|Halcro MC50 Multi-channel Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Friday, 01 September 2006|
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Music and Movies
After letting the amplifier break in for a few days, I began my critical listening with Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core (Sony). The detail in the vocals on the song “Anchored in You” was quite good, clearly reproducing the raspiness in Mullins’ voice while at the same time giving the voice a solid position in the sound stage. The sound stage was slightly further back than I am used to, but it was appropriately large, with a good sense of space and placement of the individual sources.
Continuing with male vocalists, I listened to Elvis Presley’s Elvis is Back (DCC). Elvis’ rendition of “Fever” has always been a favorite of mine. The Halcro continued with an incredible amount of detail, both in the reproduction of vocals and instruments and also the sense of space. The positioning of each of the sound sources was well defined within the sound stage. I could easily hear someone keeping time in the background and imperfections in the recording.
Picking up the pace, I played System of a Down’s album Toxicity (Sony). The song “Chop Suey!” is a frenetically-paced, energetic song. The MC50 had no problems delineating between all the components of the aural assault that comprises this track. I am used to listening to this track with amplification coming from my recently discontinued Krell 300 iL. The Halcro was just as detailed but seemed to be less forward, favoring polite finesse over force.
I wanted to see how the Halcro did with bass, so I spun up Crystal Method’s Vegas (Outpost Records) and went straight to one of my favorite tracks, “Busy Child.” This track features a deep and powerful synthesizer soundtrack. Listening to this track reinforced my prior impressions. The Halcro was extremely detailed and was powerful enough to reproduce any signal I fed it at volumes much higher than I would normally listen to, without any signs of harshness or compression. Despite having plenty of power, the overall character of the Halcro remained polite.
I then switched to movies and watched “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” (Disney Home Entertainment), which I had just watched for another review. I paid particular attention to the intelligibility of vocals. The Halcro did an excellent job. All of the vocals were easy to understand, solid and full-bodied. In the final battle sequence, it was easy to keep track of distinct sounds as they moved from channel to channel without changing character.
Another classic demo movie that I had recently watched was “The Fifth Element” (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), so I replayed some of the scenes that were fresh in my memory. As before, the vocals were extremely intelligible and had plenty of detail, conveying the nuances of each particular voice, as well as differentiating between background voices. The sonic character remained consistent from channel to channel without any noticeable change. Due to the unit’s relatively light weight, I was a bit skeptical of the MC50’s ability to handle an all-out multi-channel sonic assault. I need not have worried. I listened to the now infamous battle scene several times at volumes ranging from low to annoying-the-neighbors loud. The character and detail remained consistent at all listening levels without any signs of compression or harshness.
Lastly I listened to the DTS version of the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over (DTS), which I also had out from my last review and was still fresh in my memory. I listened to this disc through both the Monster THX Select speaker system and my reference Canton Ergo system. One of the areas on this disc that I listen to closely for overall system control is the drumbeat on “Hotel California.” While the drums were noticeably different between the two speakers, the Halcro amplifier demonstrated good control over both. I felt that I was close to getting most, if not all, of the detail that the speakers were capable of. The imaging and sound staging was as solid as with any other amplifier and I felt that the individual images were etched with great precision, making each image on the stage sound a bit smaller.