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ssimon
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Best Class D Amps

Hi
In terms of price/performance, what are the best high power switching amps out there right now?
Many thanks
S

wkhanna
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This....
ssimon
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Class D

Interesting... but I should have been clearer... I'm looking for audio components that are plug n play rather switching modules, although it would be quite an adventure to build a component using one of them.
Any suggestions?
Thanks
S

bierfeldt
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Another poster liked Primare

I haven't heard it personally but another poster mentioned it a while back. He went out and demo'd a bunch of equipment and ultimately settled on the i22. It sounds like Primare is at least worth listening too.

Are you looking for a power amp or in integrated amp? 2 channels only?

ssimon
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another poster...

Thanks, Bierfeldt. I'll check out the Primare. Yes, I'm looking for a power amp, 2 channels, although now that you mention it, multichannel would be of interest too. At the moment I'm driving my Maggies with a Bryston 4BSST2 and I'm not unhappy with the combination, but for various reasons I might want to go smaller, cooler, and yes even more grunt than the Bryston, or at least find out what there is out there. On multichannel Id also like to know what's out there that would enable a switch from my Integra integrated to separates without breaking my bad or my bank account!
Many thanks for your interest. Best S

ssimon
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oops I meant without breaking

oops I meant without breaking my "back" or my bank account. I'm a crummy typist.

bierfeldt
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For multi-channel

You need to listen to the Sunfire Cinema Grand. If you are unfamiliar, Sunfire was the company Bob Carver started after he left Carver corp back in the 90's. There is a white paper that explains how the tracking downconverter works, but basically it is a class A amp that behaves like a class d. This tracking down converter allow the amp to vary it's power consumption with it always remaining just above what it needs. As a result you get lighter amp that can deliver monstrous amounts of power and runs cool. Literally room temp no matter how hard you drive it.

There are 2 models, a 7 channel 200w unit and 7 channel 400w unit. Coincidentally, Sunfire offered 2 lines of cinema speakers, the HRs line which called for 200w and the Cinema Ribbon line which calls for 400w of power. The HRS line was recently discontinued.

Both amps are balanced and would pair nicely with a Marantz or Integra pre-pro. I have been flirting with the idea of getting the 200w model to replace my Marantz MM8003 largely because I have the HRS line of speakers in my theatre and am taxing it just slightly. I currently have a Marantz pre-pro paired with the MM8003.

For 2 channel, I say this having purchased a class d receiver from Marantz yesterday, the M-CR510. I am very cynical on the technology. I very much like the Bash subwoofer amps, I liked the Peachtree class D that was out for a stretch for $1000. I thought it deliver more power and sounded as good as a Marantz MM7025 and, like I said before, I hear good things about Primare. I just haven't heard a class D that can outperform entry level separates like that Marantz. They just aren't in the same league as your Bryston or say a Musical Fidelity M6 PWR.

I always thought it was a shame the Sunfire never produced 2 channel amps with the tracking downconverter. Bob Carver could have produced some giant killing amps if he had.
Good luck.

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Ncore by far... Mola-Mola and others

It is true that Hypex makes the best class-D amplifier modules. The newest technology is their Ncore. Bruno Putzeys of Hypex is by far the most brilliant class-D designer at this time. Not only do his designs measure superbly, they actually have audiophile level sound. They rival analog power amplifiers in detail, transparency and have extremely low output impedance through the entire audio range.
He has created a separate company called Mola-Mola. He builds his fully packaged Kaluga amplifiers through this company. He has also created a remarkable pre-amp and DAC that rivals the best in the industry.

Here is the Mola-Mola website: http://mola-mola.nl/index.php/ct-menu-item-2

Thrid Party supliers of Ncore amplifiers who package the Hpex Ncore modules into complete amplifiers:

James Romeyn: http://jamesromeyn.com/#/home-audio-gear/hypex-ncore-nc400-build-service...

Merrill Audio: http://www.merrillaudio.net/veritas.html

Hope this helps,

Xsipower

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Sunfire and Mola Mola

Sounds like I need to look into both of these approaches. I hate to sound like the proverbial slave-to-authority, but have any of these components been reviewed in a mainstream magazine? I've seen Merril's more expensive amplifier reviewed favorably, but at 15K I must regret that it's not in my price range.
Many thanks for your help -- additional ideas, welcome.

bierfeldt
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Sunfire review

There is an okay one at Hometheatrereview. there are several others if you search on TGA-7201 or TGA-7401. The biggest benefit of Sunfire is that they are rated to 1 ohm with that tag-7401 putting out 1600w. They are really good at driving speakers that operate at a very low impedence. I looked into them for two reasons, my first system was Carver and I have always been a fan and secondarily my old front speaker were Infinity Kappa 8.1s which were notorious power hogs that hit 1.7ohm peaks. Sunfire was one of the few amps that was rated to properly power those speakers that I could dream of affording.

I was a touch surprised that the Primare A60 is $10K and that A34.2 lacks the power you would want.

