Llano Design Group A-200 Amplifiers

A-200

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User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
Bobby H.   an Audiophile [Dec 16, 1997]

I have lived with the A-200 for quite sometime now, about 6 months. In that time I have been able to compare it to some of the best amps around. Infact I have owned Krell, Levinson, and the likes. I have to say the A-200 is far and away the best sounding solid state I have ever owned. The bass is absoulty breath taking with a nice full mid and a beautiful shining, yet not harsh or grainey top end. The A-200 will give you total insight into the rest of the system. It does not tolarate poor electronics on the part of the preamp or CD player. But given the right combinations of gear, the Llano A-200 is the best amp I have ever heard. Cudos to Randy White on another fine product.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Ken Schacter   an Audiophile [Dec 22, 1997]

Add my name to the list of satisfied purchasers of a LLano amp, in mycase a model A-200 (200 wpc, Class-A design). The amp replaced a
perfectly nice-sounding Classe DR-15 amp, driving Thiel 3.6 speakers.
Although I expect a fairly modest difference in the two amps (being
rather skeptical of the
"Component-A-blew-away-seemingly-identical-Component-B" school of audio
criticism), the differences were readily discernible and, more to the
point, represented a significant upgrade.

To preempt audio-religious-rightists who will tell me I am a moron for
saying this, no, I did not use an ABX box and perform double-blind
testing. I have listened to dozens of CD's that I know like the back of
my hand and have heard things (good things) I hadn't heard before. Most
impressive was the significantly increased level (quantity and quality)
of the bass - not just bass drum in the Rite of Spring, but acoustic
jazz bass and left hand piano notes. At the same time, the midrange
seemed a bit sweeter. The top end was not rolled off, but was slightly
softer than with the Classe. In this respect, classical music in
particular was more natural sounding (an aside: when I go to Carnegie
Hall for orchestral music, e.g., the Philadelphia doing the Mahler 2 a
few weeks ago, I have frequently found the Hall to sound "rolled off"
compared to my system (Cd or LP) and all other high-end systems I've
heard. I guess this means there's something wrong with recording
methods). The bottom line is that, particularly with small-group jazz or
chamber or solo piano, the illusion of a musician in the room with me is
much more convincing.

The fit and finish of the LLano amp are excellent -- better than I had
expected given the bargain price. (My only quibble: the speaker binding
posts could be a bit beefier and are too close together.) Randy White,
the one-man show behind LLano, is not cutting corners on anything I can
see or hear. The fact that he can sell such obviously high-quality amps
direct via the Internet and make money doing it reflects the significant
margins that distributors and conventional retailers must take out of
each high-end sale.

If you are in the market for a powerful and musical solid-state amp, I
would strongly recommend that you check out the LLano amps.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
S. McDonald   an Audiophile [Dec 15, 1997]

The A-200's strengths are its bass and 3-dimensional rendering. If you want to know who is doing what where in the large orchestra, this is the amplifier to do it. The A-200 is kind to harsh strings (especially on CDs); it softens them. It also minimizes LP surface noise. That is because its presentation is "soft" and "dry." Its main weakness is its lack of sparkle (when called for as with triangles, celeste and the like). Upper harmonics and overtones are noticeably diminished when compared to other high quality amplifiers.
If its broad and deep imaging could be maintained while restoring the high frequency sparkle (when present on the recording), this amplifier woould be very hard to beat. I would give it 3 and one half stars (but halves are not among the choices).

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
Kyle   an Audio Enthusiast [May 22, 1998]

I purchased an A-200 and owned it for about 4 months. Randy White was very pleasant to deal with and he builds a great amplifier. The A-200 is very well constructed and nicely finished. In terms of sound it is rich and full bodied, with good detail and excellent bass slam. It is superior to the Adcom GFA-5800 and the Mark Levinson 331 amps that I have previously owned, offering what I feel is a more natural presentation. It did, however, fall short of the performance offered by the Pass Labs Aleph 5. Whereas the A-200 is an excellent amp at $3000, the Pass strikes me as an excellent amp at any price and offers greater transparency, detail, and air. The A-200 definately beats the Pass in the bass department, but the Pass is definately not deficient in this area. Overall, I rate the A-200 very highly and would recommend it to anyone who needs greater power than the Pass can provide.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Keith Louie   an Audio Enthusiast [Jul 07, 1998]

