Classy Classe

Yes, it's only 2-channel, but the new Classe CP-800 preamp may be a taste of the future for such devices. Scheduled to ship in January 2010 for under $6000, it incorporates digital inputs, including coaxial, optical, and USB (asynchronous with proprietary clocking, a significant feature for us audio propeller heads), with on-board D/A conversion. Full support for Apple's transportable iProducts is also included. There are analog inputs as well, which can be set up for direct analog pass-through analog sources—or even as a pass through for the front channels of a full surround system. The outputs can even be programmed to drive one or more subwoofers, together with bass management and parametric EQ. The subs can be set up to operate on some inputs but not others. Both remote control and a graphical user interface with a touchscreen are part of the package.