As an aside, well below your price range, but this suggests Class D's may finally hit the mainstream, I just received my Marantz CR-510 which has a 60w Class D in it. I am shocked at how good it sounds. A poster out on WhatHifi was talking about the fact he replaced him PM6004 with it because of the feature set and said it sounded exactly the same. I don't have that reference point but it sounds more neutral but as detailed as my Carver equipment and the whole thing weighs less than my Carver preamp, much less amp. I believe it sounds every bit as good as a PM6004.

xsipower
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Mola Mola Class-D , Sunfire not Class-D

Hello,

You can find some reviews of the Mola Mola here:

http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/ncore2/1.html
http://www.stereotimes.com/commGTTAudio.shtml
http://parttimeaudiophile.com/2013/01/25/ces-2013-mola-mola/

Sunfire:

The Sunfire is not a class-D amplifier nor a class-A amplifier. The Sunfire is a Class A/B amplifier with a switching power supply that tracks the input audio signal to provide a relatively constant minimal voltage across the class A/B biased output stage, thus having high efficiency. The class-A/B output stage in the Sunfire is heavily biased into class-A.

I have very high regard for Carver. He has designed some great sounding equipment. I have owned a few of his linear amplifiers and per-amplifiers. The Switching Down-converter is a great compromise between the possible linearity of class A/B and the efficiency of a class-D amplifier. The drawbacks of a tracking switching power supply across a linear amplifier are how well the high frequency ripple of the switching power supply is rejected by the linear amplifier. There are methods to mitigate this, but it can also affect the sonics of the linear amplifier. Carver has done a great job with his Sunfire product as many have found it to have sonics that they like.

Mola Mola / Hypex:

Hypex / Mola Mola’s Bruno Putzeys is just simply a new breed of genius engineers that understands the fundamentals physics of music reproduction and does not spew poetic audiophile jargon or made up scifi terms that many in audio manufactures use to convince potential customer to purchase mega expensive and mega heavy equipment. Among the class-D community you will find that the Ncore is far superior, not because anyone says so, but simply because of its fundamental technology. Class-D is extremely difficult to implement to please an audiophile. If you wish you can read this great white paper that explains the background and reasoning of the Ncore technology and how it overcomes the drawbacks of class-D amplifiers:

http://www.hypex.nl/docs/papers/ncore%20wp.pdf

The Ncore comes in two flavors; the NC400 and the NC1200. The NC400 delivers 400W into 2 ohms and the NC1200 delivers 1200W into 2ohms. The Hypex Ncore is rated down to 1 ohm. It has an output impedance of 0.003 Ohms across the entire audio band. The NC1200 will deliver up to 38 amps of current into your speakers before it’s cycle by cycle current limiter kicks in. With a 2 ohm load, up to 900W, it delivers less than 0.005% distortion across the entire audio band. If you need more power the NC1200 can be bridge to provide many kilowatts of power!!

As an electrical engineer I can say that it really is a remarkable feat of engineering. Just to add, it’s not all about the numbers. I’ve heard them, and simply put, they reproduce exactly what the signal placed into them commands. Every detail across the entire audio band is there as plain as vanilla. These amps do not color, add or take away from the original source. Some may not like that. Some like their amps to add warmth, color and other effects to the sound. To me that simply means the amplifier is a “audio modifier” and not purely an audio amplifier.

As for what is available, the Mola Mola and Merrill Audio use the NC1200 modules. James Romeyn uses the smaller NC400 modules. There are probably other OEM’s that are selling Ncore amplifiers I just have not research it.

The development of the Ncore (6moons article):

http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/ncore/1.html

From my exposition here It may seem like I work for or distribute Hypex or Mola Mola products, but I do not. I am simply extremely satisfied and amazed by this new technology.

Have a great day,

Xsipower

bierfeldt
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my appologies for mispeaking on sunfire being a Class A

The white paper I read on it implied it was closer to a Class A in it's output than anything else. I did not know it was technically an A/B as that was not explicitly stated or I missed it. There was a heavy emphasis on that class-A bias you mention and I took that to mean it was Class A. Thank you for correcting me as I am always pleased to learn.

wkhanna
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This NAD uses nCore Hypex
xsipower
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NAD Ncore...great find

Great find whkanna,

Now that's a statement when NAD is using Ncore technology. Even MBL uses Hypex modules, not the new Ncore but the previous technology, in their Corona C15.

Xsipower

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Musical Fidelity...?

i use this in a very simple system in my weekend cabin
http://www.musicalfidelity.com/m1pwr/

paired with Totem Dreamcatchers it provides pretty awesome and immersive and fun and spacious sound. the bass is big on this little amp (is that the case with all D?) so they pair very, very well with a bookshelf. i wouldn't use them with big floorstanders unless i lived in a medieval castle :-)

really clean stuff.

