POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEWS

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 15, 2003 0 comments

With A/V receivers now approaching the size, weight, and complexity of small apartment buildings, separating the processing and control functions from the amplification is becoming an attractive alternative for growing numbers of home-theater enthusiasts. While this approach is usually more expensive in the short run, most serious videophiles find that the long-term flexibility and enhanced performance more than offset the added cost.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
Lexicon's MC-12 pre/pro gets a high-powered playmate.

I suppose that I'm starting to sound like a broken record when I talk about the concept of matching in home theater, but how else can I call attention to one of the most important aspects of creating a successful system? After all, matching audio/video equipment is not unlike matching in other areas of our lives. The proper combination of amps, speakers, room characteristics, and, well, everything else can create an exciting, dynamic, and highly satisfying experience for all involved. The wrong combination is usually mundane, lifeless, and, if you will, impotent. Sparks in the listening room come about in a similar way as sparks in other rooms of the house—they require experience and effort. A little bit of passion never hurts, either.

Steven Stone Posted: Dec 11, 2002 0 comments

In the realm of 2-channel high-end audio, tube power amplifiers are still king&mdash;so you'd expect them to hold court, or at least a decent market share, in the world of high-end home theater as well. Alas, most home theaters are tubeless, except for the cathode-ray tubes in CRT projectors and direct-view monitors. Perhaps the time has come for tube power amplifiers to make an inroad into home theater. Manley Laboratories' new Snapper monoblock&mdash;the first tube-based power amplifier to be reviewed in the <I>Guide</I>&mdash;could be just the unit to pull the sword from the stone.

Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
With the Showcase pre/pro-and-amp combo, Krell hits a new low—price point, that is.

Much is made of the intense competition that goes on in the receiver game, and understandably so. For the most part, these are companies that have piles of money to spend on advertising, have the resources and inclination to bring out new models every year, and have hordes of accountants and marketing types to keep watch on things likemarket placement, pricing, competitor activity, and so on. But what about the healthy (and growing) competition in the separates arena, especially at the lower (all things being relative) price points? It may not draw the receiver war's headlines, involve a fraction of the corporate expenditure and model turnover, or feature dueling laser shows from multilevel booths at industry trade shows. But, make no mistake, the competition here is no less intense, no less important to the industry as a whole, and no less beneficial to its particular crop of potential buyers.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 24, 2002 0 comments

At first sight, the corporate-designed, picture-perfect streets of Boulder, Colorado, silhouetted against the breathtakingly beautiful but dry purple-brown Rockies, reminded me of a mall with its lid ripped off. Then again, maybe it was the lack of oxygen. Ski? Me and my politically incorrect, gas-guzzling Lincoln Town Car rental (unlike the perfectly acceptable gas-guzzling SUVs everyone in Boulder drives) were in town for only a short visit, mainly on business unrelated to <I>SGHT</I>. But I had a day free for a little sightseeing and an interesting visit with Charlie Hansen, president and owner of Ayre Acoustics. I was scheduled to review Ayre's newest multichannel amplifier, and this gave me the chance to learn more about the product and the company.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 11, 2002 Published: Jul 12, 2002 0 comments
Who says small companies can't make big waves?

The fireworks are popping, the burgers are grilling, and the bourbon is flowing, which can only mean one thing: It's the end of another workday at the Lewis house. When that day falls early in the month of July, you can bet that some extra contemplation of all things American will be on the itinerary, as well. Let's face it: Is there anything more American than an underdog? I'll bet Ron Fone and Eugene Tang don't think there is, which may be why they decided back in 1998 to start Sherbourn right here in the USA—in Boston, no less. Sure, market size, the economy, and the fact that both men were already working for American companies were undoubtedly the real cause. But, somewhere in the back of their minds, they had to figure that, if a loose confederation of farmers, merchants, and castaways from all over Europe could defeat (or at least outlast) the greatest military power of the time and forge a nation that would quickly become a world superpower, then a small, sharply focused amplifier company just might be able to shoulder in with the big boys and get its piece of the pie.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Mar 19, 2002 0 comments

