"This Latest Digital Amp Is Great "

I see this so often. I wish it would happen.
I really think the builders of these amps shoot themselves in the foot, by rushing to market.
How many of these "Last Word In Digital" amps come out, get great press, then start down the modkateer path for hundreds of dollars in improvements.
These things are supposed to be simpler, sound as good or better than all the best analog amps, and be cheaper.
It hasn't happenned!
I understand the concept of building to a price point.
I don't think anyone has come close, except PS Audio, with the HCA-2. They are a bargain here used, in my opinion.
All the rest are overpriced.
I'm still waiting. It'll finally cool off here in Phoenix soon, and my Cary CAD 300 SEI will glow & those 15 watts of 300B will still rule my audio world.

Curious which amps you're referring to? I just listened to the JRDG Concerto Integrated which boasts an Icepower amp section, and think it's rather amazing. The last word in ampflication, digital or otherwise, probably not, but definitely does what it says. Granted, it's in another price level than the PS audio stuff (btw, was totally unimpressed with their Gain Cell control amplifiers) but I wouldn't imagine modding it. I see what you're saying, but there are a lot of companies not claiming to be the last word in digital amplification, but still producing great products, often with attractive price tags (Channel Islands, Bel Canto, etc.). Curious which one's you've heard and not liked?
I think there are some pretty nice digital amps out there. The ones I'm most familiar with are Spectron and Bel Canto. As technology evolves, I'm sure there will be many more. I have the JRDG Concerto integrated that Mimberman refers to, and I think it's fantastic. It doesn't sound digital at all--just incredibly clean, clear, and powerful. If you look closely enough, you'll find some pretty sweet digital units.
I replaced Pass Labs x 600 monos with a class D ICE powered amp. I replaced that amp with an even better sounding ICE powered amp. There is no turning back for me.
All a matter of taste. I actually prefer the digital amplifiers to some tube and SS.Not to mention equipment synergy is a key.
Do you think the Sonic Impact is overpriced at $39 MSRP? It's certainly not "the last word" in digital amplification, but it is better than some 3X-4X times more expensive units and some folks actually think it is great in their systems.

Now, when the module from the SI is mod'd into the Clari-T by Redwine Audio, it is a differnt story. If you can live with only 8 watts/channel, the Clari-T might set the bar for best bargain at its $500 price-point.

I've read several reviews/comments on the Channel Islands D-100 and D-200 stating they are truely "world class" and they are very affordable.

And you comment about simpler: You must be joking! Are you saying your Cary is as simple as a Digital chip amp? I don't think so...

Digital amps may not "float your boat" and that's fine. There is something to be said for the sound of a good tube amp and that sound may never be duplicated with a digital amp. But for many "budget audiophiles" digital/switching amps will be their end game.


Muralman, you exhibited exemplary restraint. Well done.
I'm in the process of looking for, and buying an amp for my new Sophias. Yep,read the claims on the evos and CH.I amps.---Seems I need to pay enough to satisfy my inner audiophool self.---Or hear one driving my speakers;without throwing away a couple of hundred---Much rather throw away thousands on the wrong amp--??__ Looking at a Belles 350a ref--- Just read about the Ayre 5vx or whatever #---???
I am with Daniel on this one. Have tried the Rowland 201 and Bel canto evo4 g2. While bel canto is much better, they still don't compare to tubes or a good solid state amp.

I have yet to try the H20 or Channel Island but unless they are way better than ROwland or Bel, I wouldn't bother.
I for one can say I auditioned both the Rowland 201's and the 501's... while some areas were alright, they didn't grab me the way the Rowland 302 does.

I did purchase, and do still own an ICE based pair of monoblocks that continue to amaze me... they don't look as good as the jewelry casing of the Rowlands, however the Rowlands don't sound as good as what I purchased... IMHO, and as always, YMMV... only advice I can stress is audition *any* of the amps with your own gear, as some of these are more critical of system matching than others as well...
"Exemplary restraint". Agreed.

Mind you, having built many of these new "digital" amps, the ones based on a certain platform are more load dependent than I would like. I would caution anyone who is disappointed by them to give them another listen on a totally different system.

