About one year ago I listened to the Clase CA 151 in comparison to the Classe CA 150. I could discern no appreciable difference between the two. I also happen to like the cosmetic styling of the older CA series better than the new series. With that being the case, I purchased a CA 150 used here on the AudiogoN site and paired it with a Classe Six preamp also purchased used through AudiogoN. The Six is sonically superior, IMO, to its predecesor, the Classe DR-6. I believe the excellent quality phono section alone on the Six is worth the preamp's value used. The older series Classe gear has been reviewed in many of the audiophile publications. These reviews can frequently be found in the product archives on the publication's (Stereophile magazine, etc.) websites. They might provide a starting point, or frame of reference, for comparison. Trust your ears, and good luck with your own comparisons.
The newer amps are perhaps a tad more top end extended throughout the new line. The CA151 might be the same as the older CA150 though. I liked the CA150 more than any of the other classe amps(never tried the CA400 though). I owned the CA100/150/300, all. The CA150 was the best of these, easily. However, the older amps were not that strong at all! They claimed doubling into 4 ohms, but I think this was stretched! They didn't drive several of my speakers that strong really, and didn't float the sound like they should have on speakers such as Thiel 2.3's(althought acceptable), and Sonus Faber Minima and Electa Amators. There are stronger amps out there, yes. Even McCormack DNA.5's, Aragon's amps, Krell's, Bryston, Pass X150, Coda 0-100,Older Threshold, etc, all were stronger. I like the sound for the money on the older CA series stuff, but top end is not as extended on the older series as other better stuff, and it's slightly Euphonic sounding, with less sharp immaging. Depending on speakers, for the money, you may get away with using the classe's with no problem. Well balanced amp for the $ though, worth a shot if the price is right...what speakers do you have?...preamp?...etc.
I had the CA 300 and liked it real well. I had a chance to buy the 301(demo) for a very good price and did. I found that the 301 did not have the hum that the 300 had. The 301 seemed more open, had more air in its sound. Both amps were ran in the same system and I like the 301 better in all area's. As far as what to buy, taht would be up to what kind of deal you can get. I could live with either design.However, sometimes I find myself regreting the fact that I did not spend a little bit more money to get the better model. Good Luck!!
I would suggest a used Boulder 102ae instead of any Classe product.
I have two Classe CA-400'S and love them very much. True big diffrence between Ca-200 and Ca-400 in the same system. 301's I have heard at the dealer and found to be hi-fi IN DIFFERENT SYSTEM AT THE DEALER. I am not saying it is due to 301 or rotel source they had, or B&W 802's or Aleph amps or combination as a whole. I am sticking with my CA-400's, plus they look a lot better and cleaner design.
I had a two Classe dealers tell me that the difference was purely cosmetic between the 00 and 01 series. I owned a CA-200 and listened to a CA-201, I couldn't hear the difference. I also like the older cosmetics better. I didn't buy the CA-201.
I'm a fan of the original Classe amps, designed by Dave Reich. They are the DR series...DR8, DR9, etc. You can pick these up used at a VERY reasonable price; pick up a pair and really have some fun. Careful, there's a ton of current flowing from these, if you get carried away you can easily fry crossovers.
The newer classe amps are much more musical than the older ones. The older series was pretty good. They have always been known for having a very warm presentation which is good because it makes vocals and instruments more realalistic sounding. best of luck
I have owned Classe DR10, CA-100, CA-200, CA-300. The CA-100 was truly an improvement over the DR10 especially in low-end bass detail. It separated the instruments better and was slightly more transparent over all.
I have listened to the CA-201 and didn't notice any difference between it and the CA-200. As for hum, I haven't experienced any hum problems with any of my Classe amps. However, some amps can be more sensitive to ground loop induced hum which is not necessarily the fault of the amp but of the setup. One way around hum (in many cases) is to run balanced interconnects.
In my system, the CA-200 was the "sweet spot". No noticable improvement going to the larger CA-300. My speakers are modest Thiel CS 1.5's. I have since sold off all my Classe gear only because I'm experimenting with tubes these days. If I go back to solid-state, it will likely be Classe again.
One additional note. There are TWO styles of CA-200. One with the heat sink fins on the back and the newer style with the heat sinks on the sides. The version with the fins on the sides is the model most identical to the CA-201 electrically. It is the style just before Classe went to the "less pretty" (in my opinion) CA-X01 series.
Thanks for all the help.
I've yet to do a comparision between the new and old amps but there are a lot of sweet deals on the CA 200, CA 150 and CA 400 out there. Prices, naturally, are about 40 to 50% cheaper than the newer models. If I buy the older amps, I am particularly keen on pairing a CP-50 with either the CA 200 or CA 400 power. My speakers are Sonus Faber GPs. The Classe dealers of course recommend the new amps, claiming as some of you have said, that they offer better air, dynamics and power in the new design.
I was trying to determine if the difference in sound quality was substantial enough to pay premium. Based on the feedback, maybe not. Preference is to get a used amp. Will keep you updated on my decision once I do a couple of auditions.
I upgraded from a CA100 to a CA201,mainly because my Martin Logan SL3's demanded it!The differance wasn't night and day but certainly an improvement ,music semms more easily reproduced and there is better seperation,with more soundstage,audition at home if you can.
Thanks for the advice. Would anyone care to add if 200 watts (thus I should buy at least CA 200/201 onwards) be the absolute minimum power needed for me to drive speakers like the Sonus Faber GP Home (they are full range floorstanders)?
I will. I know that Sonus Faber increased the sensitivity from 88db to about 90 (91?)db for the Home series of the GP, but I think you'll be best served with at least 200 wpc. Whether you choose Classe or another brand. I've always found that amplifiers act best when well within the realms of their power limitations. Especially with solid state amps. Amps sound their best when they are operating WAY below their clipping performances. IMHO. My speakers are Vienna Acoustic Beethovens (91db, 4 ohm), I'm driving them with a Threshold T400 (150/8ohms,300/4ohms). This is the 'weakest' amp I've used in years. I only 'make do' because the sonics are so good. The Threshold is the first amp that I've had that's less than 200 wpc in about 12 years. It is making it (power-wise), but I can tell the difference. Bottom line: Get the Classe 200/201 minimum. The 300 series would open a whole new world, but that's a different story.
If you want to decide between a CA200 and a CA201, go with the CA200. I had it confirmed by the sales manager for Classe that the major difference between the two is cosmetic.( that explains why the price for the 201 has not gone up from the 200 !).
The real difference, sonically, start from the CA301 upward all the way to the Omega. And this is why the pricing is also up significantly from the CA301.
I agree with some others here that the 01 series starting from the 301 have more extended highs, in fact they are more dynamic in comparison to the 00 lines.
To support my claims, I have the experience of starting from the CA150, to CA200 to the CAM-350 mono blocks I now have. One important point is when you want to pair any of these amps with a Classe pre-amp, you have to start at least from a CP-50. Anything less than that would be doing injustice to the new 01 series starting from the CA301, IMHO.
Happy hunting !
I second the advice to spring for the old series designed by the talented Mr. Reich, especially the DR-6 and DR-9. These may be just a little dark sounding but they are unfailingly musical even (or should I say, especially) compared to amplifiers of recent provenance.
A little bird tells me there is a set for sale for Sing$4500 at the second-hand dealer at Roxy's along East Coast Road.
That's a helpful tip.