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What about Classe?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Vlad D

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Posted June 03 2002 - 10:55 AM

I recently read a review of the Classe SSP-75 controller in a back issue of TPV. It seems like it's awesome, although pricey. I haven't noticed much talk about it on this forum. Most talk seems to be about the Anthem. Does anyone here have any experience with it? Also on a similar note, any thoughts on the Theta Dreadnought amp? Not that I can afford any of these at the moment, just that it seems most reviews that I read the reviewer always compares to his/her reference system, which almost always includes one of these two components. Just curious as to what the forum members thought. Thanks, Vlad

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Ken Stokes

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Posted June 03 2002 - 12:04 PM

Viad, Classe makes some great products. Considering the price difference I wouldn't expect the name to come up in threads about Outlaw, Rotel, or even Anthem. Classe has positioned themselves on the high end so they are usually discussed in audiophile areas or high end theaters. The Dreadnaught is one of, if not the best, muti channel amplifiers on the market. I don't think I've ever seen a review that wasn't glowing. If you look you will see the Dreadnaught used as a reference by many reviewers. I have Classe CAM-350 monoblocks and they are the only item in my system that I doubt I'll ever upgrade, they are that good. Ken

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted June 03 2002 - 12:40 PM

It's no surprise that the Classe' SSP-75 does not appear in a comparison with the Anthem, as the Classe' is two or three times the price. The Anthem is a very good pre/pro, but it is a mid-fi product. The Classe', on the other hand, is a high-end pre/pro that competes with the Krell, Theta, Proceed, Meridian, and TAG McLaren pre/pros. The Theta Dreadnaught is an excellent amp. While I think the Classe' CAV-500 is a bit better, the Classe' amp is also a bit more expensive. If I was looking for a high-end multi-channel amp, both the Dreadnaught and the Classe' would be on my short list.
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#4 of 16 OFFLINE   MichelK

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Posted June 03 2002 - 08:18 PM

Justin : Hi ! You seem to know well Classé and Theta . I am french and here I can buy the Classe CAV 180 or perhaps the CAV 500 at a better price than the Theta dreadnaught. I own 4 BW Nautilus 803 Speakers and a HTM1 center speaker, can you advise me ? According to you, is there a better solution built with one stereo amp per speaker (biamp) for about the same budget ?

#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Bill Lucas

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Posted June 03 2002 - 10:23 PM

Anthem is mid-fi and Classe is hifi? Hmmmm....can't agree with that one. I have sold and demonstrated Classe and know the Anthem units inside and out and for my money I'll take the Anthem every day. Classe has had new management in the last few years and they simply don't put out the product they once did. In no way does the Classe processor compete with the likes of Lexicon or Meridian. It simply isn't up to snuff. Don't even get me started on their integrated amps. There are much better products for less money. Posted Image

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted June 04 2002 - 07:56 AM

Bill, I'll respectfully have to disagree. Anthem makes a very good product, but Classe's pre/pros are in another league. For music, there is absolutely no comparison between the two. For home theater, the difference isn't as pronounced, but the Classe' is still noticeably better. Build quality differs substantially between the two companies as well. As far as Classe' competing with Meridian and Lexicon, the latter two are geared more toward strictly HT systems while Classe' is more for the audiophile who also wants home theater. Meridian and Lexicon have more DSPs, features, and whistles and bells, but the Classe' sounds better with music. It really depends on what you want. Michel, Classe' and B&W make a stellar combination. All things being equal, monoblocks and stereo amps will sound better than multichannel amps, but the cost can run high, and separate amps for each channel take up a lot of space. The CAV-500 is a superb multichannel amp, and the CAV-180 is very good too. With these amps, you wouldn't need to bi-amp your B&Ws.
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#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark C.

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Posted June 04 2002 - 10:28 AM

Bill, I too have to disagree. When I started putting together my 2-channel music system with Nautilus 804s, Classe was on my short list along with Aragon and Bryston. My Classe integrated blends wonderfully with the 804s.

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Vlad D

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Posted June 04 2002 - 11:57 AM

Thanks guys for the responses. While I am thoroughly enjoying the conversation, I didn't compare Anthem to Classe. I only meant that I did see much mention of Classe on this forum as opposed to all the talk about Anthem. Didn't mean to start a Classe vs Anthem war. Justin - Do you feel that Classe's price tag is due to its build quality or just inflated to reflect its "hi-fi" status?