In addition, their sound is, well...........different. Certain aspects that we have come to expect may sound too different for some tastes. To be honest, I do not have an explanation, only conjecture as to why.
I've owned the Acoustic Reality, with the ICE module.
It sounded good to me, but I hated that ridiculous triangle where all cables were stuffed.
I auditioned an Adcom HCA-2, it definitely seemed much more polished of a design than the A.R.....
I seem to like the sound of the digital amps that use a conventional toriodal transformer. I believe they are less susceptable to AC line noise, (and cause less line noise).
I bought a Sonic Impact amp, I just haven't made it to Radio Shack for the required adapters needed to try the amp out.
I am partial to MOSFET amps. I prefer a musical sound over the deep base of the various Bipolar output amps.
If a digital amp comes out that sounds like a 300B SET, I'll buy it. So far, nothing comes close.
I agree thinking that they're overpriced for what they are. I suspect that's why alot of small companies are making them and these same companies have little experience designing amps so they keep coming out with better versions. Unlike Rowland, Bel Canto and PS Audio who have been designing gear for years. Me, I think I'll just stay with my analog amp til the dust settles.
It's not jsut digital amps. Every so often, a product or product category grners all kinds opf buzz for a bit, then a new fad comes along. Look at all the posts a while ago on the European oversampling CD players (EMC, Audio Aero, Audiomeca). I don't see too many posts about them any more, but a couple years ago (?), it seemed like they were the must have item. I'm not saying they were the best, or the hype was unfounded, (I've only heard them breifly in unfamiliar systems), but the hype comes and goes. Be careful not to get too caught up in it, or you can lose a lot of money. It's also interesting to pay close attention to where the hype si coming from. Sometimes, there are just a couple people posting about a product every chance they can. If you're not paying attention, you might think there are lots of different people posting, when in facdt, it's the same guy.
Honest1, do you mean such individuals as Muralman1? heehee.
Flavor of the day soon to be forgotten.
Well, Art, how do you conjecture the sound of my amps? It has been my experience, class D amps differ from each other in sound more than between the best solid states, and tubes.
You know, it amazes me the number of people who join product audio discussions just to do social commentary.

There must be someone in my vicinity who can drop in for a listen. The proof is in the listening, not my hype, or reviews. I am in N CAl.
I've owned the Acoustic Reality, with the ICE module. It sounded good to me, but I hated that ridiculous triangle where all cables were stuffed.
I auditioned an Adcom HCA-2, it definitely seemed much more polished of a design than the A.R.....

So you actually liked the amps? And yet, you initiate a thread in order to dismiss an entire sector without having heard most of its product offerings? This is a most disingenuous thread, Danielk141. As well, you could have easily predicted that it would become a discussion in which its proponents would also be trashed. And for what purpose?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big SET fan myself. Love the 300B amps. MOSFETs, too. I've heard two digital setups myself, including Muralman1's. While they are not my cup 'o tea, I can certainly understand that others would find them to be the end all. They reproduce music in a way that SS and tubes don't IMO, and isn't that enough of a foundation to respect a difference of opinion? In my view, it certainly is. I still don't get it. You LIKED the two amps that you heard!

Honest1, you may not know but the Audio Aero Capitole was used in over half of the rooms at CES. So clearly, whatever hype might have existed has translated into a concrete presence in the marketplace. However, what concerns me further in your post--Honest1?--is your dishonest allusion to a one-man hype show regarding the H20 amps, which is an obvious invitation to gang up on Muralman1. Witness the subsequent posts. Yes, I happen to know Muralman1, personally, if you want to call that a disclaimer. Yes, I've read all of his posts on the H20. No, I don't agree with his conclusions about the H20. But if someone is happy with his/her system, what business is it of mine to tell them that they shouldn't be? Even more important, I have yet to see cause for anyone here to pummel any member of this community as though you have located the punk on the playground. In my view, this thread is merely inciteful, and apologies are in order.
Well, Vince........

I have built amps using several of the new self-oscillating amps modules. I have also heard some of the competing brands using the same modules.

Maybe because I have spent 20+ years trying to build conventional amps, that I am more tuned to the differences between them. I built open-loop designs, and they are perhaps more prone to revealing minute changes in power supply design.

As for the Class D ones........

They seem less prone to power supply changes. While the guys who design the modules are all convinced that theirs is better than the next guys, my beta testers say something else.

Yes, they can tell A (module) is different than B (module). Although, press them to say which they prefer, and they all come up blank.

For conventional amps, it is usually easy: "This one has more bottom end and dynamics. I want this one." You do not hear that much difference between the various Class D modules in that regard, so it makes it harder for them to chose.

If I am not mistaken.........you probably have speakers with a very low impedance. Could be that what you use mates up
better than with other amps that you have tried.

Personally, I am not fond of a certain brand into low-Z loads. There is too much interaction between the load and the output LPF. There are other brands that claim to have solved this problem. Ask me in about a month or two: I should know by then.
Boa, I suggest you may want to go easy on 'ol Honest1.

