Is Classe better than Proceed and on par with Mark Levinson?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ricky T, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    I've been debating with a friend whether or not his Classe CAV-75 75x6 amp "doubles" into 4 ohms. He insists that it will do 150x6 unbridged into 4 ohms. Classe doesn't have any 4 ohm spec for this amp, bridged or unbridged.

    Then he tells me that Classe is above Proceed and on par with Mark Levinson. Thoughts?
     
  2. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    if i remember properly, most classe amps do double down from 8 to 4 ohms so it's not unlikely that the cav-75 is 150 watts x 6 at 4 ohms. i have no real world experience with any of the brands you mentioned by i was under the impression that proceed and levinson were both made by madrigal and i have heard classe referred to as a "poor man's krell" so i'm not certain it is really on par with the levinson gear.

    kevin t
     
  3. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    I actually recently bought a Classe CAV-150 amp which does a very nice job of driving my B&W Nautilus speakers. Before I bought it, I was recommended on this forum to look at this amp, but I could not find very much information about it. I did find reviews of other Classe products such as the CAV-75, 180, and the pre-pros which are considered to be among the best. Still, Classe does not seem to get the amount of attention as ML and Krell. Classe does not have the most informative website, not do they keep a log of past amps. Classe products do seem to have an enormous amount of respect in the audiophile community, and are definitely supposed to be in that group that doubles down to 4 and 2 ohms. The clincher for my buying this amp was a trip down to one of the high end audiophile stores here in San Diego. The owner was talking to me and told me that he replaced Krell with Classe about 7 years ago as he did not enjoy doing business with Krell, and found the Classe to an extremely good product. Considering the high end lines that he carries and compares the Classe equipment to(for fun he demonstrated a BAT tube amp hooked up with $9000 Nordost cables to the Joseph Audio 33si speakers)this endorsement did carry some weight with me. He also showed me the CAV-150 that had been powering his theater room for two years now.

    I use the Classe with Nautilus 804s, 805s, and HTM2. My current pre/pro is the Sunfire TG II which is a loaner while I am waiting for an Anthem AVM20 which I am going to try out. I find the amp to be very smooth, liquid, a little laid back in the mid and highs (which is a part of its smoothness), and provide excellent, tight bass response. I would love to hear from other Classe owners also on this thread, especially those that have compared Classe amps with others.
     
  4. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    manoj:

    have you considered the classe ssp-30 pre/pro? i'm interested to hear other's perspectives as i have no local classe dealer.

    kevin t
     
  5. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Hi Ricky: I've heard a CAV-150 clip on an Aerial 10T, CC5, SR3 setup during Logic 7 music playback. It also clipped during two channel, very loud 2 channel playback from that same Lexicon MC-12. Later, with a CAV-300, that same setup did not clip. I like my music and movies LOUD! And because of that, I'd pick up an amp which puts out more than 220wpc if I could afford it... that's of course just IMO.
     
  6. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    Doesn't the Classe use IC op-amp for amplification?

    Classe seems to emphasize microphonics reduction in their circuitry. Do they shoe-goo the whole circuit board to get rid of the microphonics?
     
  7. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin,

    I have considered the SSP-30, but I would like PLII as I still watch 2 channel broadcast sources. The level of upgradeability is also not what I would like. It is an excellent pre/pro, though.
     
  8. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    thanks for the insight manoj. i'm mainly concerned with two channel playback and have no intention to upgrade to 7.1. never having heard dplII i doubt i would miss it. the price on the ssp-30 is a bit restrictive at $3000 though. more than likely, i'll end up with a 950 or the sherbourn pre/pro. thanks though.

    kevin t
     
  9. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin,

    For your needs I would seriously look at a used Classe SP-25 on audiogon. It has DD, DTS, and sounds very good for 2 channel.
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Ricky, I have no experience with Proceed equipment and only limited experience with Mark Levinson gear. I have used Classe gear at a local dealer quite a bit (mostly stereo components) and have always been impressed with the performance. A salesman I know well at this dealer once said to me that Mark Levinson gear is overpriced. He said that they used to carry Mark Levinson products but found that they didn't offer a level of performance commensurate with the high prices. He went on to say that they switched over to Classe because they felt that Classe gave equal performance for less money. I found the comments interesting, but take them with a grain of salt. This could be nothing more than salesman rhetoric (i.e., the stuff we carry is great; the stuff we don't isn't).
     
  11. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Hi Ricky

    I found an Audio magazine review of the Classe CAP 100 integrated stereo amp. Rated at 100 watts, the reviewer measured 105 watts into 8 and 150 into 4. Hardly "doubling down", and in general terms, similar to many other amps going from 8 to 4.

    The reviewer liked the amp quite a bit, but remember we are talking about a $2,000, 100 watt per channel amp. For that kind of money, it should be better than average, overall.

    Artie
     
  12. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    On the Classe website the CAV-180, the predecessor to the CAV-150 that I have, is noted to double down from 8 to 4 ohms. Actually every stereo amp and multichannel amp on the Classe website double down from 8 to 4, but neither of the integrated amps do. The only amp that I did not find specs for at 4 ohms was the CAV-75 which has listing for the bridging watts at 8 ohms only.

    Keith:

    As always, I take what a salesperson says with a grain of salt, but the comments about Classe mirror what I was told here by the owner of the dealer next door to me. He still carries BAT and Lexicon, but replaced Krell with Classe, feeling that Classe offers equal performance for a more reasonable price.
     
  13. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

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    I have a Classe CAP-101 integrated powering B&W Nautilus 804s. At 100W per channel, this amp has no problem making the 804s sing. Tremendous soundstage and depth to music. Before buying this amp used, I listened to the now-discontinued Krell integrated (150W per channel). I found the Classe to be smoother and about $1,000 less (list price if purchased from a dealer).

    Drawbacks: Classe amps seem vulnerable to power surges (surge protection strongly advised) and, from what I hear from a local former Classe dealer, warranty repairs can take months.
     
  14. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree Mark, Classe seems a little bit looser on the customer service side. Their website is not well done, and has been under construction for some time. It does not provide information about legacy products at all, and when I called, although they were helpful, you did not get the feeling that they were on top of things completely. This may be a generalization, as this experience was off only one phone call and perusal of their website.
     
  15. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

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    ManojM,

    Classe just finally re-did their website. Those new Omega series 500W mono blocks look REALLY nice. The question is how much are they? My guess is $20K. I have read excellent reviews on the SSP-75. Anyone have info of they are going to offer an updated version anytime soon?

    A poll question for people with knowledge of both say for a pair of Revel Studios would you prefer the Classe CAM-350 or M.L. No. 336. Same watts but the Classe is $2k+ cheaper.

    Mike
     
  16. Ken Stokes

    Ken Stokes Agent

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    Classe makes some great gear. I have CAM-350s in my system currently and am very happy with them. The CAV150 is WAY underpowered for the Aerial 10ts. I would think that 300wpc would be more in the minimum power range for those.

    Levinson gear is very good also but you do pay for that name. I think the Classe line up is pretty close in comparison.

    Ken
     
  17. JoshS

    JoshS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi there,

    I have a Classe 151 integrated amp. The dealer where I bought it said the power will double into 4 ohms.

    I use it with Vandersteen 1c speakers and the dealer said it would run the 3a sigs with no problem(4 ohm full range).

    I love the amp, I've only had it for a couple of months though. So far this thing is absolutely perfect.

    You can find the cav75 used for around $1000.00. In my opinion this is a good deal.

    Thanks,

    Josh
     
  18. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    Josh,

    According to the website the CAP-151 goes from 150 watts into 8 ohms to 225 into 4 ohms. This is not doubling, so your dealer was not quite right. The integrated amps are the only ones I have seen that do not double. I'm sure it is still an excellent sounding amp, though.
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Manoj said:

     
  20. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    The Classe' integrated amps do not "double down," but their multi-channel amps, stereo amps, and monoblocks do.

    I personally think Levinson makes the best amps in the world (I'm thinking specifically of the No. 33 and the No. 33H monoblocks), so I would, obviously, say that Levinson is the best of the three. You do, however, pay dearly for it, and that's where Classe' has the advantage: there's a lot more "bang for the buck" with their amps.

    A friend has a Levinson No. 335 and we a/b/c'd it with my Classe' CA-200 and another friend's 200wpc Aragon. The rest of the system consisted of Martin Logan Odyssey speakers, an Audio Research LS25 Mk. II, a Theta DAC and transport, and Synergistic Research, Cardas, and BMI cables. The Levinson was the best, by far, in every area, but it's almost three times the price of the Classe', so I'd expect it to be! The difference in sound was big, but the difference in price was huge. The Classe' didn't exactly embarrass itself, but it was warmer, less transparent, and less detailed than the Levinson. The Classe' did, however, handily best the Aragon in every area, save bass.

    Comparing the three brands as a whole is somewhat difficult, because Classe' has some gear that directly competes with Proceed (e.g. the CA-201 v. HPA2) while other gear, more or less, competes with Levinson (e.g. CA-401 v. No. 334), while their Omega series competes with Levinson Reference. Generally speaking, however, Classe' offers more powerful amps at any given price point.

    In comparison to Proceed, I'd say Classe' is about on par, but a little better. They also sound different, as Classe' is warmer and richer, while the Proceed is more neutral and less musical. Which one you choose really depends on your speakers, as they both make great amps, but with NHT I'd go with Classe'. Compared to Levinson, I think Levinson is better, but the Classe' offers a lot of value for the money.

    I've heard the Revel Salons (which might be my next speakers) with the No. 336 and the No. 33H monoblocks, the Levinson No. 32 preamp, and a Sony SCD-1 SACD player with Transparent Reference XL cables. The Salons sounded very good with the No. 336, but when the No. 33Hs were connected, everything became much, much better. After hearing the difference between the two, I don't think I could be satisfied with the No. 336. Granted, the $10,000 difference is a lot, but the 33Hs are worlds better.

    I haven't heard the Classe' CAM-350s, but I've heard excellent things about them. Although Levinson is a perfect match with Revel speakers, if I couldn't afford the No. 33Hs, I might go for the Classe' CAM-350s over the No. 336.
     

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