I'm a big fan of switching amplifiers. Like you I had been using well respected linear solid state amplifier. While it was at the manufacturer for upgrades I purchased a PS Audio HPA-2 that had just come out and not yet been reviewed. Aside from the low cost, small size, and low electrical draw and heat, there were sonic attributes that jumped out at me and seemed to have a commonality with all the other class D amplifiers that came through my home.
That said, it's very important to approach class D as a third type of amplifier that is as different as linear solid state amplifiers are to tube amplifiers. It's a different presentation with different strengths and weaknesses.
Another consideration may be the quality of your homes electrical system. Beginning with the PS Audio my home went through a major electrical upgrade for other non audio related reasons. The improvement was immediately noticeable with the switching amplifier and hardly at all with the linear solid state amp.
Over time it became obvious that the switching amplifiers liked copper cabling. At the time NuForce marketed an affordable cable that I preferred over my Cardas Golden Reference.
After auditioning five other class D amps I found the presentation of the NuForce SE's much more to my liking. Ultimately, I replaced them a few years later with a pair of crudely assembled Hypex NC400 kit amplifiers which I currently use in my studio. I really liked the NuForce SEs and the folks in Milpitas were first rate in handling a very minor issue I had.
While the class D amps provide an unparalleled presentation in my studio I've returned to tube amplification in the main system. I suggest holding on to your current amplifier until you've accustom yourself with class D.
I think if you can, you should only trust your own ears. I suspect the Class D amps will be different, like any modern solid state amp would be. Will you like it? Does it go in the right direction for you is a deeply personal judgement.
I will say however I find almost all of the categorical claims about Class D sound today pure absurdity. The best of the Class D's can stand up to the best amps today. Would you like them instead.... that's not something I could say.
I've been using one of the earlier Ice powered D-Sonic amps for around 5 years now and I couldn't be happier with it.
My main interest initially was that I needed something with enough power that I could use to push my Nautilus 800s that wouldn't require a second mortgage and would actually fit in my listening room.
Since I use my system for both music and home theater, I ended up going with a 7 channel unit with 2 amps driving each of the 800s. The modules are the 1000ASPs and are rated (by owner Dennis Deacon) at 575W/8ohm and 1000W/4ohm and stable down to 2ohms easily.
Only other option that I had considered to get the same power delivery in a non Class D design were 4 Classe CA-M600 monos. With the D-Sonic, I'm getting seven channels in a unit that's smaller than a single M600 - It actually fits in my standard rack.
I would say that what impresses me most about the D-Sonic (and good class D amps in general) is that at any volume level there's such immediate modulation that you can have a conversation with someone next to you in a normal speaking voice. It's very dynamic and very clean.
Some great class A-A/B amps that I've heard on the same speakers (including the Classe) were also very good but I prefer the Class D D-Sonic sound personally. The heavyweight monos that double output at load can give a lot of slam to be sure, but unlike the Class D their sonic signature often varies depending on volume unlike the Class D which sounds exactly the same at any volume level. Perhaps it's a matter of simply just having so much immediate current delivery on tap.
Given that you're considering D Sonic, I would have a chat with Dennis and see what he has to say. I was recently in touch with him, and he's very enthusiastic about his newer offerings and will gladly custom configure any setup that you may want or need and he also has a great return policy to reduce risk factor.
Thank you Greg, just the sort of info I was looking for Obviously as Erik also wisely states it is all in the ear of the beholder but a nod in the right direction is always welcome. And yes the sound of the BAT does change a fair bit depending on volume, it almost seems to have stages where it changes character and life. I would say it is at its best at what I call mid volume, enough to feel the bass in my chair and the wife to demand I shut the door...lol Down low for late at night it definitely lacks some of the previous energy I hear at a higher level. I was recommended to dsonic when i was upgrading the ht rig but along came a superb deal on a new nuforce 8 channel and processor and have never looked back on that system!
Whatever, do not sell/trade the BAT VK600SE which is a magnificent amp, before living with Class-D for a while, they maybe fine in a in a high processing HT system, but when it comes down to hi-end hi-rez stereo without visuals to fool your ears, you may find things change.
I’ve worked on modified and listen to a few Nuforce 9SE v3’s and while cute and powerful for their size, don’t come within coo’ee of my similar amps to the the VK600se, on a hi-end stereo system.
And yes the sound of the BAT does change a fair bit depending on volume
And this could be your pre,, and not the Bat doing this.
The BAT's a great amp. I had (and still do actually) a BAT VK500SE which continues to give solid performance. I did hear and compare amps from W4S, Nuforce and Digital Amp Co in my rig, all of which have strengths but it took a pair of Spectron monos to convince me to move to Class D finally over the BAT. I think you'll find that Class D amps have as much variability in them as Class A, AB amps etc, it's all about the implementation so you have to really hear for yourself. Agree with George above -- you are unlikely to determine what works best with a quick listen so proceed slowly, ideally with good home audition opportunities. That's my journey, and you wanted those experiences, hope it helps.
