Classé Omega power amplifier Page 3

The Omega was more relaxed, less stern and commanding. Its bass sounded huge, if not the deepest in the world. The midrange was seductive, the highs sweet and beckoning, the soundstage always large and well populated. Romance was always in the air with the Omega—the perfect amp for Romeo bachelors on the prowl!

But then I rotated the outer two pairs of Studio Traps to show their more reflective surfaces to the drivers. That "Fine Tune" all but eliminated the Omega's slight reticence at the very top of its frequency range. Carefully matched with the finest cables and associated components—the Nagra PL-P, for example, with the Theta DaViD/Gen.V Pro 24/96; or the dCS 972/Elgar running at an astonishing 24/192 directly into the Omega's balanced inputs—it behaved like any other well-bred, ultra-high-end superamp. But that's not this amp's nature. It wants to have fun, to impress you with its power to set up and maintain large, great-sounding, palpable soundstages, while blasting forth huge drafts of bass and seducing you with dulcet mids and sweet highs. The Omega just wants you to be happy.

Getting vivid with "Foetus," from Pressure Drop's Elusive (Work/Hard Hands/Higher Ground OK 69352), the Omegas used as bridged monoblocks showed their class and control, setting up a huge, entertaining acoustic, with solid, corporeal imaging and let's-boogie bass. Female vocals were once again rendered with deadly, seductive attractiveness. One reason for that velvety sense was, no doubt, its lack of discernible grain.

Male vocals? Well, it doesn't matter what you think of Lou Reed, you'll enjoy "Faces and Names" from Songs for Drella (Sire/Warner Bros. 26140-2). Reed goes to great lengths to ensure that his recordings sound good. Drella (songs about Andy Warhol, by the way) was mastered by the well-known Bob Ludwig at Masterdisc. "Faces and Names," a restrained but emotive work, reached down into that hidden kernel of new-millennium ambivalence that's flourishing in these uncertain and changing times. I heard little excess chestiness, and an enjoyable luminosity that lifted my spirits and helped me find my way through the lyrics and groove to the music. Through the Omega, male vocals could be as fine and wonderful as those of the female persuasion.

I like to impress visitors and scare the horses with Barry Adamson's "Mr. Eddy's Theme," from the soundtrack of David Lynch's Lost Highway (Nothing/Interscope 90090). Listening to this awesome music on a Big System is scary in a visceral, elemental way. But cranking the volume to ungodly levels, I had an unusual experience while listening to this track through the Omega, even when two were bridged. Instead of experiencing dread from that bass line from hell, I marveled at the huge, billowy soundstage, the horns utterly detached from the sonic background and wrapping their way 'round up front. The tonal color and midrange warmth were immensely appealing. In fact, I found all sorts of enjoyable acoustic elements to home in on—the whole album, rather than being less for being more, as it were, really made sense. In spite of questionable production values on some tracks, there was still much to enjoy and even savor. In that way, the Omega brought out the best of whatever ! material I threw at it.

Listening to Pat Barber's Modern Cool reveals all the terrific qualities of the Classé Omega—especially the lovely delicacy of vocals, that soft, warm, inner light I'm so enamored of. Really, for a solid-state amplifier to sound this way was, for me, unimaginable only a few years ago.

Larger, more powerful amplifiers are often thought to sound less sweet and engaging than some of their smaller brethren. But this has changed of late, in my view. Solid-state, and indeed tube gear these days, perform at a high level of virtuosity. Maybe the Omegas aren't the VTL Wotans, but then again, nothing else is. In fact, the Wotans actually go deeper, and with a smidgen more control, than does the Omega, with about the same level of startling dynamics.

The Omega's lovely and musical midband rivaled that of the Forsell Statement and YBA Passions. Perhaps the French amps can be said to be a soupçon more refined, in that Gallic way of theirs. The Omega is less removed and intellectual than the Passions, more exuberant in its presentation. Though two bridged Omegas sounded awesome, I found the amp sweeter, and closer to its true nature, when used as a single stereo amplifier with the Utopias.

Try the Omega in your system. I bet you'll love it as much as I did.

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