Review: Blue Circle Audio CS int Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

I've had the Blue Circle CS integrated in my home office for many months now and I still appreciate how good it is. It is a very small, elegant package with all the controls and inputs I need. I like the industrial design and think the cherry knobs the best option. The CS replaced a Rega Brio which I had been using for about a year. The Rega was decent, but a bit lifeless. I knew I could do better so after some research and discussions with a dealer (there was no local dealer) I purchased the CS integrated.

The CS is located in my home office where I spend many hours each day and music is always playing. The music is intended as background music, but it's better than that yet it never intrudes. I listen mostly to classical, space/ambiant, bluegrass and some rock and electronica. The CS handles all of these with respect, but it shines with voice and acoustic instruments. I really enjoy cello and violin concertos and minimalist classical like Arvo Part and with the CS this type of music breathes life. The sound of the instruments comes through. But again, it never imposes itself onto my work efforts. I give credit to the other components in this system, but the CS has always shined with whatever I threw at it or paired it with. The CS has enough power to drive the inefficient Spendors too. It is good at all volumes and with low-level detail.

To recap, I listen to music all day while I work so any component that can grate on the ears would quickly get old. The CS integrated (paired with the Marantz and the Spendors) is smooth and non-fatiguing, yet it is musical and dynamic enough to make the music interesting and allow it to have the emotional impact that was intended by the artist. The CS is not limited to any musical style and it does not have an SS or tube sound; it's simply musical. In the context of my system and music preferences I could not ask for more ('cept a hyrbid version). It's compact and elegant. This product is a true value and I plan on keeping it 'till I end up 6 feet under.

I've also had other Blue Circle components in my main system: the BC28 hybrid amp and BC3.1 preamp (Galatea). The hybrid amp had another level of magic to it. The CS integrated isn't at that level, but for a home office it's close enough, although I've wondered if using the BC24 amp in my home office would be THE thing. A hybrid version of the CS would be ideal. I really like the decay that tubes can provide. I have also listened to the CS integrated in my main system with Tannoy speakers and an Electrocompaniet CD player and it held its own there too. I hold Blue Circle and their efforts in high regard.

Associated gear
Marantz SA8260 SACD player
Spendor S3/5 speakers
Audience Maestro speaker cable
Audience Au 24 interconnects

Similar products
Rega Brio, Blue Cricle BC28/BC3.1