I agree with George on this one. I went from Clayton Class A to Class D Ncore NC1200 for about a year but ended up on a circuitous path to McCormack, Lamm and then back to Clayton. An expensive lesson but well learned.
Since you already like the Nuforce. I would recommend trying the Nuforce/Nuprime Reference 20 mono amps, which are a huge step up in refinement from their other designs, yet still run cool. Also Bob Smith their repair person does mods on these that do not void warrentee and do not change signal path, rather add better quality wire and shielding, which further pleases the ear. Just got back from AXPONA and have heard many other class D and other systems in people's homes and I like what got the best (with proper cabling and power isolation) in a sensitive system
Oh I can see this being a journey of discovery for sure
Yes I do like what I have with the BAT but am also open minded considering my positive experience with the ht rig and the NuForce amp.
One thing is for sure, the BAT will be hanging around for a while as I try some variants out and see just what I like and do not like. One nice thing about the majority of the class d amps is that the cost is not anywhere near the cost of a pair of top flight a/ab amps so can afford to give a few trials without a second mortage
What kind of speakers do you have, and what is your primary sonic presentation priorities.
After about 30 yrs of owning all kinds of top gear,class a solid state and tubes of all kinds I went class d 3yrs ago and haven't looked back.Its very hard to directly compare class d is totally different in its presentation of music.
I could elaborate more if I had more info into what are you looking for.
I tried moving to Spectron Musician III amps from Krell classA, and BAT tube amps. Fun for several days. But as i went through more of my music collection realized something was not right, at least for me, in the treble. Ended up costing me money. I have heard the Mola Mola amps sound good at shows but I learned my lesson. Keep the Bat.
Ok my present rig is BAT VK600SE McIntosh C-48 McIntosh MVP-851 Bluesound Vault2 Clearaudio Emotion4 table with Clearaudio Ebony v2 cart Mostly Cardas cables apart from speakers which are Van Den Hul Focal Chorus 826V
Listen to 90% modern rock music, think Avenged Seven Fold, Alter Bridge, Seether, Shinedown etc. Sometimes take a blast down memory lane with vinyl
It comes down to personal preference. I have had experiences with different Class D configurations. I also build my own components. In all of my testing and listening over the years, I am able to identify what sounds like what, sometimes a disadvantage because I listen to equipment versus music. Anyway, you have to hear what works in your system. Just because I do not prefer Class D does not mean that you won't be satisfied with them especially for the price. There are advantages and disadvantages to all components but your budget and your taste is what really matters. Happy Listening.
The only way to be satisfied with the end result will be to try the amps in your own system and compare them directly with your BAT. I suggest you listen closely and objectively since, in my experience, the results may not be a night and day difference, but rather one or the other may be better at certain things. Be prepared for the Class D to be much quieter but I wouldn't get overly hung up on that benefit. Compare note development and soundstage between the two and listen for fatal (i.e., dealbreaker) type issues that you just cannot live with long term. If you want to try NC1200, I think I know who to contact so you can audition a pair in your system. Some Class D amps you may need to actually purchase and then have a 30-day "return" period, with or without restocking fees. Small price to pay IMO to get what you want, or to not make a big mistake. Since you are so curious, I suggest deciding how much you want to spend, and then asking the folks here for Class D amp suggestions in your price range and then contacting those manufacturers to try and set up an audition. BTW, they are mostly easy to ship and some come in flight cases which would make it very hard to damage them. It sounds like you are at the point where you need to hear some for yourself in your own system.
I entirely agree that it will all depend on how it sounds in my system and am prepared to do a number of a/b comparisons of a lengthy nature.
However my main focus was to see how many had actually gone this route and if they regretted it and just some general views on the many class d amps out there.
Ones I had considered so far include Bel Canto, Jeff Rowland, NuForce, D-Sonic to name a few. All claim to make prodigous power from a small box up to 1500 watts in some cases, although we all know numbers on their own do not mean a great deal.
I don't see Ncore on your list but Rowland uses NC1200 amplifier modules in its upper end amps and BelCanto also uses Ncore - custom modules in the Black, and Ncore NC500 modules in the REF 600M, which has received all the rave reviews. Acoustic Imagery offers a bare-bones pair of NC500 monoblocks for $2K - for the pair. Between Rowland, Bel Canto and D-Sonic, you certainly have the price range covered.
I wish you all the luck iberwaltz. I tried to get rid of my VTL space heaters a few years back. I used Classe and Bryston for a few months each and always went back to those room heating tubes. I gave up and later upgraded in the VTL line.
