Classdaudio vs Channel Islands amps

I was wondering if anyone has heard any models from both Classdaudio and Channel Island amps. I searched the threads, but I couldn't find a comparison. I want to know how the two brands compare in terms of sound, durability, and build quality. I know that Classdaudio builds their own circuit board while Channel Islands use Hypex. I would appreciate any information.
Nothing wrong at all with Hypex, their nCore amps get rave reviews. Digital amps are really coming of age and I may make the switch from Class AB to Class D sometime in the near future...

Hi RW, has Channel Islands now switched to Hypex Ncore? I thought they were still using Hypex UCD. G.
Channel Islands use Hypex UCD. This is what the owner told me this week.
I know that amps from both companies have received good reviews, but I would like to see a comparison between the two. Even though they are both class D, they are based on different modules. I do like that Classdaudio manufactures their own modules, which is probably why they can pass the savings onto the customer.
Having had extended conversations with Dusty Vawter of Channel Islands during the past three years, and receiving emails from him of the interior of the D-500 MKII, he has applied major upgrades to the D-500 MKII by adding a large power supply and a beefy toroidal transformer and adding his own DC power supply board. I respect companies that take small, lightweight Class D switching modules and power supplies and add major upgrades to make a far better product than just slapping in the switching and power modules and adding fancy wiring in a pretty cabinet and charge an outrageous retail price. The Class D Audio amps look like a damn good deal for the price. Another company to consider as well with high powered budget priced Class D amplifiers using the very innovative Pascal switching and power modules is D-Sonic out of Texas. Jeff Rowland recently utilized Pascal amps into two of his newest Class D products.
I am stumped..having over looked Class D Audio in recent months I decided last evening to read reviews of their SDS-470C amp on blogs and forums of consumers who recently purchased the amp and the one positive issue that keeps coming up is that it sounds very much like a tube amp with a lush, warm midrange character with out standing bass and a very smooth sweet treble. For $700.00 and completely made in the U.S.A., this very well could be the sleeper giant that will make fools of all of us thinking we have to spend well over $1K or more for a good quality Class D amp.
This is exactly why it's so hard to choose. Class D Audio is such a great value. The owner is so nice and helpful too.
Izora, see below for a response I posted in July regarding this subject. It's not about the same model you're considering, but it's from the Class D Audio family. My suggestion ... just go ahead and get one in for a no cost audition. If it meets your approval, keep it ... if not go on to the next amp.

One of the great things about this hobby is that it's part of a cottage industry. I've spoken with Dusty, Tom of Class D Audio, and Tommy O at Digital Amp Co. My personal experience is that talking to manufacturers either on the phone or in person at audio shows is of little value. They all feel they have a product that belongs in your home and in your system. In the final analysis, only you can make that call.

I tried the SDS-254 and it was natural sounding and compared well with other Class D designs that I auditioned. Sound-wise it was tilted up on the low end a bit. All together I had the following in my system: Nuforce, Bel Canto, Wyred4sound, Channel Island, and Class D Audio.

To my ears, and in my system, the Nuforce bettered the Channel Islands but only slightly ... and at more than twice the cost ($2,400 vs $5,000). I am currently running CI Audio D-200's. The Class D offering was a close third. Unlike a few others, I was not very impressed with either Bel Canto or W4S. Both are ICE module based and were very detailed and clear ("Everything being right with no soul"). They were bought used and sold for about the same amount.

