Classe CA-401 Amplifiers

CA-401

400 Watt Amplifier

User Reviews (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7  
??RDANIS   AudioPhile [Aug 06, 2014]

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OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
NTH   AudioPhile [Dec 29, 2004]
Strength:

Very natural and accurate tonal balance. Realistic and focus imagery, coupled with a wide, deep and tall soundstage. Also soundstage layering is terrific reminiscent of single ended triode soundstage reproduction.

Weakness:

Requires high end power cables (not stock) to bring out its best attributes.

I took home a Krell 400cx for about a month and compared this beast with my residence Classe CA 401. I had had high hopes for the Krell because of all the rave reviews. However, over the period of about 1 month, the Krell didn't sound as smoothly detailed @ the frequency extremes as the Classe. The Krell also generated a slight low level transformer hum thus giving a noise floor that was not as quiet as the Classe. Soundstage reproductions were similar on both the Krell and the Classe but the Krell exhibited a slight metallic tinge to its midrange and high frequencies that made listenning to music over a prolonged session tiresome. Detail retrieval were superb on both amps with the Classe being more natural. The Krell's bass could be said to be a smidgeon tighter but also dryer. The Classe had better texture in the midbass; however, they both have superb low frequency extension. The Classe was used with a high end power cord while the Krell has a captive power cord.

Similar Products Used: Krell 400cx (1 month), Krell 600, Master Sound Due Avanti integrated, Classe Omega Monoblocks, Mark Levinson No.33, No.436, No.432
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
tinear1   AudioPhile [Dec 28, 2004]
Strength:

natural, liquid sound

Weakness:

UNRELIABLE. Terrible factory service!

I really liked my new Classe CA-401 amp. Not 'solid-state sounding' - very relaxed presentation. Drove my tough Aerial 10T's effortlessly. After a year it broke down and had to go back to the factory and was gone about 8 weeks. Within another 12 months it broke again and my system was down for another lengthy period. It turns out I had skipped a really important consideration in shopping for one of these massive power amps: reliability and service. It was not fun packing and shipping that 120 lb. monster to go to Canada for repair. Since it had to come back from out of the country in this post 9/11 world there were long delays at the US border. On one occasion it was damaged in shipping and neither UPS or Classe would take responsibility, so I was out $400 for a new faceplate. And dealing with a foreign boutique audio manufacturer was terrible - the first time I got my amp back there were screws rattling around loose in the box from the bottom plate - they hadn't even screwed it back on fully! So I sold that turkey, and now I'm sticking with established, reputable US-based firms with long reputations for rock-solid reliability. Oh, and as to sound - my new Krell FPB 400cx blows the Classe away! Compared to the Krell (I played them both back-to-back in my living room), the Classe sounded small, pinched and anemic. Krells have had a reputation of sounding cold and bright - not true with their latest generation of amps! You want warm, super smooth with incredible slam and bass control - listen to a new Krell.

Similar Products Used: Krell FPB 400cx
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
Huy   Audiophile [Feb 10, 2000]
Strength:

Conveys extremly natural sonic and harmonic realism across the full frequency spectrum.
A visual treat. It is beautifully contructed to the highest quality standards.

Weakness:

Very heavy at about 150 lbs.

I have recently upgraded my Classe CA 301 to the CA 401 which at $8,000 U.S is converging on the brankrupcy side for most of us out there; however, I am extremly satisfied with this upgrade. The break-in period is now about 250 hours and comments about the sonic signature of the CA 401 are now appropriately served.

Although the sonic improvements over the CA 301 are subjectively small, the CA 401 builds upon the strengths of the CA 301 and refines them to the most exalted levels. As a result, images coming from the space between, behind, and outside my Mirage M1 si bipolar speakers are reproduced with outstanding sonic and harmonic realism.

The bass is extremely quick yet detailed couple with the correct harmonic structures. Deep bass is bottom less that must be heard to believe. The midrange is absolutely magical - extremely 3D and palpable yet the separation between images is clearly distinct. Pockets of air surrounding the images, which are served appropriately, really enhance the sensation of a recording's acoustics or venue. The upper midrange and high frequencies are detailed yet very sweet, engaging, and again complete with the correct harmonic undertones. Complex instruments such as harpsichords, violins, cymbals ect... are reproduced with outstanding natural realism. The upper midrange and the high frequencies are the areas that I find that the CA 401 really outperforms even the Mark Levinson No. 33 Dual Monoraul amplifiers. The No. 33s sound darker in comparision - especially at the extreme rear of the soundstage.

I have found the perfect amplifier. The Classe Omega amplifiers still offer that last increment of control; however at $16,000 U.S it is not worth it to shell out the extra $ 8,000 U.S. Frankly, you could spend that extra $ 8,000 U.S. to improve other sources in your system(s). To end on that note, I would say that I can happily live with CA 401 until the end of time.....

Associated equipment:

Theta Data Basic CD Transport, Mark Levinson No. 360s Digital to Analogue Convertor, Mardrigal Audio Labs digital cable, Mark Levinson No. 380s preamplifier, Classe CA 401 power amplifier, Cardas Golden Reference and quadlink interconnects (balanced), Quantum II in biwiring mode to the Mirage M1 si Bipolar Loudspeakers.

Similar Products Used: Auditioned Classe Omega Dual Monoraul amplifiers, Mark Levinson No. 33s, 334, 335, Krell FBP 600, Bryston 3b, 4b, 4b ST.

Used Classe S700 for 5 years, Classe CA 301 for 3 months.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mark Surles   Audiophile [Jul 13, 2000]
Strength:

smooth, musical, huge soundstage, enormous transients

Weakness:

130lbs. Takes a crane to get it out of the box.

I recently went shopping for a new amplifier to drive my new Ariel 10T’s. The 10T (Stereophile Speaker of the Year a few years ago) is a great speaker, but really needs a strong amplifier to deliver the stunning transients of which they’re capable (I’m a drummer and know transients, and these speakers still scare me). They also need upstream equipment that provides a smooth midrange or they can play a little hard. I’d already eliminated the Mark Levinson etc. types as too mechanical sounding, and was figuring “big tube amp”. Then I heard that the designers at Ariel were partial to Audio Research tube amps and Classe, so I found a dealer that had both and ran a Classe 301 against an ARC VT100MkII. The result? The solid-state Classe was just as smooth as the tube amp from ARC, and did everything well. The ARC didn’t give up much of anything in bottom end control, noise level or detail (like tube amps are said to do), and came across as super clean, controlled, and musical. Of course, every 2000 hours you have to replace the tubes in the ARC, for a cost today of $570 for the set, but some people don’t mind that. The big difference was that the VT100 came across as more forward and in your face, whereas the Classe was more laid back. I thought the Classe would be great for acoustic jazz and vocals (sounds like I’m describing a tube amp), and the VT100 would be better for more dramatic material. I personally liked the punchier sound of the VT100, and was going to buy it, when for fun I substituted a Classe 401 for the 301, and the result was startling. The 401 is not just 100 watts stronger, but has a different character that is immediately apparent. Its just as smooth as the others, but the soundstage opened up from being mostly in between the speakers to occupying the whole front of the room, and the impact from something like a Dave Mathews CD went from good to Oh-my-God. This amp changed the experience from listening to a great stereo to getting completely lost in the music. I was not planning on spending $6,900 for an amp, but after hearing the CA-401 there’s no way I could leave with anything else.

Similar Products Used: Classe 301, ARC VT100MkII, Motif
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John   Audiophile [Mar 31, 2000]
Strength:

Extremely natural presentation, with strong yet smooth low, mid and high-ends.

Weakness:

Requires a strong back to lift and carry

Like Huy, I have just recently upgraded from my Classe CA-301 amp to the CA-401. Was the extra $2000 worth it? Most definitely. For all the CA-301's strengths, the CA-401 provides all of them and quite a bit more. The bass response from my speakers is deeper, tighter, and more dynamic than I've ever heard before. The mids and highs are extremely natural and sweet. Soundstaging and imaging is enhanced considerably over Mark Levinson and Krell amps that sound reticient and dark by comparison. The word that best characterizes the sound produced from the CA-401 is "authority." All types of music, from classical works (orchestral, chamber, piano, vocal), jazz, and even rock sound remarkable. A 5/5 rating for this beautiful and well-designed amplifier.

Similar Products Used: Classe CA-301, Mark Levinson No. 334, 335
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tom   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 31, 2000]
Strength:

Nice even balance top to bottom, nothing really stands other then that all frequncies are produced superbly with a large well defined soundstage, solidly built

Weakness:

Just one minor observation which may go away with further breakin - a trace of sibilance is occasionally noticable

This review is for the Classe CAM 350 monoblocks.

350/700/1400 watt monoblock, 3500$ ea., 80lbs ea.

I am currently searching for a replacement for my Bryston 7Bs which are driving a pair of Thiel 7.2s. Up to this point I have listened to ML's 336 and the Krell FPB300. I have auditioned Classe products in the past, a CA150 and a CA300, and at the time thought they were nice, but somewhat bland, and uninvolving. The CAM350 quickly eliminated any preconceived notions of what to expect. In fact the CAM350 easily competes at the same level as the ML 336 and FPB300. There may be aspects of the later's performance that stand out as being better, but the CAM350's peformance was exemplary across the board with nothing really standing out, or lacking. The bass of both the Krell and ML could be said to be better, but the CAM350 was solid, it's character was more like the Krell's bass. Control of the speakers was similar to the ML and Krell. The ML's soundstage had better specificity and focus, although the CAM350 was better then the Krell in this respect. Overall the CAM350 sounded more natural, airier, and had better highs then either the ML or Krell. Most importantly I enjoyed listening to the CAM350s. They were so good in fact that I will have to re-audition the Mark Levinson No 336s to be sure how I would rank it at this point. Overall, highly recommended, and an excellent value.

Similar Products Used: Bryston 7Bs, ML 336, Krell FPB300
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-7 of 7  

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