- Written by Mark Vignola
- Published on 24 July 2013
The D-Sonic M3-5400-7 In Use
At 1500 wpc for front L/R and 525 watts for the center channel, the M3 possesses far more power than anything I have had in my system in the past…and more than I think I have ever listened to. If its not the most powerful multi-channel amp being manufactured, it is certainly close. I asked Dennis about the decision to include this type of high power. Instead of paraphrasing I'll just pass on what Dennis said:
"1500 watts offer a high level of reserve power for those who have large listening rooms, inefficient speakers, play loud or any combination of these conditions. A good example of this is Magnepan, Eminent technology and Apogees among the ribbon/planar types. Most of the highest rated cone systems also require very large power reserves for realistic transients and dynamic peaks. Especially if they are in a large room and running full range without assistance from powered subwoofers. I use the Revel Studio2s and they deliver uncompressed peaks with dramatic realism. These are just some examples of speakers that can attain peak performance with adequate power reserves. All of our amplifiers perform per specification into sub 2 ohm speaker impedances."
As you can see from this quote, the extreme power of the M3 is designed to pair well with extremely demanding speakers. At 90 dB @ 1 watt / 1m, my Usher Mini 2 towers are hardly demanding speakers (my previous PSB Stratus Silver i's would have been a great test). In addition, nobody would consider my multi-use room in a Manhattan apartment "large". With that in context, lets dive in.
While I was most eager to try the M3 on some Blu-ray tracks, I started with some music to get a feel for the overall sound signature of the amp. For these tests I opted to run my Usher Towers in Full Range mode; taking my JL Audio 113's out of the equation to fully test the M3's capabilities. The Usher towers easily stretch down far enough to give bass punch to music tracks. I started using one of my standards: Phish's Story of the Ghost. Mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer Andy Wallace, this disc has a little of everything and is recorded superbly. Diving in with the title track "Story of the Ghost", I was greeted with the tightness, clarity and control that one finds in Class D based amplification.
My normal amp, a wyred4sound Mini MC-5CH, is also a Class D amp, and I was pleased to find those same clean characteristics present in the M3. This particular track exemplified this control, with Mike Gordon's bass line remaining exceptionally tight. I think this type of bass control is a key characteristic of well-designed class D amps, and I am happy to say the M3 performed admirably.
Even though they've been at it for a long time, the band Fun. was one of my most exciting discoveries of last year. Lead singer Nate Ruess has, in my opinion, one of the most amazing and unique voices in pop music today.
Firing up the title track from their album "Some Nights", I was again impressed by the ability of the M3 to provide ample power behind the vocals, while never sounding out of control or overly forward.
While all of the music that I tested with the M3 sounded terrific, I was most eager to tackle some movies, where dynamics are often more important and this kind of wattage would likely shine. I was excited as we had several movies around that I thought would provide really nice challenges. For these tests I reengaged the FL113's to handle the low end.
The first disc that I grabbed out of the collection was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This disc contains an uncompressed PCM soundtrack and has what I think is the perfect scene to try out the dynamic capabilities of the M3.
Towards the end of the film, when Dumbledore confronts Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries, we are treated with a plethora of challenging audio montages. This entire scene is filled with huge dynamic swings as the two wizards duel. My favorite of these to test dynamics occurs when Voldemort shatters all of the glass in the room. The M3 handled this scene easily, giving detailed and precise resolution to all of the effects. I pushed the volume as much as was reasonable, and the M3 never reached a point of fatigue - exactly what you'd expect from a unit with this sort of power.
The next disc I threw it as last summers Avengers. Being a long-time fan of Joss Whedon, I took to this movie instantly and it was made a part of our collection as soon as it was released. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is exactly what you'd expect from a summer action/comic book blockbuster.
Again, the M3 handled the sci-fi score without issue. Gunshots – a particularly tough test – were always crisp, concise and loud. With this amp I always had the feeling of transparency – I was hearing an uncolored version of exactly what was intended by the sound engineers.
In order to tackle something a little subtler, I threw in Silver Linings Playbook next. This dialog heavy movie features a DTS-HD MA sound track. I had no complaints about how the M3 handled this film. Dialog was clean, clear and balanced.