(This is a quick First Impression on a new type of HiFi amplifier technology … Much more to follow!)
Like a kid at Christmas! Look what just showed up on my doorstep! Ordered on Friday…Here on Thursday! All the way from Denmark, through customs and here! Same day I ordered the GaN FET Amplifier from “ClassD Audio” on the same day. Shipping from Colorado and I still don’t have it. I contacted them and they said their Black Friday sale set them back weeks. (This morning I received USPS notice it is being delivered today!)
First impressions of the i150: Amazing packaging. The i150 is in a plastic bag, then into a nice cloth sack, Could hang it on the fireplace for Christmas! Then styrofoam end caps, into a thick cardboard, wax coated box which is shrink wrapped with plastic and that box into another very substantial shipping box…..
Second Impression..This amplifier is HEAVY!…Must be a huge transformer or two inside. Once the 21day return policy is up and I keep it, I’ll open it for a peek inside. Third, I love how heavy and substantial the remote is. Bet you could drive a nail with it! And it is precision machined from a block of aluminum where you need a supplied tiny allen wrench to change batteries…..(I suggest tapping the allen wrench to the bottom of the amplifier. You lose it and I doubt you have one small enough in your tool box…)
Oh, and Buchardt includes batteries! I want to let it warm up before I plug it in. It’s cold here in New England and It’s been in a UPS truck all day!
Finally connected it to a set of KEF LS50 Metas using a Node2i into the i150 onboard DAC with Toslink…..First impression is I thought somehow my SVS subwoofer was getting signal. Even though it was turned off and disconnected! The bass from the stand alone KEF speakers was simply amazing. Tight, Fast, great detail…..I have other, older technology ClassD amplifiers and although I might find fault with the highs and midrange with them, the bass is always fantastic with ClassD. This amplifier follows that rule. This is the main reason why self powered subwoofer availability has exploded in the past few years….They are nearly ALL powered with class D amplifiers.
Playing my usual test tracks, Blood Sweat and Tears “Sometimes in Winter”, A couple contemporary jazz tunes, string quartets and a few female vocals……I’m not disappointed. This amplifier sounds great! With the much greater power and damping factor over my Pass Labs and my VTA tube amp, the KEF speakers have demonstrable more “attack”…..Sound stage and imaging is near identical to the Pass Labs, which excels at this parameter. But the VTA tube amplifier still has that holographic sound stage that nothing but tubes can reproduce…..Third order harmonic distortion is the culprit.
The first night I listed into the wee hours of the morning….Classical, jazz, 70-80s rock……not once did I experience the dreaded “Listener Fatigue” that many comment on when using Class D amplifiers. I have a B&O ICE class D amplifier with 200wch. That technology is over 20 years old. And I have to admit, I’ve never listened to it at length. It just doesn’t sound “right”. To someone that has not experienced a better sounding amplifier, it would sound magnificent. But once you listen to a good tube amplifier or a Class A amplifier, you leave shaking your head. This i150 with modern Hypex technology and all they other technology Buchardt has incorporated. This is not your fathers Class D Amplifier. I think we are at the point where Class D will become the dominating form of consumer amplification….(It already IS the dominating form of amplification in PRO equipment and has been for decades…See: Crown or QSC Amplifiers)
I haven’t even touched the “Room Correction” or the “Parametitc EQ” or the “Low Volume listening circuit”……I wanted to do an Apples to Apples comparison before I used anything that might sway the determination on keeping or sending it back.
So two nights and near 10 hours of listening, I’m still smitten. A lot of amplifier here for $2500…..BTW, the support is amazing. Since all Buchardt is factory direct, they claim you are getting a $5000 amplifier for half price. And since there is no dealer to talk to, the customer service needs to be top notch. (because the owners manual and the set up info on their web site need attention) And when I have a question, Mads Buchardt is on the email or the phone. Within minutes!
So now I wait for the NEXT big advancement in HiFi Amplifier technology….GaN FET…..Tonight might be another long night!
ClassD Audio Website
(You can read about the other amplifier adventures in this article here… www.rvbprecision.com)