60V. Maraschino Cherry Amp Review

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RandyNiel

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60V. Maraschino Cherry Amp Review
« on: 12 Jul 2017, 05:53 pm »
Review;  King 60v Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers          07-11-2017

Hi Folks, My name is Randy.  I'm 66 yrs. old and currently live in N. W. Michigan.
I was into music at an early age.  Having older siblings, the youngest being 8 years my senior, I always remember the 45's spinning and the wonderful sound of males crooning and women singing of broken hearts.  Then their was more,  The Music.  I was in a church going family and my Mom played the church organ for at least 50 yrs.  The singing and music was about all I was really interested in.  Yea, I know, burn in hell for me. (If I'm boring you, please skip to forth paragraph.)
Anyway,  it was rarely the message of the music but the sound that caught my attention .  How all those different voices sounded.  Together or individually.  All those vibrating vocal cords and the accompanying air, tone and texture.  And that organ, it was like, I was water and it's sound just rippled over me.   Then I became a teenager and everything about music spoke directly to me.   The music was about my world or what I thought was my world.  Camping in the back yard with a buddy.   Struggling to get WLS out of Chicago was not always easy but how rewarding.  To hear the newest music way up here in the sticks.  And Dick Biondi, their provocative DJ. 
Then in 1970 I bought my first real stereo.  Where else, Radio Shack.  I had catalogs for both Radio Shack and Lafayette Electronics and would spend hours pouring of the different package deals they both offered.  Watts, frequency response, IMF distortion and all the other specs they published. (certainly now, to me taken with a large grain of salt.)
I didn't know what it all meant except, lower was better here and higher was better there and wider was better somewhere else.  The packaged setup included ,  a 30 or 40 w.p.c., AM/FM receiver, some model of Garrard turntable w/Shure cartridge, Koss plastic headphones (not bad) , and the piece de resistance; walnut speakers w/10 in. woofers, a mid range and I think a dome tweeters.   Speakers had a Lifetime Guarantee!!!  (And I used it.)  This system lasted me almost through Grad School.  The speakers I kept another 10 yrs. Starting back then, music ruled my world and still does.

Wait.  This is supposed to be an amp review.  My audio bio. will have to wait.

The Digital Amplifier Company was completely unknown to me.  I have been looking at ads and reviews of digital amps for the past few years, but never listened to any, except the stock setup in my car.  It always sound good to me.  Anyway, over the years, reviews got better and top shelf  digital amps started getting better and better reviews, but for me to hear them I would have to drive over 3 hours and further, for more auditions.  And I would be listening in their rooms, with their speakers, etc. etc..   
I had come across the reviews in AudioCircle and was very impressed.   I contacted Tommy O`Brien, the chief cook and amp builder at DAC via email and got a very prompt reply.  I really liked that.  Subsequent emails, for the most part, the same deal.  He's very good at talking to you.  Low hype but confidant he makes a first class product.  I read more about the history of DAC and Tommy and just felt, this guy has something here.  This is not, amp here gone tomorrow, stuff.   He's been in business for 20 yrs.  That counts for something.  Plus, he is a hell of a nice guy.  Buy on line with 30 days to check out, fit me just fine.
So, I ordered the King 60v. Maraschino variety.  Then prepared for their arrival.  I got some CD's together and I had just gotten a June offer from Spotify Pro for 3 mos, for .99 cents.  I was more or less quite happy with Spotify's quality via my solid state amps, and started putting together a playlist of 120 some songs.  Many old faves, along with new things I came across.  All with the recording quality and sonics I was looking for.  (no head banging stuff, sorry)
When they arrived I was all ready.  FedEx dropped off two sturdy boxes covered with bright orange fragile labels everywhere.  They where artfully packed in a kind of puzzle of foam sections so everything fit nicely and securely.  Connectors, cables and cords also packed well and of high quality.  Hookup was a piece of cake.
The first few days I let them go with whatever I felt like for music.  I just let them play with no critical listening.  However the very first thing I noticed, without trying, was more meat coming out of my speakers.  And at low to mid volume levels to boot.  Sure I cranked them up but really tried to let them just cook a wile,.  After 48 hrs. or so, I was ready to go.
Now this is for real.  I have pages and pages of notes.  What was going to be a few evenings of really getting into these babies turned into well over a hundred hours of listening and note taking.  SPL readings, various time marks within a song to listen to so you could experience what I was hearing and on and on.  And as you have read,  I do ramble on.  It was way too much.  Trust me. (Who else says that?)

So here's the scoop.   These amps kick ass!  But there is so much more!  Only one other time in my life did a new introduction to my system cause me to want to hear everything I had all over again.  The music was now so real!
 
My Review:

Background,  BLACK! BLACK!    Soundstage, WIDE & ENVELOPING!       Soundstage depth,  Depending on the manor of recording.   VAST!       Musicians and instruments in space,  BEAUTIFULLY  DEFINED! (On many songs Holographic.  I had the impression that I could stand up and walk among the musicians.)     Bass,  TIGHT, FULL, PUNCHY and filled with all that makes up bass notes and all notes,  TONEALITY and TEXTURE!    Piano, Drums, Horns, Vibraphone (wow), Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Cymbals and Voices all had the inner harmonics and air that made their sound breathtaking.
     
