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Selecting a dedicated amplifier: A+G vs a ‘Class D Amp with a Class A Op Amp’


zelbir
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This is a transition from the world of AVRs to the world of separates.I am in the search for an amp to go with a Marantz AV7702mkII in a 3.1 system. Yup, this will ultimately be used for bothhome theater and 2-channel listening. I am starting off with one stereo amp and will either get second stereo amp or amonoblock in the future to cover the center channel. A strong majority of use is the 2-channel side of things.

My current shortlist is the Creek Audio Evolution 100P (http://www.creekaudio.com/power-amplifiers/evolution-100p/) and the Nord One Up (http://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/product-page/41bdb762-066b-10a3-b856-4421f4a3b9e8) with the Sonic Imagery 994.

Questions:

(1)Has anyone ever heard both of these?If so, what were your impressions of the differencesin character between the two?

(2)Class G (Creek 100P) vs a tricked out Class D(the Nord)...is it fair to say that one tech over the other will pair betterwith a wider range of speakers types and efficiencies? By ‘pair better’ I meanget the most out of a given speakers potential at low volumes. I am too old to 'rock the house' and my ears don't like things that loud anyway.

(3)My searches in this form and online have yieldedvery little comparing these two different tech approaches to amps.Any recommendations for reading?Both amps get good individual reviews but Ihave yet to see the same site or reviewer having covered both of these amps…oreven products from both companies.

(4)Creek Audio & Nord customer experiencesafter the sale…stupendous, blah, never again, or?…any personal experiences witheither of these companies are most welcome. I have seen positive feedback (on this site regarding Nord customer service) but nothing regarding Creek Audio.

Even if you are willing to only touch part of one of these questions, any food-for-thought is welcome.

My listening characteristics:

*playing flac and dsd(64 or 128) via JRiver + lossless streaming fromclassicsonlinehd.No mp3.I rip my CDs at flac 0 and purchase some dsdmaterial online (e.g. Nativedsd.com)

*priority is on clarity and detail at low volumes.

*listen to classical (almost exclusively solo and chambermusic with a lot of violin, viola, cello, and guitar stuff), jazz (Duke PearsonTrio, Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis), acoustic guitar, femalesinger/songwriters, some folk

*Currently have Goldenear Aon 3 (OK, I think they’re fine for nowbut don’t laugh too hard…you’re sides will split J)but hope to upgrade to small floorstanders (perhaps Linn) or something likeMartin Logan electrostats within a few years.

Note:I am intentionally pursuing amps that weigh no more than 20-22lbs each. Permanent damage in the legs have left mewith a very limited lifting capability. I also understand that my own ears will ultimately have to be the judgeof what is the right amp for me. Hoping to get food-for-thought with this post.

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If you're moving up from a receiver to more specialized equipment, the first thing you need to understand is that you can't generalize things like Class D, Class A, etc.... Amps of the same class can sound very different from each other. If you want to make the right choice for yourself, you need to listen before you buy. You'll get plenty of recommendations, but for the most part, it will just be someone else's favorite amp for their taste, room and speakers. Reviews can get you into even more trouble.

 

If you live in the US, I highly recommend giving The Cable Company (fatwyre.com) a call. They specialize in lending out demo components and accessories to help their customers make the right choice. They will send you 3 or 4 amps to try all at once. There's just no better way to do it.

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I own a Marantz 7702 and have tested a couple of amps. If you want an amp that has power like a beast, delicacy like a flower and is as transparent as glass I highly recommend vintage Carver amps. This one is 5 channels:

:

Carver 5 Channel Amplifier AV-405 Good Condition Tested | eBay

 

Now this one is 3 channels of 250 watts each (perfect for L-C-R) and will make your speakers stand up and salute when you play:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/multi-ch-carver-a-753x-3-channel-amp-2016-10-19-amplifiers-92679-coto-de-caza-ca

 

These are both from the Carver A series which uses trickle down tech from the Lightstar amp which some feel is the crown jewel of carver amps.

 

There are plenty of reviews online if you search.

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I have the Nord One UP monoblocks and have tried the different op amps including the Sonic Imagery and Sparkos class A. Plenty of power, and abundant detail and clarity at low volume in my system. Switched them out though because they still don't have enough of that bit of "warmth" often associated with Class A that I prefer, and they just can't compete with my real Class A Pass amps which went back into the system. That said, the Nords are still fine amps as evidenced by all the great reviews. If you do buy I recommend getting a few opamp types to see what fits your taste. I tried the 994s, which seemed a bit lean, but liked the Sparkos, which was a big step towards my preferred sound. The price is right and the company is easy to deal with. Got the amps in the US 7 days after ordering from the UK. Colin offered to take them back if I wasn't satisfied, but I'm keeping them as a backup, so that should be a testament to their quality and Nord's level of service.

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