Over the last several days, I have had the opportunity to listen to both the Classe CAP-151 and Plinius 9100 integrated amps in my system. As it has been the holiday time, I had the extra time to do some extended listening with all of my favorite CDs. As I am now in the hunt for a replacement amp for my Creek 5350SE, these were both on my potential list.
The Classe was the first, and it surprised me in many ways. First, it seemed to do everything right. Decent detail, good imaging and soundstage, if not very good, and a strong clear and clean sound. The main problem is that it is flat-out boring. It is not a very musical amp, and I'm sure for some people that is great, but..... A minor pick is the 20 second countdown before the amp will operate when first powered up. Having said this, it did a really good job on "Down to the River to Pray" by Allison Krauss on the Brother Where Art Thou CD.
Next came the Plinius 9100, which is supposedly a warm and musical amp. I really wanted to like this amp. It is warm and musical, if not quite lively. The detail is good too. The imaging and soundstage is good, but not better than the Classe in my system. Here's the problem. The Plinius appears to have a signature that is somewhat bloated. There just seems to be more there than should be. Something akin to a loudness button. Don't get me wrong the Plinius sounds very good, and no, I don't believe it is one of those situations that it is such a great amp that I am hearing specific things for the first time. Some people might love the sound of the Plinius, but after listening to the Classe, it just sounded wrong.
Right now I would love to have an integrated amp with the best of both the Classe and the Plinius. This leads to the question, will the Plinius 9200 fill the bill, and not have the same overemphasized sound of the 9100? I quess the 9200 is the next in my quest. Any thoughts?
Current system is:
Rega Jupiter CDP
Dynaudio 1.3MKII speakers
Acoustic Zen cables
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet