Halcro dm58 monoblock power amplifier Page 4

Not content to set the standard in tonal neutrality and information retrieval, the Halcro offered dynamic performance that mere mortal amps cannot manage. Today, all serious high-end amplifiers have genuine dynamic authority in the bass and midrange, but few are able to track large dynamic variations in the treble and high treble with the same fidelity they bring to the bass and mids (footnote 4). The Halcro could and did, and this decidedly more lifelike dynamic presentation represented a sound different from that of any other amplifier I have heard. There was more treble energy, yes, but only when it was on the recording; dull, flat recordings sound duller and flatter than ever with the Halcro, because the amp added no excitement or glamour. When called for, the Halcro delivered dynamics that were uncompressed and genuinely startling, and did so throughout the entire spectrum.

What difference did this make? The 40-part title motet on the Tallis Scholars' Spem in Alium (CD, Gimell 454-906-2) had never sounded quite right, even on the best digital front-ends. When a large number of voices, many of them sopranos, are going full tilt, enormous dynamic demands are placed on an amplifier if you're listening at lifelike loudness levels. I had often thought that digital distortions were responsible for the hard, glassy sound of this CD, and I was partially right. But it was the Halcro that showed conclusively that dynamic compression and intermodulation distortion at the amp stage was by far the more egregious culprit. The transformation of this music through the dm58s was, in the apt words of the cliché, jaw-dropping.

One night I decided to throw my reviewer's hat to the wind and pigged out on LPs of well-loved 1970s rock. I played plain-vanilla American pressings of Camel's Moonmadness, Al Stewart's Modern Times, and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's live Face to Face; and British pressings of Can's Tago Mago and Yes's Relayer. For an hour and a half I sat shaking my head as I listened. These are records I have heard literally hundreds of times each, and thought I knew everything there was to know about them. But minute after minute, measure after measure, the Halcros proved me wrong. Relayer was the most uncanny—Chris Squire's treble-heavy Rickenbacker bass suddenly had a girth and beefiness never before present; the dense fury of "The Gates of Delirium" was now perfectly clarified, and "Soon," the heartbreakingly beautiful final section, was therefore all the more touching and uplifting.

Take us...out there somewhere, Mr. Sulu
The Halcro dm58 is a paradigm-destroying component that could well justify the creation of a "Class A+" amplifier category in "Recommended Components." It is really that good. I don't entirely know or understand why that is so, and Bruce Candy is giving no secrets away, but the unassailable proof was in the hearing. Whatever its flaws may be, their discovery may have to wait until someone, somewhere, has developed an even better amplifier.

Mine is but one opinion, but the Halcros pushed every button in my head and heart that says "music," and I will miss them as I have missed few other components I have reviewed. The dm58's pristine and wholly continuous clarity, unlimited (within the limits of my tolerance) dynamics throughout the spectrum, and impossibly low noise floor allowed recorded music to take me to places I had not thought existed. The directness and completeness of their musical communication was remarkable, equaled in my experience by only the Lamm ML1 amplifiers. That Halcro also builds the $35,000 dm68 monoblock, which Candy asserts is even better, makes my head spin.

But don't even think about buying a pair of these wonders unless you're willing to hear everything—and I mean everything—in the recordings you play, and exactly what the rest of your components are doing, for better and for worse. Feed them the best and the Halcros will give you an experience that is such stuff as dreams are made on.

Arthur C. Clarke, the futurist and science-fiction writer who first conceptualized the communications satellite, once wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. To these ears, the Halcro dm58 is the embodiment of Clarke's maxim. The revolution has arrived.

Footnote 4: If you doubt this, stand 12-15' away from a drummer and pay close attention to the dynamics of the ride and crash cymbals. Then compare that to an amplifier's re-creation of a potent drum solo. The difference between live and recorded dynamics is perhaps greater with a drum kit than with any other instrument.—Paul Bolin
On a Higher Note
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