AudioControl Savoy G3 Amplifier First Look
There is some law that states that Thou Shalt Not Release a Pre-Amp without Releasing an Amp written in the bylaws of esoterica. It just isn't done. Of course, it makes good business sense. A pre-amp without an amp is like a fish without water, plants without sunlight, me without a glass of single-malt on a Friday night - sure you can do it but it won't work right and you're sure to be frustrated at the end. For those that are coming across this article and have never heard of a pre-amp (and welcome to the Internet by the way) here's the breakdown. Between your DVD player and your TV you need a device to break out the sound so that you can get surround sound (among other things). That's a pre-amp. An amp actually powers the speakers. These can come in separate boxes or in one. In one box they are an Integrated Amp. Add a radio tuner and you'd call it a receiver.
AudioControl has recently released their Maestro M3 Pre/Pro - a well featured pre-amp aimed toward the high-end crowd and integrators. The Savoy G3 is the mate to this processor providing the power that all processors need. The Savoy G3 is an attractive offering with a gloss black finish on the front and Maestro-matching Rose Gold lettering. The Savoy G3 is a bit of a beast at 54 pounds which is even more impressive when you consider it employs a class H design.
A class H design utilizes an infinitely variable supply rail. The supply rails are modulated so that they are only a few volts larger than the output signal at any given time. The main benefit is that this design increases the efficiency of the amp considerably. It also complicates the amp design and can reduce THD performance. While esoteric companies usually eschew efficiency as being non-high end, such amplifiers are making inroads because they run cooler, are much smaller, and may appeal to a larger audience than the typical 100+ pound mono-blocks that stud the esoteric landscape.
The AudioControl Savoy G3 is a seven channel, 200 watts per channel amp. On the back it has both RCA and XLR inputs for each channel. There is a removable power cord, a main power switch, a 12-volt trigger, and each channel has a "sensitivity" switch. There are three settings, A, B, and C. AudioControl recommends C for most applications with B being reserved for THX certified gear and A for gear with high output voltages. Each channel is labeled and has "audiophile grade" five-way binding posts.
The front of the Savoy G3 has a Standby and Display button with the Display button being used to defeat the power indicators. There are traditional blue LED bars that increase as power is provided to each channel. There is a small pin-point protection light that will illuminate red if one of the protection circuits are engaged.
AudioControl claims over 200 Watts per channel into 8 ohms, all seven channels driven for the Savoy G3. It only needs around a half inch of space around it for normal operation (which isn't much and attests to how cool the Savoy G3 runs). While the marketing literature says the amp is "stable into low impedances," the manual states that it shouldn't be used with speakers that dip lower than 4 ohms. This means that some of your more demanding speakers (like electrostats) need not apply.
AudioControl has incorporated what they've termed a LightDrive Anti-Clipping Protection Circuit which protects the amp (and speakers) from clipping and maintains a clean audio signal. It also has high definition BiMOS ouputs, high current gold output terminals, and, most interestingly, RCA outputs. One thing that we often see with esoteric gear is multiple amps used on a single speaker. With an output RCA on each channel, the Savoy G3 is built for just such a contingency. It seems like it would make sense to have both RCA and XLR outputs but that isn't the case with the Savoy.
If you are going to purchase home theater gear from an installer and have decided on the AudioControl Maestro M3, chances are you're going to get the Savoy G3 to go with it. It's got oodles of power, a matching aesthetic, and plenty of features. At $3000 it isn't exactly a steal but, again, it isn't breaking the bank (in esoteric terms). We like how AudioControl doesn't take itself too seriously in their manuals reminding users not to place potted plants on top of their gear but also how they don't kowtow to the cable manufacturers saying, "We’re not going to get into the debate about whether $100/meter cables improve the sound, but we know from experience that really, REALLY cheap cables can cause a multitude of problems." In an installer focused manufacturer, this is rare indeed. While the Savoy G3 amplifier may or may not be for you, you have to respect their attitude.
For more information please visit www.audiocontrol.com.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.
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