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Recent Audio Amplifier Reviews

Pass Labs Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs busted out their new Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers at the Venetian to tickle the ears of audiophiles and amateurs alike. These are actually just the first entries in what is slated to be a new generation of Xs Series amplifiers. CES is a great place to do this as it affords, in the Venetian at least, a great place to sit and listen and take in the full experience of what a $65,000 or $85,000 amplifier can, hopefully, do. Made out of billet gold and platinum... just kidding... The new Pass Labs amplifiers are designed to measure well objectively. But they are also designed to perform subjectively as well as they measure. Pass Labs claims their new enhancements further narrow the gap between what scientific measurements report about amplifier performance and what the human ear subjectively hears. That's pretty cool - and for the asking price we'd expect nothing less.

Pass Labs busted out their new Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers at the Venetian to tickle the ears of audiophiles and amateurs alike. These are the first entries in what is slated to be a new line-up.

— January 09, 2012 14:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Denon PMA-A100 Integrated Amplifier Review & Measurements

Denon PMA-A100 Integrated Amplifier Review & Measurements

When the Denon PMA-A100 was announced it would be part of their 100th anniversary product line-up, we asked for it. And we had high expectations. Turns out Denon met our expectations and even blew by them in some areas. The A100 is a stereo amp that weighs nearly 57 pounds and even has cast iron feet. There are also hardly any lights on the front of the unit, making it a truly audiophile product - with nothing wasted on unnecessary displays or LED status lights. The PMA-A100 produced some of the cleanest measurements on our test bench that we've ever seen. Great looks, great performance, its truly a statement piece worthy of the Denon name. It's not often we get the chance to review an integrated amplifier from Denon. This is a high-end product from a company who we've determined in the past REALLY knows how to make good amps.

When the Denon PMA-A100 was announced it would be part of their 100th anniversary product line-up, we asked for it. And we had high expectations. Turns out Denon met our expectations and then some.

— December 06, 2011 09:00 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Sherbourn PA 7-350 Seven-Channel Amplifier Preview

Sherbourn PA 7-350 Seven-Channel Amplifier Preview

The Sherbourn PA 7-350 is a beast of an amp. With a massive 3.3 kVA toroidal power supply pushing 350 watts into 8 ohms, 4 ohm stability, and seven channels of amplification, the PA 7-350 is a monster. At over 100 pounds and with convection cooling and a high efficiency, “Soft Switch” class H design, this truly is an audiophile-grade amplifier. If you define "audiophile-grade" as "tons of power, every feature you'll need and none you don't." If you define it as "full of silver/platinum/chocolatey bits, marketing speak, and pseudo-science," well, you're looking at the wrong company. This should be an amp that custom installers will love to get their hands on.

The Sherbourn 7-350 is a seven channel 350wpc amplifier that is designed to deliver all of the current from the wall outlet to your speakers. Its massive 3.3kVa transformer and 100lbs+ is impressive.

— December 05, 2011 09:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Emotiva mini-X a-100 Stereo Flex Amp Preview

Emotiva mini-X a-100 Stereo Flex Amp Preview

Our only real complaint against the Emotiva mini-X a-100 Stereo Flex Amp is the number of inputs. With only one, this integrated amp is a little hamstrung. But with it being rated down to 4 ohms, and with 60 watts at 8 ohms, this looks to be the perfect amp for the discerning Audioholic with difficult to drive speakers for their office, bedroom, or outdoor area. At $200, it is the perfect amp for a Zone 2/3/4 situation where it will be fed from a receiver or processor. If you've been looking for a solution for your Zone 2 woes, or perhaps just want to do something with those extra speakers, the Emotiva mini-X a-100 Stereo Flex Amp may be just what you were looking for.

With the Emotiva mini-X a-100 Stereo Flex Amp having 60 watts at 8-ohms, 80 at 4-ohms, the a-100 looks to be the perfect amp for the Audioholic with difficult to drive speakers in their office/Zone 2.

— November 29, 2011 05:00 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Orb Audio Booster Mini Amplifier Preview

Orb Audio Booster Mini Amplifier Preview

What is a small amp for your office that allows you to connect not only your computer but three additional sources worth? Our minor complaints aside, the Orb Audio Booster Mini Amplifier looks to be a dynamite little product. We're dying to get one on our test bench to see how it holds up. We're constantly looking for good recommendations for office setups and the Booster Mini Amp looks to fit the bill nicely.

