Llano Design Group S-300 Amplifiers

Llano Design Group S-300 Amplifiers 


S-300 "Stereo 300" 2 channel amplifier


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[Dec 10, 1998]
an Audio Enthusiast

There are a few things that bring joy to me, the start of a vacation, inlaws that don't overstay there welcome and good music. Obviously, any musical 'playback' system that is going to bring pleasure to us is going to take considerable time, patience, and money to achieve the desired effect. One of the most crucial components is the amplifier. I've had my S-300 for 3 months and I still marvel what a tremendous difference that it has made. For those of you that are familiar with the Llano Design "A" series amps, the "S" series is Randy White's latest design with larger output devices (for greater current handling), board design changes and other modifications (that you can see at the Llano website or discuss with Randy yourself) that improve the highs, increased control and punch in the bass and a much more musical amplifier. Does the S-300 live up to the claims? YES!! Allow me to give you a little background on how I found out about Llano Design.In July of this year I encountered someone who owned one of Randy White's earlier designs (from 5-6 years ago) and that he was very pleased and was going to upgrade to the then current "A" series amplifier. My goal was to not only put together a high-end stereo system, but incorporate home theater as well. I called Randy (very nice, knowledgable, and patient look for his new book, "Stereo and Home Theater Amps for Dummies" I'm kidding!) and to my surprise he builds multichannel amps for home theater I bought the HT-200 3 channel (see my up coming review) matched the output stages on both amplifiers and I have an absolutely phenomenal home theater system as well. I enjoy vocals and acccoustic guitar, on Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" CD cut no. 5 'Lonely Stranger' the attack and the decay of the transients as he gives the strings a workout is tremendous the clarity and involvement was fantastic. My wife even commented how she couldn't believe how much better the music sounded after I changed to the S-300. Diana Krall's voice was rich, warm, and just much more captivating than other amplifiers that I tried out. Speaking of tryouts Llano Design has a 30 day trial period in your home, Randy told me he has never had anyone return one of his amps I can see why.
The build quality and finish are excellent with a black brushed aircraft grade aluminum chassis with large machined heatsinks its a classic beauty. I want to mention the BS factor (back strain), its strange and funny how people equate quality (of sound?) with their inability to pickup an amp, I'm over 6' tall a good size guy, and I wouldn't want to hold one of these Llano amps for any length of time and this is an aluminum chassis. So how do some of the other 'highend' amplifier companies end up with such heavy products? The chassis are made out of steel. Now I admit that home theater can be very involving, and if your watching "Predator" and you can't restrain yourself from getting out your 44 Magnum and having a live shootout in your living room then there are some definite advantages of a steel chassis amp that is more bulletproof than aluminum, but if you can restrain yourself does steel and the EXTRA weight really matter? I want to mention one other thing for those of you whose curiosity has been aroused concerning home theater, both of my Llano amps are stacked on top of each other inside a cherry cabinet with 4" of breathing space at the top after running these amps hard during a movie or listening to music I can put my hand on the top or bottom amp and hold it there as long as I like. How? Randy uses a transistor design known as Hexfets that operate at a much cooler relative temperature than traditional bipolar transistors, try putting your hand near a Krell FPB series amp, if your going to put something on top of it try an egg I'm sure it will fry it.
Well obviously I've been pleased with my Llano amps and if you don't have to have a bulletproof steel cookstove amp at more than double the money give Randy White a call at Llano Design, by the way for an extra $750 Randy will weld a one-inch thick steel plate to the bottom of the Llano amp of your choosing (again I'm kidding) for you diehard backbreakers!

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