Spectral DMA 400 initial impressions


I finally had the chance to listen to the new Spectral DMA 400 mono blocks.
I currently have a spectral system that consist of the DMA 360 series II, 30SS series II and the SDR 4000s. I like the Spectral sound and have been happy with the sound for couple of years now, but a new reference amplifier from Spectral got be curious and interested.

I have performed extensive listening and A-B comparison to the 360 series II. I used orchestral, chamber, instrumental, vocal, jazz and rock music.

I typically do not A-B components and just let my music play. In 99% of the time this is enough for me to study and learn sonic signatures. This time I actually had to A-B the 400s against the 360s as the sonic differences happen to be very subtle.

As the DMA 400 is based on the new concept of the DMA 260 with its different sonic characteristics, I expected more noticeable sonic differences - but they they were lacking.: the 400s sounded very close to the 360 series II.

If pushed to comment, I would say that the 400s might be more refined in the lower frequencies, however the overall tonality, soundstage, focus, macro and micro dynamics are similar. The 360s have a bit fuller body. Overall I would say that I liked the 360 better.

I concluded that although the DMA 400 are so called the new reference, in my mind it does not justify the increased cost and surely the extra cost to exchange a fine pair of 360s.

Retailers as always claim that new products are better, but listen with your ears and be the judge of yourself. In this particular case it was funny that a long spectral dealer, with its age-related hearing changes was not able to pick up a reverse phase error, but conclusively attested to the better quality of the new product...as always - trust your ears !
alfredbac
Thanks, That just saved me A LOT of money. LOVE my 360 II's
Thats interesting. I once heard a famous new $30K speaker being debuted at a
dealer and it was wired out of phase. I said something and no one seemed to
notice. I suggested he check out the cables in back. Sure enough, they were
reversed. He switched them and all agreed it sounded much better.

Trust your ears, not someone else's.

I have heard the Spectral gear sound great in dealer demos. Perhaps the
differences with the DMA 400 would be more apparent with an extremely
demanding speaker load.
I think the differences are in favor of the 400s with the Q7. Also, there will be a DMA-300 stereo amp coming out at the end of the year, based on the 400s - will be interesting to see what that's all about...
The Spectral press release claims the new DMA 400 is a huge breakthrough. Only subtle differenced compared to a 360s2 ??
Alfredbac, you listed you electronics but you didn't tell us which loudspeaker your 360s2 amps are driving? Thanks.
I don't think that every company who improves a product expects you to throw out last year's model just because a new one is out. The main thing is - the sonic differences were not significant to your ear and that's all that counts. I don't think Spectral is the type of company that employs the latest-and-greatest mentality. They just build everything the best they know how.
How much burn-in time have you given the amps? Are you sure they are fully broken-in?
Just curious, what do you love about the Spectral sound compared to other amps? Are you using MIT cables?
Let's not ignore, the bulletin makes two very strong claims: no capacitors in the signal path (well, frankly, the power supply is always in the signal path, thus those capacitors are in by proxy; therefore, I think what they mean is everywhere else in the path), and no thermal tails by the amplifying solid state devices.

If true, these would be ground-breaking claims, which ought to tip the scale towards the 400s. To my ears, the scale was tipped vs the 360S2s, but by a small margin.
I received my DMA 400 amps two weeks ago, which replaced my Spectral DMA 360 series ones, 11 years old. There is no question that these are much better than the 360s, which were extremely good. Over the past 6 months I have upgraded all my spectral equipment, including pre amp to ss30 series 11 and cd to the 4000sl. All power cords to audience Au 24 and ar6tss. The 400s have better defination, inner detail and I can definitely hear the difference, in short they sound more like music. Never hearing the 360 series2 I can only say that these are terific and can not imagine that after break in, about 200hrs, anyone should be able to hear the improvement. The only problem that I have is now my front in is so good that I will need to upgrade my Speakers(Avalon Edilon 11 years old) to more modern speakers, but Even with these speakers, the improvement is well worth the investment in the new Spectral equipment. I would be interested in the Avalon compas, Magico q30, Rockport Atria, YG passive Kipod 11. If anyone has compared thes speakers I certainly would be interested in your opinions as I will probably not be able to hear all of them. I purchased all my Spectral equipment from Goodwins, Paul Chambers. I can only say that it has been a real pleasure dealing with Paul. A real professional. Never being pushy and giving me excellent advice and service. There may be better electronics out there but for me Spectral is tops. MY room is only 15 by 18 with 8 and 11 ft ceiling. Any info on speakers would be welcome
I received my DMA 400 amps two weeks ago, which replaced my Spectral DMA 360 series ones, 11 years old. There is no question that these are much better than the 360s, which were extremely good. Over the past 6 months I have upgraded all my spectral equipment, including pre amp to ss30 series 11 and cd to the 4000sl. All power cords to audience Au 24 and ar6tss. The 400s have better defination, inner detail and I can definitely hear the difference, in short they sound more like music. Never hearing the 360 series2 I can only say that these are terific and can not imagine that after break in, about 200hrs, anyone should be able to hear the improvement. The only problem that I have is now my front in is so good that I will need to upgrade my Speakers(Avalon Edilon 11 years old) to more modern speakers, but Even with these speakers, the improvement is well worth the investment in the new Spectral equipment. I would be interested in the Avalon compas, Magico q30, Rockport Atria, YG passive Kipod 11. If anyone has compared thes speakers I certainly would be interested in your opinions as I will probably not be able to hear all of them. I purchased all my Spectral equipment from Goodwins, Paul Chambers. I can only say that it has been a real pleasure dealing with Paul. A real professional. Never being pushy and giving me excellent advice and service. There may be better electronics out there but for me Spectral is tops. MY room is only 15 by 18 with 8 and 11 ft ceiling. Any info on speakers would be welcome
Very interesting about the inability to hear the reverse phase error. It amazes me that many avid music lovers live without a phase reverse switch. I wouldn't. I'm 65 and I know my hearing is not like when I was in my teens--and I have serious tinnitus from a serious head injury--but incorrect phase just takes the "life" out of music doesn't it. It's wonderful that most people can't hear it; lets them enjoy music easier and immediately (without the need for correction). I don't listen for reverse phase; it just jumps out at me as I expect the music to be as melodic and nuanced as it should be.