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Amplifier Reviews

Harman Kardon HK 990 Stereo Integrated Amplifier with Digital Room Correction and Dual Subwoofer Bass Management – Part I

Harman Kardon HK 990 Stereo Integrated Amplifier with Digital Room Correction and Dual Subwoofer Bass Management – Part I

The HK 990 is a truly unique stereo component. It is a dual domain device capable of accepting analog or digital inputs, converting domains as required, and sending the results to the speaker.

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Jones Audio PA-M300 Series 2 Monoblock Power Amplifier

Jones Audio PA-M300 Series 2 Monoblock Amplifier

Imagine my surprise when Secrets' Editor-in-Chief, John Johnson, asked me if I would review a pair of Jones Audio's 300W solid-state monoblock power amplifiers. "Now that would be quite a switch," was the first thought that popped into my head.

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Mark Levinson Nº 531H Monoblock Power Amplifier

Mark Levinson Nº 531H Monoblock Home Theater Amplifier

Mark Levinson is one of the world's great high end audio manufacturers. They make a wide variety of electronic components, including pre amps, DACs, CD transports, SACD players as well as a surround sound processor they call a "Media Console". Levinson has also teamed with luxury auto manufacturer, Lexus so you can take their audio products on the road. Nonetheless, Mark Levinson is almost certainly best known for their very large, very powerful and very expensive power amplifiers. They enjoy a well deserved reputation for making some of the best - if not the best - solid state power amps around. The Nº 531H is the subject of the current review, and it delivers 300 watts RMS into 8 ohms.

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Earthquake Sound Cinenova 7 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier

Earthquake Sound Cinenova 7 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier

Earthquake Sound, besides manufacturing very powerful subwoofers, also offers very powerful amplifiers for your home theater. The massive Cinénova Grande 7 is rated at 500 watts output per channel (seven channels) into 8 ohm loads. At $6,000, it is one of the most powerful multi-channel amplifiers in the world. But, many consumers don't need that much power, either because their home theater is small, or they just don't watch movies and listen to surround sound music very loud. So, Earthquake Sound has introduced the Cinénova 7, a seven-channel power amplifier, which is rated at 150 watts output per channel into 8 ohms.

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Harman Kardon HK 990 Integrated Amplifier and HD 990 CD Player

Harman Kardon 990 Integrated Amplifier and HD 990 CD player for the Audiophile

Most likely recognized in today's market as a purveyor of home theater receivers, desktop/PC speakers, iPod docks, and factory-installed automotive sound systems, Harman Kardon is a name that is also well-recognized in traditional 2-channel audio. While the history of the company is quite interesting (see the "about us" link on the company's webpage), one thing has remained constant at Harman Kardon over the years: they produce an aesthetically pleasing product that delivers the high-sound quality sought after by the brand's customers. Here, we review their 990 Integrated Amplifier and HD 990 CD Player.

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Parasound New Classic 5250v.2 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier

Parasound New Classic 5250v.2 Multichannel Amplifier for the Home Theater

Parasound builds many audio products such as amps, tuners, preamps, and products for custom installations. As well their products can be found in many movie studios, including Lucasfilm and Pixar, you can even see their name in the credits for Star Wars. As well they are known for their highly regarded stereo products designed by John Curl. Their New Classic line has been around for many years and Parasound has released an updated five channel amplifier from this line, named the 5250v.2 which is a powerful and rugged THX Ultra-2 Five channel amplifier.

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Pioneer PD-D6MK2 SACD Player and SX-A9MK2 Integrated Amplifier

Pioneer PD-D6MK2 SACD player and SX-A9MK2 integrated amplifier

The D6 SACD player and A9 integrated stereo amplifier are two of four possible combinations in the Pioneer G-Clef series of SACD players and integrated two channel amplifiers that are sold as a pair. The G-Clef series is tested and approved by AIR Studios in London and are designed for the discriminating stereo lover in mind. As quoted from Pioneer's website, "The AIR Studios quality seal is proof not only of the extraordinary engineering that has gone into these audio units, but also of the exceptionally high quality of their craftsmanship and carefully selected electronic components".

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Pass Labs XP-20 Stereo Preamplifier

Pass Labs XP-20 Stereo Preamplifier

After having tested a Pass power amplifier and phono preamplifier, I could not wait to get my hands on a preamplifier, to complete the system analysis. The subject of this review is the venerable XP-20, which has been in the Pass inventory since 2009. It's a fully balanced design, with separate power supply chassis for low noise. The bench test results were quite surprising. Read on to see for yourselves.

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Primare A30.7 Seven-Channel Class D Power Amplifier

Primare A30.7 7-Channel Class D Amplifier

This new seven-channel Class D power amplifier comes to us from the Swedish high fidelity brand, Primare. The engineers at Primare designed this amplifier from the ground up with some fresh ideas on how to optimize this burgeoning amplifier topology. Will this compact multi-channel amp be able to muster the chutzpah to power your home theater? Will it be able to deliver this power with the grace that is missing from so many other Class D amps?

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Paradigm Signature S2, Version 3 Bookshelf Speakers and Anthem Integrated 225 Amplifier

Paradigm Signature S2, Version 3 Bookshelf Speakers and Anthem Integrated 225 Amplifier for the Home Theater

The CEDIA Expo isn't really a show for audiophiles. Most of the setups are geared towards in-wall speakers, projectors, and other various forms of home automation, but there are always a few vendors there that have some nice demonstrations. This year, one of my favorite demonstrations came from Paradigm, who had a complete home theater built with their Signature S2, Version 3s as the front speakers.

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Pass Labs XA-100.5 Pure Class A Monoblock Power Amplifier

Pass Labs XA-100.5 Pure Class A Monoblock Power Amplifier

Most amplifier manufacturers produce power amplifiers that are biased as Class AB, meaning that they run a few watts in Class A and the rest in AB. This is usually a push-pull configuration, and the AB moniker refers to a slight overlap in the + portion of the waveform that is delivered by one section of the amplifier with the - portion handled by the other amplifier section.

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