Sorry, I have to stop!!!  I am listening to music as I write.   I'm streaming Tidal with some “Easy Jazz” playlist playing in the background and a song by Thelonious Monk, titled “Straight No Chaser” came on and I lost it.  Those instruments where being propelled out of my speakers like I've never heard. (and this was background listening)  The attack on an note had that nice trumpet bite.  It came out of my speakers like the horns themselves where sticking into my room.  The music will suck you in so easily.  I like to hear the richness and detail of all that makes up music.   These amps are dynamic, soulful,  melodic and rich.  All executed in a most reviling musical way.   Music blossoms from my speakers.  And at low sound levels!

OK. Back to the review;   Overall sound,  TEXTURAL!  AIREY!  DYNAMIC!  SENSUAL and ENVELOPING!
You won't believe your hearing your speakers.  Instead some upgraded ones appeared by magic. 
Fit and finish is first class.  I even made up some granite blocks w/spikes to finish them off.
 
I have a new slogan for Tommy and DAC.

BUY A PAIR OF MY AMPS AND GET NEW SPEAKERS FREE !   (I did.  And much more.)

To be completely up front about everything.   I got a bit of a deal on the Maraschino's in exchange for a review.  May be common, I don't know.   However, Tommy didn't know me and to me that took real confidence in his product! 
I never gush,  my fine arts education has taught me to be critical, but there is a lot of me gushing above.  But, trust me, the deal wasn't that great.             The Maraschino's were!
             
As for negative comments, I have them and it's critical that they be addressed.  Picky, picky me.   The blue LED's are too bright.  I think I may be getting retina damage, just kidding.  However I would suggest 50% dimmer. And that's it.     

Streaming experience:   As I said earlier.  The bulk of my listening was via Spotify Pro.   During my second listening session  I became aware of a shrillness in some highs, that at times made me feel uncomfortable.  (I was listening at high SPL's)   I emailed Tommy and he came back with some suggestions.  I stopped using the,  no name, no specs, DAC in my Marantz  AV7701 Pre, and brought in my PS Audio, Nuwave DAC.  Much better.   Highs were much better controlled .  Only rarely being too bright for my ears during high SPL's.  (I don't believe this brightness is the Maraschino's fault as they faithfully reproduce whats fed them.) 

Tommy also said something about streaming services and how they differ.  That made me wonder. 
Was Spotify's  ogg. encoding responsible of the bright highs.  Even though I had a overall terrific listening experience on Spotify, this matter concerned me.  I read up on the Spotify Pro's sound quality and how their material uses the Ogg Vorbis encoded lossy format at 320 kbps.  I don't clam to be any kind of authority on these matters.  However, it appears the correct balance of components is important to the final output of the Stream you are using.   Spotify is quite good.  Your DAC will determine how good it is to you.  The Maraschino's with the Nuwave DAC made it even more musical.  Highs were sweeter and pure.  Poor DAC output can really effect your streaming experience.
So, just for you folks,  I went to Tidal and signed up for their 30 day trial.  I had always been interested in Tidal but only from what I read.  Tidal has superior musicality but at twice the coin. It's lossless offerings at 1.4 Mbps and MQA are attractive considerations indeed.  Just under $20.00 a month. 
The sound was wonderful.  Certainly on par with my BD player.  Spotify was no chump either.  I may stay with them for a wile.
Spotify Pro. at under $10.00 per month could be your best buy or YouTube if you like free.  Just remember,  if crap goes in crap comes out.  The  Maraschinos will reveal system weaknesses.   Let your ears and DAC be your guide.
For those interested, my playlist is available on Spotify.  It's simply called “Test Music” by swedclas.  Also on Tidal, “Test Music 2”.  Give a listen if you like.

Equipment:       D.A.C. King Maraschino Cherry Mono Amps with 60 volt Power Supplies.   Pre Amp,  Marantz  AV7701 in Pure Direct Mode using balanced outs.  Cambridge Audio, CRX, BD player.
PS Audio, Nuwave DAC and Monster Power Center.   Speakers are Mirage 1295is 6 ohm. (bulk of listening) and Martin Logan SL3's, 4 ohm.  My solid state amps were, Nelson Pass designed, ADCOM, GFA 5800 and Emotiva,  XPA-2, Gen 2.  Both mint and maybe soon for sale.   
Cables:   MIT Proline, balanced cables,  Kimber Kable, Hero, unbalanced interconnects,  Kimber, Illuminance coaxial cable,   Kimber, 4VS speaker cable and Monster USB cable. 
System photo soon.

Thanks for reading.

Randy Nielsen

JerryM

Re: 60V. Maraschino Cherry Amp Review
« Reply #1 on: 13 Jul 2017, 03:53 am »
What an awesome first post, RandyNiel!  :notworthy:
Welcome to AudioCircle.  :beer:

Have fun,

Jerry

AmpDesigner333

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Re: 60V. Maraschino Cherry Amp Review
« Reply #2 on: 14 Jul 2017, 03:41 am »
Thanks to Randy for his detailed review!

-Tommy O