Class A or Class D solid-state amplifiers (modern designs)

Hey guys.


Class A is supposedly superior. Something to do with a conduction angle of 360 the entire signal gets processed in one go without crossover distortion.

But in terms of sound quality (subjective enjoyment) is there a benefit to Class A? Can class D provide the same level of enjoyment?


The dealer I’m talking to says that really nice Class A amplifiers are designed for "reference quality" meaning completely true to the real life performance.


Let’s compare and contrast. Which one is technically better?


In other words, could you have equal technical performance and quality in a Class D amp?


- Jack.


If I were in the market for a new amp, I'd definitely be looking at Atma-Sphere's new GaN class D monoblocks.  If there's anyone who will do class D justice, it's Ralph Karsten.  If they really give his tube amps a run for their money, then his class D might be very high level performers, and they aren't terribly expensive at $~5-6K.  For 2 channel, I've only owned one class D, the NAD C388.  It was very neutral, albeit a bit "dry" sounding in the treble, and perhaps a bit anemic in the midrange.  I don't think all class D is like that though.  It's all in the implementation, I have no doubt that some class D out there sound fantastic, I just have no interest in it at this point in the game.   

I haven’t heard these, and the size and price kinda makes me wonder, but AbSound gives them a product of the year award. The size is amazing. I am tempted to try a pair.

Orchard Audio Starkrimson Monoblock Power Amplifier


While virtually all Class D amplifiers use off-the-shelf output modules, the diminutive Starkrimson is built from a proprietary circuit topology of Orchard Audio’s own design. The Starkrimson features gallium nitride (GaN) transistors rather than silicon devices, which allow the switching stage to operate at a super-fast 800kHz, almost three times faster than conventional switching stages. This leads to fewer switching artifacts, lower THD, and higher SNR. With 150W into 8 ohms on tap, the Starkrimson yielded a remarkably transparent soundstage and a spacious presentation. The musical tapestry was vibrant with transients unleashed to their full dynamic potential. What also endeared it to reviewer Dick Olsher was its ability to scale dynamic peaks without changing its tonal character. This was coupled with stunning resolution of complex passages, which left DO thinking that this should not be happening with a $1500-per-stereo-pair amplifier. The Starkrimson sounds like a high-definition Class A amplifier, and surely offers a glimpse into the future of Class D amplification. An absolute must-audition, and our Budget Product of the Year.

Absolute Sound POY


Trying to label the value and quality of sound from an amplifier based on the class of the design is not useful. 

Totally this. Without knowing your system and budget, it's also difficult to make any suggestions.