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Plinius SA250 MK IV
8 Reviews
rating  5 of 5
Description: SS Class A 250W/ch power amp


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Reviews 1 - 5 (8 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mark_nz a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 4, 2003

Bottom Line:   

Front-end: Sony SCD-777ES, Sony CDP-XA555ES (re-clocked)
Preamplifier: Sony TAP-9000ES, Proceed PAV
Amplifiers: Plinius 250MKIV, Marantz PS17SA, Gainclone
Loudspeakers: Jamo D830 (formerly known as Concert 8)
Interconnects: Kimber + WBT connectors
Loudspeaker Cables: Audiotruth/Audioquest Forest + WBT connectors
Room: 6m wide, 4.5m deep, 2.3m high, concrete floor, nominal acoustic treatment, system positioned midway along wide wall
Mains Filter: DIY: Surge protection and capacitor noise filtering

I owned the SA250MK4 for just over year. It replaced a SA100MK3 that I also owned for about a year.

I have not taken advantage of the SA250MKIV update which apparently reduces the overall distortion further and is mostly noticeable in the treble. This review is therefore without the advantage of this update.

Sound Quality

While it is possible to identify the SA100MK3 sound signature due to the small change in quality from the smooth midrange to the slightly sharper treble, the sound signature of the SA250MK4 is elusive. Every time I thought I nailed it, a change of another component, room acoustic treatment or music selection left the SA250MK4 as the most neutral component in my system. The only time an obvious sound signature can be identified is just after switching from class AB to class A mode, the sound is initially a bit thick, but then slowly loosens up until an hour later it is fast and responsive.

Overall the amplifier is neutral, the bass is deep and powerful, the midrange smooth as butter and the treble is accurate without edge.

One aspect of the Plinius SA250MK4 performance that is very important to me is the excellent sound quality at low volumes. I listen often late in the night and it is critical for me to enjoy the sound at low volumes without waking up the kids. This is one amplifier where it does not need be cranked up to make it come alive. This was an unexpected improvement over the SA100MK3, anecdotal evidence normally favours less powerful amplifier.

Class A/AB mode

One unique feature is the class A/AB mode switch, which allows the amplifier to be used for casual listening in class AB mode without the penalty of heat and power consumption required for class A mode. There is also a Mute switch that disconnects the input that allows for cable changes. The SA250MK4 takes this a step further by also disconnecting the speaker outputs.
The class A/AB switch is an excellent option that allows casual listening without unnecessary power consumption and heat generation associated with class A mode. The most important advantage for me is that in conjunction with the mute option, the amplifier can be left on for extended periods that reduce the warm-up period.

There is a big difference between class AB and class A modes. Anybody that listens to a fully warmed up SA250MK4 in class A mode for a few minutes, and then switches to class AB mode will notice the significant diminishing of the image body and tonal quality. It is bit like the difference between LP and CD tonal quality when I have done the rare comparison. But despite the difference, the class AB mode is still very good, and unless ones does the direct comparison, most folks will wonder the all the fuss is about class A.


This has been the most consistently neutral performing component I have had in my system. It favours no music style. It is sufficiently transparent to show up any flaws in other parts of my system.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Purchased At:   The Listening Post,

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Gerry a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: December 24, 2002

Bottom Line:   
During the past decade or so I have tried to improve my audio syustem's sound in any way I could. I have gone through several amps (Carver M 1.0T, Bryston 4B, Threshold S/500, Classe), preamps, (Carver, Aragon 24K, Chiro preamp/processor and finally my Classe SSP-75) and speakers (B&W 330DM, Polk Audio SRS 2.3, Eggleston Andras) various sources (CAL, EAD, Sota to name a few).
The last few years the upgrade bug kind of left me and I have been enjoying the music and sound that my audio system/HT was giving me.

I have always been a little infatuated with big limitless power amps from Krell, Mark Levinson, Classe and others. I always had this feeling that my relatively inefficient speakers could really use some more power for playing deeper and cleaner and bring me closer to the real thing.

I came across the Plinius name from ads in Stereophile and Absolute Sound but never really saw one for real. Through Audiogon I met a new friend that prety much re-awakened my "upgrade fever" when I listened to his own system. I started going around town to any Hi-End store I could find and started listening to various amps in order to make up my mind on one. I loved the Krell FPB 300 bass but listening to it with various systems I found the mids a bit lean to my taste. The same prety much goes for the older Mark Levinsons I found and heard. While auditioning a pair of Avant Garde speakers at an new friends house we got into the discussion of power amps for my system (he uses low power Cary Audio monoblocks for his...) and he casually commented on the Plinius having one of the best sound in the market for a SS amp. Needless to say I spent weeks researching this gem from New Zealand until I found one that I could afford and bought myself.
The amp came in an huge crate and after some serious sweat, pounding and with the help of my audio buddy I had it connected to my system.

