Solid State Power Amp Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Nov 07, 2013  |  4 comments
High-performance audio has always been and will probably remain a cottage industry perpetuated by talented and visionary individuals whose products reflect their singular visions and whose companies often bear their names, though of course there are notable exceptions. One of them is Constellation Audio. No single star dominates the appropriately named Constellation Audio, which arrived on the scene at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show with a seemingly impossible debut roster of products: stereo and monoblock amplifiers, preamplifiers, digital file player/DACs, and phono preamplifiers, each category of component represented by members of two distinct lines: no compromise and some compromise.
Larry Greenhill  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  18 comments
I've found that some audio amplifiers have sonic signatures so subtle that they emerge only over weeks of listening; yet other amps sound so distinctive—more vivid, more transparent, more dynamic—that their signatures are immediately apparent. Can those latter qualities really be inherent in the recording, or are they colorations produced in the amplifier?
John Atkinson  |  Sep 25, 2018  |  34 comments
I am finding hard to grasp that it is almost 50 years since I first went to a hi-fi show. That show, held at London's Olympia exhibition center, was notable both for Yamaha's launch of a loudspeaker with a speaker diaphragm shaped like a human ear, and for being the first time I saw the drop-dead gorgeous Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference turntable, which was later featured in the film A Clockwork Orange. The most recent show I attended was AXPONA, held last April in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. There I saw no ear-shaped drive-units, but the final room I visited featured sound that the 1969 me could have only fantasized about.
Corey Greenberg  |  May 06, 2007  |  First Published: Apr 06, 1991  |  2 comments
The $1200 Counterpoint SA-100 amplifier came up to bat fourth in my listening sessions, behind (in order of appearance) the Adcom GFA-555 II (not reviewed here, but sent along by JA for comparison purposes), the VTL Tiny Triode monoblocks, and the Muse Model One Hundred. Thus, my progression went from bipolar solid-state to tube to MOSFET, with a wide spread of sonic characteristics between them: stygian bass from the Adcom; uncanny spatial presentation and vocal reproduction from the VTLs; and an overall superior sound from the Muse. I was therefore eager to see where the tube/MOSFET hybrid Counterpoint would fall in this group of very different-sounding amplifiers.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 12, 2017  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  11 comments
If we had been asked some time ago to describe our "dream amplifier," chances are we would have described the Crown DC-300. Designed originally as an industrial device, it was made available as an audio amplifier rather as an afterthought. But if that roundabout approach is necessary to produce an audio amplifier like this, so be it.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 04, 2013  |  24 comments
What better way to celebrate the expiration of a noncompetition clause than to debut a product that has no competition? That's what Dan D'Agostino appears to have done with his Momentum monoblock amplifier ($55,000/pair)—his first new product since leaving Krell, the company he cofounded more than 30 years ago.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 28, 2017  |  22 comments
For as long as I've known about high-end audio, I've put Dan D'Agostino, co-founder of Krell, on the same pedestal reserved for the likes of Frank McIntosh, Saul Marantz, Avery Fisher, H.H. Scott, and Sidney Harman. The reason is simple: Dan's the man whose achievements at Krell led me from the harsh sound of my first high-end amp into another dimension, one of truly musical sound reproduction.
Wes Phillips  |  Apr 24, 2005  |  0 comments
It was late May 2002 and I was about to leave the Free Republic of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, for the high-class hallways of the New York Hilton and Home Entertainment 2002, so I could file daily reports for www.stereophile.com. As he was giving me last-minute instructions, webmaster Jon Iverson said, "I don't know whether or not you followed Hervé Delétraz's articles on building his amplifier, but he's going to have a sample at the Show. You should drop in and check it out. It sounds kind of interesting."
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 03, 2012  |  4 comments
A recent (unpublished) letter to the editor argued that the reference for audio perfection is the sound of real instruments in a real space. The writer claimed that, since the art and/or science of audio is advancing, and because it is a "scientific truth" that the closer you get to perfection, the less divergence there is components, that therefore there should be less difference in sound among the components listed in Class A of Stereophile's "Recommended Components" than among those in Class B, much less Class C. This should be true of loudspeakers, he said, but even more true of top-rated amplifiers, since "they inherently have less divergence."
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2019  |  39 comments
What's the point of reviewing a pair of monoblock amplifiers that costs more than most people spend on two or even several cars— and far more than most audiophiles spend on an entire music system? That's a good question. Another is: Why should I write this review when, just seven years ago, I reviewed a pair of darTZeel monoblocks that look exactly like this new pair?

I realize that products such as the darTZeel NHB-468 ($170,000/pair) are for the very few, but the very few include far more people throughout the world than you may realize— people who can afford such costly audio products and who do buy them. I know, because in my travels I've met a lot of them, and they deserve to read reviews of products they're considering buying—things most of us can only dream of owning.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 09, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1966  |  5 comments
One by one, the major amplifier manufacturers have acceded to the pressures of the marketplace and introduced "solid-state" models, whether or not these happened to sound as good as their previous tube-type units. Dynaco was one of the last of the hold outs, preferring, according to their advertisements, to wait until they could produce a solid-state unit that was at least as good as their best tube types. Now, they've taken the plunge at last, with their Stereo 120.
Jonathan Scull  |  Dec 31, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 31, 2002  |  0 comments
When I first laid eyes on the Paravicini M100A monoblock power amplifiers at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2001, an audiophile in the room squinted at my badge and cried out, "Hey, J-10, these amps have your name written all over 'em!"
Paul Bolin  |  Jul 18, 2004  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Consider the plight of solid-state muscle amps. Often derided as brutes lacking sophistication or subtlety, particularly by the SET set (ie, fans of single-ended triodes), these powerhouses are taken for granted and often, like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect. And once upon a time, the stereotypes were true. Every veteran audiophile has at some time heard an immensely powerful transistor amp that had the soft sonic allure of a sheet of sandpaper, a lumbering oaf of a component with nothing whatsoever to recommend it save for a bulging set of mighty moose muscles.
Art Dudley  |  Sep 13, 2010  |  0 comments
One of my favorite parental duties is dispensing advice that's calculated to make me sound wiser than I am. Among those pearls: Every so often you should change your point of view—your philosophies—just to see if your opinions can stand the strain. In doing so, you may discover a few things that are better than you expected them to be!

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