The Orb Audio Booster Mini Amplifier looks to be a dynamite little product. We're constantly looking for good recommendations for office setups and the Booster Mini Amp looks to fit the bill nicely.

— November 18, 2011 08:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Pass Labs XP-30 Preamplifier Preview

Pass Labs XP-30 Preamplifier Preview

Pass Laboratories introduced its new 3-chassis XP-30 Preamp, the flagship to its XP line or preamplifiers. The triple-chassis structure allows the XP-30 to function as a modular preamplifier consisting of a power supply and control chassis and two additional gain chassis, each of which serves one channel. The XP-30 is typically supplied as a two-channel product but it's modular design means that it can be configured to serve anywhere from one to six channels. In this way it can serve the needs of a stereo or multi-channel system. The XP-30 joins Pass Labs' XP-10, XP-15, XP-20 and XP-25 in its XP series of preamps and phono preamps.

Pass Laboratories introduced its new 3-chassis XP-30 Preamp, the flagship to its XP line or preamplifiers. The triple-chassis structure allows the XP-30 to function as a modular preamplifier.

— September 18, 2011 04:05 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Bob Carver Cherry 180 and Black Beauty Tube Amplifiers Preview

Bob Carver Cherry 180 and Black Beauty Tube Amplifiers Preview

Bob Carver has just partnered up with home automation pioneer Bob Farinelli to form Bob Carver LLC this year. Apparently, both men got bored and, after having worked closely together for over 5 years at Sunfire, they came out of retirement to join forces and start this new business. They may have just redefined the term "ambitious", because their first two products are both beautiful and frighteningly expensive. Bob Carver describes the amplifiers as "stand[ing] with a small handful of the world’s great vacuum tube amplifiers." 'Nuff said, if you're a fan of Bob Carver and have the money. We were hoping the two would have a booth at CEDIA but they are walking around instead this year checking out the competition and serving as audiophile "booth babes" for their partners (hey, those were Farinelli's words, not mine! lol).

Bob Carver has just partnered up with home automation pioneer Bob Farinelli to form Bob Carver LLC this year. Their first two products, the Cherry 180 and Black Beauty Tube Amplifiers look awesome.

— September 10, 2011 11:20 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Bryston BHA-1 Headphone Amplifier Preview

Bryston BHA-1 Headphone Amplifier Preview

Bryston showed off its new BHA-1 headphone amplifier which is slated to hit dealers in time for Christmas orders in Q4. The BHA-1's claim to fame is its fully discreet dual mono design which uses proprietary Class A circuitry. The amplifier is specifically engineered as an audiophile solution for those who take their headphone listening very seriously. The Bryston BHA-1 is going to be available in two versions. The standard model will be equipped with an on-board ultra high quality Bryston power supply. If you really want to go all out, however, you can opt for the BHA-1 with an external power supply.

Bryston showed off its new BHA-1 headphone amplifier which is slated to hit dealers in time for Christmas orders in Q4. The BHA-1's claim to fame is its fully discreet dual mono Class-A design.

— September 08, 2011 06:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Anthem Statement M1 1000W Mono Amplifier Preview

Anthem Statement M1 1000W Mono Amplifier Preview

I don't typically use mono amps all that much in my systems, but after seeing Anthem's new Statement M1 1000W behemoth I may just change my behavior. The Statement M1 is engineered to produce a ridiculous amount of RMS and peak power - even from a 15A/120V line. With advanced load monitoring and power factor correction technology it can actually produce peak output of up to 2400 watts - supposedly without generating ridiculous amounts of heat or tripping the breaker (internal or external). Anthem is clearly attempting to directly tackle the notion that Class D amplifiers aren’t suited for truly audiophile hi-fi sound systems.

After seeing Anthem's new Statement M1 1000W behemoth I may just may start using mono amps again. The M1 is engineered to produce a ridiculous amount of RMS and peak power - even from a 15A/120V line.

— September 08, 2011 06:10 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Crestron PROAMP-7X400 "PROCISE" Amplifier First Look

Crestron PROAMP-7X400 "PROCISE" Amplifier First Look

The Crestron PROAMP-7X400 "PROCISE" amplifier is an 108lbs behemoth that is designed to work perfectly with your Crestron PSPHD "PROCISE" surround processor. We don't know the price but it is sure to be expensive. But for that you get a ton of management and control ability that will work not only with the Crestron processor but also can be accessed from a Crestron touchpanel, computer or mobile device though Cresnet (talk to your local installer). There are some curious omissions on the back panel but Crestron seems to have given consumers a real reason to pair their amp with their processor. Most just hope matching faceplates will do that for you.

