Power Amplifier Reviews

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Clint Walker  |  Jun 25, 2000  |  First 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  |  Jun 25, 2000  |  First 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.

Michael Trei  |  Jan 25, 2000  |  First 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.

Michael Trei  |  Feb 22, 2012  |  0 comments

Few audio companies are as closely associated with a single individual as Pass Laboratories is with its founder Nelson Pass, a man who has always blazed his own path when it comes to designing audio gear. Pass founded Threshold Electronics back in the early 1970s, but when he wanted to explore new, simpler circuit topologies in the early 1990s, he created Pass Labs as a way to market his latest creations.

The two integrated amps in the Pass Labs line, the INT-150 and INT-30A, are a good example of his less-than-conventional approach, seeing as both appear to be  identical except for the critical question of output power. Physically the two amps are indistinguishable, with exactly the same functions, weight, dimensions, and even price tag. It's only when you take a peek at the spec sheet that the differences become apparent, with the INT-150 delivering a healthy 150 watts per-channel, while the INT-30A tops out at just one-fifth that amount.

So what gives? Why would anyone buy an inline four when they're offering you the V-12 for the same money?

James K. Willcox  |  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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 05, 2013  |  0 comments

"You test … amplifiers?" the lovely brunette MBA said to me from across the couch in the lobby of a hipster L.A. hotel. Sadly, my reply - "There are people who care about this stuff!" - didn't convince her of the value of my work. On some level, though, I'm in sympathy with her sentiment. While I do, on occasion, test amplifiers, I'm really a speaker and headphone reviewer.

Daniel Kumin  |  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.

Daniel Kumin  |  Apr 10, 2012  |  0 comments

I am of the school that believes that more power is always better than less power. That school also professes that amplifiers, while operating within their linear abilities (a big “if”), are not generally distinct in their sonics.

Michael Berk  |  Aug 03, 2011  |  0 comments

In a sure sign that the low-cost DAC is finding its place as an object of mass consumer desire, NuForce has released a 24-karat gold plated version of their uDAC-2 converter-and-headphone-amp combo unit

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 25, 2013  |  0 comments

Emotiva. The name sounds like the latest cure-all marketed by Big Pharma on the evening news programs. (Remember “restless leg?”) It is, in fact the consumer-audio brand of Tennessee’s Jade Designs. And Jade Designs, in turn, is the direct-to-consumer brand founded by a longtime veteran of the rough-and-tumble electronics OEM (original equipment manufacturing) world.

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