I own one of the new Spectron Audio MK2 with the gold plated rhodium speaker posts and the V-Cap upgrade. Spectron makes their own IECs which enables them to create i.e. reconstruction filters that aren't 'add-ons' to a B&O module.
I love the sound it produces regardless if it is class D or not. I think it is about synergy with an entire system. These amps and ones like the Bel Canto REF1000II put out a lot of power which many speakers need especially electrostatic's. The Spectron excels in that it is stable down to 0.1 ohms and can drive complex and difficult loads.
However, again, I am impressed with its sound first and foremost and that it can drive my speakers which need 500 watts/channel+ and dip in impedeance between 2-3 ohms during play.
Given it is 58 lbs and cool running is an added bonus.
Aim going to check out their web site.
I agree sound first everything else second everything else class D amps bring to the table are icing on the cake.
People who say class D amps sound flat IMO have'nt listened to a properly made class D amp. I think they equate distoration of class a/b as more engaging sound?
The Ice Power amps are anything from flat sounding their just lacking annoying distoration.
After listening to the almost zero distoration levels of my ICE Power amps I would never go back to a class a/b amp, it would be like going back to a CRT TV.
I have heard a lot of audio guys say the ICE amp & Tubes amps. are a great combo. I would like to hear a system that incorporates both as i do like the look of tube amps.
Thanks for the comment.
I run the Gilmore Raptor monoblocks, which are highly modified ICE, according to Gilmore. They have no coupling caps on the inputs or outputs and massive linear power supplies, and weigh 37 lbs each. They produce 500 WPC at 4 ohms. The chassis is made from machined 1/2 inch thick aircraft grade aluminum and feels like one solid block of metal. I run them with a Supratek Chenin tube preamp and the combo sounds fantastic on my Infinity RSIIb speakers, which are known to be a difficult load. The Gilmores seem to have almost unlimited power reserves, and the bass impact is just fantastic. I am very satisfied with them.
Check out this review of the H2O 100. This will power any mortal speaker.
The review compares the H2O to a conventional amp.
Here is a summary excerpt lifted from the reviewer:
"H2O Signature 100: Summarizing the character of the Signature 100 can be
done with these words; delicate, powerful, dynamic, refined, and trans-
parent. The Signature 100 represents a few firsts for me. It is the first
affordable high power amplifier I’ve encoun- tered that sounds as delicate
and as resolute as a component that utilizes a short signal path. It is also one
of the first transistor amplifiers I’ve come across that has managed to focus
my attention away from those glass valve thingy’s. Unlike most amplifiers
that impart an obvious flavor to every selection of the music, the H2O’s
incredibly neutral presentation allows every component and recording to
stand on their own merit."
At $2000 the H2O 100 is cheaper than nearly all other ICE amps.
I should add, the H2O fire preamp is specifically designed to work with ICE amps as well as all other amps. The Fire's low impedance matches ICE amp's low impedance. It was used in the review I posted above.
I am running Murano P-1000S+ monos in my system with Maggie 3.6 speakers and I LOVE them! Murano Audio is (was) a Taiwan-based company using the B & 0 ICE Power modules. I agree that paying huge money for Rolands (or even Bel Cantos for that matter) is silly unless you absolutely MUST have the particular cosmetic design each offers. Not all ICE power modules are identical, however...some companies "tweak" the B & O modules with slightly upgraded parts, including output terminals and speaker connectors. The Murano 1000S+ monoblocks I own were the very last pair available on the planet! These were bought brand-new from Audio Video Choices out of Arizona. The sales rep / owner had gargantuan Krell monoblocks at $30,000 per pair, as I recall, which he "retired" to storage after getting the Muranos (which sold for $1800 per pair new!). One of the distinctive features of the Murano "plus" series ia the Swedish Lundahl input transformer. (Jeff Roland uses the same transformer, which not only makes for better impedance matching with a wide variety of preamps but also results in a lower noise floor / blacker backgrounds, better retrieval of inner detail and extended treble response. As far as I know, Bel Canto also includes the Lundahl "upagrade," which is not found in H20, Wyred 4 Sound, and other class D designs. I have not compared my Muranos with, say, NuForce or Channel Islands' offerings. Each of the above designs takes a slightly different approach to Class D, and some use proprietary (or highly modified) circuit designs. (The CIA Hypex design is from Philips rather than B & O, and quite good as I am told.) Some have compared the Muranos to Rolands side by side and could not hear a difference. And, as noted, a good Class D design can "smoke" highly-regarded class A/AB designs. (But careful system matching is a must.) I owned an early PS Audio Class D design and found it sterile and uninvolving. Later I owned a well-reviewed Musical Fidelity amp and found it to be pleasant sounding but lacking in dynamics, air, and inner detail. For the record, the owner of Audio Video Choices is not impressed with the Wyred 4 Sound offererings after owning the Muranos, even though the Wyreds have an upgraded input transformer and a few other tweaks. I would recommend a good tubed pre and even a tube (or tube-modified) disc player, if you listen to CDs / SACDs. My Class D amps are a GREAT match for my Maggie 3.6s...their high current / high damping factor help them really "grab" the panels and make them sing...and without the "coolness" some associate with Class D. IF I ever upgrade it will be a vertical bi-amp setup with Monarchy Audio tube-hybrid amps. That setup should add the "frosting to the cake" in terms of ultimate control of the Maggies with a smidge more warmth. Stay tuned...I MAY upgrade this year, and the amps will go for exactly what I paid for them...they are VERY RARE and probably the best bang for the buck in amps you will ever find!