I can tell you this amp is a real beauty: Big, Silver, shinny, built like a tank and heavy as it can be: 155 lb net so please watch your back trying to move it around by yourself!

Firing it up it came on w/o any glitches and I was holding my breath for the results. Even w.o any warm up (right off the truck) the differences with my Threshold were breathtaking: BASS, real bass, bass I never new my speakers could master. The highs were aethereal and extended and the mids were to die for. Diana Krall's voice in :All or nothing at all" was breathtaking. Morvin Gay was actually in my room singing for me and my friend. And all this with the amp in class AB.

I then put the amp in pure class A. Within 15 minutes the unit became really hot and the sound became smoother, warmer and more life like. Voices had this "you are there" quality, bass kept being tight but even more evolving with more "character" of the specific instruments played than before. The highs became even clearer, smoother, more life like. Whatever this amp brought to my system was taken up a few extra notches in class A.
The sound became so envolving that I found myself listening deep into the night w/o wanting to lose even for a night's sleep the breathtaking experience that my music became.

Watching movies and using the Plinius as my main speaker amp prety much made the use of sub all but useless. Well recorded soundtracks sound pristine, engaging and life like. Even special effects like explosions and stomping Dinos took on a new life through this amp.

The most telling quality of the Plinius 250 MK IV is that it really makes music envolving as if it were real. Cd after Cd sounds this much more envolving through this amp. Not that it makes bad cds sound good. Not at all but it makes them so more life like that they take on a new life!
If you are in the market for a monster like this and have been contemplating a krell or the likes make yourself a favor and audition the Plinius 250 before you make any decisions. You never know it might also take your breath away!

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $5200.00

Purchased At:   Demo

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by sebor a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: May 1, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Soundless reward to PLINIUS...

My audio system:

1. Accuphase DP-75 CD player (I don't use preamp so enough 2.5 V max from adjustable XLR & RCA line outputs).
2. Plinius SA-250 mk IV amp .
3. B&W 801 Matrix series III speakers.
4. Maughanbox ListenUp BAF for B&W 801's.
5. TaraLabs XLR and speakers cables.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $4900.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by PATRICK ACQUAFREDDA a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: April 5, 2001

Bottom Line:   
this amp is the finest amp i have heard in years without burning a hole in your pocket. not that the amp is not costly but for the class a power and the new silteck wiring. it worth a listen. thanks for listing and happy listing for those audiophiles like me.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $8000.00


Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Stephen Daedalus a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 14, 2000

Bottom Line:   
(I accidentally posted the following review for the vanilla SA-250; I, of course, intended to post about the SA-250 mk IV.)

One of the finest solid state power amps I've ever heard. I own an Aragon 8008BB, and was very happy with it -- still am, actually -- until I heard a relative's recently acquired SA-250. Several long listening sessions later, I'm hooked. I hope to pick one up within the next year, actually, budget permitting.

There seems to be *something* to this New Zealand sound, and the Plinius pulls off the philosopher's stone of audio double-entendres by marrying a lulling, tube-like warmth with an almost rapacious -- and decidedly solid state-esque -- performative bent. Speaking of Viagra (see my comments above), the SA-250 isn't likely to suffer from the embarrassment of performance anxiety, and has more than enough potency to mate successfully with just about any loudspeaker complement. Aural pleasure is its specialty par excellence.

I heard it driving a pair of Vandersteen 3A Signatures, and it did wonders for them. I've never been particularly fond of the Vandersteen sound, but the SA-250 seemed not only to breathe new life and detail into old recordings (heard as new through the 3As), but squash once and for all the nasty rumours that the Vandys lack a bit in low-end "omphh." Brother let me tell you, the "omphh" was there and it was orgasmic. I had to check myself, even.

That said, the SA-250 has its finicky streak. It likes clean, well-conditioned power (I suggest feeding it raw oysters to increase its potency), is very sensitive to RF and to other types of interference, and demands the finest in interconnect and speaker cables. It was ecstatic when coupled with a pair of AudioQuest Ruby (RCA) interconnects, but acted like a 165 lb. antenna for all things RF when mated with a poorly shielded pair of Goertz Alpha-Core interconnects.

To rate the SA-250 at anything less than five stars is to do a disservice to a remarkable product. I understand that New Zealanders still fight duels over this kind of (perceived) insult, so please do be cautious.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Reviews 1 - 5 (8 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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