UcD vs TriPath Digital amps.

I have been enthusiastic about the CarverPro ZR1600 digital power amp which I have used for several years with Magnepan MG1.6 speakers. Actually I have three ZR1600, each driving a MG1.6 with one channel and a two-driver subwoofer with the other. The ZR1600 uses the Tripath digital control module.

I have just purchased three CI Audio D-200 amps, which use the UcD digital module. The TriPath module does its digital switching at a commanded variable frequency (“spread spectrum”). The modulation pattern is between 200 KHz and 1.5 MHz. The UcD module is self-oscillating (like the ICE module) at (I think) 44KHz.

Let me say at the onset that the ZR1600 is a very fine amplifier, and mates particularly well with the MG1.6. My reasons for replacing it are not primarily on account of its sonic character. I wanted an amp that I could attach directly to the rear of the speakers, thereby avoiding any issue with speaker cables. This is not practical with the ZR1600 because it has a cooling fan, and needs to be in a remote location, like the cellar. Also, as my subwoofer system has evolved its impedance has ended up at 2 ohms. While the ZR1600 is rated for 2 ohm operation, distortion with this load is increased, and I am worried about what happens to the other channel, which shares the power supply. My plan is to drive one subwoofer driver with each channel of a ZR1600, and use a CI Audio D-200 for the Maggie.

All three ZR1600, six channels of 600 watts at 4 ohms, cost me less than $2500. Three D-200, 325 watts each, cost me almost $3500. If cost is important I think that the ZR1600 wins.

Thus far I have simply inserted the D-200 amps in place of one channel of the ZR1600, in the cellar without changing speaker cables, but initial listening is encouraging. Playing a Mozart violin concerto, Pentatone SACD PTC 5186 064 (an excellent disc) the sound is really smooth, sweet, tube-like (?), without loss of the clarity that I liked in the ZR1600. I find that violin is most affected by any sharpness in the midrange. More extensive listening will be interesting, especially when I get around to relocation of the amps at the speakers without speaker wires.

The CI D-200 is well built. It has received enthusiastic reviews by the various gurus, and it seems that this is not hype.
As we look forward to interesting answers here, I would just like to just say, yes - violins sound like dentists' drills on most equipment.
The ZR1600 does not turn violins into dentist's drills, but I know what you mean. Perhaps the CI D-200 turns ordinary fiddles into Stradivarius violins. This is not exactly the ultimate of "fidelity" but it does sound nice, which , in the end, is what we want. (Same argument as for tubes).
Eldartford, your description of the D200 is similar to my impression of the D100 when I tried them. I imagine they are a great match with sources and preamps that favor accuracy and extension, and perhaps not so ideal with warmer gear.

What do you think?
I can't find CI Audio in the manufacturer directory, do you have their web site? Thanks
Tvad...The D200 is just an "up voltage" version of the D100, so they ought to sound the same within the D100 power range. I have not gone into a full blown review because the journals, with access to many amps for comparison, plus bench test equipment, have done that task. My role is just to observe that these positive reviews appear to be justified, and not the result of an advertising relationship (as so many skeptical audiophiles seem to think).
Your observation about not mating these amps with "warm" sources makes sense in a general way...too much of a good thing. But some have said that there is no such thing as too many tubes. Albert is up to about 100 at last count (and I don't mean the several hundred he has on a shelf waiting to be rolled :-)
Eldartford, I'm thinking in particular of the synergistic mating between the Modwright SWL9.0SE and the D200 monos that has been reported in several user reports and reviews. IMO, the Modwright is very linear and accurate, and benefits (or could benefit) from some slight warming somewhere in the signal chain, whether the warmth is from an amp or tube rolling in the preamp itself.

None of this is to suggest the D200 are overly warm or syrupy. Far from it. They are quite accurate and detailed in their own right, but more musical than the NuForce amps, from my experience, and therefore more to my liking.
It's ciaudio.com
Though I don't have the CIAudio D200's, I've been running some fairly highly modified UcD 400's for some time now and, for me, the MW 9se is a match made in heaven. I'm using the Tung Sol tubes, which I feel are just a smidgeon warmer than the stock Philips. Beautious...
I looked into using the Tripath stuff a few years back, and I was not crazy about it. I have reason to believe that they got the distortion down at the risk of playing games with the dead time. In a manner that might lead to shorted transistors.

The UcD has good performance, and low EMI. Their approach may end up being the best one, performance-wise. Although ICEpower will most likely outsell them, due to their deep pockets. Partnering with Sanyo will not hurt any, especially when every cheap receiver by J. A. Pan, Inc. will most likely use them pretty soon.
Ar_t...The CI D-200 sound better and better. I now have them located directly behind the Maggies with 3 foot (biwire) cables.

I have been running the three ZR1600 for a couple of years with no problems at all. One channel has had a 2 ohm load and the other 4 ohms (for each ZR1600). I even ran with shorted speaker cables on one occasion without incident other than protective shutdown.
CORRECTION...The UcD module is self-oscillating (like the ICE module) at 412 KHz (not 44KHz). When I wrote it I really couldn't believe that 44KHz would work.
Maybe yours are. They are not a fixed frequency, and the deviation is tens of kHz. If you want to bridge them, you have to tie them together somehow so thay they oscillate at the same frequency.

But yes...........44 kHz is one order of magnitude off.
Just to close out my observations about the CI D200 in my system...

Physically attaching the amps to the MG1.6 speakers proved impractical mostly because there would be both a line cord and a signal cable to drag around when moving the speakers. Instead I bought Goertz Biwire cables, which, at a four foot length are about as close to no speaker wire as matters.

I think that I have taken the MG1.6 about as far as possible.
1.. Subwoofers keep frequencies that the MG1.6 can't reproduce out of them.
2.. The passive crossover has been redone with premium capacitors and a heavy duty air coil inductor.
3.. Stands raise the speakers off the floor.
4.. Very short Goertz biwire cables.
5.. Last, but not least, a very nice power amp.

I am not so keen about the ribbon tweeter, so upscale Maggies are not in the cards. Soundlab electrostatics would be nice, but I don't have fifty grand (for three) handy.
You don't like the Maggie ribbon? Really?
Drubin...It's not that I dislike the Maggie ribbon. Rather, I like the QR approach just as much. I did listen to both, and I could not hear any reason to pay so much more for the MG3.6. The QR does have the advantage of using the same technology and membrane for all frequencies, which perhaps leads to a better integrated sound (IMHO).
I continue to enjoy my three CIA D200 amps, and have ordered two more for the surround channels. Nevertheless, it is hard to describe exactly what is so good about them. I am not a professional high end reviewer with fancy subjective words like "transparency".

There is one objective observation that I can pass on. I have a SACD, The Sound of Glory" which is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir along with a full orchestra and a monster organ. (I recommend this disc when your subwoofer needs exercise). When I hooked up my first digital amps, Tripath-based CarverPro ZR1600, the 500-voice choir became more separated from the orchestra and organ, and seemed much clearer. (This is probably "Transparency"). With the CIA D200 I can, at times, actually pick out individual voices from the huge choir.