The Crestron PROAMP-7X400 "PROCISE" amplifier is an 108lbs behemoth that is designed to work perfectly with your Crestron PSPHD "PROCISE" surround processor.

— March 22, 2011 03:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

McIntosh Labs MC601 Monoblock Amplifier Preview

McIntosh Labs MC601 Monoblock Amplifier Preview

McIntosh Laboratory, a global manufacturer of home entertainment and ultimate-quality audio for over 60 years, announced the debut of a new amplifier that brings legendary McIntosh performance capabilities and style together with a host of leading-edge features and extended functionality for today's digital age. The new MC601 Monoblock Amplifier, which replaces McIntosh's hugely popular MC501 amplifier, will ship in January of 2011. It joins the company's new Models MC302 and MC452 in the McIntosh amplifier lineup, all with new engineering advances and extended functionality.

McIntosh announced the debut of a new MC601 amplifier sporting Thermal Track output transistors that allow for cooler, more efficient operation, and 600 watts per channel.

— January 07, 2011 11:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Pass Labs Concept Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs Concept Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs' new Concept Amplifiers are high-bias, Class A, monoblock models employing the company's acclaimed Ultra-Symmetry circuit. Originally designed by Nelson Pass for use at his own retreat, they were shown in "concept" form at the 2010 CES - however, demand from dealers & distributors has turned them into actual products for shipment later this year. They represent Pass Labs’ maximum design effort, and are like large versions of the company's flagship XA200.5 Amplifier, notable for its high output capacity, power and stability. Like the XA200.5, they deliver superb music without straining, and possess twice as much chassis, power supply, output stage and dissipation capacity.

Pass Labs' new Concept Amplifiers are high-bias, Class A, monoblock models employing the company's acclaimed Ultra-Symmetry circuit. The larger Concept amp has 300 watts per channel, the smaller 200.

— January 06, 2011 11:20 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Onkyo M-5000R Power Amplifier First Look

Onkyo M-5000R Power Amplifier First Look

Do we need the M-5000R amplifier? Probably not. Do we want one? Oh yeah, you bet. While $2500 a pop isn't chump change, in the world of high end amplifiers, it isn't too bad. And considering the price of the amps they are obvious borrowing a few styling cues from (cough McIntosh cough), they are a positive steal. If you are going to charge a bunch for your high end gear, you should shove them full of high end parts and technology. It seems that Onkyo has once again done that. The P-3000R Preamp has everything a budding audiophile could want except XLR outputs and the C-7000R CD player has all the bells and whistles. What's most exciting about these sorts of products is not that we ever expect to own them but how they show that Onkyo is pushing their technological know-how. And knowing Onkyo, it'll only be a few years before we start seeing all of this in their receivers. And those are something we can afford.

Do we need the Onkyo M-5000R amplifier? Probably not. Do we want one? Oh yeah, you bet. While $2500 a pop isn't chump change, in the world of high end amplifiers, it isn't too bad.

— January 06, 2011 01:40 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Emotiva PMA-7350 7-Channel Amplifier First Look

Emotiva PMA-7350 7-Channel Amplifier First Look

The PMA-7350 - a seven channel, 350 watts per channel monster of an amp is the flagship in Emotiva's new Pro line. Of course, with amplifiers it is what is on the inside that counts and the Emotiva PMA-7350 has a massive 3.3kVA toroidal transformer pushing out 350 watts into 8 ohms. The amp is stable into 4 ohms and is fully safety compliance for worldwide sale. With such a large amp pushing such power, you'd expect a lot of heat or fan noise. The PMA-7350 is completely convection cooled (no fans) thanks to it's class H design. This means silent operation without having to worry about your amp cooking the rest of your gear (let your Xbox 360 do that). While $3k may be a bit stiff for the Internet Direct crowd, it's practically a bargain for the custom install consumer.

The PMA-7350 - a seven channel, 350 watts per channel monster of an amp is the flagship in Emotiva's new Pro line. The PMA-7350 has a massive 3.3kVA toroidal transformer that is stable into 4 ohms.

— October 07, 2010 07:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews