I've had these amps/room heaters for 6 months and I can guarantee you I will have them for many years to come. The majority of the previous reviews say it all. If you have to feel the bass pounding against your chest, these amps are not for you. If you want to listen to music that is so refined it can bring tears to your eyes, the BC-2s are for you. There have been evenings when I listen with the lights off that I swear the Cowboy Junkies are singing live in my living room. The previous comment about needing clean power is also true. If you have noisy AC you will hear it out of your speakers. I can't recommend these enough. If you are looking for a new amplifier in the $6000 range you owe it to yourself to give these a test drive.
System: Blue Circle BC-3 pre-amp Blue Circle BC-2 amps Merlin VSM-SE speakers Monarchy 22C DAC CAL Delta Transport Mix of Cardas Golden Reference and Silver Audio cables
I heard a lot of good reviews about the Blue Circle Audio BC2; however, I was disappointed when I was able to demo a pair. I matched them up with Logan Speakers and Krell CD Transport. After a week of using them, I decided to go with the Krell Amps instead. I have read other reviews that say this amps performs better than Krells -- to each his own.
People, you owe it to yourself to give this amp a listen. Blue Circle is finally getting itself known. One of the best amps out there period, regardless of price. You will be floored by its soundstage and ability to make music sound alive. I can go on and on about this amp however we will be here for awhile. It has bettered in my opinion all these amps: Clayton M70s, BAT, VTL, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, Aragon, Krell(don't know why people spend money on this one). Just find a dealer and listen to the BC-2s and you will agree that this is the amp you just gotta have.
This is actually a review of the BC 2.1's which are upgraded versions of the standard Blue Circle BC 2 monoblocks. Doug Schneider of Soundstage, who owns 2's and recently reviewed the 2.1's, says the 2.1's are better in all areas, but not dramatically so; he considers them a refinement of the 2's. So this review can serve pretty well for both amps, I expect.
In a word, this is the best amplifier I have ever heard. My experience is not extraordinarily broad. There are a great many tube amps I've not heard, for example. But among the amps I have heard (Krell KSA50S, FPB 200 and 300; Conrad-Johnson Premier 11A and 12a's; ARC VT 200, Plinius SA 50 III, 100 III, and 250 IV, a Threshold, and several Pass Labs -- to name those I know best), the Blue Circle BC 2.1 monoblocks are the first to "lift" the music airily and bodily into my living room. They have a kind of ebullience, energy, palpability, and presence I have only heard ABOUT before now. All of these other amps can do a great deal that we want amplifiers to do, but all also leave something out, causing me to sense that something is missing. Since the 2.1's have been in my house, I have not had that feeling. On the contrary, I have been happier, danced more, smiled more, even wept a little. In addition to this uncanny sense of real presence, these monblocks have an extraordinary sense of "touch": where all of the other amps I've heard, even at their best, either glide smoothly and liquidly just above detail or present it in stark high contrast, these amps render it naturally and clearly like incidental but ultimately critical detail in a fine-grained photograph. They "get" instruments I know well perfectly. They make even dull music that is well played worth listening to because the viola is just THERE in all its rich, husky, ribbon-like beauty. We like to say of a component that can do this actually very rare thing that it has "musicality." Perhaps that's what it is. I'm sure that was designer Gilbert Yeung was waiting for as he developed this amp, listening to and choosing among various parts; and, more important, deciding whether single-endedness, monoblocks, Class A, tube/solid state hybrid typology and zero feedback were all necessary to get IT. (Apparently they were.)
The standard 2's retail for $6300, which, given how they outperform everything I've heard (from $5000 to $9000), is very good value. Having heard the 2.1's (retail, $9800, gulp), I'm not even going to consider going backwards, but that's my problem. Both the 2's and 2.1's are "conservatively rated" at 75 watts. Being single-ended, their power will halve at 4 ohms, though no one I know of has found a speaker they can't satisfy. Gilbert himself and JV, who's review of the 2's I printed in this section (with his permission, after the fact!), drive 4 ohm Martin Logan CLS-IIZ's -- a notoriously difficult load. I've also heard they drive 4 ohm Aerial 10-T's happily. A Canadian friend of mine drove his 8 ohm/86 db ProAc 2.5's happily for years with 2's, and I'm counting on them driving 8 ohm/88 db ProAc 3.8's.
I would like to say that hyrid tube/solid state amps (Blue Circles, Lamms) are The Answer to everyone's amp problems. If you need ultimate slam, they may not be. The BC's don't have ultimate slam or impact. But the kind of clarity and touch I hear in the bass regions of my system with the BC 2.1's in it have removed any need I thought I had for slam. When you've got real bass, when your wife can easily hum the notes the bass is playing and you can feel the plucked strings fade slowly behind each new pluck, hey, what the hell is slam?! I have fought my way to this amp through a lot of competitors, most recently the whole deservedly praised Plinius line from the 50 to the new 250 IV. If you love music, save yourself the trouble of the trip and proceed directly to an audition of these fine monoblocks.
It may seem a bit cavalier to rate the 2.1's 5 stars for value; but since I've nothing better at that price, I'm sticking with the rating.
This is actually a review by "JV," which was posted under the Krell 250 monoblocks. Because the review ended up being about the BC 2's and because there's only one other review on the BC 2's posted, I have taken the shameless liberty of clipping that review and pasting it here. If this offends the protocol of AR, I apologize. I am a Blue Circle fan, for all of the right reasons, and want to make sure Blue Circle electronics get all the (proper) notice they deserve. I am also taking the liberty of interpreting JV's review to mean that he'd give the BC 2's five speakers. He can respond and reduce the number if he likes!
I own a pair of Martin Logan CLS-IIZ and am a previous owner of Krell FPB 250Ms. I was shocked by how much better a pair of Blue Circle BC-2 monoblocks sounded in my system, in my room. I am now hearing details and subtle sonic cues as to room acoustics and instruments which I didn't know existed with the Krells. The BC-2s also sound more relaxed and generally, more musical. The only thing I miss about the Krells is their sense of slam and authority. Don't misunderstand me, the Krells are very good, but in my system the Blue Circle's are outstanding.
The Blue Circle's design almost couldn't be any more different than the Krell's. It's single-ended Class A amplifier that uses no negative feedback. The input stage(voltage stage) uses a 6922 tube. The output stage uses bi-polar transistors. All wiring is point-to-point using Cardas wire. The chassis is made entirely of wood for it's superior resonance properties. There are only three gain stages. Blue Circle feels that simpler is indeed better.
If you have a local dealer, I highly recommend auditioning them in your system. But only do so if you're open to replacing your Krells. You'll want to keep them once you bring them home.
And, by the way, I'm not affiliated with Blue Circle in any way. I'm just a very happy customer. But for those interested in more info, it can be found at http://www.bluecircle.com.
Transport: Pioneer Elite PD-65 (soon to be replaced) Digital Interconnect: Tara Decade Coax Converter: Meridian 563 (soon to be replaced) Interconnect to preamp: Audioquest Lapis Preamplifier: VK-5I (resently replaced by a Blue Circle BC-3000) Interconnect to amp: Magnan Vi Amplifiers: Blue Circle BC-2 monoblocks Speaker Cable: Magnan Signature Speakers: Martin Logan CLS-IIZ Room: 23' x 14' x 9' (untreated thus far)