Finally, you can get the Class D direct from the mfg and audition in-home for at least a month. He's a good guy to deal with as well; and in terms price/performance ... you can't go wrong. Just my 2 cents.
Izora..I got an email today from Tom at Class D Audio regarding to know the input impedance of the SDS 470 which is 45Kohms, and the gain, which is adjustable on the back for each channel which can be set up to 34db's which makes it easier to match with Preamp's that have a high or low voltage output. Looking at the pics on the Class D Audio site of the SDS-470 kit, I'm impressed that it
includes a toroidal transformer, and a power board that has six large capacitors. I'm amazed that in the assembled version it sells for $700.00, which has enough under the hood to sell for $2K to $3K from other companies. Tom mentioned he makes very little profit and his sales are very strong in Europe.
So according to your experience, you put the Channel Islands amp ahead of the Class D Audio one... very interesting.
I'm thinking about buying an assembled version since I've never made anything. Tom said it's pretty simple to put together, but I'll probably still have a hard time. The assembled ones are still a great value.
I was also interested in the Digital Amp Co. cherry amps, but they are more expensive than other class D amps. Have you heard these amps? These would have to sound at least 4 to 5 times better (to my ears) than the Class D Audio amps to justify the higher price.
Izora..don't let higher prices trick you into believing you will get better sound. Thats walking into fools gold territory. There are testimonials from over forty customers on the Class D Audio website who have purchased their amps and the one thing that is impressive is that most describe the amps as having a very smooth, warm organic character like tube amps. I owned in the past the Nuforce REF 9 MKII's back in 2006 and they were very neutral but had no warmth and did not care for their high frequencies or bass. I believe you can have the power supply upgraded in the Class D Audio SDS-470C and if thats confirmed, I will be purchasing the amp in about ten days and will keep you posted on my listening results. During the past year Jeff Dorgay with Tone Audio Magazine commented to me on his review of the Channel Islands D-500 MKII mono blocks and said they are great amps but definitely not warm. I've held off during the past two years hoping to run across a warm sounding Class D amp thats not ICE, and Class D Audio seems to have achieved that quality based on all the customer's who purchased their amps.
Izora, yes I prefer the CI Audio D-200's to the Class D Audio amps. To me the D-200's are more neutral in my system. Never listened to the Cherry's ... hence no comment. I only communicated with the owner/designer. That's my point. Talking to the owner/designer doesn't determine if I'm going to like their product in my system and in my listening environment.

Everything on the list in my embedded comment has any number of fanboys and detractors. I made up my mind by listening and comparing. In the case of the Class D to Channel Islands ... those were compared directly as I was able to go back and forth. So, I'll leave this thread alone and sign-off with the familiar Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). Good luck and happy listening.
I was also impressed with all the customer reviews on Class D Audio amps. You're right - higher prices don't equate to better sound. I need to keep reminding myself of this and not fall into big manufacturers' marketing traps.

I have a friend who used to be a dealer. I was astonished to learn that speakers usually have a 50% dealer markup and most other audio gear have a markup of up to 40%. So basically, customers are paying for the dealer to operate a business. I guess this is what happens when you have a middleman. So I wonder how much a $5,000 amp is really worth after you figure in expenses for marketing, advertising, employees, dealers, and so forth. It seems like most people pay a price for a recognized brand name.

Anyway, I've also been looking for a good class D amp besides ICE. I guess we're in the same boat. Did you look into the Hypex NCore technology? It seems like the responses have been very favorable. I can't afford the retail version, but there's a DIY version. I have a strong feeling that I'll probably just buy an assembled Class D Audio amp. Yes, do let me know how it goes if you purchase one.
Bruno's Ncore NC1200 power module has a very low distortion rate, one of the lowest in the industry for Class D. There's a HD video that was just uploaded recently on Youtube of the Merrill Veritas amps at $12K a pair using the Ncore NC1200 and the SMPS1200 playing through a pair of Sanders speakers. Sound very good. Both modules are very small and fit in the palm of your hand and wholesale for about $1K a set. Merrill is laughing all the way to the bank since he sell's direct with $2K of Ncore electronics in a pair of his monoblocks. Waaaay overpriced. Check out the Google images photos of the Class D Audio interior of the SDS-470 amp. You get a helluva lot for $700.00. One customer on the Polk Audio forum had the SDS-470 upgraded to the Yamaha Nichicon capacitor's that are 17K microfards with a 71 volt output. Not sure if that was a factory upgrade or done at home.
Correction..The SMPS1200 is the power supply, not the NC1200 which is the switching module.
Izora..I worked in retail for several years back in the 80's and in 2005 started a high end retail business that had a short life since my silent JV partner in Oregon was hit hard with his wife coming down with Cancer. She never recovered and he pulled out providing investment capital so I went out of business. The discount range in high end audio retail varies between 40% and 55% based on bracket buying. Iy you buy one to three amps wholesale its a 40% discount. If you buy five amps its 50% discount. Buy ten amps and you get 55% off. This is why I get pissed off at some companies selling factory direct at very high rip off prices to consumers at no discount who do not have to sell to retailers resulting in doubling their profit margins and screwing consumer's. Class D Companies such as Class D Audio, D-Sonic, DAC, Wyred4Sound, Arion, and a few other's recognize this and keep their prices low for the consumer. The highest profit margin's for manufacturer's and retailer's are cable's.
Izora..if you buy the Class D Audio SDS-470C and like to drive an amp hard, Tom recommends a power supply upgrade for $60.00 which would take you from 28K microfarads to 60K microfarads. The larger power supply upgrade consists of six caps at 10K microfarads each and each cap has an 80 volt output.
Well...heck..exploring further on Class D Audio comes up more negative than positive. On one forum I read that a customer purchased a Class D amp and the packaging was terrible. The amp was thrown in a carton with nothing more than styrofoam chips poured around the amp instead of solid foam bars with cutouts holding the amp in the center of the carton. One of the circuit boards broke away from the mount screws and moved back and forth. Had to send back. There is no phone number anywhere on the Class D Audio website.
I came across photos of the D-Sonic M2 and M3 amps and more impressed than ever. The M2 and M3 top models use the same amps. The M2/M3 600M mono blocks uses Abletec amps and their M3 1500M uses Pascal amps. A review by a consumer on the Polk Audio forum who bought the M2 600M mono blocks had them burned in for a month running them through a pair of KEF Q speakers and found them to be warm, very organic, presenting the music with a very powerful flowing ease with no strain whatsoever. D-Sonic is still at the top of my list for best value for Class D amps.
That's very disconcerting to hear about Class D Audio. I noticed that there was no phone number anywhere on the website. I actually found the number on the internet when I called.