While the amps that Muralman admits he's been hyping are probably fine devices, it's just the over-the-top quantity of posts that's being exposed by the Honest guy. Between here and AA, I'm almost embarrassed for the Mural fellow on how many "best ever heard - nothing comes close" posts he's put up for this thing. If you didn't pay close attention to who's posting these things you'd think there's a real trend going on, versus someone who's just pushing something his friend puts together. Enthusiasm is a good thing - Extremism gets old quick.

I think Honest1's warning is a good reminder - it was only 6 months ago that the hype and shilling for DK as the best thing ever heard was being foisted on us - look at what they're selling for now. Anyone who bought into that hype sure has to be regretting it right?
Anybody remember black and white television, piezo electric phono cartridges, 8 track tapes, direct drive turntables, beta VCR, Heil tweeters, and audio cassettes? Maybe digital amps are next in succession.
I don't disagree with your points. My question is: why was this thread necessary? It comes off as instigating a conversation destined to turn confrontational and demeaning. And so it went.

I've heard the Flying Moles. I just can't believe they still go for $700.00 a pair. They can't cost very much to make.......
I tried a friends Spectron in my house on Watt/Puppy 5.1s
with Transparent Cable & a Theta Gen Va. It sounded better than many conventional amps. Unfortunately, it was already superseded in the line by the time I auditioned it.
I've followed the threads here & I'd like to hear the H2O amps. Anything that can drive an Apogee Scintilla is serious in my book. There just isn't anyone in the Phoenix area that carries them for audition. Ditto for the Nuforce.
I don't see myself as dismissing the whole sector of digital amps - there will probably be a couple more coming to market (and press) this week.
I do listen to the seasoned audiophiles here. Many have posted there systems & I am familiar with the popular amps & other gear they reference. When someone says a digital amp sounds better than their X600s, I'm interested. And if
that amp can be heard locally, I'll be there.
Daniel141K, Thanks for the additional comments. If you're a 300B (or SET, in general) lover, the digital stuff may/may not be for you, but it's definitely worth a listen, IMO. I really like the H20 amps, personally. While they won't likely end up as part of our mini arsenal of audio schtuff, they do sound fantastic. Again, just my opinion.
I think that the "digital" amp revolution.......if you can call it that......is here to stay. Especially for 5(+) channel systems, where escessive heat, weight, and space are too much of a hassle for the owner.

Sure, I would like to sell everyone here one of our amps. But I know that they are not for everyone. They do "sound" different. Doesn't mean better or worse, just different.

As for the flavor of the month:

You bet. This month, one brand will be the one that gets all the buzz in the press. Then someone else comes out with a new module, and we will play musical chairs, following each new amp peddler that shoves one in their products. Sure, a few die-hards wills stick to their guns, claiming that theirs is still the best............they were the first, so they will always be the benchmark, etc., etc., blah, blah.

We have all heard this song before, just with different lyrics.
Ar_t You really need to identify yourself as a commercial individual in complete disclosure. To not do so is highly unethical. Your posts should be viewed with that in mind.
Unless you are someone who just "knows" what's technologically the best, I don't think what inside an amp should be of much concern to a listener. If it sounds good, then it is a good amp whether it's digital, tube, single-ended, ambidextrous or socialist (if an amp can be emotional it can also be a socialist).

It's very clear to me from reading his above two posts that Ar_t is a manufacturer and I actually appreciate the fact that he doesn't tout his product by name nor does he say that digital amps are better than competing designs.
I thought that I did mention that I was a manufacturer. Maybe not in this thread. Sorry for the confusion. I am mainly here to answer questions, as my products have been mentioned by others, and it resulted in confusion since I was not the one who brought them up. When your phone rings, and people tell me that someone is talking about our amps, it only made sense to see what was going on. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be here. Although, the exposure doesn't hurt.

I would prefer to answer questions that are technical in nature, but not specifically about our products. No sense in helping the competition. Most of us are regular guys, trying hard to make a living by making good sounding gear, that is affordable and a welcome addition to one's system. Small manufacturers have a hard enough time as it is, without the need to slit each other's throat.

But back to "digital amp" modules............

I can not see many of the "big boys" jumping on them with zeal. They have spent the last 20 or so years telling us that they have all the answers. How are they going to justify that they may have been wrong? So, that leaves the small fish to lead the way.

The problem that I foresee......and that is the crux of the thread, I believe.........is the fact that the technology is moving quite rapidly in this area, and this month's icon will be next month's trash. Personally, I do not want to seem to be "married" to one particular brand of module. We all know that it will be out of favor soon, and anyone trying to sell amps with them will be beating their heads against the wall. (I went through this back in the late 80s everytime a new CD player became the new rage. I would get stuck with last month's hot ticket, and could not give them away.)