Ones I had considered so far include Bel Canto, Jeff Rowland, NuForce, D-Sonic
Out of that lot the BC600mono’s were the ones that has the best Class-D sound I’ve heard, but it needed to be driving a very flat benign 4ohm, from mids to highs to get that sound, otherwise it sounded fair, this was achieved with a very expensive Raven tweeter’ed 2 way. "Could" also work with Maggies.
It always amuses me that in the whole 'to D or not to D' discussion that the simplest answer to 'will I like it (the sound) or not' that it never occurs to anyone to simply 'cheap out' with a simple test....
Buy an inexpensive unit. Flog the daylights out of it, like I did. Find out for yourself if it's worth going further with it.
For sure, an inexpensive unit won't be as 'nuanced' as a more expensive one, but at least one would have the opportunity to stick your toe into the water before you cannonball in....
Just my 2 cents of (perhaps) sense...;)
Personally, I like them. But I like all types of amps. Viva la difference. *S*
@jafant I do not use a BAT pre simply because the mc. c48 is a all in one solution and was a big step up from the older arc ls2b I was using previously. I considered BAT pre of course but the c48 let me get rid of 2 other boxes and simplfy matters. it has 4 digital inputs, mm and mc inputs and a headphone output so i could get rid of my phono stage, headphone amp and run the vault straight into the c48.
@asvjerry TBH I am not really asking if I will like it or not, that is obviously all up to the individual and their system but rather just others views who have gone this route from possibly years of ss or tube power amps.
One thing I may do as I have a nuforce multi channel amp in the ht rig is pull it and install in the stereo just to see. would mean running rca connects but could be a worthwhile test......
There you go, a relatively quick, down 'n dirty, and cheap test. Throw various 'n sundry selections and media (CD, LP. etc.) at it, turn it up 'n down, play with the eq.. Even if it's not 'perfect', you'll at least get familiar with it. *S*
Sounds like a fun afternoon or evening project. And a rationale for making some noise. *L*
My winter system is a BAT VK55 with ESP speakers. I change speakers and amp for summer use. Summer is W4S ST500 with Nautilus 802's. The sound is different for sure but I really enjoy both systems but for different reasons. With the N802's the ST500 is superior to the Classe amps I had prior. The ST500 sounds best in my system with an Audioquest NRG10 power cord.
Therefore you might consider keeping your beloved BAT for use in the cooler months and adding a class D amp for summer. I'm sure you can find something reasonable in price to try. Then you will know for sure how they compare. I purchased the ST500 new from Underwood Hi Fi for around 1600.00 and I'm very pleased with it.
My preamp is tubed (VAC) and all interconnects and speaker cables are the same between systems. I do change power cords and I alter the room treatment adding tube traps to the front wall corners due to the N802 ported bass. So minor changes between the BAT and new class D amp may be required.
The efficiency of class D is certainly welcome for this desert dweller.
@rhljazz A very interesting scenario there Very easily accomplished too as any class d amp could sit right on top of the BAT and just move the power cords, xlr connects and speaker cables up it without changing much of anything. More food for thought.....
@asvjerry Cant say as I have done a study on the heat but after a couple hours of run time even at moderate volume levels it sure is pumping out the heat above it. That and its 120lb bulk are reasons it sits on its own little amp stand in clear fresh air away from the other electronics!
Class D makes big power at low cost. It is this factor and this factor alone that compells manufacturers to adopt this topology. Yes, some can sound decent but replacing a BAT tube amp?... If your amp is causing you to sweat, you can move onto good Class A/B and not miss much in the way of musicality. If you can’t tell a difference between Class D and A/B, time for a hearing exam.
Sounds like it's high time to begin doing some 'blind hearing tests' on D vs. 'anything else'....
D will win eventually, if only by sheer weight of numbers and application. I'd bet on this, but I sincerely doubt I'll live long enough to witness the end of the 'contest'. A, A/B and all will live on, but only as 'curiosities', as those of us who know them well enough succumb to the inevitable.
It's already well known that stasis is self-defeating. You either grow, or you will die. You can only adjust the span, not the outcome. ;)
Get behind the new tech, and make it become what you want. Put your dollars where your interests lie. It's always worked before...look at the thing you're typing into for an obvious example....;)
Been there -- the simple answer at least for me is --- Ive wound up relegating the class d for duty in hot weather. I wouldn't be in a hurry to sell your BAT although that sounds like a bit of heavy weight and likely equivalent good listening could be had with an amp that weighs half as much or so. I would have to see what model that it is and if its tube , in my experience, that Class D will not be as satisfying as the tube or s/s class A or A/B amp.. Its a different sound and has it place and can sound good-- It obviously works wonders as a lot of people go with the class d as main amp.... To me I just seem to get a little more from conventional amplification topologies. I like to mix em up. tube amp, class a/b amps, class A amp (Pass) and a Trends for the hot weather-- all used among 2 systems. A good buy available in the classifieds right now is the PS Audio---HCA 2 or something like that. Lot of raves on that amp.. Good way to check out class D . Have fun.
