Price: $2495 each
Roger said: With the REF600M, Bel Canto Design has produced a powerful yet sophisticated-sounding amplifier at a very reasonable price. It’s one of my favorite power amps. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The gist: Compact and affordable powerhouse that sounds terrific.
Roger said: Blue Circle Audio’s BC2K4sh may not be much to look at, but with it, Gilbert Yeung has created a thoroughly modern hybrid power amplifier that should appeal to anyone looking for a high-performance, high-powered amp at a reasonable price.
The gist: Class-D amplification with a Gilbert Yeung twist.
Aron said: Whether you want to use all five of its channels for multichannel media, biamp your primary channels in a dedicated music rig, or use it as a multi-zone amplifier, Classé’s bulletproof Sigma Amp5 is up to performing the task, and will put a grin on your face as it does. I can’t help but recommend it.
The gist: Classé's take on multichannel class-D design is a success.
Aron said: It achieves levels of transparency, power, control, tonal color, and dimensionality well beyond those implied by its price and specifications. I believe that Constellation Audio has created something special in the Inspiration Stereo 1.0.
The gist: Powerhouse stereo amp may be the star of the Inspiration line.
Vade said: Linear Tube Audio has built an amplifier with downright splendid sound. I loved its predecessor, the David Berning Company’s ZH-230, enough to buy it, and it’s still my preferred amplifier. The ZOTL40 Mk.II updates that design, using currently available tubes. Its sound is nearly indistinguishable from the ZH-230’s, while producing 50% more power and costing $2560 less. If that sounds like a bargain to you, you’ll hear no argument from me.
The gist: Less-expensive alternative to the Berning.
Price: $16,500 per pair
Pete said: Twenty years ago, Bruno Putzeys professed that “The future is class-D!” Having heard his Mola Mola Kaluga monoblocks, I suppose we can declare that that future has become the present. Welcome to the 21st century.
The gist: Probably the best class-D amp yet.
Erich said: Its combination of high-quality electronic parts, high precision of construction, manufacturer reputation, ten-year warranty, sexy looks -- and, most important, its beautiful reproduction of every recording I played through it, regardless of musical genre, pace, or playback volume -- easily exceeded all of my needs.
The gist: The littlest Simaudio amp is a force to be reckoned with.
Aron said: The stout RMB-1585 proved equally appealing with movies, providing endless reserves of power, arresting dynamics, wicked levels of transient control, and rich yet well-fleshed-out voices, all painted on vast soundstages. With a build quality and industrial design that push envelopes at this price, and if you’re in the market for a five-channel power amp for south of $5000, Rotel’s RMB-1585 is a must-hear.
The gist: Beast of a multichannel amp set to anchor your home theater.