So keeping that in mind, I am sure that many of you will understand why I am usually reluctant to get into details of our products. My goal is to make a good sounding amp, regardless of what mystery module is hidden under the hood.

From a consumer standpoint, are you satisfied that you have purchased a quality unit, or do you fret that it might be out of favor soon? Yes, I realise that the market frquently has a "designer jeans" mentality. But if you worry too much about the flavor of the month, are you ever really going to be happy?

As for "mine is better than yours........"

Let's face it: most of the amps use the same parts. How much different can they be? Sure, there are differences, but trust me........there isn't all that much you can do to make them sound radically different from the next guy's. Subtle differences does exist, mainly in how they will respond to a wide range of different systems.

As I have mentioned before (no, not in this thread!), I think that anyone can buy any of the new "digital amps", and if the sound meets their approval, you can feel assured that it will sound good for many more years. Your decision on which one is best really becomes a matter of who you feel more comfortable doing business with.

And yes.......as I have said......not everyone likes the sound. Simple as that. Just don't ask why, because I don't have all the answers.
Boa, thanks for the visit yesterday. I happen to have liked your Klipsch/SET past systems. I look forward to hearing the big ones. I think the sound is engaging in a romantic sense.

However, based on what you wrote here, and what you told me, I have to just shrug, mystified at just what your system goals are.

No one has heard my present system as yet , save you. I've had numerous visitors listen this year. They all know where I am going with my Scinnies. They have watched me ratchet the playback to an ever tightening grip on reality. That is all I am interested in, to put the piano in the room, so to speak. Some think I am already there.

There is no telling personal preferences.

Art, a builder hounding a consumer is not good business.

Any nearby who care to listen, I urge you to.
Anybody remember black and white television, piezo electric phono cartridges, 8 track tapes, direct drive turntables, beta VCR, Heil tweeters, and audio cassettes? Maybe digital amps are next in succession.
I think a more likely scenario is big iron SS amps being next in succession.
Boa, thanks for the visit yesterday. I happen to have liked your Klipsch/SET past systems. I look forward to hearing the big ones. I think the sound is engaging in a romantic sense. However, based on what you wrote here (I SAID: No, I don't agree with his conclusions about the H20), and what you told me (I SAID: that I suspect the sound will improve with a better front end and the forthcoming H20 preamps), I have to just shrug, mystified at just what your system goals are

What are you saying/asking, Vince? Are you implying that I am mucking around in a realm that makes no sense because I prefer your system to mine? I don't know if that is what you are suggesting, as your comments are cryptic, and perhaps off topic. If you need to have this conversation privately, write or call me. But if you're asking whether or not I prefer your system to mine, the answer is no. If you would like further clarification publicly or privately, again, just contact me directly, or ask me here.

My posts above were meant to allay a personal attack on you for your comments about the H20 amps, in the hopes that we could have a civil and respectful discussion about the issue. That's all.


Would you care to elaborate on "hounding"? Not sure that I get your drift.
Sorry Howard, I just keyed on that "Not my cup of tea." I took it as, "My luck, the only guy who has heard my system, and it's my only thumbs down."

Like I said, I enjoy your system, and company, I might add. I have learned there are lots of paths to audio enjoyment. I always find good in people's music. It's the music for God's sake.

BTW everyone, Boa has impeccable taste in music.

If anyone lives within "shout" drop in. The Klipsch and Scintilla are well handled for your inspection. I will throw in a Chicago style pizza for the occasion.
I took it as, "My luck, the only guy who has heard my system, and it's my only thumbs down."
Not at all, Vince. I think the synergy you have between the amps and speakers is stellar, and that the changes you have planned will only move things more in the direction of your goals.

Sorry if I misunderstood your post. As you should know (I hope), I've always enjoyed your company as well. You were the first in person connection I made with this community. And it opened the door to a number of other local audiophiles, all of whom make up a great group of people. I apologize if I derailed the discussion at all. If I could put my stamp on it, I'll say that in my opinion the digital amps are here to stay.
I used to own a TACT digital amp...the one with the DAC in it,...forgot the model name. Very clean sounding, extended highs, smooth, neither warm nor "cold", pitch black silence, bass a bit less well defined and mircodynamics could be a bit better. I was perfectly happy back then but as I expanded my system into SACDs the DAC did allow me to take advantage of the new hi rez sources so went back to SS (Linn Klimaxx solos). Plus I chged my speakers and the TACTs were not a great match (from Proac to Kharma). Love SACD (well the better ones as with all recorded media) but sometimes I do miss the TACT. I really do regret selling it: even if I do not use it for my current set up which I like overall, should have kept it for second system or something. Recommend you check it out.