Red Dragon's new S500 Class D Amp


I know Class D amps are not held in high regard here. But I would really like to hear some opinions of the published specifications of this new amp. Red Dragon offers a 45 day trial period and I am tempted. The specs look quite impressive. If anyone has actually listened to it that would be even better.

The internals of this amp are the S-Pro2 from Pascal, a Danish company. The detailed audio specs can be found here in PDF form under the Product Flyer column. [url]http://pascal-audio.com/amplifier-modules.html[url]

The link to the Red Dragon product page is here: [url]http://www.reddragonaudio.com/collections/amplifiers/products/s500[url]

Really would appreciate some opinions even if just based on the specs.
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Hi 1extreme,

Can you detail what other components and speakers you have in your system that you would pair with the Red Dragon S500? The reason I ask is I have the older Red Dragon M1000 Mk 1 monoblocks powering a pair of Ohm Walsh MicroTall SE speakers BUT I have a predominantly tube front end. A tube dac and with a tube preamp. The tubes along with the Red Dragon monoblocks is a very heavenly sounding combination to me.

Best of luck with the search. I've spoken to Ryan at RedDragon and he is a real nice guy.
My current speakers are Infinity Kappa 8's.
I am powering them with an Adcom GFA-565SE (250w @ 8ohms)
I have a DAC / Preamp combined in an Emotiva Stealth DC-1.
All my source is streaming.

I also would like to introduce a tube preamp into the chain. My interest in the S500 was to see if it out performed the Adcom and if so I would replace the Adcom. OR if the amps are compatible I would bi-amp them horizontally, but the gain of the Adcom is 27dB while the gain of the S500 is 26dB. Also, S500 has higher output at 4ohms and 2ohms than the Adcom.
I purchased an S500 a few weeks ago, but haven't put too many miles on it yet. I am building a second system (music only, 2ch) that isn't ready yet, but I inserted the S500 into my main HT/music hybrid system for a couple of weeks of music listening.

Here are the associated components:
Primare SP31.7 processor (in analog "bypass" mode)
Yamaha CDR-HD1300 (a very early hard disk based music server, used as a transport)
Wyred-4-Sound DAC2
Totem Mite-T loudspeakers

The Red Dragon S500 temporarily replaced a Sherbourn 5/1500A (5 Class A/B monoblocks in a single chassis design). I think the S500 sounds great. It is dynamic, very quiet, and a remarkably wide soundstage. A common criticism of Class-D amps, particularly earlier ones, is that they are bright and "brittle" but the S500 is neither of these things. Compared to the Sherbourn, it is quicker and more musical, but a little less "authoritative" sounding (the Sherbourn is a bit dark). I think the S500 is a more neutral amp than the Sherbourn. The lower gain (26db vs about 30db for the Sherbourn) meant my pre/pro had to work a bit harder. It runs very cool, something I was looking for since my 2nd system's room will not tolerate a Class A/AB space heater, and it amazes me that such a small amp could produce so much clean power and sound so good doing so. Overall I am very impressed with the S500 so far.

-Dean
I haven't heard the PASCAL amp module making class D power but I have never loved the sound of the usual class D suspects. I have to say this one looks intriguing and I like it when an amp doubles down into 4 Ohm (like good ole class A). The 12Lb heft also ads credibility. The one reviewer didn't exactly go overboard with compliments, so we will have to see if the small size amp big power output is a winner or just another almost. Class D does do a great job with power hungry subs, again, lets see if it can go up the sound spectrum.
It is going to take an awful lot to take tube amps from me so perhaps I am not the best judge.
OR if the amps are compatible I would bi-amp them horizontally, but the gain of the Adcom is 27dB while the gain of the S500 is 26dB. Also, S500 has higher output at 4ohms and 2ohms than the Adcom....
The 1dB difference in gain might not be an issue at all. It's a difference no doubt but it might not show up in the playback. You could use the S500 to drive the highs & mid & your Adcom to drive the bass since the Adcom has a heftier sound.

