April 2012


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"...there may be nothing close for some time to come."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Enthusiastically recommended!"

 

Classé CP-800 "Preamp Zeitgeist"

Dear Scott,

Classé Audio CP-800 Preamp

Another hit out of the ball park for the CP-800! Dave Thomas from Stereo Times absolutely loved the preamplifier calling it a "preamp Zeitgeist" and stating that "…there may be nothing close for some time to come." Obviously, we couldn't agree more and are thrilled with his kudos. Here are some excerpts from that review. For the full article click here.

Best regards,

Dave Nauber
President
Classé

 

Preamp Zeitgeist

"I started my critical listening playing CDs using the Oppo as a transport and running a digital cable into the CP-800’s DAC. The unit uses a pair of Wolfson WM8741DACs which produce differential outputs for both channels. They can operate at either 176.4 or 192 kHz, depending on whether the input is a multiple of 44.1 or 48 kHz. I used the DAC’s coaxial input for most of my disc listening."

"The first disc I heard was the stunning debut disc from jazz drummer Jonathan Blake called The Eleventh Hour [Sunnyside Records]. This recording plays right into the Classé system’s strengths: dynamics and power. For its part the CP-800 lays out the soundstage magnificently. The most obvious example of this is the title track which starts with a briefly recessed (sounding) drum solo to segue to a really cool bass line and fully fleshed out drums. Through a lesser design this beginning would have sounded like just a bad and uninteresting recording, but the CP-800 gave it enough life to draw me in. Blake is backed by a tremendous horn section and sprinkles in a neat little layer of harmonica from Gregoire Maret and piano from another great young musician named Robert Glasper. Track ten, “Canvas”, is my favorite tune on this disc. It begins with a small child singing, ” I love to singa, about the moona and the juna and the springa, I love to singa…” If you’re a middle-aged person like me, you’ll remember that little tune from a cartoon decades ago in which a young owl wants to sing jazz much to the chagrin of his father. It’s a cute way to start the track which is a warm and sweet sounding tune that again features that great horn section and Maret on harmonica. But Blake’s drum work is the song’s heart and the CP-800 renders it with all of its dynamics intact. This recording is relayed within a lively and lifelike soundstage. The instruments were played with realistic size and character, and every song was a joy to listen to."

"The next disc was from yet another relative newcomer, vocalist Gretchen Parlato. Her latest recording, Lost and Found [Obliq Sound] has been life changing for me and I don’t mind saying that I am simply in love with this woman. Don’t worry, my girlfriend NEVER reads any of my articles, so I’m not concerned about her finding out about this."

"Let’s face it, it’s easy for most high-quality stereo systems to get the power and finesse thing right, but a really great system will have to also handle the delicacies with equal authority. Gretchen Parlato’s voice is the essence of sweetness, barely going above an orgasmic murmur. The opening track on this disc a jaw-dropping cover of the Simply Red hit, “Holding Back the Years.” This track is COOL!! The rhythm is provided by the soft tapping of the snare’s rim, a kick drum and some excellent piano playing by Taylor Eigsti. The CP-800 portrays this recording in a manner that still makes it what we in Chi-Town call a “stepper’s cut.” It is smooth, while still also being dynamic and rhythmic. It’s just a really cool cut to hear and again, through a lesser system might come off as a bit flat and uninteresting. Thankfully the Classé combo treats it right. And for you fans of really dynamic recordings tracks like Winter Wind and How We Love are loaded with enough percussions and keys to satisfy. And boy does this Classé system have the goods. Slam, detail, air and spacious soundstaging are among the words that stood out in my notes while evaluating this system."

Conclusion

"As I said in my review of the CA-M600 mono amps last year, Classé continues to produce equipment that is beautifully built, thoughtfully designed and sonically peerless. The CP-800 is definitely from this same mold but with a definite nod towards the future. This may well be the preamp Zeitgeist for this period in audiophilia. It ties together past, present and future audio/video needs in a gorgeously put together and relatively affordable package. Paired with the CA-M600s, and for less than $20k, there may be nothing close for some time to come. Enthusiastically recommended!"

Copyright © 2012 B&W Group Ltd.