Wonderful amp! I had been searching for a solid state amp that doesn't have the "electronic" signature common to most. Am very picky and tried a number of amps ($2,000 to $5,800), including BAT, Threshold, Aragon, Pass, but the Llano was the overall winner in my system. The Pass was the most "natural" sounding, but it couldn't come close to driving the bass section of my Apogee Stages. The Llano preserves most of the Pass' three-dimensionality and "realness", but has the ability to drive tough (low-impedance, current hungry) loads like the Stages.
The Llano simply sounds realistic, in large part owed to its two-gain stage Class A push-pull design (similar to the new Pass X-series). Can't say enough good things about the amp - everything else (except the Pass) sounded like a pieces of electronic equipment. The midrange has that magical fullness and realism, the treble has the air that it should, and the bass is deep and tight. Given the price, it is an absolute steal. Don't be put off by the lack of name brand or dealer, as the excellent sound will more than make up for these issues.

Also, Randy White (owner) is a very nice, knowledgeable guy.

However, the Website leaves more than a bit to be desired, though (I'd give it one star at most).

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Richard Henderson   an Audiophile [Jan 08, 1999]

I wanted an extremely clean amp with guts. It needed to handle extreme high frequencies without shimmer, graininess or image smearing. A bonus would be good midrange and bass, though mids are rarely a problem with amp's and I use a Titan for my bass these days. The A200 does all this beautifully. I put it on par with the big Krell's for transparency and slightly better phase coherency, but a lot cheaper, and it heats the room nicely too :). I preferred it to the Pass and Mark Levinson alternatives which were artificially bright and too tubey respectively.
The amp is very quiet, to the extent you can attach headphones to the main out's (without an input signal)and hear nothing (don't do this at home kids!); not bad for a Class A solid-state. That means at least 110 dB of S/N.

The only difficulties I had were finding cables good enough to connect this thing. Get very good balanced cables (I use JPS Superconductors 3' balanced) and ensure that your pre-amp has a stable output impedance. I was fortunate in that the Muse preamp I use is very good at this. Tube preamps, particularly OTL designs may have a problem here. I look forward to removing the preamp completely.

This amp forgives nothing, it is entirely naked in presentation, it is better than any source components I have ever found and drives speakers well due to it's vanishingly small output impedance and unmatched transient performance giving tremendous attack on pianos and drums. If you're looking for a pure beast of an amp then this is the one for you!

My rig: Muse transport -> I2S -> Muse HDCD DAC (+1 bit internal setting) -> DHLabs balanced -> Muse preamp with "TDS audiophile passive" (rewired with silver) in tape loop -> JPS Superconductor balanced -> "Tammy" A200 -> ACI Jaguar (port blocked) / ACI Titan subwoofer .

Everything else will change soon (96kHz/24bit), only the TDS and the A200 will stay.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Steve Haynes   an Audiophile [Jun 28, 1999]

I wont get too carried away but I am going to tell you that LLano makes the best amps on the planet! I am the very proud owner of an A200. It makes other amps that I have had in my system sound like a clock radio. My last amp was a Parasound HCA 1200II that didnt like my Unity Audio speakers at all. You could have made pancakes and eggs on that bad boy it got so hot! The A200 laughs at my Unitys and plays them beautifully! Dont waste your money elsewhere, buy a Llano and be done with it! Heck If you dont like it send it back then call yourself a doctor cause you need heavy medication and therapy!This deserves 10 stars.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
  an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 07, 1999]

Incredible 3 dimensional soundstage.Resolution is superb.
Very dynamic sound.
Built to survive a nuclear explosion.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John   an Audiophile [Sep 15, 1998]