Oh yeah, the BAT you have is a beast. great amp and certainly can be fun at times. I wouldn't be able to run it though like all the time. . best thing is switching off from the smelter to other amps at times so as not to heat up the house on a summer day. Thats what I have to do - take a break from the Pass and the BAT probably is warmer.
I forgot to mention--- I had the PS Audio GCA-100 class D amp that came out after the HCA-2. GCA is a great sounding amp as well... The HCA-2 had quite a following though and many preferred that earlier version.
Yes the BAT certainly is a very efficient heater for sure...lol However I have to say that since starting this thread I have made a few changes that have left me in quite the sonic nirvana for now, New speaker cables, wooden blocks under the speakers, very carefull setup of speaker position and angles and swapping the sub with the one that was in my ht rig so now is a REL Stentor which is a very musical 10 inch 500w sub. All this has mightly improved the imaging, soundstage and tightened up the low bass no end For now I am doing what we all should Enjoying the music Class D adventures are on hold right now...lol
hi, look into NordAcoustics cheltenham in the UK , they are the best class D available on the market right now, they replaced a pair of krell fpb 450mcx and my krell fpb 600mc, more details musical everything even dare i say it better bass. Emporium hifi in the UK sells them all around the world you will nor regret it, the very top monos i got are under 2k good luck.
When I owned my first two Clayton Class A amps (M200 and M300) I used to believe I needed to leave them turned on most of the time so they would sound their best, in spite of the heat and energy usage. This time around with my upgraded M300, I am more relaxed about turning them on only when I am ready to listen. Sure, they sound better and better throughout the approximately 30-40 minute warm-up period and sure, maybe they sound another 3-5 percent better if they are left on for longer periods of time, but they sound so much better than the really good Class AB amps I have owned and so much more satisfying than the NC1200 amps I owned, that I can enjoy them from the minute I turn them on. Basically, I am saying don't worry about the heat - if you like the sound of your BAT amp you may find the sonic trade-off is not worth switching to a smaller, cooler-running Class D amp. If you want to try Class D, decide which amps you would like to try, and obtain loaners so you can compare them head to head with your BAT.
@mitch2 The BAT is just the same, i can tell a difference in sq after it has been on and played for approx 30minutes but not enough that I leave it on all the time, it comes on with a 12v trigger from the pre and that is it.
I checked out the NORD, looks good and fair price but if I went the ncore way I would more than likely stick to a homegrown company like dsonic or similar but thank you for the headsup!
I recently switched from SS forever and went class D. I have been a Rega, Creek fan forever and needed to sell off some stuff to bring money back to the family. So, I sold some higher end Rega stuff and went to Wyred 4 Sound since I was intrigued by it, just like you. Dare I say, what was meant to be a compromise has turned out to be a real joy. I have a W4S DAC-2 plugged direct into ST-500 MkII power amp running my KEF LS50. To me, their best feature is projection of voices regardless of volume. I listen to a lot of "mellow" acoustic music and Class D has served that music well, IMO. I also appreciate the extra wattage (I've always had amps <85 wpc). When I crank it up with the kids and have a dance party there is no lack of slam.
Also, my dad's system runs bel canto mono blocks. Unsure of the models but they are 1000 wpc. He's using them to run Legacy speakers. I feel the same about the vocal projection. Feels intimate to me. His system is way cooler than mine.
So, there's two very different systems running Class D that I would consider successful in relaying music enjoyment.
Finally, one of the reasons I invested in W4S is that they are always improving previous models of their equipment with upgrade packages. By the time you get an itch for "more" you can do it in a more fiscally responsible manner (as if spending all this money on our audio rigs is fiscally responsible in the first place).
For what it's worth I recently upgraded from a modest Class A/B integrated to a Primare I32. I am very happy! That being said, I am a detail fiend. I use the Primare to drive Canton Ergo 3 way towers; which are also very detailed.
I would like to first start by saying I am a dealer of some great sounding HI-FI products.
If you're making a move to Class D or Class G Amplification, Make sure the manufacturers are making a Great Analog power supply. Always keep the Amps on. Do not turn them off. They stabilize after 24 hours. Give them 300-400 hours of break in. You will be very pleased. I carry the Audio Research DS450M Monoblocks that we sell at $4995.00 a pair now.
Its not surprising that W4S are good listening. They were Cullen in their previous iteration and were making the class D amps for PSA back then.. The internals I suspect and I don't know more that that-- If I recall correctly. Class D can excel depending on system synergy... just like any other setup. And a credit to its capability and sonic virtue--Im using a diminutive $180 Trends class D without readily discernible dysfunction. Certainly would have to A/B with another amp to perceive the difference and those I have here all cost much more as well.