My first impressions of my Portal Panache

I'm posting this thread because a few days ago there was a question about what power cord to use with a Portal Panache integrated amp. That post spawned a couple of inquiries about the amp and what it sounded like, etc.
Mine arrived yesterday along with a new pair of MIT Magnum 2 interconnects. Got everything installed this morning and have had the system running for almost 2 hours now and just had to post some comments starting with BLOWN AWAY! First let me mention my other 2 amps. A Jolida Reference 3205 (a highly modified 502A) and a modified Jolida JD1000A. I mention that only to put in perspective what kind of sound quality I had before. I just sold both of those amps because I wanted to try to kick my tube habit! With the Portal Panache it looks like I have done just that! This amp ROCKS. The music it makes is nothing short of incredible! I can hardly believe it costs so little for what you get in return. It's a fairly spartan looking amp and it isn't about bells and whistles but rather about exceptional build quality and making really good music while keeping the cost down. It's got gobs of power for a seemingly smallish amp. My speakers present a 4 ohm load...the Panache runs 200 watts per channel into 4 ohms. I have the volume at 11:00 right now and my room is so full of music I can hardly believe my ears. This amp throws a big soundstage..tall deep and wide. The bass kicks and punches and has visceral slam but without any boom or slop. The bass has a feeling of proper weight and speed to it and it just rolls along with the rest of the music. The midrange is big but feels very natural and balanced. It's right there in your face but it doesn't overwhelm you at all. There is a genuine sense of balance from top to bottom with the presentation.
I have been Lisitening to Joss Stone and right now it's Anastacia. Both of these ladies have a great big voice and it comes across as just that. Big and soulful with a palpable sense of the space they are occupying! Upper mids and high end are sweet and tight with no brightness or ear fatigue at all. The details and nuances jump out.
The Panache delivers fast, tight music that just rolls along effortlessly.
My source is a Rega Apollo cd player. Interconnects are MIT Magnum 2. Speakers are Chapman Sound Company T6's. Speaker cable is Analysis Plus Oval 9. My electronics are plugged into a Monster Power HTS 3600 MKII. That is then plugged into a Monster Power AVS 2000 voltage stabilizer. I have a Van Den Hul Mainsstream Hybrid power cord on the amp and the Apollo has an Analysis Plus Power 10 cord. Both of these are getting replaced with PS Audio xStream Plus cords in a couple of days.
To summarize, I have spent more for equipment in the past and gotten less music for my investment than I'm getting now with this set up. I don't see how you can go wrong with the Portal Panache. It really delivers the goods without having to mortgage the house. Most of us have some kind of audio budget that we have to live within but we still want as much music as that budget will allow. I for one can stand up and vouch for the Portal Panache and what it delivers. I have read the reviews like most of the rest of you. Everything I have read is exactly what I'm experiencing with one exception. I read that a lot of Panache owners experience a bit of a buzz through their speakers when there is no music being played. I have no buzz at all through mine. As a matter of fact the background on the Portal Panache is jet black!
I know this sounds like an ad for Portal Audio, but other than being a very satisfied customer and a happy Portal Panache owner, I have no affiliation with them at all. I'm just an audio nut looking to get the most mileage out of my audio budget. I just wanted to pass along my thoughts on this unit. I'm very excited about having added this amp to my lineup. You can't go wrong in my opinion because it has a 60 day trial priviledge that comes along with the purchase of a new unit. It's my understanding that not too many buyers take advantage of that return priviledge, and with what I'm hearing right now it's easy to believe that. I can honestly say that it's one of the best "bang for the buck" pieces I've ever purchased.
Happy listening and have fun everybody!
That Rega Apollo is a great player, and combined with the Portal you should indeed be happy. Congraulations- and Enjoy!
So have you upgraded the power cord yet?
I've had my Panache for only a couple of weeks and concur with your observations as far as I can. Living in an apartment doesn't allow for full volume listening so my experience is primarily at low level. That being the case let me add my observations to your comments.
The Portal is fantastic at low levels. I do alot of listening this way and this amp maintains its tonal balance all the way down. For me that means bass. Most amps will keep their balance with the exception of the lower frequencies, not so the Portal.
We'll be moving into our house soon and I'll have the opportunity to put the amp through its paces. Looking forward to it.
Enjoy guys. Glad you love your new gear.
I am the one that posted the thread about the Power cord upgrade. I ended up buying the MIT for 60 bucks and think it is a wonderful cable. It seems to have brought out a big difference in the speed and attack of drum kicks.

But anyhow, I do still have a very very slight buzz through both speakers. I was at my local dealer today and wanted to see if they had any noise coming through their speakers. The speakers were Sonus Faber Cremona, B&W 801 and 802. Equipment was Audio research pre and two of the new Classe mono blocks. All cables were richard gray.

