Classe CAP-2100 Integrated Amplifiers

Classe CAP-2100 Integrated Amplifiers 


  • Designed for two-channel music systems
  • Low-level sources
  • High-powered amplifier components
  • Low-noise toroidal transformers
  • Digital control circuits


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[Jul 19, 2006]


Effortless reproduction
Extremely neutral sound quality
Can easily be used as a dedicated amp in addition to an integrated (through a quick setting change in the menus)
Touch screen menu system is quick and easy to interface with
LCD display provides more than adequate information vitually eliminating use of the manual to find out more about settings and how to change them
Dead silent operation
Excellent phono-pre option available
Ships in an excellent box (its some plastic cellular structure, not cardboard)


Price (I would argue that it is in fact not overpriced, but other's would likely disagree with me, so I put this here anyways. You get what you pay for and this integrated gives you a whole lot for your hard-earned dollar.)

If there were XLR outputs, the CAP-2100 could be used as a pre-amp as well. However, I understand their rational for not doing this. The CAP-2100 is already packed to the gills inside and I can't see how they could fit in a good section to route XLR outputs properly. Seriously, checkout the review in Korean as it has pics of the inside (even if you can't read Korean--I know I can't.)

Thanks to its lack of fans, the CAP-2100 can get a bit "toasty". You certainly wouldn't get burnt by it. However, I wouldn't voluntarily leave my hand on the heatsinks for an extended period of time...

Intro: My search for an outstanding two-channel integrated amplifier has finally ended with the Classe CAP-2100. My general requirements were to find a two-channel amplifier that I felt was "above reproach" in terms of transparent audio output. My rationale for an integrated was to eliminate one (or more) variables in the signal path for me to concern myself with. Additionally, as I live in an apartment the more compact size of an integrated suited itself well to my needs.

Background: My background is that of a computer engineer. As such, I do not claim to be an expert at EE tasks, but I am not easily swayed by fictitious claims that are counter to sound engineering practices.

Story: My search began about two years ago with Rotel. I knew Rotel was a good name and wouldn't be overly pricey to try out. So, I tried a Rotel RA-1062 integrated along with a RCD-1072 CD player. I rapidly dismissed the amplifier. Yes, it was a nice amp. However, it did not have the power I desired. For kicks I decided to try out separates combo for a few hours to the RB-1070 + RC-1070 combo along with the RCD-1072 again. This was better, but really left me wanting more. In subjective terms, I would state that the Rotel had a very soft character and was poor at resolving the music. It was certainly better than a Best Buy product and would suit many well. However, it was not what I was looking for. Remember, "above reproach" was my goal. Cost was not a major concern of mine. In more technical terms, the Rotel lacked enough capacitance to handle sudden low notes and in general was not capable of delivering enough current to drive the Theil 2.1 speakers.

Next I decided to try some of the Musical Fidelity products. From them I tried the X-150 Integrated along with the X-RAYv3 CD player. This was an improvement over the Rotel I had listened to previously. The ability to resolve details was improved and the bass extension was also better. Even though the Musical Fidelity products were contained in small boxes, they delivered an amazing amount of quality sound. I am still impressed by what they managed to pack into those boxes. However, the Musical Fidelity, did not seem to represent the ultimate for me. I had heard stellar Levinson, Krell, Cary, top of the line systems and knew that surely there was far more that could be packed into an integrated if one tried.

My next stop was the venerable and often reverred Mark Levinson No. 383 Integrated. I tried this product out multiple times over the past year or so. The operation of this amp was great. The simplicity I desired in an integrated was definitely there. The remote felt great in your hands. The amp was very detailed and had great bass. However, something after each listening session left me feeling a bit like I had a headache. After this happened a few times I inquired and my audio assistant (calling him a sales person just doesn't seem appropriate) remarked that indeed the Levinson was a bit bright and that was likely what was fatiguing my ears. So, that pretty much left the Levinson out of the running. I was a bit disappointed as one would hope that a company such as Mark Levinson would produce a product that was more balanced and even-toned. Alas, the No. 383 is an older design and (from my readings) the new Mark Levinson has awful support to go along with it.

I admit, I was a bit heart-broken over the Levinson's fatiguing high-range. I felt that the Musical Fidelity was an excellent product, but I knew that there was far more that one could achieve in an integrated. Thankfully, I found the Classe CAP-2100.

This product did not absolutely "blow me away" at first. This is in fact good news. Often times something that "blows you away" is really a product that is overly weighted in some range and lacking in others. The Mark Levinson was just such a product. At first I was totally taken with its sound. But as time went on it wore on me and my ears.

The Classe is something that after listening to 30 CDs on one begins to appreciate greatly for being an outstanding amp that does not add coloration to the music in anyway. It is an extremely neutral amp--exactly what I was looking for. Neutral does not impress one immediately until you listen for a while and realize the massive impact it creates when the music demands it and the ability to instantly calm the waters back to daintily tip-toeing -- all performed with such precision that it would make one believe all efforts to other amps were effortless to this amplifier. Endless power for nearly all but the largest of speakers -- which wouldn't make any sense for this apartment dweller anyways.

Customer Service

I haven't had a chance to use it yet. I do know that Classe performs an extensive burn-in before shipping the product. As such, very few of their products are ever DOA or have any problems in their first years.

Similar Products Used:

Rotel RA-1062
Rotel RC-1070
Musicial Fidelity X-150
Mark Levinson No. 383

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