I’ve been listening to my Llano A200 for a couple of months now and thought I’d share my experience with this wonderful amplifier with other audiophiles and music lovers. My system consists of the following:
Preamp Convergent Audio Technologies SL1 MKII
Turntable VPI HW19 MKIV with TNT upgrade, ETII arm, Benz M0.9 cartridge and XLO reference interconnects
CD Player Panasonic DVD with 96/24 DAC
Speakers Martin Logan CLSIIz
Subwoofer VR TOP
PLC Chang Lightspeed CLS9600
Interconnects Synergistic Research Looking Glass
Speaker Cables Monster 2.2
Various Tip-Toes, Pucks, Bricks, Air Platforms, Power Cords

My initial impression of this amplifier was very positive. I noticed an immediate improvement in my systems ability to resolve detail. This added resolution manifested itself primarily as an enhanced soundstage presentation. Instruments of all types from bells and cymbals to bass and kettle drums were placed precisely and solidly in a very wide and deep soundstage. The attack and decay of instruments is as good as I have heard, very natural. The amplifier has an athletic quality that is just killer. It can be at once powerful and graceful. Still, one aspect of the amps performance was perplexing. The midrange, while very good, didn’t measure up to the amps performance in other regards. There was a certain harmonic rightness missing, as if somehow something was being choked off. As I listened to the amp I was having a hard time believing it could get so many things just right yet fail to develop the midrange sufficiently to suspend disbelief.


As time passed I became convinced something was amiss in my setup. I decided to have a go at a few tried and true tweaks to see if something simple could make a significant improvement in the midrange. The first thing I did was to lose the power cord that came with the amp. Llano Designs should look into supplying a better cable as standard equipment with this amp. The transformation wrought by this simple change was a real eye opener. After hearing the significant improvement replacing the power cord made I was eager to experiment with other tweaks to see if any additional improvements could be realized. In a word, YES.

Every tweak I have tried on this amp (or my system) has made a significant difference in it’s sound. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. One thing I know for certain; this amp has the ability to communicate every nuance of your system. Be forewarned; if you want to get the best from this amp you may have to rethink choices you made regarding interconnects, speaker cables, PLCs, etc. when using a less revealing amplifier. On the other hand, to expect the level of performance I now have in my listening room by simply tossing a new amp in your system is foolhardy. The synergy required to attain the highest level of musical reproduction requires more than luck. Be prepared to have your eyes opened to weakness in your system should you decide to purchase an A200. The silver lining is the amps uncanny ability to tell you when you have made the right choice; there is little room for doubt with this super transparent amplifier.


My time experimenting has been rewarded with what I can confidently say is the best sound I’ve ever heard in my listening room, with realism that equals any playback system I have heard in my music loving life. The A200 never fails to please and amaze me.


Believe me when I say there is magic in this box. I encourage anyone who owns one of these amps or is contemplating a purchase to take the time to let that magic out. Your time will be richly rewarded.

Am I a happy camper? You bet!



OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Jaime Paderna   an Audiophile [Oct 07, 1997]

I've been living with a LLANO A-200 for a few months now and I canhonestly say that this is the best amp I have ever heard. The LLANO A-200
is a 200 WPC dual mono design, two stage, push-pull, class A amp. It's a
very pretty amp, it comes in a black brushed aluminum case with rack
handles and mounts with very large heat sinks.

The setup that I run consists of:
Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 -> Dodson DA-217H HDCD Dac -> Audible Illusions L-1
-> LLANO A-200 -> Von Schweikert VR-4

One of the virtues of this amp is what you don't hear very much,
background noise. The Amp is one of the quietest amps (blackest
background) available. The A-200 also has plenty of power to spare.
It has 430K uf of power on tap to handle the most difficult transients.
IMHO, this and the blacker background, aids the amp in throwing a huge
soundstage with excellent clarity, focus, and dynamics. In my system,
it does everything that Chesky's "Ultimate Demonstration Dics" asks you
to listen for and does it very well. One of its many strengths is how it presents string instruments. Violins and Cellos are just luscious. It's a great amp.

I listened to a few amps before settling in on the Llano and believe
that I have not heard any that I would consider better. Some were its
equal but none surpassed it. Many were quite a bit pricier.

If you in the market for great amp, give the LLANO a listen you will
be pleasantly surprised.


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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