|Classé SSP-600 AV Preamplifier/Processor|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Sunday, 01 October 2006|
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Music and Movies
Using the CDP-300 as the digital source component, I appreciated the way the TFT screens could compliment one another. I set the SSP-600 to display the output of the CDP-300, whether it is CD track information, DVD-Audio menu information, or DVD movies, while the CDP-300 displayed operation functions of the current disc format it was playing.
The late Layne Staley is one of my favorite vocalists, who had a signature tone to his sound that was unique and unmistakable. His early demise left behind his story in song that was soulful and disturbing in its deep revelation of inner pain and confusion. Staley did a side project called Mad Season (Columbia Records), with Pearl Jam’s ax man Mike McCreedy, the late John Baker Saunders on bass and Barrett Martin on drums. “Wake Up” is a dreamy tune that highlights Staley’s vocal chops in a different, more effortless way than did his stint with Alice In Chains. The SSP-600 allowed the CDP-300 to render the vocal textures with a no-nonsense presentation, sounding uncolored and natural. The inflection of Staley’s sound is relaxed and easygoing, and that was how the SSP-600 let it through. The sound was neither analytical nor fatiguing in any way. “River Of Deceit” was hauntingly beautiful and insightful to Staley’s state of mind. McCreedy’s guitar work on this tune highlighted the upper-frequency presentation of the SSP-600. The transient information of the strings, while not the most resolute that I’ve heard, was intact and detailed, with a nice space around them. Baker’s lazy bass had presence and authority, underscoring Staley’s wordsmith. Willy Porter’s acoustic guitar work was amazing and sounded very good through the SSP-600. The body of the guitar had a convincing presence and depth to its sound. Porter’s vocals were locked dead center and well back of the speakers. Midrange bloom added a nice musical experience and the quietness of the soundstage brought up details that sometimes get buried in the mix of processors.
The quietness of the SSP-600 and its ability to resolve multi-channel recordings was demonstrated with aplomb with Toy Matinee’s DVD-Audio, recorded both in DTS 5.1 and MLP 5.1. The soundstage on “Last Plane Out” was seamless and pinpoint-accurate, highlighting the processor’s decoding prowess. I’ve only heard it better with the Linn Kisto and Unidisk 1.1 combo, which cost quite a bit more than the CDP-300 and SSP-600. The acoustic guitar and textured bass line, while lacking a bit of energy at the lower end of the spectrum, were resolute and articulate. Kevin Gilbert’s vocals were well laid-back in front, with accompanying backing vocals from the side in an enveloping, detailed sound. “Things She Said” further detailed the decoding ability of the SSP-600 with nice layering and openness to the music.
The SSP-600 accomplished video switching and pass-through very well, and did an excellent job of leaving the image intact. Using my new Sony KDS-60A2000 SXRD RPTV as the display, I ran HD through the SSP-600 on my DirecTV HD receiver, using Cardas component video cables. The results were that nothing noticeable changed, which is a very good thing. All images, whether football or nature shows on HDNet, looked the same through the SSP-600, as though straight out of the HD receiver into the TV. There were no noticeable noise artifacts or idealization, and color rendition, color separation and edge definition all appeared none the worse for wear.
Movie soundtracks are the strong point of the SSP-600. Underworld: Evolution (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment) offered the opportunity to experience the SSP-600 under the soundtrack onslaught of the opening chapter, where the vampires are trying to capture the leader of the Lycan werewolves. The LFE decoding detailed the thunder with visceral impact, while the higher-frequency information made it seem that it was coming from all directions in a very convincing way. Lycan swords striking the armor of the vampires sounded at times like it were in the room and eye-blinking in its intensity at loud volumes. Later, when the villain tracked down the heroine, played by Kate Beckinsale, and the ensuing truck escape scene has the flying vampire trying to push the truck with Beckinsale inside into the mountain, with screeching metal and crashing rocks convincing in their intensity.