CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 2927 times.

charliehatch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 6
CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« on: 7 Jun 2015, 06:36 pm »
Hi Everybody,

I'm new to this post, and I hope I push all the right buttons...And, a caveat to all you people who are deep into audiophilism. I love good sound, but my experience with very high end systems is limited. What I am going to describe is my experience with what I consider a moderately priced high-end system, certainly not the best money can buy. For me, money is an object.

As part of an overall system upgrade, I recently purchased a CI Audio E200S amp, and I want to share my experience.

My system as it exists today:

Oppo BDP-105D > Morrow Audio MA7 balanced interconnects > CI Audio E200S (26 dB) > Morrow Audio SP7 speaker cables (banana) > B&W 683 S2 speakers (8 Ohm, 200 W capability). The Oppo also sends sub out to a Hsu ULS-15 powered subwoofer. A 2.1 guy am I. All source is digital.

The 26 dB option on the amp is a very good fit to this system. I use the Oppo as a preamp and typically run a volume level of 65/100. Your mileage may vary.

Because of room mode issues, I have the main speaker crossover set in the Oppo to 120 Hz. The sub crossover is set around 80 Hz. This creates a response dip that helps to balance out a nasty room mode around 100 Hz. Because of this setup, I'm not pushing the amp very hard at all, so I can't comment on bass power. I didn't buy it for that; I wanted plenty of headroom and very low distortion.

About the time I ordered the amp, I ordered Morrow Audio MA7 balanced interconnects. These would take about a month, so in the interim, I installed new Better Cables Silver Serpent 2 balanced interconnects (~$100 Amazon) as a temporary measure. So when the amp arrived I started listening with brand new cables. Not as scientific as I could have been.

What I first noticed about the amp was the incredibly precise and articulated highs. It made percussion transients immediate and real, and there is wonderful detail in the most dense orchestral passages. I could hear sticks striking bells before the bells sounded.

Then, I had to go through cable break in hell with the Silver Serpents, where imaging fell apart at around 50 hours. They got through the worst around 100 hours, and about the time things were getting very good, the Morrow interconnects arrived with around 250 hours of factory break in, and I swapped them in.

The change from Silver Serpents to MA7s added an immediate sense of solidity to the sound stage, and I had a sense of better overall frequency balance (warmer, I think the Serpents were a bit bright). I now have around 500+ hours on the MA7s, and they're done with break in.

This system now has the most precise and detailed imaging I have ever heard. The sound stage is broad and miles deep and has incredible solidity and stability. I am frequently startled by the immediacy of the instrumental and performer images. The imaging is wonderfully detailed, and I can clearly hear the differences between recording setups (this is a mixed blessing). I can resolve instruments playing near each other in well recorded orchestra.

How much of this is the cables, and how much the amp? There is no doubt in my mind that the cables have contributed a great deal to the precise imaging, but without the amp to support the imaging, it wouldn't be there. The amp's detail, clarity, and headroom make this system really sing.

Needless to say, I'm a fan of this amp.


RDavidson

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2103
Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #1 on: 7 Jun 2015, 08:07 pm »
Amp first.
Cables second.

Bad cables can limit a good amp. But good cables won't make a bad amp into a good one.

Morrows are very good, honest, clean, no non-sense cables. If you like cables that intentionally color the signal, Morrows aren't for you. I've found CI gear to have those same qualities. So, you're likely getting very good synergy.

BTW, AC has a good mix of folks. Some have $$$ systems, some don't. We all co-mingle here quite well. :thumb:

CIAudio

Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #2 on: 8 Jun 2015, 01:11 pm »
Hi Charlie,

Welcome to Audio Circle!

Thanks for your post.
Can I ask what amplifier the E-200S replaced?

-Dusty

charliehatch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 6
Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #3 on: 10 Jun 2015, 01:48 pm »
Hi Dusty,

Now don't laugh. My previous amp was a Sony STR-DN1050. This is a 7.1 system, but I was only using 2.1. They claim 165 Wpc into 6 Ohms, so I'm guessing around 125 into 8.

Charlie

GentleBender

Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #4 on: 10 Jun 2015, 02:09 pm »
Welcome to the party! Hey I recently upgraded from a Speakercraft Vital 710 and Polk Audio system with a total cost of about $500. The difference in quality once replacing that stuff has been a real eye opener. Just watch out for the slippery slope of constant upgrades (unless that is your thing) and enjoy the ride.

That was a nice honest review by the way. :thumb:

srb

Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #5 on: 10 Jun 2015, 02:18 pm »
They claim 165 Wpc into 6 Ohms, so I'm guessing around 125 into 8.

165W is playing 1 channel @ 1KHz into 6 Ohms.  2 channels @ 20Hz - 20KHz into 6 Ohms is 100W/channel.

charliehatch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 6
Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #6 on: 10 Jun 2015, 02:22 pm »
srb,

Thanks for the clarification. I always get confused about this stuff. I do know that the Sony started sounding congested when things got loud, and I figured that was a power limit problem. That's what got me looking for a new amp.

Charlie

srb

Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #7 on: 10 Jun 2015, 02:38 pm »
I do know that the Sony started sounding congested when things got loud, and I figured that was a power limit problem.

Although the 683 S2 is nominally 8 Ohms, it does have a minimum impedance of 3 Ohms, which may have further taxed the Sony receiver.

Steve

charliehatch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 6
Re: CI Audio E200S Amplifier Experience
« Reply #8 on: 10 Jun 2015, 03:27 pm »
I should mention an interesting experiment a friend of mine and I did.

He has a pair of Angstrom Obbligato speakers. These are 4 Ohm nominal, and he brought them to my house to do an A/B comparison with my B&Ws. This was probably a tougher test of the E200S amp, since I'll bet the minimum speaker impedance is well below 4 Ohms.

We installed them in the same location as my B&Ws and listened to all kinds of stuff at pretty high levels. For this test we were crossing the Oppo over to the sub at 60 Hz. Still not a heavy bass load on the amp...

There was no hint of any limitation of the amp. Highs and transients were as great as ever. After a couple of hours of this, the amp didn't feel any warmer that it did driving my B&Ws.

I did find the Obbligato sound to be much thinner in the lower midrange than the B&Ws, rather disappointing there, but the Obbligato drivers are much smaller than the B&Ws. Imaging was as great as ever.

All said and done, I think the B&Ws produce a more realistic midrange that fits well with my impression at live orchestra concerts. But that's just my opinion. And the amp seemed quite happy.