Classic 6.1

When I auditioned my Tonian Labs TL-D1s, they were powered by an old, Audiolab 8000A and the combo was simply gorgeous to listen to. When I asked why the pairing, and why it sounded so beautiful, I was told that when the microphone and speaker are of a really good caliber, what goes between doesn't have to be so exotic, just simple. Signal quickly in, signal quickly out. No relays, opamps, coupling capacitors, valves, and anything else to slow things down. So while the maker of my speakers was trying to source an Audiolab for me, I came across the Classic 6.1.

It's made by Yushang, in China and is imported by Pacific Valve. It was listed here but now there is a waiting list. Put yourself on that list.

When I first got it, it was strident and at times two dimensional, a bit unfocused, and what have you. I know that one is not to listen, critically, to anything new until it breaks in, but the Classic had this wonderful leading edge that made me sit and torture myself until it got better. And better it got.

Now that the stridency is gone, it's just plain brash. Vivid would be a better
word. Nothing dominates but the sound. It's almost concussive, in your face but has tons of nuance and detail. Dynamics are there in spades so when a sax or clarinet struts itself, be prepared for the SPLs that are to come. Any percussion is most realistically produced and easy to discern be it wood, metal, drum head, etc. If fact, this amp loves percussion. Picked or plucked, strings are most convincingly portrayed. Pressure on frets, strength and velocity of keys be it accordian or piano or wind instrument are clearly delineated and add to the mix. Separation is top notch: no smearing or murkiness here. It's kinda like a domesticated rottweiler in metal: presence galore but it won't bite.

It still has some way to go to fully settle in but so far it's been fun. It's totally opposite of what I was accustomed but boy am I enjoying this. It's very well made: mil-spec wiring and casework, totally discreet topology, Toshiba output transisitors, Rubycon and Wilma caps, Alps motorized pot. And it uses this huge R-core transformer instead of a toroid (4Xs the cost but superior noise rejection and AC suppression). And it has a headphone jack but I haven't tried it out yet. The remote is small and kinda cute: just power, mute and volume.

There is a video at PacifcValve or YouTube that you can view to see the quality of construction. This amp was marketed under a different brand for more than twice the price. At its asking price, it should have other makes looking over their shoulders. Just thought I'd pass this on to anyone considering a good, bare bones, integrated amp. I'll try to have a full review when it fully breaks in.