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Bill Lucas

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Posted June 04 2002 - 12:11 PM

Justin, Meridian's Trifield music mode is considered by many experts to be the pre-eminent multi-channel music mode. Meridian also happens to have a very large hand in DVD-Audio. No offense, but people don't purchase the product for Home Theater, they purchase it for music playback. I can't agree with your assesments. It appears that you may be a Classe owner who is defending his product. That's OK, but it is typical. IMHYCO, Classe makes overpriced, underperforming products. Regards.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted June 04 2002 - 04:40 PM

Vlad, "Do you feel that Classe's price tag is due to its build quality or just inflated to reflect its 'hi-fi' status?" Like any product performance and build quality, generally speaking, are reflected in the price, and Classe' components are no different. There's a reason Classe' costs more than Anthem, just as there's a reason a Porsche costs more than a Honda. Listen to/drive one, and you'll understand. Bill, "Meridian's Trifield music mode is considered by many experts to be the pre-eminent multi-channel music mode. Meridian also happens to have a very large hand in DVD-Audio." Absolutely! As I stated in my above post, Meridian and Lexicon have far more plentiful and better DSPs for music and movies. If DSPs are important to you, these pre/pros would be a far better choice than Classe'. As far as multi-channel music and DVD-Audio is concerned, however, I, like many others, have my own opinion of it, and it's not positive. Multi-channel music is exciting and impresses those who don’t know what live music sounds like, but it's far from accurate. If you do prefer multi-channel music to stereo music, that helps explain your position and where you're coming from. "No offense, but people don't purchase the product for Home Theater, they purchase it for music playback." I completely disagree. Those who are interested in home theater are the ones interested in multi-channel music, and visa versa. Audiophiles care about accurate reproduction of music, not "gee whiz" sound effects. "I can't agree with your assesments [sic]." Then we must agree to disagree. "It appears that you may be a Classe owner who is defending his product. That's OK, but it is typical." I am a Classe' owner so I put my money where my mouth is, but I'm not defending my purchase, as I don't own one of their pre/pros. I have heard the Classe’ pre/pros along with Anthem, Meridian, and Lexicon, and for stereo music the Classe’ is the best by far. Their DD and DTS reproduction also sounds the most natural. "IMHYCO, Classe makes overpriced, underperforming products." Your opinion is neither humble nor correct. In fact, Classe’ gear is perhaps the best value in high-end audio components, as they consistently compete with components from other manufacturers that cost far more.
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#11 of 16 OFFLINE   ling_w

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Posted June 04 2002 - 04:45 PM

Isn't the Classe SSP-75 a rebadged Parasound AVC-2500u? BTW, Meridian is all about multi-channel music, either original or synthesized. Read the recent interview of Bob Stuart on SGHT, all he talks about is music even as the interviewer tries to drag him back to HT.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted June 04 2002 - 04:48 PM

"Isn't the Classe SSP-75 a rebadged Parasound AVC-2500u?" Um...no.
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#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Sihan Goi

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Posted June 05 2002 - 12:28 AM

I think Classe's prepros are lacking in features, but I suppose with Classe's reputation, should excel in sound quality. As for the Theta Dreadnaught, its widely considered as one of the best multi-channel amps out there, joining the ranks of the BAT VK-6200. The Cinepro 3K6SE-Gold is an extremely value-for-money contender from what I've read though.
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#14 of 16 OFFLINE   chris c

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Posted June 05 2002 - 05:06 AM

Well, Classe' is definitely a league or two above Anthem. I've had products from both. I had the Theta Intrepid (smaller, less powerful version of the dreadnaught) but had to sell it because I need the money for law school and won't have room for a home-theater (one 250 square foot NYC apt., coming up). One of the saddest days of my life. The other came a few days later when I sold my EAD Ovation+. And another a few days after that when I sold my Proac CC2. The Theta amps are the best I have heard other than Ayre. Coincidentally, the Theta amps are from a design by Charles Hansen of Ayre. Engineer(s) from Classe' fine-tuned the design (correct me if I'm wrong). I'd personally go with the Theta over the Classe' but seriously doubt you would regret it either way.

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Doug Fraser

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Posted June 05 2002 - 10:50 AM

I have a Classe DR 150 power amp (1991 vintage designed by Dave Riech (my spelling may be off here) the founder of Classe) feeding a pair of B&W 802's (stereo) in a room I use for critical listening. The build quality of the Classe is excellent. I have been extremely happy with the sound and the reliability. In my home theater I have a Interga 9.1. Recently I moved the 9.1 to the critical listening room and A/B'd the Classe against the 9.1. The 9.1 was in its pass through analog mode - i.e. no DSP processing . Here's the part your going to hate.... I nor another associate who I respect his ability to hear, could repeatably identify which amp was being used. More and more I am becoming of the school that as long as you have a well built amp then there is no audible difference. Sure, I feel good owning the Classe (especially when I have a guest over that appreciates it's positioning in the market)and it is built like a battleship, however I'm not convinced that the sound difference justifies the price.

#16 of 16 OFFLINE   EarlR

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Posted June 05 2002 - 08:53 PM

Hi Vlad You can add me to the list of Classe lovers. I have owned both Classe and Theta products for years and I think they are two of the best companies on the market. I feel Theta has the edge for H/T with the Casa Nova and Casablanca II, the Classe surround pre-amps seem to be geared more for stereo sound with the surround just added on. The ergonomics of the Classe can’t compare with the more user-friendly products out there. When it comes to amplifiers I think Classe has an edge on Theta. Both companies make great sounding amps but to me the Classe amps seem to have a more natural sound than the Theta. These are just my opinions, as with all audio products you really have to audition everything yourself and see what you prefer but you can’t go wrong with either company. Earl
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