After finals this year I decided to go outside of the box and try out a few amplifiers. My previous system consisted of sinfoni 90.2 to tweeters, Tru b41s bridged to midrange, Audison trenta midbass, and finally alpine pdxm12. Sooo with me going back to the drawing board I gathered a few contenders that I thought would be good.
Audison thesis Quattro
Mosconi zero 3
Tru b41s stage 4 kit
Zapco studio 500
Zapco studio 100 modded opamps
The speakers were some old school JBL towers that I could give the full range audio. Generic power and speaker wires. RCA cables were Belsen 8402 with switchcraft ends about 3 ft each. My source was and iPad running from an ifi digitally to my Mosconi 6 to8. Hopefully thatís detailed enough for yíall out there.
Music that I listened to was
daft punk Giorgio by Moroder
Bomb da bass Black River
Misery Gwen Stefani
Tab Benoit Blues is Here to Stay
Keb Mo Suitcase
I will start we my least favorite amplifiers and move to my favorites..
Audison thesis Quattro. Some may consider this to to be a great amplifier because it absolutely adds nothing to the music. I will say the the amplifier staged well and there was a lot of separation with instruments. But nothing sounded natural with keb mo suitcase everything sounded lifeless and dull. How can you make daft punk dull.... Play it on an Audison Quattro.. lol the tonality of this amplifier was completely off and brought no depth to the music. Vocalist in Misery was centered and forward but drums to were dull not full.
Sinfoni 90.2x. I love this amplifier for its soft tone on the upper midrange and air that it brings to tweeters. This amplifier on dynamic tracks can get lost in the bunch like in the Blues is here to Stay. The separation of instruments is not there. Everything tends to get muddied up when pushed. On lower volumes it is there but not as apparent as the Quattro.
Studio 500. Tonality wise and power wise this amplifier makes you feel like you are in a recording studio. Drum are soooo dynamic in Black River along with Giorgioís voice sounding soooo real. Power and headroom are tremendous, honestly this is possibly my favorite amp but staging for this amplifier is difficult... So it sits here are at luck number 7 on my list. Vocals are centered but big, left and right center are not very apparent... separation among instruments is just not as detailed as I would like it to be. On top of that this thing is a power hog.
Mosconi Zero 3. I was really expecting for this amplifier to be on my top 3 to 5 I canít lye. But results for what I am looking for are disappointing. So let start with staging and separation of instrument on the Blues is here to Stay. Staging And instrument separation is great with this amplifier. It also holds the stage very well when increasing in power demands not to mention lots of headroom for bass notes. The only down fall of this amplifier is tonality. On Keb Mo Suitcase bass notes do not have the real extension that the room provides. Itís a verrry fast bass note. Lower vocals sounded unreal and fast as well no extension. Highs were good and detailed without strain. Lastly the staging was wider with some depth.
#5 and #4 toss up I could figure out which one I liked more.
Zapco Z-150.6lx bridged. When I listen to this amp it feels like Home audio. So what do I mean by that. What I have noticed over the year when listening to cars vs home stereos is the feeling of the room that you have when listening to a recording. This was one of the first amplifiers that had both great staging, presence and tonality out of the group of amplifiers that I listened to. This amplifier had me hearing beyond my speakers. Staging for the tracks was wider than my speakers and 10 feet back it felt like. Bass notes were dynamic and punchy along with extension that I felt was missing from the Mosconi. The only hang up that I had with this amplifier was that even though the highs were light and airy it sounded artificial to me. Donít know how quite to describe it. It was like hifi but fake... lol
Zapco studio 100 with lme 49720 I think upgrade. Put it like this. It was like the studio 500 but with a better stage. The tonality of the studio amplifiers is something that you should try if you ever have the chance to pick one up cheap. The staging was not as good as the LX but the separation was there and the tonality was spot on. There is a difference between Home audio and Studio Quailty. I feel like its more fun to be in the studio and this amplifier resembles that feeling.
Audison Sedici.. man oh man.. itís like a warm buttery biscuit... the vocals from this amplifier are sooo warm with a great amount of depth.. Giorgio was so real and listening to this track was like putting me into a time machine. Deep bass tones that arenít over powering but just right. So as you can tell I love the tonality of this amplifier. Staging was about 7 feet or so back and presence was great as well. Separation of instruments was was good. But I felt like on Black River it was a bit tooo warm almost so that it dulled the highs in the track.
Tru b41s... So over the past 17 years or so I have tried a lot of products and I have always had a distaste for TRU audio. The last bullet amp that I tried about 6 years ago I could tell it was a very natural amplifier but lacked output and dynamics. Fast forward to now and I have been playing with the b41s stage 4 for around a year and there is nothing to me that this amplifier can't do. Tonality wise this amplifier is natural, yet dynamic with a hint top end air and detail to match. Drums are very laid back but robust and deep, to me that's natural depending on the recording. In Misery the drums are transparent, they are there but don't take away from the overall track but in Giorgio the drums are dynamics and knock you off of your socks. Separation is excellent and the stage is about a foot wider and 8 to 9 feet deep. I feel like nothing is out of place. Not mention lottts of power and headroom for those quick burst of energy. My all around most favorite out of the bunch.
Marantz. Out of everything this amplifier sums it up with a simple phrase "Class A"... I had no idea. So tonality for this amplifier is just real. No but this or maybe that just real life. The amount of detail that is unveiled by this amplifier is crazy. The highs arent airy it's just very true to the music with the warmth of the audison. Bass notes are as the recording intended them to be depending on the track, very transparent and deep. Vocals are natural and focused. Staging and separation go hand and hand with tonality with this amplifier. Staging is about the same as the TRU. If you are looking to beat down the block this is not the amplifer for you. My only problem with it is headroom and some gain noise from the gain plot. Other wise for me it's my reference amplifier.