Cinepro 3k6SE3 Gold Six-Channel Amplifier
When it comes to home theater, most people would be pretty happy with an amplifier that offers about 100 watts per channel. In the four Dolby Digital setups in my home, none of the amps is rated above 125 wpc, and I only occasionally notice a lack of dynamic range or feel that something isn't quite as punchy as I'd like. When it comes to audio, though, power means more than just sheer grunt. Since a more-powerful amp doesn't have to work as hard, it should offer better detail and clarity at the same volume as a less-powerful amp.
Cinepro hopes that their new 3k6SE3 Gold amplifier, an update of and improvement upon their well-regarded 3k6SE, will take all of the worry out of such things. This new powerhouse can fully amplify six channels, driving 8-ohm loads at 425 wpc, which will provide your 6.1 system with all the power it may ever need. (Anyone wishing for a paltry 400-wpc six-channel amp should consider the 3k6III for $4,495.) If you're hanging steadfastly on to your 5.1 system (mono must have been hard to let go of), you can bridge two of the 3k6SE3's channels to power your center channel with a mind-boggling 1,000 watts. Another change: Cinepro has upgraded the amp to include oversized 4.2-kilovolt-ampere toroidal transformers for smooth, speedy power curves.
Of course, I expect more than just awesome stats from a piece of gear that costs $7,495. It had better perform well and look good doing it. I'll get to its performance in a minute, but the Cinepro clearly holds up its end in the looks department. If your standard multichannel amp is like an SUV, then the 3k6SE3 Gold is like a Humvee: It's got a 0.5-inch milled-aircraft-aluminum face, very evident but quiet twin cooling fans on the rear, and enough heft (86 pounds) that you should first make sure your gear rack is up to the task. Should you open the case (you're warned not to, but who could blame you?), you'll see a shocking amount of gold. The internal interconnects are Kimber silver cable, so this box's interior is kind of like a Tiffany jewel for gear heads, minus the little blue bag.
Exhaust fans dominate the amp's back panel, along with inputs on the left—both RCA and balanced XLR—and speaker-level outputs and five-way binding posts on the right. The bridging switches are back here, too—you can set up the amp for three to six channels of output, with an incredible 1,600 wpc in a three-channel setup.