- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 21 October 2010
If you are the kind of audiophile who wants to kick butt with your hi-fi system, the amplifier is for you. I tested it with an OPPO BDP-83/NuForce universal Blu-ray player, Mysterè ca21 preamplifier, and Carver Mark IV ribbon speakers.
If anything tests an amplifier or speakers, it is pipe organ music, so I plopped this Bach SACD into the player and sat back . . . but not for long. I wasn't expecting the studs in the wall to start popping and creaking so soon. Turning the volume down a bit, I could enjoy the throbbing bass at a level that didn't give me blurry vision from my eyeballs vibrating. This amp has muscle . . . big time. I turned the volume up again, until it sounded like I was standing next to the pipes in Finland, where the organ is located. I didn't hear any evidence of clipping. Raw power does have its advantages. Now keep in mind this was just with one of the stereo amps. I moved the second review sample into place and wired both of them as monoblocks as described above. This proved too much for my circuit breakers, but I really did want to hear what a 1,500 watt power amp could do, so I put a few mono classic jazz LPs on my VPI turntable and ran the system in mono, with one monoblock powering one speaker. This gave me so much volume, I was able to play my drums along with the tracks and the playback was as loud as my actual drums in the room. If you plan to get two of these things and configure them as monoblocks, you will need at least a 30 amp circuit just for the amplifiers. Lastly, I was also not able to test the speaker connection feedback option, as the supplied cable length placed the power amplifiers too far from my preamp.
The Firebird is no butterfly when it comes to demanding performance from an amplifier or speakers. Clarity and detail abounded, with no hint of limitations. I had to go back to using the amplifier in stereo mode, rather than using two of them in monoblock mode, for this and the rest of my test recordings, as my AC just could not supply the power to deliver 1,500 watts per channel. Looks like I will be putting in another circuit. I hope the electrician can pull a 50 amp three-wire cable through the duct. If you a pair of these amplifiers to run as monoblocks, count on having a dedicated 30 amp circuit.
This is a favorite disc of one of our other writers, and I can see (hear) why. It really is exquisite music, and the Spectron can play nice and soft just as well as it can blow out the windows.
Although this is a 5.1 DVD-A, it also has the 2-track 24/96 version on the disc. Unfortunately, by this time, I had moved my drums against the rear wall, so all I could do is listen. The Spectron is just made for high rez recordings. Everything that is supposed to be there, is just there.
In summary, the sound of the Spectron was something in between a tube amplifier and a solid state amplifier. It is difficult to describe it any other way. It had the high frequency snap that a solid state amp has, but the fluidity of tubes. Very unique and quite enjoyable. But of course, this amp comes from the man who designed the first commercial hi-fi switching amplifier, a long time ago.