They all have a very slight noise that comes through when no music is being played. Almost exactly like what I have. I guess this is just how things are.

I must put my ear up about 1-2 inches away from tweeter to hear it.
Excellent review. You've got me all worked up about whether to try a Panache! The biggest drawback for me would be the lack of remote volume control. That's a must for me. I simply am adjusting the volume all the time. I'd be up and out of my seat more than I'd be in it!

It would be very interesting to compare the Panache against the PS Audio PCA-2/PS Audio HCA-2 setup I'm running now. Anyone have insight into that?

I also can vouch for the wonderful sonic attributes of the Apollo cdp - I'm an Apollo owner. Yes, with wonderful amp/pre/integrated and an Apollo, you're getting a boatfull of good sound.

I know you're also running Chapman speakers, as I am. Our sound must be pretty close. If you're hearing anything like I am, then I can TOTALLY understand why you're so gleeful! Keep rockin'!
Hi guys. I'm glad to have gotten some responses to my post. I'm sure I sounded like a giddy school girl, but I am totally stoked with the way the Portal Panache is working out in my system. Joe Abrams of Portal Audio also saw my post yesterday and sent me an email regarding my comments. All of us audio nuts are spread all over the world, but Audiogon makes that world a whole lot smaller that's for sure.
Now, a few follow up comments. Timrhu, my PS Audio power cords will be here tomorrow so I can't comment yet on their performance. From what I have read about them they should work out very well. The cords I'm using now are pretty good cords in their own right so I'm very anxious to hear what affect the new cords have.
Rtilbury, I cannot hear any buzz whatsoever coming through my speakers from this amp. Not sure if it's because of the Moster Power stabilizing and conditioning gear I have all of my electronics hooked up to or not. I put my ear right next to the speaker and I just don't hear anything...which is good! It is my understanding however, that if you do have the buzz it in no way effects your listening experience.
And to my friend Doug Schroeder, you know exactly what I'm hearing sound wise. The Chapman speakers that we both have really put us both on the same page even though we have different electronics. If you find yourself coming to visit our neck of the woods, feel free to pack your amps for the trip and bring them to my place. We'll spend a couple days doing a/b the name of reaserch of course!...and fun! As far as the Portal not having a remote, that is not an issue for me although I realize it is for a lot of guys. I like louder listening levels so for the most part I just turn it up and leave it until I change cds at which point I need to get up anyway.
I find that the Portal Panache sounds very good at any listening level. It throws a rich and full soundstage and gives no indication of lacking anything at lower levels. At higher listening levels, this amp just gets up and runs without even breaking a sweat. I'm totally amazed with the performance I'm getting out of this amp. I really feel like I have spent my money wisely with the purchase of this unit.
Thanks for the responses everybody. Audiogon is certainly part of my audio habit and it's fun to hear what others have to say.
Happy listening and have fun everybody!
I can honestly agree with all the remarks about the Portal Panache. I just love it more and more everytime I listen to it. And you are right about the Buzz, IT effects the sound in now way, and cannot be heard when you are not putting your ear right next to it. I have heard that higher effenciancy speakers may allow you to hear more noise then a lower one. The tannoy are very efficiant and I suspect this may be a cause.

I would love to hear your comments on the new power cables you will be recieving soon. I too am looking to buy that power cord, and either moving the MIT z-II to my cd player or putting the PS Audio on the player.
Oh and I just wanted to comment on the remote thing. I was a remote man myself, constantly changing the volume from my chair. I thought I would never be able to live without it. But now that I am, I can honestly say I do not miss the remote. Not being able to change the volume just makes me set it to a nice setting and forget about it while I am listening. I rarely ever switch inputs and if I need to, I have no problem getting up for that.

I think you may find that living without a remote is a slight loss compared to what you gain with the Panache.

A remote for my CD player is another story though...
I was looking at the specs for the Panache and see that it is rated at 20db gain. This is on the low side for an amplifier (26db+ is more common). Without added gain from a preamp, I am wondering how well this works out. Do you get enough juice from this thing?
My Panache is in a small room so I rarely turn it up past 9 o'clock. There is no problem getting enough volume to drive me out of the room but the volume control is higher than most other systems I've owned.
It drives my Tannoys to ear bleeding levels at barely 11 o'clock. Normal listening is at around 8.
I have found that the Black Sand Violet Z1, which is fairly inexpesive compared to the PS Audio cable was a real improvement over the stock cord as well.I agree with the comments on the Potal Panache.I can not beleve that a amp in this price range sounds very close to the real expensive stuff like Lavardin,Plinius & YBA Passion.Admittedly ,these expensive amps are a little better across the board however they are much more expensive & the differences are fairly slight in most areas.