Nice review, Ferrari. I have always wanted to read a private review about this amp. I look forward to reading from you the follow-ups on its performance throughout its break-in.
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Have had the Marsh A 200s powered now for 168 hours continous. Using the Muse 100 power amp as it's comparison.Both are Class A/AB in their output and price wise new and used they are very close indeed.
Rest of the system comprised on the Marsh P 2000 pre amp,with the Forte 40 preamp providing the phono section for the Oracle Turntable,with Sumiko FT 3 arm with Dynavector Ruby Cartridge. The venerable Denon DCD 1560 was pressed into service due to the Classe CDP.5 player needing service. Remainder of the system is a NAD C 420 Tuner, Sony CDP-CE 5 disc changer,Sony MDS-JE 440 Mini Disc Recorder and speakers were the Alon Point V. Interconnects used are from Musical Concepts. Stock power cords were used through out to try to level playing field. Speaker wire from Signal Cable.
The Marsh A200s in course of it's burn in time has gotton better. However it remains somewhat forward,soundstage has widen some but not in depth. You can almost hear the Marsh P 2000 pre amp say come on get with it you're getting the signal. It just seems that the Marsh is somewhat lagging behind. On the Telarc CD Chopin - Malcolm Frager it pin points the image dead center but is lacking in left to right imaging as Frager plays the Borsendorfer Grand Piano. Ambience and decay are on the shallow side. Should be noted this disc is a real time CD without compression or limiting of any kind and this disc remains a true audiophile test due to how it was recorded. Very few disc today are recorded in this manner due to consumer electronics not being up to the task on handling such demanding material. However on non audiophile discs the Marsh A 200s performs quite well and that probably accounts for about 99% of all CDs in the market place today. Used another Telarc Disc which is another DDD pure digital disc recorded in real time. This one was Telarc CD 80078 Copland - Fan Fare for the Common Man,Appalachian Spring and Rodeo. This disc is a true work out for any system due to the wide dynamic range and caution must be used not to over tax the system, which this disc can do to any system out there.Cautiously set the volume control to no higher than 10 o'clock. The opening cymbal crashes followed by the kettle drum strikes are startling to say the least, then comes in the horn section. The Marsh A 200s was doing a very good job, although it was being pressed very hard on this material. The extreme registers of bass and treble were not as clearly defined as hoped for. The kettle drum made the Marsh A200s reach as far as it could go and the bass was not as tight as I have heard,while the upper registers of the treble were a bit smeared. The rest of the selections on this disc the Marsh A 200s was keeping up with demands. The Rodeo selections were played with strength and verve usually associated with more expensive amplifiers.
It was now time to put the Muse 100 into action. Let the Muse 100 have about an hour worth of warm up time. This amp is fully burned in. Used the same discs with the Muse as I did with the Marsh.
With the Chopin disc the Muse captured all the sonic nuances of the performance. Eyes closed you swear you were at the recording. The speed and definition were spectacular to say the least. Sound stage in all dimensions were right on. On some of the selections you could hear the hammer as it hits the strings - just amazing. Have to admit as I was listening, started to doze off the presentation was that liquid. On the Copland disc the Muse played with determination and resolve, however the kettle drum passages were a little laid back, but clealy defined, the upper treble registers were right on and without grain. Sound stage was expansive filling the whole room with sound that at times was almost holographic.
So at this point with only one week worth of use, it is my opinion that the Marsh A200s needs more time to season in.It remains a bit forward and the full soundstage has yet to develop. It took the Marsh P2000 pre amp I have about 4 months to come into it's own. I was about to give up on it, when the sonic signature developed and has become a true joy ever since.
The Muse 100 on the other hand is fully seasoned in and the sonic signature is all one can ask from a Class A/AB amp. This one dates from 1999.
For what it is worth will post my final conclusions sometime in July as the Marsh A200s continues to burn in.
At this point in time if I did not have the Muse 100 to compare it to, I would have found the Marsh A 200s to be right on par with some of the best out there. But the signature remains forward and the soundstage is not as wide as it should be and it seems to lack a tad in speed. Definition and clarity have improved.
On discs of today with compression and limiting used both of these amplifiers play music in a most convincing way and both sound very good in that realm. However I am testing these unit with very demanding recordings to see which will emerge with the better performance.
Well here it is a month later with the Marsh A200s. This has been a enjoyable test with a wide variety of program material.
The Marsh A200s has gotten better in all areas in terms of sonic signature. But in my opinion is just not quite there yet. The imaging left to right has developed nicely but the depth of the sound stage is still somewhat shallow. The forwardness is still present but has become less obtrusive. In other words it is just not in your face all the time. Accuracy and speed have improved with out being over analytical. That has been a nice surprise. What I have found with a lot of the new offerings out there. Is that a lot of manufacturers are trying to balance their amps to play not only music but work with HT as well. In my opinion not a good idea. Perhaps that is why some of the latest offerings have the pronounced forwardness as HT requires this. Make no mistake the Marsh A200s is not a Levinson or Pass Labs at a bargain price. It just cannot compete in that arena. But it is certainly more musical than anything I have heard from Adcom,Parasound,B & K and others in that category.
Of all the new offerings out there the Marsh A200s is clearly the best of that lot. The TAS review in my opinion was just about right on, and given the price point of the Marsh A 200s is one of audios true bargains. I have no doubt that what I found less than exemplary will improve with use, because it just keeps getting better and better with each day. Keep in mind I threw the most demanding material at it, which would expose faults. For the majority of audiophiles the Marsh A200s is going to be dead solid perfect, it is that good in its own right and the Marsh people have just cause to be proud of these initial offerings. Few manufacturers past or present get the product right from the get go.
So if you are in the market for a Class A/AB amp in this price range, you would be pressed very hard to do better and I can say the same for the Marsh P2000 preamp. If I wasn't already knee deep in gear around here, I would add the Marsh A200s to the collection.
Keep in mind it took the Marsh P2000 premp I have about 4 months to really come in. It may take the same for the Marsh A200s to do the same. I just did not have more time to continue with the evaluation.