The Best Amplifier Ever ?

OK, let's get the straight scoop! Stereophile reviewers want to push the Halcro dm58 (and presumably the dm68) into a newly formed A+ category because it is the best amplifier ever. For a moment, let's assume something like a "best" can exist, at least for one person at a time. Is this the end for all other amps in the proximate price range? Paul Bolin used words like "jaw dropping" and "utter disbelief" -- Oh I know that journalists like that kind of thing, but Mr. Bolin basically says that nothing else comes close to comparison. No contest. Not in the same league. Even in Stereophile, I can't recall something quite that glowing (except maybe for the Boulder 2008 phono preamp). What do you think?
There is no best, just what synergizes with your system best!
Best is absolutely system dependant. You would not want to drive 106db sensative speakers with this amp using an Ayre K-3x preamp. It just would not work PERIOD. Way too much gain and power. The speakers would be blasting at the first volume notch you could get to...

A 1 watt SET tube amp would work MUCH better.

Well, you never know. However, I would strongly recommend considering an audition with any KR Audio Electronics (formerly KR Enterprise) and Clayton Audio amplifier model before anyone would conclude that the Halcro, or any other brand/model for that matter, is the best amplifier.
It's ridiculous. The next thing will be A++ and then....... For every Paul Bolin there will be someone with a different scoop. It's ridiculous and like Philefreak says;everything is very system dependent. Hey we're audiophools. It's an incurable disorder, with a built in nomenclature, that is at times, incomprehensible. Not a life threatening disorder, but lifelong..
"The Best Amp Ever"?-- Easy choice--Mine,cause it's paid for and in my room.

Ok,I think I know part of where you're going with this. TAS does the same thing,kinda. From month to month we get new reviews;each being "the best I ever heard". I would like to see more "shoot-outs". But hey we know that can't happen;somebody has to loose-- Probably the mag,as that mfg. quits advertising.
soon in palm beach florida you guys can find out for yourself. you can in atlanta now. audio forest
Oh, Mr cynically endowed has just discovered THE correct ans. As an astute keenly observant audiophile type that I are-----and the ans is---- Whatever the press loves/that costs the most. Simple deduction. This is easy;got any more tough questions?
Amen Philefreak. Case in point, the Halcro/Rockport room at the Hilton. It sure didn't have the musical involvement of the Joseph/Manley room, not by a long shot, IMO nor per my tastes. Some of these reviewers just get a bit too carried away with such statements. It isn't so bad except for the fact that Bolin probably hasn't heard all the competition in a complementary system. I can't tell you how many times over the years I have read the statement or to the like "The new benchmark" or "redefines The state of the art" etc. It is just meaningless other than the fact that it is worth considering or auditioning.

It may be the best measuring amp and maybe that equates to greater transparency but this is not all there is to a musically involving system of the first order. Ozfly, I believe Mikey Fremer also had such accolades concerning the Rockport Sirius tt. However there are others that feel the Walker Proscenium tt at a bit more than a third the price is its equal or at least, very close. The more I read some of these reviewers, with some exceptions, the more I read their reviews more for entertainment than gaining serious insight. Many just aren't good at conveying their perferences. There are many on this site who's opinion I hold in higher regard.
Another product of the month. Next month it will be the XYZ Super Duper Mk2.
The Dynaudio Arbiter was about $100,000 pr solid-state monoblocs with $96,000 solid-state preamp.
should read "Many just aren't good at conveying insight" at 40K this amp should be very special and it is, es-specially expensive. Maybe I would be a bit more interested if it had tubes, how bout you Twl?
Tubegroover, you mean it doesn't have that euphonic distortion we all love?
I'd humbly nominate a pair of these:

845 monoblock

Power, beauty, exclusivity. What more is there? oh yeah, unbelievable sound.

The best one for me is in my room :

Ah, responses like these just keep me coming back to Audiogon! Keep 'em coming! Ed, I'm in love. Beauty and sound? It's as if my wife were a diva soprano!
Hey Oz, I am convinced of the beauty (with the pic). Will let you know on the sound when I get these in a few weeks. It's been a long wait. (Since April) but should be worth it. For what they are, a veritable bargain (IMHO).

Josh Stippich is the builder, btw.

