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Article: A Class D Exploration and Comparative Review of PS Audio, Wyred 4 Sound, and XTZ

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Great article. How about a comparative review of nCore modules? :)


1. Sonore ultraRendu + Uptone ISO Regen - Calyx Femto - Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE stage 2 - Apollon NC800 SL PRO - Thiel CS3.7
2. JRiver - Burson Conductor V2+ - Audeze LCD-XC - Calyx Femti - Monitor Audio PL100
3. JRiver - SMSL iDEA - 1More Triple Driver IEM

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Great piece @DuckToller.

 

I, too, have mixed feelings about Class D, but I agree some manufacturers are overcoming many of its shortcomings.

 

Your piece makes me want to hear the S300.

 

I’d also be curious to hear your thoughts on the “Class H” Differential Reference amp from Emotiva if you ever get a chance to audition one...

https://emotiva.com/products/xpa-dr2

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1 hour ago, JoshM said:

I’d also be curious to hear your thoughts on the “Class H” Differential Reference amp from Emotiva if you ever get a chance to audition one...

https://emotiva.com/products/xpa-dr2

 

Josh,
first of all, mille merci.
Emotiva was on my list, and requested, but their press contact vanished in the digital nirvana around end of December. Sad but true. So I even didn't note them, I guess, they did change their external press officer at years end.

The S300 imho is a great value, and its siblings M700 may be interesting as well, I'd love the compare them to the new 1200AS (ICEedge) boards, when they will be finally available.
Tom

Edited by DuckToller
typing and spelling

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Nice comparison review. Most interesting because there's a core technical base component across all the amps which shows that it's the whole of the implementation that matters. (I get fatigued by people who launch off on "well this DAC has the same ESS chip so it has to be as good as all the other DACs using the same chip.") The differences you describe aren't minor.

 

Look at Formula 1. Four engine manufacturers across the 20 teams... and look at the huge differences in performance. The fastest and slowest two teams, one each of Ferrari and AMG Mercedes engines. As my mechanic used to say, you can put a BMW M5 engine in a Chevy Caprice, and it's still gonna drive like a Caprice.

 

I'm curious about how much your results and preferences have to do with the totality of your system components, based on my own experiences. I have two higher end systems (one home, one in my studio) and have tried mixing and matching components, and there are definitely two optimal combinations. My Gradients love my Krell integrated. Not so much my Anthem integrated. Slightly mushy and dull sounding. Same specs. Totally different sound. But... my GoldenEar 1s love the Anthem integrated. The Krell comes off harsh and edgy, but the Anthem is crisp and clean and 3D.

 

Your review, and my own experiences, got me wondering what speakers each of these manufacturers used in their development. Could their speaker choices have influence over how they develop their amps?

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8 minutes ago, ednaz said:

Your review, and my own experiences, got me wondering what speakers each of these manufacturers used in their development. Could their speaker choices have influence over how they develop their amps?

 

Thank you Ednaz,

as far as I am aware, all manufactures (apart from NAD) displayed in this article could use the speakers of their own production line(s).
But I agree, this would have been an interesting question, too, for the short Q&A.
Tom
 

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Great article!   But I'm really curious about Pioneer.  I KNOW that's not a normal audiophile brand (even "Elite" which is the moniker most of their class D stuff fits under as Class D), but they have been making their own Class D parts for some time.  Originally they sold ICEpower based kit, but switched over to their own some years ago.  Reviews  (for what it is worth) improved after the switch and are pretty much all very positive, where they can be found.    Also, while you might find some reviews with some THD+N graphs, inevitably (for almost all class D gear), they're only at 1000hz.  Class D tends to fall down, if it does, at higher frequencies.  

https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/D3

So.... ?   

 

Another interesting comparison would be powered speakers, which largely use  Class D amps.  Dynaudio, I believe, uses Pascal Class D boards in their speakers.

 

Thanks again for a great article.

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20 hours ago, budgetplesures said:

it is unfortunate that only a few people have heard The JOB INT

@budgetpleasure
The JOB INT had been on my list of items I had proposed to Chris, when I sent him my initial email back then when he asked for reviewers ... particularly because Geneva is just 500 miles away from here, and from what I had read about the JOB INT, it has sounded very interesting.
One point which I found at least a bit difficult from reading "With how the INT is configured, you'll never know what the DAC, DSP and output stage bits contribute. You can always only assess the full combo." @ 6moons, and please correct me if I am wrong on this, I have understood that the internal "Goldmund" DSP would be used with the digital AND the analog input from an external DAC or Preamp (as it has only one analogue input)? In other words, there would be always the JOB INT sound signature  (and perhaps Goldmund like)? How would you apply external Room Correction or DSP like that from Miska's HQ Player when using the JOB INT? 
Nonetheless, I am happy to read you like your amp so much , because from all I know about it, it is a value proposition ...
Best, Tom
 

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Would love to hear you compare the PS Audio Amps to some of the NCore 500 implementations.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also 2 SBT and an SB Boom. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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41 minutes ago, STC said:

Is it normal for these amplifiers to hum? My CrownXLS is set at maximum volume and there is no noise whatsoever

