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Amplifier Reviews

EMP Tek VT-40.2 Hybrid Integrated Stereo Tube Amplifier

EMP Tek VT-40.2 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

Engineered Music Products (EMP) was founded in 2007 by industry professionals with over thirty years experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing high-performance loudspeakers for companies such as ParaSound, McIntosh, JBL, Destination Audio and Fosgate. EMP Tek is a sister company of speaker manufacturer RBH Sound. For years I have heard people talk about tubes ("valves" if you are British) and how warm and wonderful they sound. This is my chance to hear for myself. Can one find analog bliss in a digital world?

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Lamm LL2.1 Stereo Tube Preamplifier

lamm-ll21-preamplifier-teaser

Lamm Industries has been a venerable brand name in high end audio for decades. They build each product when it is ordered, so you won't see a bunch of any particular model "in stock" anywhere. Their specialty is tube-based preamplifiers and power amplifiers, with their top-of-the-line power amplifier selling at well over $100,000. The current review focuses on the model LL2.1 stereo preamplifier. At $5,995, it is the most affordable preamplifier in the Lamm product line.

The LL2.1 is an updated version of a previous model. Several new features have been added along with modifications of the basic circuit.

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Rotel RMB-1575 Five-Channel Class D Power Amplifier

Rotel RMB-1575

Class D switching amplifiers are more and more common. Manufactures have made great strides in overcoming the high-frequency shortcomings found in the early models. Rotel in particular has been involved with this technology for a few years, with a significant portion of their line-up now using this.

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Bryston 9B SST2 Multi-channel Amplifier

bryston-9b-sst2-power-amplifier-teaser

Bryston is known for building some of the most sought-after, powerful and dependable amplifiers in the business. For over 40 years, they have provided an incredible 20 year transferable warranty, practically unheard of in this or any industry. If you find one (that is if you can find one) on the used market, chances are it will still be under warranty. Their rare appearance on the used market has as much to do with their sound quality and dependable (high) power delivery as it does with their warranty. Here, we review their 9B SST2, which is a five-channel (5 x 140 watts) power amplifier.

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McCormack LD-2 Preamplifier and DNA-250 Stereo Power Amplifier

McCormack LD-2 and DNA-250

In 1997, McCormack Audio was purchased by Conrad-Johnson, known primarily for their fine tube amps and preamps. They have the same high quality and value that Steve McCormack put into his designs in California, but these current products are basically an entirely new line (and are built in Virginia). In this review, we take a look at one of their line-stage preamps, and a stereo (two-channel) power amplifier.

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CAVE Prize - Burson Audio PI-100 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

CAVE Prize - Burson Audio PI-100 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

No April Fools.........Winner of the Burson Audio PI-100 Integrated Stereo Amplifier is Tim Patchett.....Congratulations Tim! Thank you ALL for your support of the CAVE.....we will be announcing the next prize shortly!!

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Emotiva USP-1 Stereo Preamplifier

emotiva-usp-1-preamplifier-teaserEmotiva's new USP-1 stereo preamplifier, at $399, sets a new standard in performance in low priced components. Besides the standard full range outputs, this preamp offers a split output where you can adjust the low-pass frequency for one (which goes to your subwoofer) and the high-pass frequency for the other (which goes to your main power amplifier). This allows you to essentially bi-amplify, and with the low frequencies removed from the high-passed output, your power amplifier will run more efficiantly, not having to waste power on low frequencies that your speakers cannot reproduce. And, they toss in a phono stage that has both MC and MM settings. This may mark the beginning of phono stages being a standard part of stereo preamplifiers, rather than having to purchase an outboard phono stage. Long live LP's! Oh, there's a headphone jack too.

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PrimaLuna DiaLogue Seven Tube Monoblock Power Amplifier

primaluna-dialogue-seven-amplifier-teaser

PrimaLuna is a Dutch-based company that released its first products, the ProLogue One and ProLogue Two integrated tube amplifiers in 2003. Then, in 2006, they released the ProLogue Three preamplifier, and ProLogue Five, Six, and Seven power amplifiers. Late in that same year, the PrimaLuna DiaLogue series hit the market, which had the DiaLogue's basic features, but with upgraded parts and additional capabilities. Here, we review the DiaLogue Seven, which is a monoblock power amplifier, capable of delivering 40 watts RMS in triode mode, and 70 watts RMS in ultra-linear mode (see review for an explanation of what this means). The bottom line is that the PrimaLuna DiaLogue Seven monoblock is more than capable of delivering a clean, detailed, and lush sound (ah, those tubes are responsible for that).

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Bryston 4B SST2 Stereo Power Amplifier

Bryston 4B SST2 C-SERIES

Bryston Ltd. is a Canadian company which has been designing and manufacturing audio equipment for over 35 Years. While there are many companies competing in their market, Bryston's gear is coveted by enthusiasts and professionals alike. They have earned the reputation of providing bullet-proof reliability, high performance and value. Byston's value is not due to a bargain basement price. It's the sound and their 20 year guarantee of high performance that can make a Bryston purchase a value. This remarkable warranty speaks to Bryston's confidence in their own quality standards, and it is definitely the exception versus the rule in the A/V industry.

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PrimaLuna DiaLogue Two Stereo Integrated Tube Amplifier

primaluna-dialogue-two-amplifier-teaser

The PrimaLuna brand needs no introduction to the tube-loving community, but I do (did). Though I've heard plenty of good sounding tube gear at shops, at various friends' houses and of course at shows, I generally listen to solid state equipment. So, having the PrimaLuna Dialogue Two here for review was a new, and very pleasant experience.

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conrad-johnson Classic Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Phono Stage

conrad-johnson Classic Preamplifier with Phono Stage

conrad-johnson (lower case c and j) was formed in the mid-seventies, shortly after I became seriously interested in audio gear. I'm sure the two events were entirely unrelated. Their first product, a preamplifier, was immediately recognized as "state of the art," and so their storied history began. I encourage you to visit their website for more details. There, they provide a long list of products that have been reviewed as "Best of Class", and even "Best in the World."

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