I'm still trying to find a good class D amp. I think I crossed off D-Sonic from my list because it's made in China. I prefer to buy American made. Do you have any other suggestions?
Hi Izora, have you confirmed with the manufacturer that D-Sonic amps are assembled in China? Even if they were, the underlying Pascal or AbleTech power conversion modules come from Northern European companies.

There are a number of manufacturers of new generation class D amps.... Prices range from below $1K to over $50K... So giving an open ended suggestion is a little difficult.

Regards, G.
Actually, I read on a forum that the amps are made in China. I should have made sure instead of making assumptions. Anyway, I just called D-Sonic, and I was told that they are made in Texas... yay!

I'll definitely look into D-Sonic, but I'm still seriously considering the Class D Audio amp since it's half the price of D-Sonic.
Izora...have no reservations about the very high build quality of the Abletec amps manufactured in China. I'm not sure about Pascal but the very low priced D-Sonic amps with the Pascal modules would indicate thats the case since all the D-Sonic amps are very low priced. The following companies manufacture most of their high end products in China. Cambridge Audio. Musical Fidelity. KEF Speakers. B&W Speakers. Polk Audio. Prima Luna. Cayin. Vincent Audio. Just to name a few of a longer list I could provide. The D-Sonic M3 1200S stereo amp and their M3 600M mono amp use the Abletec ALC 1000 mono block amps designed by Patrik Bostrom of Sweden with Anaview AB, which he sold to Abletec in early 2010 and became their Chief Technical Officer. Abletec was acquired earlier this year by the Etal Group in Sweden that have branches all over the world including Hong Kong. Patrik Bostrom is recognized in the high tech world as a Class D wizard throughout Europe and is one of the most brilliant leaders today in the advancement of Class D technical engineering and the recent patents he retains on his innovative Class D designs. You will not find a better Class D amp anywhere today in the price range of the D-Sonic amps with the Abletec phase shifting modulation modules, which is better than pulse width modulation which has been common in Class D-amps for many years.
It doesn't bother me too much that the Abletec amps are made in China since D-Sonic assembles the amps in the U.S. Hopefully quality control isn't an issue.

Which D-Sonic amps are Abletec and which are Pascal? I'm interested in the M3-800S. What are the differences between the two? You seem to know a lot about class D amps.

