Solid State Power Amp Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2019  |  44 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  |  26 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  |  49 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.
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.
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  |  14 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  |  21 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.
Robert Harley, J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990  |  6 comments
In 1988, Bob Carver set out to design the best amplifier he possibly could, without regard for cost. It was more of an ego exercise than an attempt to build a product with wide commercial appeal. The result was the four-chassis, $17,500 Silver Seven.

Interestingly, Bob Carver chose vacuum tubes to realize his dream of building the ultimate power amplifier. The Silver Seven uses fourteen KT88 output tubes per channel, and puts out 375W into 8 ohms. Bob built three pairs of Silver Sevens, not expecting to sell many at the $17,500 asking price. When those sold quickly, another 10 pairs were manufactured. Now, demand is so great that Silver Sevens are built in groups of 30 pairs.

Herb Reichert  |  Jan 22, 2019  |  9 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.
Larry Greenhill  |  Nov 08, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1986  |  4 comments
Japanese audiophiles venerate American high-end audio components, paying huge sums for vintage Marantz tube amplifiers, racks of Levinson ML-2s, and early Audio Research tube preamplifiers. The balance of trade, at the high end anyway, hasn't been reciprocated: Japanese high-end amplifiers and preamplifiers have not received as positive a reception in the US. Perhaps it was a matter of styling, but the sonics of the Sony Esprit line and the class-A Stax amplifiers did not receive the following they might have, had the products been American.
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.
Ken Micallef  |  Aug 23, 2018  |  33 comments
Designed in New York City, manufactured in Poland, and barely bigger than a thick paperback, the Brooklyn Amp ($2495) is Mytek's first power amplifier. Like all of their products, it's sleek to behold, with a powerful look that suggests the company's pedigree: in addition to high-end consumer electronics, Mytek makes gear for the pro-audio market, where exceptional build quality and space-saving design are the norm.

Consistent with that last characteristic is the Brooklyn Amp's output architecture: it operates in class-D, a technology that remains controversial.

Robert Deutsch  |  Aug 02, 2018  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1995  |  1 comments
Founded by Nelson Pass in 1974, Threshold is one of those companies audiophiles tend to take for granted. Best known for the much-imitated Stasis (sliding bias) amplifier designs, Threshold became one of the industry leaders during the early 1980s. Since then, they've been upstaged somewhat by such rivals as Krell and Mark Levinson, and the public's impression of the company's stability wasn't helped by the departure of several of its principals, including Nelson Pass.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 26, 2018  |  51 comments
Not everyone needs a power amplifier that can deliver 888W RMS into 8 ohms or 1776W into 4 ohms. You could say that no one needs one of these—or two, if you want to listen in stereo. Most household AC systems can't even provide enough current to deliver all that power. But Simaudio does build Moon 888 monoblocks, and people do buy them, whether or not they need an amp that weighs about 250 lb each and costs $118,888/pair.

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