stay away from the B&K ref 50. upgradability is almsot not there due to poor cust service. I bought a Anthem AVM20 and was able to upgrade it just by downloading free software from their web site.
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I agree with the Gentleman above.Called 3 times talked to a female in tech services that new absolutely nothing regarding info on upgrades for the B&k 30.Considered moving up to the Ref 50,But decided not to because of the bad costumer service.I auditioned the AVM20 and it's a fantastic unit.But ended up buying the BRYSTON SP 1.7 The most musical and dynamic of all the pre/pro's that i considered.
I just bought a Ref 50 and 200.5. I haven't needed to call customer service yet so I can't speak to that, but am very happy with this combo. One upgrade that was amazing was a Richard Gray High Tension power cord on the amp.
I'm pretty new to the whole power cord thing, but I was able to also borrow a JPS GPA2(not a very fair comparison, but it's what I had) and I also have a Basic PowerCord. The Basic PowerCord was about 70% of the RG which is great since that one was <$100 and the JPS was disappointing in this setup. It was hard to give it back, but 695 is a lot of dough.
I used the cord for about a week and was truly amazed. Imaging suddenly came into focus and the highs really opened up. The change was almost as drastic as the change from my Denon 3300 to the B&K components. The kicker was that my wife while listening from the other room asked me if I had changed something because the music sounded really good.
I'm saving my pennies, the B&K stuff already set me back pretty good.
I didn't audition too heavily, but another one that I did listen to was the Sunfire Cinema Grand II which is another popular amp run with the ref 50 which sounded fine at the time, but it was at a friend's place with a Ref 50 with stock power cords, single-ended connectors and everything else that was different between his and my systems. We never actually exchanged amps to compare directly.
One thing that is apparent between the two sounds that I attribute to the amp, is a slightly more relaxed/natural sound.
Like I said, there were a lot of variables that could affect the final sound, but in asking around at a couple of the shops near me that carry or have heard both products, that's been their comment too.
I haven't heard the Classe.
Hope this helps.