Solid State Power Amp Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Aug 18, 2020  |  57 comments
As much as I admire Belgian amplifier designer Bruno Putzeys's accomplishments, I have harbored some misgivings about class-D amplifier sound. I do not believe it represents the future of perfectionist audio. Despite the fact that today's active loudspeakers depend entirely on class-D's free horsepower, light weight, and low-temperature operation, I think it sounds vacant compared to class-A.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 24, 2020  |  31 comments
Canadian audio manufacturer Classé Audio was founded in 1980 by engineer Dave Reich and entrepreneur/audiophile Mike Viglas. The name "Classé" was a pun on the fact that Reich was a firm believer in an amplifier's output stage operating in class-A, where the output devices never turn off (see sidebar). Though the brand was established with the 25Wpc DR-2, the first review of a Classé amplifier to appear in Stereophile, by Larry Greenhill, was of the later DR-3, in December 1985. No fewer than 22 reviews of Classé products are available in our free online archive.
John Atkinson  |  May 22, 2020  |  57 comments
Soon after I took over preparing Stereophile's biannual Recommended Components listing from the magazine's founder, J. Gordon Holt, in 1986, I ran into a problem. With so many products listed, the magazine was running out of the necessary pages to include them all. To solve this problem, I looked at how long a typical product remained on the market before being updated or replaced. The answer was 3–4 years. I therefore implemented a policy that unless one of the magazine's editors or reviewers had continued experience with a product, it would be dropped from Recommended Components after three years.
Tom Gibbs  |  May 14, 2020  |  27 comments
I own and enjoy loudspeakers from seemingly opposite ends of the audiophile spectrum: I'm a huge fan of minimally efficient yet otherwise overachieving flat-panel designs, such as my Magnepan LRS speakers. Yet I'm just as smitten with another, equally outside-the-norm alternative: high-sensitivity full-range loudspeakers, such as my Zu Omens—especially when driven by tube electronics. It's an ongoing yin and yang that keeps my home system in a constant state of flux: Alternating between loudspeakers that use such different technologies, while maintaining relatively optimal positioning for each, is a bit daunting.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 23, 2020  |  11 comments
My writing desk looks out over a large garden with chickens, bees, and feral cats. My chair sits only six feet from loudspeakers, playing softly on my left. Between the speakers sits whatever painting I am working on. That painting hangs no more than 10 feet from the oscilloscope and drill press in my kitchen. Best of all, my desk is only six feet from squadrons of ravenous sparrows attacking the suet cage on the fence outside my window.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Feb 26, 2020  |  51 comments
The components I needed to choose for my first system were never in doubt: a turntable or record changer, an integrated amplifier, and a speaker. One of each, please, in those mono days.

Today, even in stereo, that trinity would be regarded as rather traditional—or, if you prefer, purist. Digital has exploded the range of source options and loudspeaker options. Yet amplifiers have not changed much in how and what they do.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2019  |  54 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.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 01, 2019  |  27 comments
Accustic Arts of Lauffen, Germany, was founded in 1997 by Fritz Schunk, who sold the company to Hans-Joachim "Jochen" Voss in 2016. Voss's professional background had more to do with sweet spreads than sweet sounds—he spent 20 years doing sales and marketing, including with the Ferrero Group, which produces Nutella—but he happened to own some Accustic Arts components, and as a music-loving consumer with a special fondness for rock, had been in touch with Schunk for many years before the company went up for sale.
Herb Reichert  |  Sep 26, 2019  |  51 comments
Class-D audio amplifiers: What's the argument for them? Class-A audio amplifiers: What's the argument against them? Class-AB amplifiers: Why does everybody make them? Each of these amplifier output architectures has strengths and weaknesses. Each will interface more or less successfully with a given loudspeaker in a given room. Each has a distinctive sonic signature. Consequently, as knowledgeable audiophiles with a laundry list of system-building goals, we are required to choose the amplifier type that best suits our speakers, our room, and our individual musical-aesthetic predilections.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 25, 2019  |  43 comments
CH Precision's massive, versatile, technologically sophisticated, 165 lb M1.1 power amplifier ($54,000 configured for stereo) can easily crush your foot if you're not careful when installing it. But the more important consideration is this: Can this cool gray techno-square sing and dance without stepping on its own feet?
Kalman Rubinson  |  May 02, 2019  |  15 comments
Sometime near the turn of this century, I wandered into a demo room at a Consumer Electronics Show and discovered, in the exhibit of a company I'd never heard of, an integrated amplifier that sounded clean and refreshing. It was the only product Hegel Music Systems displayed at that CES, and I don't recall its name or the associated equipment, but I've always remembered that model's striking appearance and impressive sound quality.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 25, 2019  |  70 comments
I first encountered Verity Audio's Monsalvat Amp-60 stereo power amplifier ($58,000) in October 2017, in one of the largest single-system rooms at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. After hearing the Amp-60 and Verity's Monsalvat Pre-2 preamplifier drive Verity's Lohengrin IIS loudspeakers ($133,000/pair), I enthused about the "most impressive range of colors and supreme sense of spaciousness" that contributed to the system's "absolutely beguiling" sound.
Sasha Matson  |  Apr 19, 2019  |  25 comments
It hit me not long ago: I need more Mac in my life! I promptly purchased the current production version of McIntosh Laboratory's time-honored MC275 tubed amplifier, to mate to the Mac C2300 tubed preamplifier I already owned. The recently reinvigorated debate in these pages comparing solid-state and single-ended tube designs got me to thinking. One thing led to another, and voilà! McIntosh's latest solid-state stereo amplifier, the MC462 Quad Balanced ($9000), arrived, bolted to a shipping pallet and encased in two big, heavy, nested boxes. All that packaging weighs 33 lb—the amp inside weighs 115 lb. If you want to lift it onto a rack, you'll need two people, a serious handcart, and a strong, deep shelf.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 22, 2019  |  11 comments
I am obliged to begin this review of First Watt's new stereo power amplifier, the SIT-3, with an explanation of how I believe a power amplifier should be reviewed. Why? Because the 18Wpc SIT-3 is a unique and historically important design that can't be wired up to just any loudspeaker and then critiqued on the basis of its bass power, treble brightness, or midrange acuity.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 25, 2018  |  33 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.

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