“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Classe CT-2300 Two-Channel Amplifier Listening Tests

By

CD: Anne Bisson – Blue MindCD-Anne.jpg

I had never heard of this singer before but it was handed to me by a close friend that said I should check it out as a reference quality recording to really hear a loudspeakers vocal prowess and ability to properly place all of the instruments within the front soundstage. Track #3 “Hoping Love Will Last” started out with a nice piano melody along with the angelic voice of Anne Bisson. Her voice emanated front and center tricking even the most experienced listeners like myself into thinking the center channel was playing. The tonal characteristics of this track sounded similarly good on my reference Denon POA-A1HDCI amplifier and the Classe CT-2300. Initially I wondered what all the fuss was about the Classe. Well that wondering quickly ceased about 1 minute into this song. Patient listeners are rewarded with deep extended bass you frankly don’t expect from this recording. On my reference Denon amplifier, the bass got compressed and lacked definition as the volume level was turned up proving it just couldn’t fully handle the 2.6 ohm dips that the Status 8T speakers exhibit in the lower bass regions. Even the high powered A1400-8 class D amplifier I had on hand simply didn’t provide satisfactory bass control and overall clarity, perhaps even less so than the lower powered Denon. Only the Classe CT-2300 and Pass Labs X350.5 amplifiers could properly drive my speakers here. The CT-2300 produced tight deep undistorted bass in a very similar fashion to the Pass Labs amp. Tonally we did here a slight difference between the amps. The Pass Lab’s seemed to be a bit more forward in the upper registers making the high frequencies pop out at you while the Classe seemed a bit more laid back persuading you to listen while not drawing attention to itself. Neither myself nor the other two listeners present in this comparison could definitively say which sounded better as we all felt they both sounded stellar. The very fact that the Classe amp was hanging with a much more expensive esoteric amplifier spoke volumes for how good Canto-SACD.jpgthis amplifier was proving itself to be.

SACD: Andre Geraissati - Canto das Aquas

My wife picked up this little gem for me at a CES show nearly 7 years ago and until recently it remained shelved. I was quite flabbergasted by the quality of the recording and the content when I finally dusted it off to take a listen. This music is classified as Brazilian Instrumental and I really took a liking to it. Each instrument was individually mic’d with top of the line microphones and two additional mics were used to record room ambience. Reference level electronics and recording equipment was used all of which was listed in the recording insert. According to the label, this SACD was recorded at the most sophisticated recording studio in Latin America. Based on the pristine sound quality I was hearing, I have no reason to doubt that claim. I chose this recording to get an understanding of the CT-2300’s ability to finesse. Track #1 “Agreste” demonstrated the CT-2300’s resolve at extracting all of the details in this recording. The acoustical guitar was anchored to the left speaker while the triangles panned the front soundstage. The noise floor was dead silent and you could clearly hear the finger sliding up and down the strings before they were even strummed. The reverb from the guitars in track #2 “Frazenda” was hypnotic. I’m pretty certain that the guitarist employed the Lexicon Reverberator that the insert mentions for this recording on this track. There was so much body to the recording that it sounded like I was planted at the live studio recording. Track #8 “Entre Duas Palavras” opens with some nice background cords on a synthesizer with the acoustic guitar front and center soundstage. This song seemed to have a Pat Metheny mood to it which I was really digging. The deep bass notes displayed excellent transients and had me almost begging for more. I really cranked up track #9 “Benguela” simply because it just seemed to me the CT-2300 wanted me to do it. The nylon string gSACD_Barber.jpguitars sounded pristine with no hint of edginess at any listening level. Again this felt like a live performance to me.

SACD: Patricia Barber – Modern Cool

I’ve written about this album many times in past reviews and for good reason. It separates the men from the boys, so to speak, with home audio systems. On a system without compromise, you are showered in a holographic front soundstage and plummeted with deep extended bass that rivals even the best live amplified performances. Track #1 “Touch of Trash” doesn’t waste any time exercising the woofers in your speakers and testing your amplifiers ability to drive them. The CT-2300 was right at home perfectly controlling the speakers. Track #7 “Company” is the absolute best song on this album in my opinion. You know you’re in for a serious listening experience right from the first snare drum hit. The stand up bass simply pounds your chest while you experience the drum kit as if you’re sitting right in front of it. The trumpets extended beyond the vertical plane of the speakers and Patricia’s vocals remained anchored and crystal clear despite all of the complex instrumentation paining the soundstage.