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best-class-d-amps

I am sorry to re-open this old thread, but I am very curious where we stand with stereo class d amplification today. Quite some years passed since this thread was opened, but if I google on class d amplification it seems as nothing has changed since then. Why don't the manufacturers show some initiative? Same goes for dab. Clanging on old technologies and being conserative will not lead to to better products in the end imho.

bierfeldt
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Not true

Class ads have arrived and if you look at the stereophile recommended component list there are several Class D amps. Admittedly, most are using modules from Hypex but that is because the Hypex modules sound spectacular. Marantz, Preachtree, NAD, Rogue Audio and Classe are just a few of the manufacturers that are making spectacular Class D amps. plus I think you have brand like Krell who have introduced a...I think Class G or H. I forget but they have something similar to Sunfire's tracking downconverter.

Incidentally, I am currently using two Class ads in my house, the Marantz M-CR510 which is a little network receiver and the Rogue Audio Hydra which is a hybrid tube Class D which was recommended by The Absolute Sound. I love both and both are great values at there respective price points.

bierfeldt
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Not sure

Not sure why autocorrect changes Class D to Class ads in some cases. Sent from my phone so sorry for the typos.

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Spectacular Class D amps

Nowaday high end manufacturers such as Classe and Bel Canto alike make class D or digital amplifiers. Now there are different types of class D amps :
* Hybrid class D tubes such as the Rogue Hydra, Peachtree, etc.
* Pure class D or all the way class D amps in which the amp uses switch mode power supplies with output stages being class D as well. Classe Sigma series amps and modern Bel Canto amps fall into this category.
* Amps that use swithing power supplies but its output stages are either class A or class AB. Devialet and Linn fall into this category.
Devialet uses swithing power supplies but its output stages are class A.
Linn also uses swithing power supplies but its output stages are class AB.

Class D amps are usually associated with not only implementing switching power supplies but it also refers to its output stages using class D circuitry such as the ones found in Classe Sigma amps, modern Bel Canto amps, Thor monoblock amps, Anthem monoblock amps, current model offerings from NAD master series amps such as the M22 & M27.

Today there are growing numbers of spectacular sounding digital amplifiers from high end manufacturers, unlike what it was some 15 or 20 years ago when class D amps were only associated with lower end gears.
Class D amplifiers have made tremendous improvements sonically in the last 10 years or so. Class D or digital amps today need not sound digital anymore. I've listened to some class D amps that sounded very analog.

I highly recommend the following class D amps :
* Classe Sigma series (Amp2, Amp5 & Sigma Mono amps).
* Bel Canto Reference amps.
* Thor monoblock amps.
* NAD M22 & M27 amps.
And the list goes on and on and on. Give a listen to those digital amps and you will be blown away.

At higher price points, various Devialet integrated units perform and sound phenomenal but I wouldn't consider Devialet as being pure class D or digital amplifier because its output stages are of class A. The only thing they have in common with other class D amplifiers would be the use of switching power supplies instead of linear power supplies.

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In addition to the NAD,

In addition to the NAD, Classe and Bel Canto amps, I have reviewed Class D amps by Theta and ATI in Stereophile.

caphill
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Kal Rubinson wrote:
Kal Rubinson wrote:

In addition to the NAD, Classe and Bel Canto amps, I have reviewed Class D amps by Theta and ATI in Stereophile.

Kal, how were the Theta and ATI class D amps sonically in comparison to say the Classe Sigma Amp5 that you reviewed before or the Classe Sigma Mono amps?

Kal Rubinson
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I wish I could tell you with

I wish I could tell you with any certainty. I used the Amp5 only in the CT system and I used the Theta and ATI amps only in the NYC system. Any direct comparison would be based on inference that the Amp5 should sound similar to the Sigma Mono. As for the Mono, I think it is the best match to my NYC system with the B&W speakers but the Theta comes closest, ATI next. Of course, that is a very context-specific ranking.

caphill
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Kal Rubinson wrote:
Kal Rubinson wrote:

I wish I could tell you with any certainty. I used the Amp5 only in the CT system and I used the Theta and ATI amps only in the NYC system. Any direct comparison would be based on inference that the Amp5 should sound similar to the Sigma Mono. As for the Mono, I think it is the best match to my NYC system with the B&W speakers but the Theta comes closest, ATI next. Of course, that is a very context-specific ranking.

Kal,
Aren't the Sigma Mono amps superior sonically to the Sigma Amp5 or Amp2 besides having more powerband in monoblock chassis?
I was told that Classe made improvements in the input and output stages of the Sigma Mono over the Sigma Amp5 & Amp2.

Kal Rubinson
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caphill wrote:
caphill wrote:

Aren't the Sigma Mono amps superior sonically to the Sigma Amp5 or Amp2 besides having more powerband in monoblock chassis?
I was told that Classe made improvements in the input and output stages of the Sigma Mono over the Sigma Amp5 & Amp2.

I was told the same and it is likely but I have no way of confirming it from experience.

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ATI AT5XXNC vs. Sunfire TGA7401

Has anyone done a direct comparison between the ATI class D amps and the Sunfire class G amps?

I just bought a Sunfire and I honestly don't like the sound of it. I had an Arcam P1000 and thought it sounded much better. I am thinking about the ATI but I don't want to make another expensive snap decision.

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Devialet Expert Pro

Easily the Devialet Expert Pro amplifiers. They even do a free home demo for you if you are interested in them and live in NYC. Just call the soho store and they can do it for you

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