Ed_Sawyer, I was wondering what happened to the a.c. in my caddy, care to explain yourself?
Stereophile seems a little different in it's recommended components column from what it used to be. It used to be that class 'a' was "the best sound quality attainable", at least in one area or another. And class 'b' was considered highly capable. Now it seems that anything highly capable is class 'a'. So, they need to create a new class when they get excited about something.
I have lost a little respect for the rag as a result of this. They aren't the sound quality renegades they used to be. They used to openly debate amongst themselves on how good various products were, and some whether they were good or not. Now they are just to polite, never taking a chance of offending anybody with a review or just an honest take on something if it could possibly be taken the wrong way. They used to depend on the intelligence of the reader, something I appreciated, and used for my benifit, but now I use a lot af that intelligence in guessing on how thorough some of the recommendations and reviews may be. In the past, it seemed that, as intelligent readers, we were supposed to keep in mind the taste and opinions of the reviewer, as being different, or possibly close, to ours, and we were supposed to make up our own minds, and as readers let reviewers make up thiers. Lately, It seems that pure objectivity is being shorted for preserving the possibility that a manufacturer might not be shorted or for the credibility of the reviewer being challenged or lessened in favor of limited, but safer, universal, credibility.
Go ahead and read the "how ratings are determined" section, and then check out what is in the various 'classes', and you will find too many inconsistancies to find it credible. (Evan as it was never intended to be perfect).
I still, however, really enjoy reading Stereophile, and I still find it well written. And I still find valueable info and insight from it. I especailly dig M.F.

Basement I agree with you up to the last two sentences.
Alright, I'm game: I hereby nominate my 1964 Fender Super Reverb (tho' my '61 Ampeg Reverberocket *is* very, very special...)
deletions; 1961 reverberocket, due to availability (tubes), 1964 super reverb, replaced by new model (not yet reviewed), 1964 twin reverb, now too expensive for sound quality offered.
Hey i like my lamm's but for 10k +/- I'm not sure... I have a (don't laugh now) nakamichi pa7 that we went through and changed all wiring to 24k wire, upgraded the PC, put in black gates etc...I would compare it to ANY SS amp and were
only into it for about 1000.00....The point is reviews are based upon how much $$$ you spend in advertising. Try making up your own line of anything and then go get it reviewed, you will see what I'm talking about. Listen to what your ears tell you, not what someone else "tells you" your going to hear. You'll be allot happier and have allot more $$$ left over.

Craig D
For home use: Fender Blues Junior.
Ed .. clearly beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or beerholder). I thought that amp looked like a high end food processor.
Zaikesman, I used both of those amps back in high school with my band, I second your nominations, deleted though they may be from the rankings! Always liked that Ampeg...
I stand for ORPHEUS headphone system amp with ear-speakers that no amp/speaker combo can beat under any circuimstances.
funny stuff
i had the Halcro DM-58 in my room last year for 3 days and was very impressed. it was the fastest, most detailed, most transparent and most extended top to bottom amplifier i have heard. it had seemingly unlimited dynamics and excellent bass slam. i could easily understand how someone might feel it was the best out there if those things were most important to that listener. it was not edgy and had no obvious shortcomings......but.....compared to my then resident Levinson #33's it was lacking in weight and body. i didn't get the feeling of ease and naturalness that the #33 gave me. between the 2 amps it would have been a tough choice.....and i could have bought the Halcro for less than i could have sold the #33's for at that time.

i have since found more satisfaction with OTL tubes; which offer most of the attributes of the Halcro and Levinson but are much more involving to me.

the whole idea of "the best amplifier ever" is miss-guided to me. amps need to be matched to speakers to be properly judged. even then "the room" is a big issue.

i do think "my favorite amp ever" or "the best amp i have heard" would be more reasonable ways to rave IMHO. however, i can understand that "the BEST Amplifier EVER?" might sell more magazines.
Thanks Mike. It's great to hear an analyis from someone outside the press who has compared "The BEST amp EVER" to another great amp. Obviously, the Halcro is top notch but, as I interpret your assessment, there are trade-offs among amps and the ultimate choice becomes a matter of personal preferences. I'd love to hear from others who have auditoned or purchased the 58 or 68. What's great? What's maybe a bit of a trade off? For everyone else, what makes a great amp in your mind (or ears)? Thanks.
Technically, the HALCRO has the *best* on paper distortion specs *ever.* I have not seen any actual *bench tests* so far. If they are published anywhere online or someone can email them to me I would be very very interested to see the graphs (like Stereophile publishes, or more). Interestingly HALCRO publishes next to *nothing* on their website.

The amp internally is a logical extension of some earlier work in feedforward/feedback multiple nested loop distortion reduction designs. Apparently they also use a switching power supply.

I read the patents. Well done design. However for reasons that are not entirely clear, these sorts of designs tend to sound a bit "sterile" although there is no reason for them to do so. In fact they should not have any sound at all.

