Digital power amps - would you use it in top studio applications ?
Thinking of replacing my power amp to my B&W Matrix 801 S3. Although sounding nice, it is making some troubles (external physical noise etc.). I don´t want to spend a fortune on Bryston ... I heard that first - there are amps that may sound the same nice for much less money and second - the digital preamps is something to be seriously considered. Like http://www.belcantodesign.com/prod_eOneS300.html
Great price and supposedly also great sound. Does anyone have a direct experience with these type of preamps ? Do you think it can sound the same great as classical preamps ? Could it be good for the B&W ?
we have belcantos ref1000 on the system in the edit room and found that they can sound great with right speakers. we use lipiskis for souround monitoring and found that the belcantos complement them nicely at a reasonable price point. (we had passlabs x350.5 that are now being used for a souround set of elctrastats in the listening area. those amps were amazing yet not cost effective.) anyways the short of the story is we need more amps as our speaker selection grew and felt that the class D were going to be a nice fit because of the small footprint and low thermal output. of course we tried out the amps on several diffrent sets of speakers and found the following.
on the lipinskis l707 the sound was warm but not overly forcefull in the lowend and the speaker maintained there imaging and detail/depth. great sound
on other speakers the sounds were less then disireable.
with the soundlab prostats (electrastat speaker) every class D amp we tried had a ringing tone in the top end of the frequency spectrum not to disimilar to the sound of an mp3 washes out cymbals except for the ring was amplitude specific in that the ringing was effected by the overall signal level going into the amp. this was very unpleasent to listen to of course.
among others i also tried it with a pair of b&w 800 d. these speakers are huge sounding. and while the ref1000 could push the speakers to a decent level there were a few things that bothered me with the sound. first the nice warming in the lipinskis turned into mud on the b&w's. this also caused the lowend to lose dynamic range. because the amp was driven hard the highend of the b&w tended to roll of a tad. ultimatly the class d amps tended to act like a vail over the allready "bigger" soundling speakers.
anyways thats my 2 cents on quality class d amps. ultimatly you should try one if you can and see if you like it.
There are links to outside reviews of older Bel Canto models in that thread as well, if you are interested. And of course plenty on the web for the newer models. Generally quite favorable.
In short, the Bel Canto eVo 200.2 digital amplifier is the finest sounding (or rather, lack of sounding) amplifier I've used. I've tried with Paradigm Reference 3-way floor standing speakers (similar to several B&W models in my experience), SLS ribbons, and PMC TB2+ and had positive results with all of them.
When using the Bel Canto with PMC TB2, the treble, midrange, and bass are more perfectly balanced than with any other amp/speaker system I have ever experienced.
Certainly no "veil" here -- exactly the opposite. The resolution of detail is almost holographic in this combination.
After a lot of experimentation over the years, I now have no desire to even consider any other amplifier or speaker.