Review: B & K Components EX-140 Amplifier
In this age of surround sound receivers, I am glad to know that there are quality 2 channel amps at a reasonable price. This 100 watts is enough for classical music - Rock music might want more. As expected, it is considerably more satisfying than typical Japanese surround sound 100 watts. I have never heard a satisfying music from surround sound receivers although I haven't heard them from big audio names like McIntosh. So I would recommend amps like this for enjoying music. Even at mid-fi level it can be quite satisfying. The very expensive of audio is not always to be desired in my opinion, because it is artificial. Non of the classical music concerts when heard alive have liquid transparentcy of the Krell for instance. For some music that starts electrically like pop and rock, I do think they sound great, and reminds me what a glorious human achievement a great sounding audio system is! One of the golden pleasures of living - "life would be a mistake without music" (Nietsch). Don't forget that a good collection of artists are just as necessary ingredient in having a satisfying musical moments at home. I know of friends who got tired of this hobby because after having purchased a fine system, do not own a collection of music to enjoy. Variety as well as quality is what I would strive for. We tend to delight in variety (something from aesthetics). I am a classical musician who also likes pop and jazz and any good music, so my main thing is realism. A piano has to sound like a piano for me to get full enjoyment out of listening - and this amp paired with a dark sounding British speakers like Tannoy would give many hours of listening pleasure. I would recommend dark sound both in CD player and speaker because of glare this amp has which is not realistic. MASH technology CD player from Panasonic and Technich would be a cost effective pairing because of lack of glare (>$200). Overly bright presentation cannot capture classic characters of music, only the happy and the pleasant which seems little light after a prolonged listening. Having said that, this is one of the most satisfying amps at the price ($700) I came across, but I would audition Adcoms, audiosource, parasound, old powerful Marantz receivers (on audiogon and Ebay) model no.2270 or higher - the last two digits shows the power rating so it is a 70 watts power. 4470 is a higher quality one at 70 watts, but even the 2270 model sounds good - they have that classic rich deep marantz satisfying sound. They can be picked up for as little as $200, and sound as good as any >$1000 amps out there new now. I would whole heartedly recommend you hunting one down - especially if you are into classical music, and vocal music. Coming home to the heart-warming sound of them gets me through the day, with anticipation of a musical experience that is pleasure as well as theraputic. What ever the difficulties I might have had at work, melts away with a cup of tea and the deep rich sounds of Marantz with my favorite artist in my room...
For those who are not rich like me, I want to offer them components that will give pleasures at a mid-fi level. Not doing homework, one could spend a lot without being satisfied. I recommend you to browse through "What Hifi" magazine. They have very useful buying guide directed at mid-fi. I would also recommend www.audioreview.com, although there, the reviews tend to overly positive. I figure if you bought the conponent, it is because you liked it for some reason, and buyers tend to give overly positive comments. Having said that, it could be a useful sight.
So, returning back to B&K, it is one of the good companies offering quality products at a reasonable cost, and I would audition them before buying an amp >$1000. For speakers, I would audition Polk RT-series, Bose 201 (with Marantz gives that old paper cone sound of yester years), yamaha, Tannoy, Paradigm, and PSB. Happy compiling for the sound of your dreams...
Marantz CD player, and Clements speakers