|Densen B-110 Integrated Amplifier & Darwin Cables Silver Interconnect Review|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Tuesday, 26 November 2013|
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Densen Audio Technologies, out of Denmark, may be unknown to many high-end audio enthusiasts in the US, but in Europe and Asia, they are considered among the top tier of high performance audio. I had the distinct pleasure of living with several Densen pieces in the past, including the B-200 preamplifier and the B-310 power amplifier. Individually, and as a pair, I thought they were high value, high fidelity components, with good looks to boot. At a combined price of around $4500, they competed with much more expensive gear that this reviewer has heard. While I was impressed with this pair, I wanted to hear one of Densen’s integrated amplifiers, which consistently get rave reviews abroad.
Enter the Densen B-110 integrated amp, rated at 60 watts per channel into 8 Ohms, and doubles to 120 watts per channel into 4 ohms. The B-110 is descended from the B-100 amp, one of Densen’s most popular products in decades past. According to Densen, the B-110 includes many refinements and upgrades, practically calling it a redesign. The B-110 retails for around $2500, depending on exchange rates.
One aspect of the B-110 I find very impressive, and this also applied to the B-200 preamp, is the precision volume control. I very much appreciate the ability to adjust the volume at very specific increments. According to Densen, "the volume is controlled by an extremely precise attenuator made of Vishay metal film resistors, which is switched by relays controlled by the microprocessor. Compared to a normal volume potentiometer of the kind used in the majority of all preamps, the resistor network has virtually no self induced noise and an extremely low distortion. This results in an unsurpassed precision and refinement, and the attenuator contains no less than 200 steps! This makes it possible to adjust the volume very precisely (0.5 dB)."
Other B-110 design characteristics include an output stage utilizing Densen’s unique "DMCD" (Densen Mass Current Distribution) technology. The B-110 is, like all other Densen amplifiers in their line, uses zero global feedback. Densen says B-110 internal components are mounted with a precision of 0.02mm using silver solder. They go to the extreme step of soldering in what they call “an artificial atmosphere, consisting of nitrogen, to avoid oxidation."
Densen also touts their power supply as a major aspect of the design. Interestingly, they claim not all of the capacitors are mounted in a capacitor bank, because some are directly adjoining the output stage for more efficient power delivery. Lastly, Densen says their custom made transformer has a huge effect on the sound since it is designed to minimize mechanical noise and vibration.
Set Up & Listening
The B-110 exudes Scandinavian cool. The review sample was finished in beautiful silver case work. Black is also available. The B-110 can be used with the Densen Gizmo system remote -- also beautifully made, however the buttons or, better put, rubber nubs are a bit on the small side and close together. Everything on the B-110 itself is laid out nicely, with high quality front buttons, speaker binding posts, and RCA connectors. Perhaps the one thing AC cable aficionados might find annoying is that, because the IEC receptacle is positioned very close to the speaker binding posts, you are limited in your choices of aftermarket power cords. I ended up using a Shunyata Venom because of its modest profile.