I'm still very tempted to purchase a Class D Audio amp. I wish I can compare these amps side by side. Unless I hear a significant difference, it wouldn't be worth it for me to purchase the D-Sonic at double the price of Class D Audio.
Izora..Dennis will not answer questions regarding which amps he uses in his models. I have spent well over two hours of phone conversations with Dennis during the past eight months. I find it very hard to believe they are assembled in the U.S. The amps are OEM products and I suspect they are unpackaged from large shipping cartons off pallet boards from China and are re-packaged into single carton's in Texas. You will not find in print on the back of any D-Sonic amp "Made in the USA". Regarding Pascal of Denmark that has been in business since 2006. They also have a new Class D technology called UMAC Class D that is a patented design. The technical engineer that designs the Pascal amps is Jesper Hansen. Currently, Bruno Putzeys with Ncore, Patrik Bostrom with Abletec, anf Jensen Hansen with Pascal have all designed new Class D technologies that puts these guys out front as the current leaders of the newest Class D technologies on the market.
I don't understand why Dennis refuses to answer questions about the products he sells. Consumers have a right to know what they're buying. It's not an unreasonable request, but his refusal bothers me. It makes me not want to buy his products because it feels like he's hiding something. Perhaps he doesn't want to give away his technology... I don't know.

As for made in USA, Dennis told me himself that the amps are made in Texas. I hope he wasn't making it up... who knows? There are too many uncertainties with this company and amps. I think I'll just stick to Class D Audio for now.
The amps are not made in Texas. D-Sonic gives the impression that the amps are in house designs which is why he won't answer questions since D-Sonic wants to avoid that the amps are manufactured by Pascal and Abletec. Rich with the Abletec office in New Jersey told me five months ago that Dennis buys Abletec amps for D-Sonic.
Oh good grief. I wish he would have just been honest about it. I don't appreciate the fact that he blatantly lied to me.
I have Abletec modules right now.... but when I'm done, my finished amp will be made in Missouri.... Yes, I purchased the modules from Europe, but I folded, drilled my case, added jacks, connectors and boards, wired and hopefully this weekend will have a finished amp made in Missouri.
I won't say that overall, I'll call it a DIY Abletec amp, but its all how you look at it. All assembly other than the amp modules were most likely done in Texas. I'm sure that is where Dennis is coming from.
All, a sourcing clarification is in order... I just spoke to Dennis at D-Sonic:

* D-Sonic power amplifiers are manufactured/assembled near Houston (TX), USA.

* Some of the power conversion modules (or amplification modules) employed in D-Sonic amps may be physically manufactured in China.

As such, any information implying that D-Sonic purchases fully assembled amplifiers from China is incorrect. Only some component parts may originate in China.

Thanks for clearing it up. :) first conversation with Dennis last winter basically was the same information he told Izora that his amplifier's are made in Texas, which is completely false, strongly implying they are his own designs. It wasn't until several months later I saw his amps with the tops off and discovered they were Abletec's and Pascal's. I called him and mentioned they are not D-Sonic amps and when I brought up the subject of Abletec and Pascal, he stated, " I will not comment on the Class D amps in my models". He did admit a month later that the M2 1500M amp he purchases is completely built by Pascal, an X-PRO model, and he adds an additional small red circuit board at the input stage, and mentioned his other amps with lower power output have no additions, just wiring, and connectors added. I have called and spoken to other companies making class D amps such as Clear Audio, Channel Islands, Arion, Bel Canto, Nuforce, DAC, and others, and all these companies were right up front about the brands of amps they use or they are in house designs. Reports I've read on D-Sonic during the past eight months have repeatedly mentioned that his manufacturing is done in China. If Dennis wasn't so Cloak and Dagger and Mission Impossible stealth by not revealing and answering very simple questions that customers have the right to know, then I wouldn't be so darn skeptical about where he's coming from. By the way Gudio, are you brain dead? You state that "some of the power conversion modules or amplification modules employed in D-Sonics amps "may" be physically manufactured in China" is absurd. The Pascal and Abletec amps have no separate power modules. The power conversion/power supply and the switching amp in both Abletec and Pascal amps are all integrated on one main board and not on separate boards as the Ncore NC1200/SMPS1200. The bottom line is that the Pascal X-PRO and the Abletec ALC 1000 amps are fully assembled complete amps that Dennis uses and they are absolutely not manufactured in Texas.
Audiozen, please consider watching your language... Whether or not my cerebrum -- or anyone else's cerebrum -- is operational or not, is a matter not material to the topic of this thread.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming... The problem is a confusion of terms caused mostly by the suppliers of class D power amplification modules... While strictly speaking, Pascal/AbleTec/Hypex may be correct in calling their products "amplifiers", without further qualifiers, the usage causes occasional misconceptions an unnecessary panic by audiophilic consumers.