Anyone near Albany NY, I'd love to hear one.

IF and only IF the rest of the test results are as good as the probable distortion spec (that's TWO orders of magnitude lower than mine! - like almost impossible to measure at all)
then the claim is quite valid, imho.
Bear, does that mean you absolutely equate "Best Measuring Amp" with "Best Amp"? If so, that would imply that you believe that the currently-available and performed suite of measurements is 100% sufficient to ascertain any amp's ability to reproduce music.

(Although I strongly doubt this claim myself, I would note that Vladimir Lamm has his own proprietary suite of measurements he uses to exclusively design-in his amps' intended performance attributes, sans any music-listening input to the process [though his formulations are supposedly based on his reasearch regarding the reponse of the human ear/brain], and his products are very 'audiophile-approved'.)
Bear, the Halcro dm58 specs are in the October 2002 Stereophile. The measurements are indeed phenominal. Virtually square square wave, all harmonics under -106 db, distortion basically just above the test instruments measurement capability and so on. Since not everything was or can be measured, the thing on all of our minds is always "How does it sound?" Looking for more reviews from those who've heard it. Thanks in advance.
Calling anything the "Best" is perhaps misguided. As Mikelavigne mentions, there are too many variables such as room size, treatments, speakers, cables, sources, etc. It all has to jive together. Maybe the reveiwer that made this system had complete synergy? With all due respect, I have heard Halcros and feel that they are a contender. Is there really any "Best"?

By the way, didn't TAS call the VAC 140's the "Best AMP Ever!" back about 5 years ago? How long did that last? Hmm ...
Maybe the "present best amp" is the more realistic way to go. The best ever is temporary, at BEST. I don't know about you guys, but my Lafayette receiver, still, after all these years, is a contender.
Hey, I know what your saying. I have a really old nikko, 19 watts per side, that I can not get rid of. I'll tell you the truth, and I'm not exagerrating, Its competency in reproducung bass, the complexities of it, the depth, the pinpointing, all that audiophile stuff it does. Thats with both tone controls up. Yeah, go figure. Amazing, and I know
that most of you will doubt it, but how amazing do you think engineers were in the late 60's?
This has now put the whole thing in perspective for me. If one were to find an amp, that did everything that your favorite amp did better, and that your favorite amp could not do better, in any way, in any area, then it COULD only be a matter of opinion, no matter what the opinion.
In my opinion, or IMHO, as some of you cats like to say, Stereophile mag could have come up with a better remark on their cover. If I were to say, "Audiogon is the best site ever", everybody would take that as I mean my opinion. But stereophile seems to come across as promoting the idea that they are the most accurate and knowledgeable, most trustworthy in their assessments, and that is just plain silly to see a cover like that.
To be honest, and I do mean humbly honest, I have read better, more trustworthy reviews right here on this site of late, by "reviewers" that weren't striving for much.
I hope I haven't ruined my credibility with this post, so you won't beleive me when I say, "audiogon-the best audiophile site ever!"
Ok, Il ring in here as an owner of DM58s.

First, built like no other amp, I have audiotioned and owned multiple Mark Levinson (to me there were the best of the best in built quality) The Halcros rank right up there with industrial looks and design.

Connectivity, one thing I liked about the Halcro was there ability of offer a switched option from RCA or XLR, yes, most amp have that but how many have a completely seperate switched design for either.

Service : Here again, I had an issue, they paid air fraight from here to Aus and return..all on there dime, they kept me in the loop of what was done and when it was estimated to be returned.

Sound : As it was stated a few time, to me, smooth detailed full of soundstage and complete from top to bottom. However, I went to CES last year and heard the VAC with the Pipedreams and there sounded so lush, detailed.. At that point I figuered I had made a bo-bo picking up the Halcro. But then they put on a piece that entailed some rather healthy punch and that is where the sound suffered.. many tube system suffer when punchy music, not all but many, this in my view is where SS amps take over. So, in summary, its a matter of taste, to the reviwer the Halcros fit the bill in his type of enviroment.. The Halcro are so honest to the music, its not even funny. Many other amps such as the VACs slightly "colour" the sound that maybe very very apealing to many.

If you want one of the best SS on the PLANET at any cost, the Halcros are there for the taking(at a price). For me, a perfect match to my Aero Audio Capitole MKII. But then again, I have yet to test the elite in Tube amps .. so nothing is forever, espcially in this hobby !!

I suggest you all stop reading Stereophile.

Their rating system means nothing.