Blu-ray: Jienat - Mira (this is a recommend purchase)

You’re probably wondering why I am using a muli-channel Blu-ray as a source for reviewing a twBD_Jienat.jpgo-channel amp. Remember when I said I am running my new reference speakers fullrange with the subwoofer/lfe channel routed to them? Well this is one helluva torture test for a speaker system and the amplifier that powers it. Jienat is by far the highest quality 96KHa/24 bit multi-channel Blu-ray disc I’ve ever experienced. This disc was recorded in Norway employing a five microphone array surrounding the panel of singers speaking a dialect only used by 500 or so people in the world. An additional mic for LFE info was utilized in a close-miking configuration. There was absolutely no compression or electronic manipulation used for this recording. This disc is a nightmare for wimpy speakers or amplifiers. The Classe CT-2300 loved strutting its stuff here. Track #4 “Dancehall” surrounds you in the middle of the room with singers all around you. The percussion was full of life and vibrancy that you rarely ever hear in a recording. Most playback systems are incapable of reproducing the dynamic range of this recording but the CT-2300 did a fabulous job delivering the power necessary for the Status 8T speaker system to accomplish this goal with pure ease. Towards the end of the recording, the electric bass kicked in which literally blew my friends and myself away while we were belted with sustained tactile bass that was not only heard but rattled the core of our bones. It wasn’t until I cranked the volume up past the point of insanity that I heard the CT-2300 gracefully run out of gas and hit its rails. This made me thirst for the CT-M600 monoblock version of this amplifier which basically bridges the two channels into one massively powerful single channel amplifier with over 2X the power of the CT-2300. Perhaps I will have to revisit this track if I review the CT-M600 at a later date. However, for 95% of installs the CT-2300 should be more than enough power.

 

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

Recent Forum Posts:

AcuDefTechGuy posts on March 13, 2014 10:27
RichB, post: 1022651
any votes for an ATI Signature Series.

- Rich

I assumed that ATI was the better value, but perhaps I may be wrong. Parasound Halo might be the better value. I will have to look into that.

I mean if you could get the Parasound Halo A21 250WPC amp brand new for a few hundred dollars less than the ATI AT2002 200WPC amp, I don't know if I can recommend the ATI.
RichB posts on March 12, 2014 21:09
PENG, post: 1022880
I feel the same way in that regard. For me, when I say amps sound the same I always meant mid range to high end class A, A/AB and AB amps in perfect condition and operating within their specified limits with adequate headrooms. I would not expect an Outlaw monblock m2200 or an Emo upa-200 sound the same as any classe monoblocks. They may, but I just would not expect them to and would not believe it, not until I have heard them side by side in a blind test.

I am on the same page. I never don't worry about was about small levels of distortion.

I suspect some amps produce less harmonics played at low levels and that may matter if you have a system/room capable of resolving them.

Some amps may handle complex loud better than others.
Dynamic content can have greater demands than you can account for.
It is not easy to determine how much power is needed for a given system and I suspect we are pretty tolerant to clipping.

Well made A/B amps are more alike the different.
There are certainly better places to put money than some of these rarified amps.

- Rich
PENG posts on March 12, 2014 21:03
RichB, post: 1022876
I know why.

I guess I will never experience that final bit of control, heft, and air.

I think sometimes it is unclear that if we are discussing $400 receivers versus ATI 3000's or
Pass Labs and Parasound.

- Rich

Of course, I totally forgot the heft and air lol!!
PENG posts on March 12, 2014 21:02
RichB, post: 1022876
I know why.

I guess I will never experience that final bit of control, heft, and air.

I think sometimes it is unclear that if we are discussing $400 receivers versus ATI 3000's or
Pass Labs and Parasound.

- Rich

I feel the same way in that regard. For me, when I say amps sound the same I always meant mid range to high end class A, A/AB and AB amps in perfect condition and operating within their specified limits with adequate headrooms. I would not expect an Outlaw monblock m2200 or an Emo upa-200 sound the same as any classe monoblocks. They may, but I just would not expect them to and would not believe it, not until I have heard them side by side in a blind test.
RichB posts on March 12, 2014 20:53
PENG, post: 1022875
They all distort but differently in many forms. My point is, when blindfold most people couldn't tell those distortions (0.05, 0.001, or 0.0001% of any distortions) apart.

How many times have you read a professional review that claims a $2000 amp such as the A21 that sounds as good or better than a $100,000 Boulder, Goldmund, or even the lower high end in the $10,000 range from McIntosh, Krell, Conrad Johnson, Pass Lab etc.? I have never come across one. Invariable they would praise the entry level high end A21 or Bryston SST2 to the nth degree and then would add something like, that is not to say it is as good as the $10,000………….., for example the $10,000 xyz amp just give you that extra bit of warmth, and that final touch of details in the highs, blablabla etc etc… Ever wonder why?

Yep I'm having fun too, fun is good.

I know why.

I guess I will never experience that final bit of control, heft, and air.

I think sometimes it is unclear that if we are discussing $400 receivers versus ATI 3000's or
Pass Labs and Parasound.

- Rich
Post Reply