The hum, imho is negligible (for me), and I have heard more unpleasant hum, deriving from an USB mouse connected to the CAPS, in the Class D amps of my subs, which leads me to assume that this technology in fact could be sensitive to external factors. Otoh, if it is well done, the external factors could be as well inaudible. Most important to underline, I have only twice in 5 years pushed my preamp to 12 O'clock for a few songs, and in my memory there had been no audible space left for detecting humming 😉

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10 hours ago, DuckToller said:

The hum, imho is negligible (for me), and I have heard more unpleasant hum, deriving from an USB mouse connected to the CAPS, in the Class D amps of my subs, which leads me to assume that this technology in fact could be sensitive to external factors. Otoh, if it is well done, the external factors could be as well inaudible. Most important to underline, I have only twice in 5 years pushed my preamp to 12 O'clock for a few songs, and in my memory there had been no audible space left for detecting humming 😉

 

I set my DAC and Amp at max. Volume is controlled at DAW. Thankfully so far no issue. 

 

BTW, I forgot to congratulate you for a well written review. Great job! Thanx.

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A. Greenland is 896,000 sq miles.
     Austraila is 2.97 MILLION sq miles.
B. you went to a considerable length for a class d comparison...yet didnt include n-core from ATI among others!?!

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1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

A. Greenland is 896,000 sq miles.
     Austraila is 2.97 MILLION sq miles.
 

Australia is classified as a continent not an island. May seem like a silly distinction, but .....


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also 2 SBT and an SB Boom. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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10 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

A. Greenland is 896,000 sq miles.
     Austraila is 2.97 MILLION sq miles.
B. you went to a considerable length for a class d comparison...yet didnt include n-core from ATI among others!?!

Thank you very much @firedog for explaining point A perfectly.

for B. I may need to excuse @googoogjoob  for the fact, that I was having my focus on ICEpower amplification only (as this already brought the article to "considerable" length) and offered the explanation for my approach just in the final part.


Still, I consider a "comparative" review of one N-Core500 or N-Core1200 implemention very interesting, particularly when the new Purifi amplifier and the Icepower 1200AS  (with ICEedge) will be available, maybe a Pascal module could be interesting as well? 
Do you think the ATI N-Core is more special than other N-Core ? And which of both stereo amplifiers of ATI would suit you most?
Best, Tom

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7 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Do you think the ATI N-Core is more special than other N-Core ? And which of both stereo amplifiers of ATI would suit you most?
Best, Tom


tom, i have no exposure to any class d. im old (ish) and stuck in my a/b ways. i am a huge fan of ati amps. currently i own a 300x7 & a 200x6. they are delicious. i see ati is continually paring their lineup to transition almost completely to class d. as i am respectful of Morris Kessler and enjoy many of his products i allow for, hmmm....is there something to this class d business? curious as to peoples perspective on the subject...when i saw your article AN EXPLORATION OF CLASS D...i had hoped for info on the n-core. to your questions...i know of no other n-core products. i mentioned ati due to brand affection. as to which of 'both' stereo amps of ati would suit me?.....the signature 6000 (300w)....however, i also lust after the ps audio bhk signature amps. whats that they say about old (a/b) habits?
best wishes. 

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1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

tom, i have no exposure to any class d. im old (ish) and stuck in my a/b ways. i am a huge fan of ati amps. currently i own a 300x7 & a 200x6. they are delicious. i see ati is continually paring their lineup to transition almost completely to class d. as i am respectful of Morris Kessler and enjoy many of his products i allow for, hmmm....is there something to this class d business? curious as to peoples perspective on the subject...when i saw your article AN EXPLORATION OF CLASS D...i had hoped for info on the n-core. to your questions...i know of no other n-core products. i mentioned ati due to brand affection. as to which of 'both' stereo amps of ati would suit me?.....the signature 6000 (300w)....however, i also lust after the ps audio bhk signature amps. whats that they say about old (a/b) habits?
best wishes. 

Thank you for the clarification.
I have understood, that either ATI or PS AUDIO are the brands  you're affected with. I have no idea if ATI has a trade-up option for changing from Class D to Class AB for its Signature amps, but you may check alternatively with PS Audio what would be your options starting with the M-700 monos (haven't heard them yet, but they have the same analogue cell as the S300 reviewed, which sounds really good - and they are Stereophile Class A listed) and if that does not suit you may be able to trade up to the BHK series.

In the example of PS Audio you may count 3 k USD for a pair of M700, for BHK S 250 7,5 k USD and BHK S 300 15 k USD. This is a significant difference in price, serves different markets and leaves the options to upgrade for the customer. I would guess, that an audiophile who "lusts" for the BHK S series and has that money available, may not stay/stop with the M700s, maybe even not start with them, because there are other forces than rationality included in his decision making ;-). I took PS Audio as example, because I am more familiar with their products due to the research on the article.

 

The buzz with Class D is, imho, that this technology went from "bang for buck" only to serious quality audio for reasonable money. It is important to note the fact that many "newer" developments in audio, like active speakers with room correction,  or Amplifier with DSP, use Class D amplification due to its tiny and economic footprint. Moreover, there is that improvement in quality we have seen,  which in my understanding  is driven by the high demand from the automotive industry that in turn offers a fair share of research knowledge to audio amplification.

Best, Tom

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