Introduction to Power Amplifier Reviews

There was a time when there weren't that many choices to be made when purchasing power amplifiers. You had mono and stereo amps that were either tube or solid state. If choosing tube amps, you could select single ended or push-pull and then refine your choice based on the tube complement. For solid state, your choices were typically limited to either Class A or Class A/B. That pretty much summed up the possibilities. Of course, different amps from various manufacturers would sound unique and they varied in terms of their power output and other measured performance (such as maximum power, THD, IMD, etc.)

Now there are many new amplifier classes on the market – Class D, Class G and Class H are a few of the solid state choices. And you can find amps that have anywhere from one to seven channels or more. With the advent of multi-channel amps, many manufacturers make performance claims that are not always consistent with the FTC standards for amplifier ratings. So we at Secrets do our own bench tests that provide you an independent verification of the amplifiers' performance. We also break down the inherent technology so you know exactly what you are getting before you plunk down your hard earned greenbacks on that new amp.

Power Amplifiers

Vacuum Tube Audio M-125 Mono-Tube Power Amplifier Review

The Vacuum Tube Audio (VTA) M-125 Mono-Tube Power Amplifiers offer performance rivaling products up to five times their price. But to get that performance, one has to give away some features. So how hair-shirt an audiophile are you? For those willing to read the owner’s manual, the Vacuum Tube Audio M-125 mono-tube power amplifiers offer amazing sound for the money – but are you up to the challenges?

Audio by Van Alstine DVA 850 Mono-Block Amplifiers Review

Audio by Van Alstine DVA 850 Mono-Block Amplifiers Review

The Audio by Van Alstine DVA 850 Mono-Block amplifiers offer the highest performance and technology currently available from their extensive lineup. With a mas -0sive power output of 850 watts, this hybrid tube/transistor design provides an extremely accurate reproduction, with virtually none coloration found in some all-tube or all solid-state designs.

MartinLogan Forte Amp

MartinLogan Forte Amp Review

High resolution wireless playback using DTS Play-Fi and Apple AirPlay is combined with high-power in the MartinLogan Forte amp. Wireless streaming is easy to set up and use with the Forte amp. Compatibility with other manufacturer’s components and speakers allows the Forte amp to be used in any situation and home wi-fi. Superb sonics round out the Forte amp’s strengths.

Emotiva XPA Gen3 Power Amplifier

Emotiva XPA Gen3 Power Amplifier Review (Benchtests Added)

The high end’s high value champ, Emotiva, just released the newest version of their highly regarded power amplifiers. It is the XPA Gen3 and it is a modular design that is available in two to seven channels depending on the number of amp modules installed. The power supply is a high tech Class H design which promises high power, cool operation and low energy consumption.

Lyngdorf SDA-2400 Amplifier Review

The SDA-2400 is one of the quietest amps I have ever reviewed. All Lyngdorf amplifiers are Class D type, either true digital like the TDAI-2170 or semi digital like the SDA-2400. The SDA-2400 is considered semi because it has an analog input as well as a digital input. Because of the nature of a switching amp, when the output stage is not being driven, it is absolutely silent, without any hiss from the speaker’s tweeters due to the very low noise floor.

Pass Labs X600.8 600 Watt Monoblock Power Amplifier Review

With the success of the Pass Labs Xs series, Nelson Pass set out to create a line of additional power amplifiers that have most of what the Xs series has, but at much more affordable prices. The model under current review is the X600.8, which is a monoblock specified at 600 watts RMS output, with the first 50 watts in Pure Class A, and the rest in AB. Do they sound close to the Xs amplifiers? Read on.

NewClear Audio NC1000L Class D Stereo Power Amplifier

Class D (i.e., "Switching") amplifiers have been around for quite a while now. What's clear from models produced so far is they all sound different, even when using the same core technology. Like many amplifiers of the type, the NewClear NC1000L uses the Bang and Olufsen ICEPower module. What makes the NC1000L different isn't this module; it's how that module is implemented. NewClear Audio was started by Sean Brady to improve upon the sound of existing switching amplifiers. Sean had heard some very good amps based on ICEPower technology, but thought he could do even better. The question is, does the NC1000L deliver the goods compared to similarly priced, traditional Class A/B amplifiers?