end of its tenure at my house, it had been demoted to my third-string backup; today it's making someone else tap his toes.
Paul Bolin Posted: Mar 21, 2004 Published: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
For better or for worse, appearances can make a profound first impression. Think of the bold, muscular curves of an Audi TT coupe, the planes and facets of a Lamborghini Murcielago, the sleek lines of a Gulfstream jet. In these vehicles, function and art are combined with smooth facility and perfect aesthetic balance.
Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 01, 2004 Published: Jan 01, 2004 0 comments
Thoughts of power, domination, and audio road-rage enter one's mind when contemplating Musical Fidelity's SUV-like, limited-edition, 20th-anniversary offerings (footnote 1). (Only 75 sets of kWPs and kWs will be made.) The gleaming, brushed-aluminum, two-box, oversized, overweight Tri-Vista kWP preamp is fortress-like—the "kWP" looks as if chiseled into the faceplate by grimy, sweaty hands. Each of its boxes weighs almost 56 lbs. The unit's milled-aluminum remote control, the size of a Volkswagen Microbus and looking like something Fred Flintstone might wield, must weigh over 5 lbs. The kWP outputs more juice than many power amps: 55V, with 20 amps of peak-peak instantaneous current!
Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 30, 2003 Published: Nov 01, 2003 0 comments
Before the advent of big-screen projection televisions, manhood was measured more conventionally: by the size of one's crate-sized, boat-anchor-heavy, brushed-aluminum-fronted power amplifiers. Those days are long gone.
John Marks Posted: Sep 28, 2003 1 comments
Let's start with some music—three discs I recently have been using to evaluate equipment as well as listen to for enjoyment. They are as contrasting in style as one could hope for, but all on an enviably high musical plane. (Space considerations compel brevity approaching that necessary to sell screenplays to producers at cocktail parties, footnote 1)
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Sep 21, 2003 0 comments
It doesn't take much to read between the lines of Sony's discontinuation of the TA-P9000ES analog preamplifier and their introduction of the SCD-XA9000ES SACD player with IEEE1394 digital output at Home Entertainment 2003. (A similar feature from the DVD-Audio camp has been promised.) Surely, we will at long last be able to have external digital processing and DACs in our preamp or control units. In addition to the freedom to mix and match components, this opens the door to having a single digital component manage bass and channel balance for all sources, and room/speaker correction without redundant redigitization.
Larry Greenhill Posted: Aug 24, 2003 0 comments
All high-end audio companies turn over their product lines periodically. Even those amplifiers I have depended on as references go out of production. Although my reference amplifier can remain a part of the reviewing sequence, readers won't be able to purchase a discontinued model and get the results I describe. Thus I am compelled to get a review sample of a new amplifier or speaker, and hope for the best.
Brian Damkroger Posted: Jul 13, 2003 0 comments
Have you ever had one of those conversations with your Significant Other that begins "But I thought you said..." and goes downhill from there? The Other's tone is condescending, and the body language—hands on hips, head slightly tilted—lets you know you're in big trouble.
Paul Bolin Posted: Apr 13, 2003 0 comments
How did Michael Jordan, talented as he was at the peak of his powers, always manage to impose his will on his teammates to push them to victory when it counted most? What made Sandy Koufax able to elevate his pitching to a superhuman level when the stakes were highest? A knowledgeable, hardcore sports fan can watch the performance of two players with nearly identical statistics and, after not too long, tell you which one is merely very good and which one is great. What makes a star are intangibles—those qualities you can't quantify or analyze, but can't help but recognize when you're in their presence.

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