The compact, no-frills approach
March 5th, 2007 -- by Barry Willis
Source: The Absolute Sound
The PS combo was musically satisfying with everything from Isaac Albéniz’s “Asturias,” heard on Falla: El Amor Brujo/Albéniz: Suite Espagnola [London] to Pink’s “There You Go” from Can’t Take Me Home [LaFace], offering up a rich orchestral tapestry with the former and get-up-and-dance immediacy with the latter. Dire Straits’ 80s classic Brothers in Arms [Warner Bros.] was wonderful, with layers of shadings in malevolent, moody pieces like the title cut and “Ride Across the River.”
I would have been completely sold on the A-100 were it not for the fact that another Class D amp was here for review at the same time, the $2499 seven-channel Rotel RMB-1077 (see this issue’s “Mainsteam Multichannel”). Substituting it for the A-100 took the sonic presentation in a much more musical direction. Even though rated at only 100Wpc, the Rotel seemed equally adept at delivering current to the loudspeakers, with tremendous drive and seemingly bottomless bass. More importantly, it offered rounder tones with more harmonic richness and an undeniable liquidity. The A-100 had a veiled quality by comparison, with a bit of dryness and a tad of astringency. The soundstage was deeper using the Rotel, and so was my feeling of musical satisfaction.
The fact that only the power amp was changed speaks very highly for the PS Audio DAC and preamp. Both delivered the musical goods at a level that belied their just-under-$1000-each price tags. Actually, all three PS Audio units are very good values, but the crowning jewel in my book is the Digital Link III. The Trio P-200 is an excellent minimalist linestage preamp, one that’s ideal for pared-down music systems. And the A-100 is really quite a decent power amp, with an astounding ability to deliver power. TAS