Thank you for ICE. A complete shift in what you get for your money. Goodbye heat sinks, wasted energy, fat murky sound, distortion, heavy lifting.
I am a huge fan of the Bel canto flavor of ICE. Some very fine amps.
Yes, Chadeffect...I agree that Bel Canto does ICE power right, and I like pretty much everything they make, for that matter. I hope my comments didn't imply anything to the contrary. For the "newbies" to Class D, however, a good starting place may be to search AudiogoN for EVS (now discontinued), PS Audio GCA series (also discontinued),
H2O or even the Wyreds. Upgrades (to Bel Canto, for example) can come later as funds allow...
I have set up my Bel Cantos with a Modwright tubed pre-amp and am driving VSA VR-4JRs. I have been ecstatic with the combination. Mating a tubed pre to the ICE worked for me. Articulation without fatigue, natural midrange voices and strings, and fast, deep bass.
My experience is very much like yours. I am running a highly modded Jolida Music Envoy pre and a Modwright / Sony 9100ES disc player (Platinum Sig. Truth mod), Maggie 3.6s and my Murano P-1000s+ monos (identical internally to the Bel Canto and Jeff Roland models using the B & O 1000 ASP module). I have been tempted of late to do tube hybrid amps so that I have tubes throughout the system, but the more I look into it the more I realize I will probably NEVER part with my amps. Unless one spends something in the $10,000+ range for high--powered tube amps, he will never duplicate the "magic" that happens when mating a great ICE-power (or equivalent class D) amp with a great tubed preamp. You summed it up nicely...you really DO get the best of everything in terms of speed, articulation, soundstaging, dynamics, etc., AND a flesh-and-bones visceral sonic picture that is wonderful to listen to for hours on end. It is this kind of synergy that keeps the upgrade bug tamed, in my experience. By the way, I noticed that there is a HUGE amount of discussion of Class D on these forums, and for good reason!
Yes, I am firmly entrenched in the Class D/ICE camp these days. When done right, I see no down side.
Three things I think that do matter from vendor to vendor:
1) how well the design deals with potential RF and electric curcuit noise that I have heard can be an issue if not dealt with properly. Rowland and Bel Canto seem to do this aspect of things very well.
2) how well the amp integrates with tube pre-amps that tend to have higher output impedances than SS pre-amps
3) the quality of the power supply to the internal ICE module
The better vendors seem to have a handle on these issues. Lesser vendors may not.
My choice boiled down between Wyred + Bel Canto. Wryed was the best value overall and BEl Canto appeared to be the best designed overall for lowest cost (used), though still quite a bit pricier than Wyred.
Wyred seems to be the best buy out there, especially for those with tube pre-amps in that they adapt the standard ICE module to match impedance better there, which is a worthwhile enhancement to help keep distortion minimal if you have a tube pre.
I suspect for those with SS pre-amps, there are even better bargains out there from companies that essentially just put the standard ICE module in a box.
I have not had an opportunity to a/b different Class D amps. Having auditioned a lot of systems and amps over the years, I am 100% satisfied with the BEl CAnto ref1000 mkiis thus far though I can say. Not sure what more I could ask for?
I will agree that the Wyred amps are the best value in the class D arena. I have had the SX500 monos in my system now for a few weeks and the improvement is night and day over my old class a/b amp. They are extremely quiet, system had a hum with my old amp and that has disappeared after adding the Wyreds. I chose Wyred due to the custom input stage, as well as the fact that they also perform modification to the modules themselves. If you have power hungry speakers you really can't go wrong with class D technology.
For home theater, you would be hard pressed to find a better price performer than the now discontinued NHT Power 5 Amplifier. 5 channels at 200W per channel Class D. Incredibly silent, powerful, accurate and cool running.
My dealer friend recommends Digital Amplifier Company if going with Class D. IHO, it's best Class D amp on the market ... best Spectron, Rowland ... You can bridge 2 amps so it has enough power to drive any speaker.
It mates well with tube preamps. In auditions, customers keep asking where is the SET amp and couldn't believe it's a Class D amp.
Digital Amplifier Company only sells direct with a 30 days return policy and he gets no commission so just a strong recommendation.
I have been very happy with my 5-channel ROTEL RMB-1565 ICEPower amp. I thought I was going to compromise stereo performance, but I haven't missed my Arcam P38 power amp since (perhaps a tad more 'body' from the latter). I think it has just the right dab of "tubishness" about it to sweeten the midrange+treble. My Benchmark DAC1 HDR sounds superb through it. I am now thinking of obtaining a Class-D power amp for my car!
2 years running and still in love with my W4S ST 250! Great value...
I've had my W4S ST1000 for nearly 2 years now and, I don't like it - I love it! Brings out the best in cd, digital tv and vinyl.
The most amazing value at $1,999 too, I also have a Bel Canto S300iU which got me wanting more ICEpower, but a pair of BC 1000 mono amps would have been more than twice the cost of my W4S.
I always tell folks on hi-fi forums about W4S, but not many seem to bite, I think they are put off by the Class 'D' for digital misconception - well that's their loss!
I like that last line..... "Well, that's their loss."