I haven't heard the new DS450, since it was just introduced at the 2010 CES show, but I have heard the HD220. It is one of the best amps that I have ever heard. If I had the bucks, I'd buy it in a heartbeat...
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Dodgealum...here are some show reports:
Brian Damkroger of Stereophile got the model # wrong but he was at the setup with Maggies. The other setup as in the links above were with SF Elipsas. While I was not there, I heard both setups were phenomenal. I have the all tube Ref 110s but these are certainly on my list to audition and if they deliver anything close to the sound of the Ref 110 with the added power and dynamic headroom, these are a killer deal at $7,995 (well by audiophile standards a killer deal :-)).
I heard Audio Research new class D amp in their own room. It was awful. They should stick with tubes. I did hear a class D amp that sounded wonderful and it happened to be an integrated. It was the Chapter Electronics Precis 250S. The room also featured the Revolver Cygnis speaker and Reimyo CDT-777 transport and DAP-999EX DAC.
How does the DS450 stand up against the HD220? I don't think the all tube 110 is enough wattage for my sometimes extreme listening habits. Im currently utilizing the 200 watt Clase monoblocks and push them pretty hard at times, not often, but want the juice when Zeplin arrives. I am hoping the 450 and/or HD220 can eliminate my having to pull the bucks for the 210's.I will go that direction if necessary. Wanting the (or close to ) tube sound w/o the tube headache is probably a dream.
Acrylic...my ARC dealer said the DSi 200 which is their 200wpc Class D SS integrated amp was one of the best amps that ARC has put out. It easily drove the rather difficult load presented by Rockport Altairs. This same dealer heard the DS 450 (with a Ref 5, CD 8, and Ref 2 phono) pared up with SF Elipsas at CES and he said it was amazing.
Acrylic....here is Marc Mickelson's (former editor of Soundstage.com and now founder/editor of The Audio Beat) response to a letter I sent him on the DS450: http://www.theaudiobeat.com/letters.htm
It sounds like he walked away with a favorable impression.
Not sure what bad recording might have been playing while Jwm was in the ARC room, but on multiple visits listening to various recordings including my own live recordings that I had with me, the system sounded fantastic. It was antithesis of what Jwm described. The DS450 sounded less like a switching amp than any of ARC's previous models.
For the record, I used to be an ARC dealer but no longer work in the high-end audio industry.
I have not had much experience with the CAM200's but have listened quite a bit to the CAM350 mono amps, so if they are similar....
The ARC sound is brighter (in a good way) like the performers on the stage are illuminated by brighter stage lights. The CAM350's are really nice sounding amps, but they are darker and softer sounding than the ARC gear. The ARC sound is a little more dynamic.