By far the most musical, engaging, powerful, dynamic and resolving were the Kaluga's.
Those small beauties replaced my venerable Classe CA-2300. Thanks, Ken
I reside in the mid-fi world of our obsession so I would not presume to suggest a candidate or even subscribe to the notion that a “best”class D amplifier exists. I did however purchase, without a listening session, from Wyred4Sound their ST 1000v2 amp. I did this to experiment with much more power into Magnepan 1.7s. I am very pleased with the amp. In fact I use it in place of the amp section of my McIntosh MA 6900 integrated. Yesterday I listened to Schubert and was thoroughly entranced. The piano was in the room, natural and warm and properly scaled. I heard the pedal action and could easily imagine the venue size and my perspective within that venue. I’m getting older and have resigned to not search further for my best, let alone yours. Class D did however get me to a very nice place. Good luck with your search.
I like the Hypex NC500 with Nord Buffers, I have rev. b,c,and d.
It adds a lot of room to tinker, I just purchased a pair of Weiss buffer boards, to couple with NC500, for 5k-20khz duty. The reason I like the 500 over the 1200, they both do 700 watts at 4 ohm, yet the cost is almost double, for something I would never use (a 2 ohm wiring setup), in home stereo.
They are Class A discrete op amps...With Sparco Regulators, VERY QUIET, Sparco, Weiss, SI990, or 995, all great sound.
Sparco, a little more mid heavy, twinkling highs, very dark background.
SI 995 BLACK BASS.. very well behaved on most bass drivers. Very
clinical in the mids and highs, work very well with a tube front end.
The Weiss, well I have to get them first...I’m hoping for the clearest highs I can find, for under 2000.00 with the new boards...fingers crossed.
No need to wait 10 years, they are here and work quite well.
Just don't get suckered into a bunch of 5-8k talk,,,,
3000.00 tops for the best there is, the rest is pretty much eye candy..
@noble100 just reminded me of D-Sonic amps (6Moons review). I confess I’ve not heard them, but reviews indicate they punch way above their weight and have characteristics that please both SS and tube aficionados. Their M3a-800S stereo amp is good for 400/800Wpc into 8/4Ohms for only $1475 (their cheapest amp I believe) and has me seriously questioning upgrading my McCormack DNA 0.5 Rev A. I believe they offer an in-home trial, which is obviously really helpful.
I’m also a fan of Bel Canto amps. I heard a pair of M500 monoblocks driving a pair of Joseph Audio Pulsars and it sounded sublime. Not sure I’d call them warm but rather just very natural sounding, which very much surprised me. Changed my impression of Class D amps actually. FWIW, and best of luck.
I don’t know about “warm” sounding class d amps, but a tube pre-amp used with a Class D amp can achieve that. You want the amp to have 60kohm or higher input impedance to work well with tube preamps which tend to have significantly higher output impedance. I do that with AUdio Research pre to Bel Canto Class D amp. Just a touch of warmth with this combo.
Also have a similar Bel Canto c5i all digital class d integrated amp. More neutral, not warm at all.
best-sounding class D amp?
Best one I’ve heard so far had been at our club audio meeting, the Belcanto Ref 600M monoblocks which use Hypex NC500 with I believe their own buffer, they were very good into a very high end two-way that used the top Raven ribbon tweeter "almost" livable for me.
Then we put them on a pair of B&W 803D3’s and they were not as well received, upper/mid highs were a touch hard with glare yet subdued at the same time, we concluded that the Ref600’s liked the pure resistive loading that the Raven Ribbon gave around a constant 6ohms, but not the more complex loading the B&W upper range had, because the same B&W’s sounded sweet as with a Pass Labs linear amp we also had there.
Over the decades I have owned quite a few class Ds. Of late (last 3 years) I had the Emerald Physics 100.2SE monos with special fuses), Audio Alchemy DPA-1, PS Audio M700s and now a no longer made EVS 1200. All of these were used with the same power cord connecting my Core Power 1800 to a 20 amp dedicated line. About 10 days ago, I decided to replace the boutique PC ($800) with a Wire World Electra 7 ($240).
I am in the "life- like" group who prefers sharp edges when they exist on the medium, dead quiet sound stage and excellent imaging. When I switched to the WW: BAM, but it's a blessing and a curse. Why? Because it doesn't soften ALL music as does the boutique PC, and not all CDs sound natural.
I suspect the PD Asuio M1200s, which have a tube input buffer, will sound comfy
I agree totally with tweak1. About 4 months ago I took a trip and listened to the Wyred for sound and Primare I25 and I 35. A small sampling for sure but heard enough of the I35 to prefer it over the WFS.
Why? The Primare seemed more natural to me. Transients and first notes decayed and attacked as they should. No leaning to either side with no roll off. That’s the kind of sound I prefer.
It is what makes things "real" sounding for me but I was a professional trumpet player once and anything can only come a stones throwaway at best from that type of sound.
I am pretty happy with my Nord NC500 MKII. It replaced a Pass XA30.8. And on a hot Socal day like today, I am SO SO happy to be running class D. It was ludicrous heat input from the Pass.
I also am using the Wireworld Electra 7 PC and it did respond well to it with nice smooth bass. My system is dead quiet too.
I just ordered the Benchmark ABH2 to have a shootout between the two.
I personally own the bel canto ref 500 S. I love the tight bass and sub low frequencies they present great micro detail. Though it’s a really picky amp imo. I went through two different tube pre amps, and tried about 4 different power cords.
I found the bel canto and the LTA microzotl preamp pair best together. That’s what’s playing in the background as I’m writing this post.
As someone mentioned Pass Labs. I’ll be receiving the xa25 in about two weeks. Two completely different presentations. Though the contrast will be an interesting study.
I once heard that bel canto amps need a year to break in. Though after using this amp off and on for about a year it comes into its own. I’d definitely say the ref 600 m used market would be a real treat.
They really need time to open up. They sounded grey and a bit bright for quite sometime. You’ll definitely need a tube pre for optimal sound.
Hope this info helps.