Solid State Power Amp Reviews

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 12, 2021  |  6 comments
Once upon a time, in the early days of class-D amplification, the very notion that the ELAC (ELectroACoustic) Alchemy DPA-2 Stereo/Mono Power Amplifier ($1495 each) uses a class-D output stage would cause some readers to turn the page (footnote 1). But as class-D amplifiers established their pedigree as bona fide hi-fi components, audiophiles have begun to embrace the notion of a lightweight, cool-running amplifier that will not dramatically increase the electric bill and that, when properly executed, can be quite musical.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 29, 2021  |  17 comments
Big changes are afoot at Mytek. First up: The Mytek Brooklyn AMP+, the newest version of the compact, class-D Brooklyn AMP. The AMP+ is already in production.

In my 2018 review of the original Brooklyn AMP, I wrote that the class-D amplifier exuded "a consistent sense of truthfulness, striking resolution that was never analytical, spacious soundstages, superb dynamics, and some of the 'blackest' backgrounds I've ever heard...with the right recordings." I continued, "The AMP let me revel in its reproduction of the low end, with zero overhang or bloat, and profoundly impressive retrieval of micro- and macrodetail—but in doing all this, its touch was always light and never surgical."

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 11, 2021  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1995  |  1 comments
Amplifier designers have frequently looked for ways to marry the advantages of tubes to those of solid-state devices. Hybrid designs of various stripes have appeared over the years, most of them using tube input stages with transistor output stages, eliminating the major weaknesses of tube amplifiers: eg, they run hot, are unreliable in that tubes have a finite life, are more expensive than a similarly powerful solid-state design, and have power-hungry output tubes and output transformers.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 23, 2020  |  5 comments
Talk about a Scarlet Letter. The term class-D amplification, which describes PS Audio's new M1200 monoblocks, exists only because another amplifier innovation had already parked in the "C" space. Soon after appearing in high-performance audio gear, class-D became synonymous with "digital amplification" in part because, like early CDs, many listeners found the sound glary, hard, and unpleasant. Besides, class-D is related to "pulse width modulation" and requires a low-pass filter to block high-frequency pulses—that sure sounds digital. But they're not (see Bruno Putzeys sidebar).
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 03, 2020  |  9 comments
I spent my childhood summers on the Reichert family farm near Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, where, inside the red 1880s barn, my uncle Harold played 78rpm records for his cows.

He used a wind-up Victrola sitting on a shelf directly in front of the cows, just below a framed reproduction of an Alpine landscape painting. He said the music and the mountain scene relaxed the cows, causing them to give better milk. Harold played the same Gustav Mahler symphony every day.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Nov 26, 2020  |  13 comments
"Oh goody!" thought self, to self: "Another Gryphon component to review." As eloquent and revelatory as that statement may be, there's an even more illuminating backstory.

I had been aware of Denmark-based Gryphon Audio since the advent of the Gryphon Exorcist, a now-discontinued demagnetizer that cost far more than your average break-in CD, but I only began to encounter Gryphon electronics at audio shows a few years ago. While at first they seemed available for review only as a complete package, Jim Austin was able to arrange for me to review the Gryphon Ethos CD player–D/A processor ($39,000).

Herb Reichert  |  Aug 18, 2020  |  58 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  |  Jul 08, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1996  |  3 comments
If I've read it once in mainstream audio magazines, I've read it a hundred times: "The most important component in a system is the loudspeaker, because it is the loudspeaker that makes the sound." Putting aside the obvious illogic of this statement—that without other components in the playback chain, even the perfect loudspeaker can't make a sound—my experience is that it just is not so. Yes, it is true that changing from one loudspeaker to another makes the greatest overt changes in a system's sound.
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.
Dick Olsher  |  Jun 11, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1995  |  44 comments
The Aleph Null, or 0, represents Nelson Pass's maiden product under the Pass Laboratories banner. When he left Threshold several years ago, Pass had the luxury of starting over with a clean slate, and decided immediately that he wanted to design a single-ended MOSFET amp. The result is aptly named after Georg Cantor's first transfinite number: Aleph Null, the gateway to higher-order infinities. Just as Cantor's transfinite mathematics stretched minds with its novel conceptual view of the infinite, the Pass Aleph 0 tantalizes the imagination with a new dimension in the future of solid-state amplification: a single-ended output stage.
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  |  24 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.
Larry Greenhill  |  May 06, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1985  |  13 comments
Classé Audio's DR-3 once again brings to the fore the issues of class-A vs class-AB, weighty vs small and efficient, and brute-force expensive vs clever and inexpensive.

A well-worn, if unproven, audiophile rule of thumb says that a small, quick amplifier will sound better than a very powerful one. Among low-powered amps, those that operate in "pure" class-A are thought to be sonically superior. Pure class-A means the amplifier must run a constant high bias (more than one ampere), so the output devices never turn off.

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  |  53 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.

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