Classé CT-M600 & CA-M600 monoblock power amplifiers Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital Sources: Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal player; dCS Puccini SACD player with U-Clock; Apple G4 Mac mini running OS10.5.8, iTunes 10, Pure Music 1.6; Shuttle PC with Lynx AES16 and dual-core AMD Athlon processor running Windows 7, Foobar 2000, Adobe Audition 3.0; dCS Debussy, Esoteric D-07, Benchmark DAC1, Logitech Transporter D/A converters; Halide S/PDIF Bridge USB-S/PDIF converter.
Preamplifier: Simaudio Moon Evolution P-8.
Power Amplifiers: Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblocks, Simaudio Moon Evolution W-7, NAD M2.
Loudspeakers: Harbeth P3ESR, Acapella High Violoncello Mk.II, Gradient Helsinki 1.5, Focal Maestro Utopia III.
Cables: Digital: Stereovox XV2 electrical S/PDIF, DH Labs Silver Sonic AES/EBU, AudioQuest Coffee and Belkin Gold USB. Interconnect (balanced): AudioQuest Wild. Speaker: AudioQuest Kilimanjaro & Wild. AC: PS Audio Lab, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Celestion Si 24" speaker stands; Target TT-5 equipment racks; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators; PS Audio Power Plant 300 at 90Hz (preamp), Audio Power Industries 116 Mk.II & PE-1, APC S-15 AC line conditioners (not power amps). AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from the breaker box.—John Atkinson

Classé Audio
5070 François Cusson
Lachine, Quebec H8T 1B3
(514) 636-6384

tmsorosk's picture

I went out and auditioned a pair of CT-M600s after reading the review . It's hard to say much about the sound under those conditions , the system as a hole was impressive , I can say they sounded superior to the higher priced amps we heard at the same time , same everything . I won't mention what the other amps were , as I'm sure there large following would take issue .
Sure look pretty . Tim

300Binary's picture

I will keep reading your stuff - forever :)

In 1963, I heard a home system that was some big turntable, a tube preamp, a large mono tube amp and a huge VOT speaker.

I thought it was perfect (I was sixteen).

Perfect keeps getting better.

Life is not fair, thankfully.

PS I notice the picture is of the ugly one... nobody's perfect.

soulful.terrain's picture

Great review of the awesome Classe product. I have never listened to a Classe product without being impressed. Also, Classe products are amazingly reliable over the long term.

The only thing I dislike about the new CT series amps are the cosmetics. I feel Classe has taken a step backward in this area.

Mark Evans

Trickster's picture

I agree, the Delta series is way better looking than the Custom Theatre series. I don't mind the Sigma's look though.

Staxguy's picture

I had the occasion to listen to a pair of the Classe CT-M600's monoblocks with the CT-SSP pre-processor, driving a pair of B&W 803 Diamonds, in what was described as a great sounding room, and the sound was utterly horrendous - Bose would be a good description, but that doesn't give Bose enough credit - really! I was looking for a modern version of the old Aragon 8008BB that could drive dynamic B&W's to decent bass levels, and the Classe was recommended.

Was it the new 803 Diamonds that are "terrible"??? The Classe pre-dual-mono combo, the room, or the ensemble, I can not say, but I would derive much more pleasure for the old Matrix 801's, coupled with even similar vintage Rotel electronics, than I could with this combination. I have heard good things about the new 800/802 Diamond models, but it is a shame there was not a newer model similar to the older Matrix 800, to drive a decent amount of air for real-level listening.

The only hi-brand unknown piece of the combo was some random Blue Ray disc player, fed digitally into the Classe CT-SSP. Jitter, possible, in such a modern design, could it be?

Being a Canadian, I had hoped the Class would deliver the goods, but it would not stand even a cursory listening.

I like the low-power consumption in standby mode, which is mentioned in the review, a plus for a relatively larger-powered hi-fi amplifier.

Internally, the CT-M600 looks like a decent amplifier. Externally, the Classe Omega mono looks like a more fitting replacement for the ML 33H to my eye. Could the same designers have had a hand in the design?

Staxguy's picture

I had an occasion to listen to the -new- version of the CT-M600's, driving the new diamond B&W 802's, with a $5000 Classe CD Player, and a sub-$2000 Rotel pre-amp put in temporarily until the replacement $5500 Classe unit arrived, and, in a treated room, it was fantastic.

Great depth of stage for even solo voice, and less "CD player" sound than I had heard on a Sasha W/P / top Naim stack, at medium volumes. At medium-high levels, on decent modern tracks, the 802's driven by the CT-M600's really sounded as if they were augmented by a pair of nice subwoofers - much nicer than my old Velodyne F1500R in terms of fast and tight (and tunefull) bass response. That the 802's did this level of bass in a fairly small cabinet was fantastic, and totally unexpected, but the credit must go quite equally to the Classe CT-M600's.

At moderate levels, though, the meters read at about the 6W level, which really shows how far good, clean power goes.

The sound was still hi-fi, and cleary recorded, but the bass, dynamics and sound staging were a cut above the level. Voice was also quite natural, approaching the level of my understanding, with nice natural sibalance, etc. and tone. There was upsamling going on at the CD player, but this was clearly above-par 16-bit performance for the CT-M600's driving the 802's, even with a "substitute" Rotel pre-amp in the chain.

Listening to this setup, I could clearly hear what the blog entry of John Atkinson had to say.

Earlier in the session, I also listened to the competing McIntosh MC601 600W pair, which were much more imposing visually, and also sounded fine. Will definitely need to see what they each do, on the same material and gear, to make a decision, one over the other.

The new McIntosh 601's drove a pair of Sasha W/P's much more well than a all-NAIM stack with all the power supplies, and sounded much more musical on medium to high levels with them.

Anyone purchasing either amplifier pair should be quite happy, I imagine, unless their hearing is much more rarefied than mine.
The MC601 monoblock pair is the first McIntosh mono-amp than I can stand, driving Wilsons.

Funny that a pair (even older) of the CT-M600's would have sounded absolutely hideous with a B&W 803 diamond pair, while a newer pair of CT-M600's would sound really, really good on a pair of 802's (one step up speaker wise). I would imagine that the DAC design in the Classe SSP would be similar to that of their CDP, and top of the line Transparent Cable was in use on both systems.

I wonder how much better the new version CT-M600's would drive the latest 800's over the 802's, and if the bass would be as fast and sufficient as I heard today.

tmsorosk's picture

I was ready to pull the trigger on a pair of these till I found out Classe' had moved their manufacturing facility from a well regarded Canadian plant to a not so well regarded ( where audio is concerned ) country. I wonder if Stereophile will follow up there review to see if there's a sonic difference.


                                                              Regards  Tim

Trickster's picture

I recently had an in-home audition of the CA-2300 with the CP-800, driving my B&W 803Ds. The sound blew away my McIntosh MA7000. Yes... I know its unfair to compare an integrated with a 2-channel, but this was an incredible difference in every listening category. Unfortunately, my PSA-5 shut things down midway through the audition, but once we plugged straight into the wall, the power seemed limitless. I wonder how well the Classe's M600s would do against the McIntosh MC601s? M600's are almost half the price of the MC601s. Does that mean McIntosh is twice as good?

To all the outsourcing critics... You put a North American assembled Classe amp on the bench right next to one assembled in China and you would see no technical or visual difference. The only difference would be in the price tag.