Your comment of "Also, S500 has higher output at 4ohms and 2ohms than the Adcom" has me confused.
You realize that's not the output impedance of the S500 amp? It's the ability of the amp to drive an 8ohm & 4ohm speaker load with a minimum speaker load of 2 ohms. You might already know this & just mis-wrote the above line but i thought I'd clarify. Thanks.
Since my last post on this I acquired a pair of Infinity Kappa 9's. The Kappa 9's require lots of current from amps capable of delivering high current into very low impedance as it has an impedance curve that drops below 1 ohms resistance at two frequencies and stays near or below 3 ohms much of the curve.

My Kappa 8's also are low impedance speakers but not as hard to drive as the K9's. My Adcom does an ok job with the K8's but the K9's are too much speaker for it alone. Both speakers are reported to do much better bi-amped and this is my eventual target configuration for both.

At some point I will purchase a high current class A amp for the K9’s to use bi-amped on the high end. The S500 may fit into this plan as I could use it on the low end bi-amped on either the k8 or k9, which ever sounds best. Or the Adcom’s on the low end and s500 up top. I plan on keeping both K8's and K9's long term.

The S500 is rated at 250w/8ohms, 500w/4ohms, 750w/2.7ohms and is reported as "stable" at 2ohms. Those are specs you normally don't see unless you are looking at a Class A amp. But specs are one thing and real life sound is another.

My AdCom is rated at 250w/8ohms, 350w/4ohms with no measurements reported below 4ohms.

I know you are probably thinking “why doesn’t this guy just order an S500 and try it for the 45 day trail” and that is what I will likely do but I don’t take returning amps lightly and wanted to hear some feedback if my direction / plans seem sound?
1extreme

"I know you are probably thinking “why doesn’t this guy just order an S500 and try it for the 45 day trail” and that is what I will likely do but I don’t take returning amps lightly and wanted to hear some feedback if my direction / plans seem sound?"

I commend you on doing your homework first and respecting the manufacturer's needs as well as your own. Good luck.
You are right about the Kappa nines and eights needing a lot of power. I tend to think of power as high current power, I am not sure if the new amp modules fill that general requirement. We can talk about it forever and never know. The only way you can be sure at this point is to try the amps out. It is, for better or worse, the new business paradigm, now that we have killed off our brick and mortar establishments.
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The Kappa 9 need to be bi-amped to get the best out of them. They also deserve a great preamp. Bi-amp them with two pairs of monoblocks and get yourself a great preamp, you will really have something special.
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Mechans - "I tend to think of power as high current power, I am not sure if the new amp modules fill that general requirement." I agree with your power is high current premise and have to keep repeating to myself that "it's not the watts it's the current". Still old ways of thinking are hard to break and I still am wowed when I see phenomenal high watt ratings on Class D amps like the D-Sonic M3-1500M. And I am also not sure if the new Class D modules provide sustained high current.

Honestly I am not really sure what amp spec one can look at to determine if it is a higher current amp. I think if an amp "doubles down" at each watt/ohm rating form 8 to 4 to 2 that is a good sign but does that also hold true for Class D amps. I don't know.
Deanchat- What's your latest impression of the RD S500 after some more break in.They have a trade in policy for the M1000 Mk I, of which I have a pair, that's pretty generous. Thinking of upgrading to the S500 but would like to read more reviews.Thanks.
Davemm- Sorry, nothing new. The S500 has been sitting around for a few weeks, waiting for me to get the room (and system) in order. I will update when things are back together. By the way, 6 Moons has a partial review of the S500, at this point it is just background info ending with "to be continued..."
Deanchat- Thanks for the quick response. I read that 6 Moons 'to be continued' review and am looking forward to the full review. Good luck with that room and system!
I have the D Sonic M3-800M monos and think they are awesome, they use the board above the one in the S500, very good control of my Joseph Audio speakers, very natural sound with great sound stage
I recently purchased a Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 integrated that I believe utilizes S-Pro2. It's simply the best amplifier that I've ever had in my system.
There's are many class d amps held on high regard by many here and elsewhere. As there are other types as well.

I'm firmly in the class d camp for the foreseeable future. Class d is true innovative technology with many benefits and few if any drawbacks.