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POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 05, 2006 0 comments

Power amps get little respect in the home theater world. They're the heavy, black (or silver) boxes that sit somewhere in the dark, serving your speakers with a generous supply of power.

Posted: Dec 24, 2005 0 comments

A few years and a publication ago, I reviewed Arcam's FMJ AV8 controller and was frankly bowled over. At $5k I thought the AV8's detailed and dynamic sound made more expensive controllers a much harder bargain than before, and I recommended and continue to recommend that controller to anyone shopping in that price range. Enter Moore's law.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 12, 2005 0 comments
This time, it's all English.

After the parade of international system mates that we've had in every other installment of this column recently, we finally settle into a system whose parts share their nation of origin. Don't be too quick to assume that it is the United States or Japan I speak of—this month's system hails entirely from merry old England. This isn't terribly surprising, but it does give me an opportunity to say a few things to our friends across the pond that I've been meaning to say for a while, such as: Sorry about that whole revolution thing (although I don't really mean that sincerely), and thanks for the Rolling Stones, Lord Stanley (who gave us the Stanley Cup), and Elizabeth Hurley—in no particular order, of course.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 30, 2005 0 comments
Power that will surely register on your Richter scale.

Earthquake is not a bad moniker to have attached to an amplifier that can crank out some 300 watts across each of its seven channels. That kind of power, with the right speakers in front of it, can certainly set your listening room to rolling and rumbling. The name also applies well to the minor seismic event that will result when you drop this 122-pound behemoth into your equipment rack—assuming that you have an equipment rack that can hold it. But, as endearing as weight and power are in an amplifier, they don't tell the whole story of an amplifier's potential. Finesse and athleticism are just as important in a big, bulky amplifier as they are in a big, bulky linebacker.

Chris Lewis Posted: Aug 30, 2005 Published: Aug 31, 2005 0 comments
Performance and value never go out of style.

My curiosity was naturally piqued a few years ago when I heard that Parasound was going upscale with their look. This was a company that had become virtually synonymous with performance plus value, facilitated somewhat by forgoing aesthetic flair, and I wondered where the decision to go uptown with the finish in the Halo line would lead. The first good sign was the Halos' higher price tags. It costs a lot more to make boxes look that good, and this told me that they weren't taking resources away from performance to do so. What ultimately satisfied my curiosity, though, was how good the Halo models sounded. Yet, there are still those who want Parasound performance, have less to spend, and don't mind—or maybe even appreciate—Parasound's rugged, utilitarian old style. The New Classic line is exactly what they're looking for.

Steven Stone Posted: Aug 08, 2005 0 comments

Throughout his career, Mark Schifter has created affordable, high-fidelity products that compete with price-is-no-object high-end gear. His resumé includes stints with Audio Alchemy and Genesis Speakers.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 22, 2005 0 comments

In today's hotly contested home theater market, the big consumer-electronics manufacturers are grabbing an increasingly important slice of the pie. Their new, big-boned receivers—with prices to match—approach (or sometimes exceed) the performance of most separates. The competition is fierce, with those mega-corporations using their marketing clout, engineering expertise, and production efficiency to built better products, but smaller companies can still compete. They're fighting back with separate pre-pros and power amps that trade on their traditional strength: sound quality.

Chris Lewis Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
Turn on, tune in, strap down. I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
Steven Stone Posted: Apr 24, 2005 0 comments

Once upon a time, audiophiles used to get very excited about power amplifiers. They would obsess about the minutiae of an amp's sonic character and its ability to successfully drive 2ohm loads. Times change. Now amplifiers are among the least sexy components in a home theater. Most videophiles would concur with the concept that amplifiers should be heard, but not seen. Within the new world order of home theaters, amplifiers have been relegated to a supporting role.

Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
The Canadians and the Brits are at it again.

If you know your history, then you already know that the Canadians and the English can do some good things when they get together. While we were taking care of our business down at Utah and Omaha, the Canadians and the Brits were giving the Germans a pretty good working-over of their own up the beach at Normandy. They even teamed up rather effectively against us during the American Revolution and War of 1812, managing to hang on to Canada despite our various efforts to take it and, in the process, preserving one of England's last real toeholds in the New World.

Steven Stone Posted: Oct 15, 2004 0 comments

Most power amplifiers are primarily differentiated by their size and color. Eventually, even an amplifier fetishist grows weary of digging for the minute variations that make each amplifier special. Perhaps that's why it's so refreshing to discover an amp that embraces some truly unique new technology. Bel Canto, a small company located in darkest Minnesota, has managed to find a way to manufacture a digital amplifier, dubbed the eVo2, whose performance rivals that of more conventional analog designs.

Barry Willis Posted: Sep 21, 2004 0 comments

Adcom first appeared on the technophile radar in 1979, with the introduction of the GFA-1 power amplifier—the beginning of a long series of affordable, high-performance audio products. Then based in New Jersey, Adcom hit its stride in the mid- to late 1980s with its GFA-555 and GFA-565 power amplifiers and GTP-555 and GTP-565 preamplifiers, all of which were well received by reviewers and music lovers alike. Solidly built, extremely reliable, and musically satisfying, these products earned Adcom a reputation for quality that reviews of its more recent products continue to confirm.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
High-end home theater for the rest of us.

Home theater in 2004 is like America in the 1950s, with a middle class that has steadily been building momentum and now finds itself in the midst of a major breakout. The same philosophy of the good life at a better price that spawned a culture of suburbs and credit-card debt in the '50s is spawning an unprecedented emergence of high-end home theater components at mid-level prices in the '00s.

Fred Manteghian Posted: May 16, 2004 0 comments

The Stage One is Aragon's second-generation surround processor, replacing and retiring the original Stage. The Stage One combines a strikingly machined front panel with the latest thinking in surround processing, including no processing at all for us vinyl buffs. And in a concession to those who think there might still be something on the public airwaves worth listening to in this ClearChannel world, the Stage One also throws in an AM/FM tuner. Visually, the robust 5-channel Aragon 3005 and 2-channel 3002 amps share the Mondial-inspired "M" design with the Stage One.

Chris Lewis Posted: Apr 01, 2004 0 comments
Lexicon's CX-7 is ready for its due.

No matter the dollar amount involved, it happens to everyone: You get locked on to something new, you watch the glowing reviews and awards pile up, and you consider pulling the trigger when either financial reality or conservatism kicks in. You ultimately think, "If only it were a few hundred (or thousand, or hundred thousand) dollars less." Patience usually pays off, though. That's as clear in the A/V world as it is anywhere, especially in the high end. It's only natural that, when a manufacturer rolls out a new design or line, they start with their best foot forward, which usually ends up being the more-expensive foot. However, most manufacturers will eventually give those of you who are limited to lower price brackets—either by choice or necessity—a taste with lower-priced models. With the legitimate companies, the gap in price between models is almost always significantly greater than the gap in performance.

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