If you became seriously interested in high-end 2-channel sound in the 1990s, then Balanced Audio Technology is a name already familiar to you. The first review of BAT products I ever read was Robert Deutsch's, of the VK-5 tube preamplifier and VK-60 tube power amp, in the December 1995 issue of our sister publication, <I>Stereophile</I>. At that time, the buzz was about BAT's "balanced" designs, unique zero-feedback circuitry, and, of course, their products' exemplary sound.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Jan 10, 2002 0 comments

<B>On the Kouch</B> <BR> Actually, Dr. Melfi has a chair and a couch. Her expression is noncommittal as I choose between them&mdash;the psychoanalysis has already begun. Right away, she suggests a word game: she'll say something, I'll respond with the first thing that pops into my head. I've used the technique myself to out disloyal employees in the, uh, refuse recycling business. I guess that semester and a half of college was money well spent.

John J. Gannon Posted: Dec 24, 2001 0 comments

We at <I>SGHT</I> are no strangers to Rotel products. In the October 2000 issue, Michael Fremer reviewed Rotel's RTC-965 surround processor/tuner with the RB-985 Mk.II power amplifier, and in February 2001, Robert Deutsch waxed enthusiastic about the RMB-1095 power amp. Both writers lauded these products' value, and RD spoke of Rotel's consistency in product and circuit design, something he'd noticed through the years. He declared the RMB-1095 "one of the best buys in a multichannel amplifier."

Mike McGann Posted: Sep 30, 2001 Published: Oct 01, 2001 0 comments
Truth be told, we could all watch TV on 19-inch screens and derive some enjoyment from it. We could all drive tiny-bodied, tiny-engined commuter cars and get to and from work. We could get little, tiny cups of soda at 7-Eleven and quench our thirst. But this is America, where we haul our 65-inch widescreen HDTVs home in our block-long Ford Expedition SUVs, stopping on the way home for a 64-ounce Big Gulp. We do things big. The bigger and badder-looking, the better.
Michael Trei Posted: Jun 25, 2000 Published: Jun 26, 2000 0 comments
The B&K Reference 7260 six-channel amplifier proves to be a solid all-around performer.

Like many people, I often dream of what it would be like to have unlimited funds to buy the very best. You know, a Mercedes S500 and a Ferrari F50, along with a Hummer for those off-road adventures (not to mention a ski lodge in Aspen and, of course, a 250-foot yacht in the Bahamas). These are nice to fantasize about; however, when the reality of our lives takes over, most of us would probably buy a more-sensible vehicle like a Honda. While much of the glamour and notoriety in magazines tends to revolve around the most exotic stuff, there are companies that can give you most of that performance for a fraction of the price.

Clint Walker Posted: Jun 25, 2000 Published: Jun 26, 2000 0 comments
A new value-driven benchmark in high-performance theater.

I've been sitting here at my computer for over an hour without typing a word. I'm showing signs of terminal writer's block, but I wish I were that lucky. In truth, I'm just speechless, and the Cinénova Grande amplifier from Earthquake Sound Corporation is the reason why. Several weeks ago, a massive wooden crate stamped "heavy" arrived at our sound lab in Woodland Hills. I had seen crates like this during my stint in the military—they usually contained Patriot missile warheads. We gathered around it like cavemen observing fire, poking at it and wondering what it might be. Finally, I worked up the nerve to open it up.

Michael Trei Posted: Jan 25, 2000 Published: Jan 26, 2000 0 comments
Hard-core gear maker Krell makes a poweful argument with KAV-250a and KAV-250a/3.

Since their inception some 20 years ago, Krell has remained about as hard-core of an audiophile company as you're likely to find. Back in 1980, Krell shocked the hi-fi world with their enormous KSA-100. Since then, they have remained on the cutting edge of solid-state electronics. Just when you thought they couldn't push things any further, they would obliterate the competition with some unimaginably huge and powerful beast. The most recent example of this is the Master Reference series that they describe as being "mini-sized," but I think they must have been comparing the amps with a British car.

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