As posted above, at the recent audio show the room using
$9K tube amps got more votes than the room with the $25K

I'll bet as soon as Stereophile tests the new $6K Parasound JC-1s, they'll say they're the best.

Remember guys, Paul Bolin is just a guy. No devine powers from above. He's entitled to his opinion. That Halcro picture on the cover, with all those superlatives, sure sells magazines. "Best?"-give me a break.. It's only the power we give "the best, " that freaks us all out. Read this month's Absolute Sound. They rated the Halcro great, but others, even better. It's crazy out there. Everyone will be on the Halcro thing for awhile, then it'll be something else. I'm outter here. Looking for a thread that will take me someplace more ridiculous then this. Happy listening guys...
Zaikesman, no. But the technical measurement of an amp is one criterion of performance. Just one. There is no doubt in my mind that at the present time the HALCRO *measures* better than any other commercially built amp. IT could still sound like death in practice.

I generally have not liked the sound of *any* bipolar amp in years - I did not think they sounded good at all at the recent NYC Stereophile show (run with Eggleston speakers). In fact I left the room rather quickly, not knowing there was anything interesting or unique about the amp. If I had, I would have tried to find out if the designer was present, and talked to him about the amp - the sales guys were inarticulate (those that I had contact with) and the literature was obtuse and incomprehensible (no idea what they were doing from that).

After I read his patent I figured out what he was talking about. IMHO, run the thing from 220vac, not 110, btw.

Anyhow, there's no telling that low distortion will sound worth a damn, it frequently has not in the past.

But this one is scary low in distortion.
Best Amp a Stereophile reviewer has ever heard is a long shot from the worlds best amp. Ask him to mention the other 5 best he has heard or better all amps he has auditioned. I personally know of 5 better and I sold Halcro for 2 years.
And those 5 are? And why/how/in what ways?
HIFI farm can verify: servicing is always an issue. And I believe, if you open the damn thing you void the warranty, thus you would have to ship it overseas and wait for months for repair ,that does not sound like fun to me. That is why I stick to brands that sound good and whose service is good with good turn around time. Spectral and ARC are the TWO highend products I will stick with. You can say what you want about them, but I want a product that you know will turn on when you push the on button and not have to pray. I do not like to be the test bed of high end products.

Of course compared to amateur astronomy, waiting for an audio product to be shipped is a piece of cake! The waiting line for an Astro-Physics refractor(the premier small telescope manufacturer) is 4-5 YEARS; right now I ONLY have 2-3 years to go!!!
The five that he sells, of course.
Well, maybe so. I'm assuming he's genuine, though; and would really like to know what the 5 are.
Hififarm, I second Jfz's motion. Please share. Thanks.
Sorry it took so long to respond but we have been auditioning some new product in Switzerland and Italy. I will be glad to tell what the Halcros were traded in for and I will admit I sell 3 of the one's I and the customers who traded their Halcros both think are superior. The Goldmund Millenium series from the 29 up will offer the same resolve and also has better long term listenability. One of my customers had a bi-amped Halcro system and replaced them with a pair of 29.4 monos and is far more satisified.The rest of the system is equally nice and will share this if asked. Another traded his on the Audio Tekne 9412 and would never look back,also one of my very favorites. The third amp I sell which ,when companioned and matched properly will out music a Halcro is the Aloia. I know people will kick my ass on this one but each to his own. Personally I believe there are numerous designs in the market and some going back 50 years that will still stand when the towering Halcro fades into the Stereophile archive. Personally I think a Marantz 8B has superior hi frequency sonics with correct tonal balance. Will the Halcro sell for 10 times or more it's original price in 40+ years? Take a pair of original Quads play a bell and see for yourself which is better. You can even do this in our store if you like as I just took another pair on trade and have both amps and the Quads, and the bells.
For entertainment purposes only. Halcro was aquired about a year ago by the largest electronics company in Australia. Lot's of money to rub some skin? Anyone seen the reviewers new amps? I hate politics
HiFi >>Anyone seen the reviewers new amps? I hate politics

So If I read this correctly, you are alleging that the reviewers got Halcros in response to writing a favorable review ????

Not sure I would call your statement "For entertainment purposes only"

Lots of high end gear get bought out, just look at the Harmon group with MAdrigal (Proceed, Levinson, Revel) and LExicon. S0 I don't unnderstand what you are aiming there either.. ???
The preceding nicely illustrates why there can never be a 'world's best' amp. After a certain level excellence is achieved, personal preferences will still always exist and prevail.
Amen !! Zaikesman