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Spectral DMA-180
3 Reviews
rating  5 of 5
MSRP  7495.00
Description: 200 Watt Power Amplifier


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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Dennis Chan a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: April 1, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I've had the DMA180 S1 for quite some time. In the past I've owned mostly tube amps. I’ve tried non-MIT wires and trust me none of them worked; they sound bright, edgy and I just couldn’t sit and listen to any music at higher volume until I switched to the 750 Ultralinear II. I’ve also tried a lesser MIT, the Terminator 2 Bi-wire. It works, but looses some details and depth. The input interconnect does not need to be MIT, however. I’ve had excellent result with many cables, the best of which is AudioQuest Diamond X2 or any silver-based IC’s.

In addition to cabling, power treatment is very important. I’ve had vastly improved results from a $100 AC-extension jig. I was a non-believer in power treatment until I finally built a heavy gauge AC cord with Hubbel AC sockets. You can not use a household or computer extension cord!

Also important is the preamp that precedes it. I’ve tried a few SS preamp; one of which is the Krell KRC 2. None gave me a satisfactory result (although I have not had the opportunity to try the Spectral preamp) until I tried a DIY tube preamp using E80CC tubes. Now this combination really kicks ass! You literally get the best from the SS and tubes. The palpability and warmth of tubes and the speed and slam of SS. None of the graininess that the previous reviewer from the post talked about. The combination gives more “tube” sound than the ARC M100 mono tubes amps (26 tubes total!) Maybe the amp is so transparent that I’m only hearing the sonic characteristics of the E80CC (Well, this makes sense because when I use KRC 2, I can hear exactly what people on this website said about this preamp.) The set up is so revealing that I can easily pick out sonic differences with different cables, power treatment, DAC, and transport.

Well, this is not a review of how good the amp sounds – because it is simply the best I’ve heard! It’s what to avoid and which direction to go when using this amp.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Hyundon Kim a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 27, 2000

Bottom Line:   
System:
Power Amp. : Spectral DMA180-S1
Pre Amp. : Mark Levinson 38S
Speaker : Platinum Duo
Source : Audio Alchemy DDS-Pro
Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0
Audio Alchemy DTi-Pro32
Cable : PAD, Cardas, MIT and i2S for Audio Alchemy
Power Conditioner : Chang Labs and Powertek AV4000

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1995



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Scott a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 12, 2000

Bottom Line:   
My review of Spectral's SDR-3000 transport elsewhere describes the context of the system I use. I have been using the DMA-180 Series 2 since it's release, which I believe was 1997. I owned a DMA-180 Series 1 initially, traded that in for the, then, new DMA-150 and eventually purchased the DMA-180 Series 2. The difference I noticed between the DMA-180 Series 1 and the DMA-150, was that the DMA-150 sounded cleaner. Basically, a graininess was absent with the DMA-150. However, the DMA-150 seemed to lack the control of the speaker, particularly the bottom end, that distinguished the DMA-180 Series 1. The DMA-180 Series 2, in my opinion, offered the best of both amplifiers. I have also had the opportunity to compare the DMA-180 Series 2 with Spectral's current darling, the DMA-360 monoblock. I tried the 360 in my home and, quite frankly, was hard-pressed to hear a differnce between the two amplifiers. That was good news for me, because I was not tempted to spend the required $16,000 for that amplifier. In general, all the Spectral amplifiers "sound" the same. Basically, they are neutral. It would seem that the over-riding decision in choosing one Spectral amp over another may be nothing more that matching the amp with the appropriate speaker. This may contradict what I said about the DMA-150 as both amplifiers, I believe, were designed with Avalon speakers in mind. The only thing I can think of to account for that is that Avalon speakers tend to be quite power hungry. As the DMA-180 Series 2 is a more powerful amplifier than the DMA-150, that may account for my impression of the 150's control of the speaker's bottom end. I use Avalon Eidolons and have not felt the need to trade in my DMA-180 Series 2 since I purchased it three years ago, despite Spectral's and the dealer's claim that the DMA-360 is the "ultimate" Spectral amplifier. At present, it seems that the DMA-180 is no longer in production. I admit, I am somewhat suspicious as to the reasons why. The dealer told me that people are either going to spend their money for the DMA-150 which I think is somewhere around $6,500 (though I have heard the Series 2 version will be around $7,500) or the $16,000 for the DMA-360. The DMA-180 Series 2 costing $8,000, falling between the two, would not attract buyers, according to the dealer. The dealer said people who are willing to shell out the money for the 180 are able to easily move to the 360, while people who buy the 150 won't. Personally, that makes no sense to me. Make up your own mind. Regardless, the performance of the 180 Series 2 is second to none. It has proven a reliable and musically involving amplifier and handles the Eidolons with aplom. I can't think of another amplifier I would rather own, that includes the DMA-360.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997




Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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