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Wednesday, 18 February 2009 ,  Written by Robert Mead
McIntosh MC501 Monoblock Power Amplifier
As World War II was just ending, Frank McIntosh was starting up an audio company that would emerge as the benchmark audio manufacturer setting the bar for high-end audio components over the next 70 years. The performance level of Frank’s audio components was at such a high standard, even from its initial start-up, that television stations all over America sought out his mono tube power amplifier called the 50W-1 to be fully integrated into their television production facilities starting in 1949. The technology that powers that amp, the Unity Coupled Circuit, is still being used today. The McIntosh line of high-end audio components only achieved further greatness when they started branching out into the consumer field in 1967 when their engineers designed their first solid-state product, the C24 preamplifier, which the early audiophiles of the 1960’s cleaned out their bank ...
Saturday, 01 March 2008 ,  Written by Andrew Robinson
Bel Canto e.One REF1000 Digital Mono Power Amplifier
Introduction I had my first real introduction to high-end audio back in high school. This consisted of a brief listening session with an entire rack of Krell electronics and a pair of Wilson Watt Puppy Version 5.1 speakers. Not since then has a company or product come along that has single-handedly changed the way I view two-channel audio and the paradigm of what’s possible quite like Bel Canto did late last year with their e.One S300iu Integrated Amp. I loved the S300iu so much I gave it my endorsement as one of the products of the year in our annual Gear We Love list. Truth be told, the S300iu came very close to capturing the top spot, which ultimately went to the magnificent Revel Salon2 loudspeakers. However, the e.One S300iu review almost didn’t happen. When I contacted Bel Canto about doing ...
Friday, 01 February 2008 ,  Written by Jim Swantko
NuForce Reference 9 V2 Special Edition Mono Power Amplifier
Introduction In all my time as an audio enthusiast, I have never seen anything quite as polarizing as the words “switching amplifier.” In my experience, the overwhelming majority of audiophiles politely (or not so politely) dismiss them as a gimmick used to separate fools from their money. They firmly believe that bulk and heat generation are all indicators, which can be used to predict the competence of an amplifier’s performance. This idea is not as foolish as it may seem, as some of the most highly regarded amplifiers are behemoths, weighing in at over 100 pounds and producing enough heat to require a dedicated air-conditioning system. There is, however, a burgeoning group who are singing the praises of some new switching amplifiers, calling them “giant killers.” But which side is correct? Switching amplification is nothing new; in fact, it’s been around for ...
Friday, 01 June 2007 ,  Written by Jerry Del Colliano
Krell Evolution 900 Monaural Power Amplifier
Introduction I have owned various Krell amplifiers in my reference systems over the years, each providing hours upon hours of listening joy. Recently, Krell has released a new top-of-the-line lineup of gear under the Evolution moniker that speaks to those for a need for the best of the best and a willingness to pay for it. The review system under evaluation is comprised of a $10,000 Krell Evolution 505 SACD player with 24-bit 192 DACs, a $15,000 Krell Evolution 202 two-chassis stereo preamp and the monstrous Krell Evolution 900 monaural amplifiers at $20,000 each, or $40,000 for the stereo pair as reviewed. My review samples are done in Krell’s signature silver finish, which is breathtakingly beautiful out of the rack and poised on a simple table as it is installed in my reference system. Set-up To start, it is important to note that the Krell Evolution 900 power amps are nothing short of huge. With a travel ...
Sunday, 01 April 2007 ,  Written by Andrew Robinson
Mark Levinson No. 433 Triple Mono Power Amplifier
Introduction There are few high-end audio brand names that carry with them such universal admiration as Mark Levinson. The mere mention of Mark Levinson components conjures up feelings of quality, luxury and lust that I can only equate with brands at the level of, say, Patek Philippe, the Four Seasons resorts and perhaps even Lexus. Since the late 1970s, Mark Levinson gear has been the subject of many audiophiles’ dreams and has kept consumers and even modest editors wondering how they can spend their tax returns to land such well-crafted audio reproduction gear. When you find out a Mark Levinson amp is coming your way, even if you are a jaded reviewer, you get excited. The Mark Levinson No. 433 is a first for the brand, in that it’s not only a true multi-channel amp, but it is also a long-awaited solution for the company’s customers and dealers who have moved into home theater and ...
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