Dual front panel ballistic power meters
Switchable hi/low input gain controls
2 sets of speaker terminals
300 Watts RMS - 8ohms
600 Watts RMS - 4ohms
1200 Watts RMS - 2ohms
2400 Watts available for >2000ms
Frequency Response : 20 Hz to 20k Hz(+- 0.5dB)
Full Power Bandwidth : 5 Hz to >20k Hz
CrossTalk >70 dB@1k
Damping factor >200
Output Impedence < 0.4 ohms
Input to Output Phase angle < 6.5 degrees
CCMR : < 50dB@1k
THD : <0.2%
Signal to Noise
low gain : 114dB
high gain : 103 dB
A-Weighted, refenced to rated power
50W at idle
250W with musical program
1440W nominal continuous
Display: Dual Analogue Meters(lighted)
0dB=300 watts into 8ohms
Carver Research Lightstar Reference 2.0
What can I say? I spent $2275 delivered to my door on my Lightstar Direct Preamp and the Lightstar Reference 2.0 Amplifier. Did I get a deal...damn straight I did, and I couldn't be happier. Everything else I've had at home may as well be 2 dixie cups and a piece of string, there IS that much difference. My reference up to this point was a Carver C-19, 2 bridged TFM-55s, Audio Note AN-9 wires feeding a pair of Carver Amazing Loudspeakers, Silver Edition.
My new reference consists of my Lightstar duo and Bob Carver's Original Amazing Louspeakers. Lightstar takes the Amazings to places like no other amp I've heard. The Bass is solid, tight, deep and very accurate, my TFM-55s can't match it. Fluid, silky, clean and uncoloured are only some of the decriptives I might use to describe the mids but no words can describe what I'm hearing. High frequecies are reproduced without colour, grunge or the edginess sometimes associated with really powerful SS amplifiers. No tube amplifier I've had the occasion to hear can come close to this type of clarity, dynamics and overall musicality.
This amplifier adds nothing to the sound....except volume. I can push both sets of Amazings and my ba$tardized ALIIIs with aplomb, and it doesn't even get hot. The only amplifier I've seen get even close is TNRabbit's Sunfire 7400 driving CF's wall of sound.
When I evaluate my system I'll listen to programme material not usually considered by the stereorags. Tonight, it was the Steelers/Bronco's game. Football you say...Steelers football, ooohhh yeah I want to hear my rig reproduce a really great hit, the roar of the crowd and John Madden's gravelly voice with the same grace, and it does. Troy Polomolu hitting John Henry sounded like you were on the field. Fu(king Jason Elam, pisses me off, kicked a field goal with 2 seconds on the clock..bastid.
While the Steelers were playing on ch6 the Cleveland Indians were getting their collective a$$es kicked on ch7. Like football, baseball has dynamic considerations not acknowledged by the audio community. The crack of a big league bat on a baseball has a sound only found at the ballpark. Hearing it for the first time on Lightstar was a real joy. The large signal capabilities of the Carver Amazing Loudspeaker makes the 'crack of the bat' and the whomp of 'tagging the base' believable.
After the games I put the Jeff Healey Band's 'Feel This'. This blind white guy can rock, sing a ballad and he swings the axe really well. On 'Cruel Little Number' I'd have sworn he 'knew' my first wife...heheh. The 4th track of the record is a song Tom Petty penned about some poor lovesick schmuck totally infatuated with a girl and she's not interested in recipricating. Healey's soulful playing makes both of these tunes come alive for me. He's out front, and the bass is to the left and the drums are *behind* him, the effect is so very beleivable. The sound staging is broad, extending outside and behind the speakers, around and behind the listeners.....totally holographic...kewl.
My current fave LP is The Beatles' "Magical Mysterey Tour" I'm in that kind of mood I have to run it through my C-1s phono stage and out the tape out to Lightstar Direct's tape in. Even so the end result is delightful. This was the first play of the disc, it hadn't been out of the wrapper until now. I took it to CarverFest but there was SO much music there we didn't have time to get to it. DAMN.
I hadn't heard the layers of detail the Fav4 put on their records until now. I'm going to give it a listen again after I listen to the Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' and give a comparison of Lightstar based on some quiet time with the LPs.
Tonight I played 'Collaboration' by George Benson and Earl Klugh.
Damn!! This amplifier ROCKS. I can't get over how absolutely low the bass goes and how spot on accurate it is. Lightstar brings out all the subtleties(sp) you expect from the really high $$ Krell, Levinson, CJ stuff with a real understated Kool. The soundstage is broad and deep extending beyond the speakers. Imaging is steady and detailed. I really like jazz on this unit, all of the low level details of the room are present, almost like you're in the studio with the musicians. These guys do some serious picking on this outing.