For our purposes, It may be best to refer as "amplifier" the end product complete with the pretty metal box that you Audiozen purchase from our beloved designers/integrators, while the class D engine inside the box is best referred to as the ""amplification module", or the "power conversion module". The terms are largely interchangeable. Some power conversion modules may also include an integrated SMPS, others have an off-board SMPS which may or may not always be utilized by the OEM designer/manufacturer/integrator. in many entry level products, the power conversion module may be the only active components, in progressively more sophisticated implementations, the module is just one active component of a potentially complex circuitry.

D-Sonics is a designer/integrator who manufactures near Houston (TX) end-user entry-level power amplifiers which are based on Class-D power amplification/conversion modules and other component parts sourced from a potentially multi-national/global supply chain.

While Dennis has this far declined to discuss at any length the origin/brand/model of the modules, there exists some empirical evidence that D-Sonic may be using Pascal modules as engines in some of its power amplifiers, and Abletec modules in other ones.

I am aware of what a separate power module is..Dennis told me directly he adds no additions to the amps he uses from Pascal and Abletec, only to the Pascal X-PRO he uses in his M3 1500M..Let me repeat myself Guido...D-SONIC DOES NOT MANUFACTURE AMPLIFIERS IN TEXAS..Dennis uses B&O ICE in his multi-Channel amps, and only Pascal and Abletec in his mono and stereo amps which Dennis has admitted to me directly. There is no such thing as a in house D-Sonic amplifier designed by Dennis, who is not an amp designer, he has a professional background in metal work, not in electronics. "there may be some empirical evidence that D-Sonic may be using"..he is definitely using the Abletec ALC-1000 and the Pascal X-PRO. The interior photos speak for themselves since they are identical twins of company pics from Abletec and Pascal. Dennis does not manufacture separate power modules for the Pascal and Abletec amps he uses.
Guido..."end-user entry level-power amplifiers?"..what an insult to Patrik Bostrom who recently designed the worlds finest Class D amplifier with Leif Olufsson, the M-Amp of the Marten company in Sweden. If anyone wants to take the time to check out the genius of Patrik Bostrom, go to the Marten home page and click on the PDF download brochure for the M-Amp which goes into extensive technical detail and the brilliant design applications of Bostrom's shear wizardry. An excellent read.
The bottom line is that I don't give a rat's ass if the D-Sonic amps are made in Texas or China. Dennis Deacon is a great person who got way ahead of us recognizing the innovative amps from Pascal and Abletec. He mentioned he has listened to just about every Class-D amp including Ncore, and the Abletec and Pascal amps are the very best he has heard to date. Hell, if he was in it for the money, he could buy the Ncore NC1200/SMPS1200 for a $1000.00 a set, buy two sets and put them into two mono blocks, and rip you off and sell them for $12000.00 a pair like the Merrill Veritas amps and really screw you blind.
Audiozen, you may be misunderstanding what I said...

* With "Entry level" I refered to the pretty box that you order from the integrator, not the underlying power conversion module inside it... Yes, until now, D-Sonic consumer offerings have been entry level. The same or similar module used in an entry level power amplifier may be used in some very sophisticated end user products, like the Martin amps.

Hey Azen the Martens better be the best for $45000 per pair!
Which manufacturers use Abletec in their amps/integrated amps besides D-Sonic and Marten?
Are there any class D amps that have a high bandwidth? Not all manufacturers publish this information.
Parasound uses Abletec amps in their multi-channel Zamp Quattro amplifier. TEAC uses Abletec in their AI-501 DA integrated amplifier.
Patrik Bostrom has filed six patents in the U.S. patent office on his Class D technology between March 2011 and December 2012.
So what, the M amps cost $45,000 - unless the technology trickles down the vast majority of folks won't be able to avail themselves to this
Now now Facten..I was just answering Izora's question. You are right that the majority of folks won't be able to avail themselves to this..after all..Bill Gates has two M-Amps in the trunk of his Maybach Landaulet. (just kidding)..
Everyone, thanks for all your input. I'm still interested in class D amps, but I'll wait until more advancements and improvements have been made. It seems like they're getting better and better. I went ahead and bought a Parasound A21 amp. This is my first amp, so I guess I wouldn't know any better since I can't make any comparisons with other amps.