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POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 07, 2006 0 comments

When we think of a power amp today, we think of that large, heavy, hot-running, often ugly block of metal we hide away so we don't have to look at it. Or, if it's impressively large or expensive we proudly display it on the floor—an amp that's large, impressive, and expensive enough to show off is too heavy to put anywhere else! There, we willingly subject our ankles and shins to its sharp heat sinks on the sacrificial altar of great sound.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 06, 2008 0 comments
Separates Are What Keep Us Apart

Back in the days when CRT front projectors roamed the earth, any serious home theater required a separate surround processor and amplifier. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to find a Tri-Amplisauri from Parasound, Proceed, and others covering those three all-important front channels. Of course, technology has advanced significantly in the past decade. These days, unless you have some very special needs, you can’t go wrong with today’s powerful and reasonably priced one-piece receivers. Many have more amplified channels than Hillary Clinton has pant suits. Rotel makes a number of A/V receivers. I even reviewed one for UltimateAVmag.com a few years ago. But the separates I reviewed here are not simply a case of cutting the baby in half. This here is a new species.

Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 20, 2010 2 comments
Price: $4,998 At A Glance: Superior surround processor sonics • Excellent ergonomics • Cool-running ICEpower amp lacks definition

The Ladder to the High End

You’ve got to have sympathy for sound- and build-quality-oriented A/V electronics manufacturers like Rotel. You can go online, and for four hundred bucks and change buy a “630-watt” 7.1-channel AVR from a big-name manufacturer with all the latest lossless audio decoding from Dolby and DTS, video processing, 1080p HDMI switching, upconversion, and more. Since many people these days don’t care about good sound and because they’ve never actually heard it, they think, “Everything sounds the same.” And they think they should get it all for a pittance.

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.

Kris Deering Posted: Mar 20, 2013 4 comments
PT-7030 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
PA 7-350 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: PT-7030, $1,799; PA 7-350, $2,799 At A Glance: Audiophile focus • Great dynamics • Lacks some bells and whistles

We’ve all heard the old saying, “less is more”, but that doesn’t always translate well to audio surround processors. While audiophile processors of yesteryear concentrated more on core components for the best possible sound quality and less on crazy surround modes and other digital processing, today’s market seems to demand these features.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 04, 2006 Published: Nov 04, 2006 0 comments
Grander than ever.

While Sunfire's Bob Carver isn't quite the household name that Apple's Steve Jobs is, he absolutely qualifies as a bona fide audio legend. Carver's greatest hits range from his early high-power amplifier, the 350-watt-per-channel Phase Linear 700, to Sonic Holography, Bob's virtual-surround generator. Carver also did much to inspire the new breed of super-potent, ultracompact subwoofers with his much-copied Sunfire True. His knack for audio innovation pumped my expectations for a couple of his latest creations, Sunfire's Theater Grand TGP-5 pre/pro and the TGA-5400, a 400-watt-per-channel amplifier.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 22, 2012 0 comments

It’s a fact of modern life. The higher you climb in the high end of anything, the less, at least in one sense, you will get. You will find, I believe, few gargoyles on buildings designed by I.M. Pei, and even fewer rear-seat DVD screens in Paganis.

Posted: Jul 07, 2006 0 comments

<UL CLASS="square">
<LI>Price: $15,800/pr.</LI>
<LI>Channels/Power: Monoblock; 400-Watts per channel into 8 ohms/650-Watts into 4 ohms</LI>
<LI>Inputs: Single-ended and balanced</LI>
</UL>
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/706thetacit.jpg" WIDTH=450 HEIGHT=332 BORDER=0>

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 07, 2004 0 comments

The Dreadnaught (reviewed in our Oct-ober 2000 issue) was the first power amplifier from Theta Digital, a company previously known for its D/A converters, CD and DVD transports, and surround processors. But it wasn't to be the last. The Dreadnaught II is now a member of a growing family of Theta amplifiers&mdash;the premier multichannel design in a line that also includes high-end monoblocks.

James K. Willcox Posted: Aug 19, 2011 0 comments

When it comes to tubes, I guess you could say I'm, well, biased. I like the way tube amps look, I like the way they sound, I like being able to swap tubes to get different sounds, and I especially like hearing my British friends call tubes valves.

David Vaughn Posted: Aug 01, 2008 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
You've probably never heard of a company called Wyred 4 Sound. Neither had I until I was offered the opportunity to review one of its multichannel power amps for UAV. W4S is a California-based company whose goal is to design, engineer, and manufacture high-end audio products with audiophile performance at affordable prices.
David Vaughn Posted: Jan 02, 2014 6 comments

CX-A5000 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
MX-A5000 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE CX-A5000, $3,000; MX-A5000, $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile pre/pro sound quality
Impeccable build quality
Apple AirPlay support
Minus
Amp performance merely competent
Limited network interface

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s new pre/pro is a surefire contender, though its matching 11-channel amplifier wasn’t quite the same caliber.

If you’re in the market for a new AVR, you can spend countless hours researching all of the various manufacturers’ Websites and, when all is said and done, still have 20 or more models to choose from that have all the bells and whistles you want. The same can’t be said for the surround processor market, which is extremely limited by comparison.

Most companies offer only one model—if that—and it’s generally a reconstruction of their flagship AVR minus the amp section. Don’t expect a discounted price, though; with such a limited audience for pre/pros, you can expect to pay top dollar even when the amps are absent. That said, this isn’t such a bad deal because you can then choose an amplifier that mates well with your particular speakers. Furthermore, by having the electronically noisy amps in a separate enclosure, energized by their own dedicated power supply, you can theoretically enjoy improved audio quality. Of course, you also get an increased footprint in your rack with additional black boxes. The quest for audio nirvana certainly isn’t easy.

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