Mt. Airy Road a tune written by bassist Marcus Miller is becoming one of my favorites on this rig. Benson's guitar is just to the right side of center and Klugh is to the left. Even when they're playing the sameish notes Lightstar let you hear each like the separate instruments they are.....too kewl I like hearing their fingers slide up and down the guitar necks, the brushes on the drum heads and the strings spread out in front of me.
right now I've got 'Paul is Live' in the 490t now. Yeah Skip, it's one hell of a CD player. It's old but...it does everything well and nothing bad/wrong!! The crowd is all around me and the band is up on stage. I'm cranking it a bit 'cause the girls are staying at G'mas this evening., time to rock!! I get so few chances to do this. Poured some Crown (TNGary) and turned it way up. Paul still has it and the supporting cast ain't bad either.
Carver Research Lightstar....words fail me
I wish to reinforce all the attributes previous reviewers have said and to add add my experiences with these amps. Yes that is a plural. I own a pair! It was with pockets of money I set out traveling the west coast, in March of 1999, seeking to buy the ultimate stereo system and stay married at the same time. Products reviewed were all the big names we all know. Being a true bargin hunter also I couldn't help myself when I came upon a dealer with two Lightstar Ref amps in unopened boxes, I smelled a deal here. With plastic in hand I said $3500. for the two, with warrinty. After brief consultation between salesman and owner we were packing them to the waiting pickup.
Every once in a while in life you get a break on something that you never have to look back and question the deal or the rational of the time, this is one. These amps are worth twice what I paid. Music is so transparent as not to call attention to them selves, it's the speakers and the source adding any coloration that's there. Now I've got it all, spaciousness, depth of image, tonality etc with build quality of the marquis names. These are not the light duty, mass market, foreign import of the namesake, but 80 pound billet framed beauties, handbuilt in Redmond Washington. For an excellent technical review see //www.sonic.net/soundscape/reviews
I placed each amp on its side next to its load (B$W 801m) and have the option to bi-amp or bi-wire, this has the cool ML33H look too. These amps can pass household current, (lights dim, alarm clocks and microwave timers go to error code). Gobbs of power and I've never been close to clipping. Going there would result in lifting tile grout and sheetrock screws.
Drawbacks? You'll find out where you need to spend money next. Cables don't seem to matter much, I settled on Transparent but parallel 12ga audioquest worked fine too. Proceed cdp, Pioneer pd65, ah! life is good. Got to go now, got Diada Krawl, Bella Fleck and Texas Tornadoes on deck.
The Lightstar Reference amplifier from Carver's Research division. Simply one of the most powerful and musical amplifiers ever created. Don't prejudge this product simply by dismissing it as a run of the mill "Carver" product. For those who are unaware (and most are) Carver handbuilt (overbuilt is more like it) 77 amplifiers under the Lightstar Reference banner. Unlike it's later 2.0 sibling (which were not hand built) the Reference amp is of "Reference Quality" as the name suggests. Carver has discontinued production while in a reorganizing phase after being reacquired by its former owner and developer, Bob Carver.
I've had many amps in my system the past several years, i.e. Pass Aleph 3, Plinius 100 MkII, Plinius SA250, ARC CA50, Kora Design 30, BAT VK500, BAT VK200, Theshold T200 to name but a few. The Lightstar Reference amplifier drives any speaker load effortlessly. Obviously a credit to its unique design and power supply. Needless to say if you are one of the other 77 individuals to own one of these amps you are fortunate indeed.
Can you find a more musical, more powerful amplifier for the price? I think not. At least IMHO. To think these retailed @ $4000 and can be found on the used market for less than $1800 is phenominal in my book. If you're searching for clean, powerful, musical amplification at a bargain price, search no further. Don't judge a name by its cover. If you do, you're sure to miss out on this relatively unknown gem.
Neutral, transparent, musical, powerful (rated 1200 watts @ 2 ohms!!!), outstanding build quality, bargain price....That's six out of Five stars if you ask me!
The original Carver Lightstar Reference is an excellent dual-mono power amplifier (300w/channel into 8 ohms rising to 1200 w/channel into 2 ohms)with excellent build quality (it weighs 72 lbs). It would be nice to be able to turn the power meter illunination down or off though! It can be run balanced or unbalanced. Unbalanced is preferable with greater depth and stage width. Balanced mode flattens perspective and shrinks stage width!
It can be used in high gain mode with a passive pre-amplifier, or low gain with a normal pre-amp.
The sound is very good, with very solid, deep bass, a powerful mid-range and sweet(for solid-state) hi-frequency. It always has power in reserve.
Much better build quality than Sunfire products, and the original Lightstar Reference is better than the much cheaper version 2.0.