Ultra-Quiet Classé Amp

Some products at CES—all-black products, with black highlights, and with the lettering tastefully done in black, in a darkened room—defeat all but the most-determined photographers. So my thanks to Larry Greenhill for managing to photograph the new Classé CTM600 600W monoblock amplifier ($6500 each).

The CTM600 has an effective forced-air cooling system, with fans on the rear panel controlled by a microprocessor to ensure that the amplifier quickly reaches its operating temperature, then stays there despite how much power it is called on to deliver. Air is drawn in through an artfully concealed slot at the front and pulled through two horizontal heatsink tunnels that run from front to back. But what is even more impressive about this amplifier is that its unweighted audioband S/N Ratio is an extraordinary 135dB ref. full power. TThe CTM joins the very few amplifiers that have a dynamic range equivalent to that of a hi-rez recording.

A 300Wpc stereo version is available in the same chassis as the CTM600 and also costs $6500, while a smaller 300W monoblock will costs $5000 each.

Listening to a CD of Government Mule playing blues, with a pair of CTM600s driving B&W's new diamond-tweeter 802 speakers in Classé's suite at the Mirage, I was struck by the awesome, effortless dynamics of the sound—a highlight of the 2010 CES for me.